TOP 10 TIPS FOR CHARTERING A BOAT IN PERTH
“For goodness sake,” or words to that effect. “When will it end?” you ask yourself in frustration, as yet another grey cloud rolls in with a monstrous deluge of rain. But never fear, the summer is here.
With the advent of the warm weather comes the rush to organise boat parties and of course, that means the kick off to the charter boat season in Perth. All of a sudden, it seems like everyone is planning a wedding or Christmas party and that can be a harrowing process for the novice and veteran alike. Do we cruise to Rottnest Island? Shall we stay on the Swan River? Can we bring our own drinks? Which charter boat should we chose?
Nothing quite beats expert advice when it comes to hiring a charter boat which is why I have put together my Top 10 Tips For Chartering a Boat In Perth.
TIP #1: USE A CHARTER BOAT BOOKING AGENT
The buzz on the street nowadays it to use a booking agent whenever you want to hire a charter boat. You’ll avoid the traps and pitfalls that an unsuspecting customer might fall into, and the last thing you need is a total lemon that is not what you want or what you need.
There are three agencies in Perth but only one that is a fully accredited AFTA travel agency. BlueSun2 Boat Charters is ranked the number charter boat booking agency in Perth and in West Australia.
TIP #2: BOOK IN ADVANCE TO BEAT THE RUSH
Plan ahead to get ahead. That’s my motto.
There are approximately 70 charter boats in Perth at any one time which means stock is limited, especially for the peak months of October to December when the Christmas and wedding parties are in full swing. When you plan ahead, you get the “pick of the litter” which really counts because you can get four boats that would cost the same amount per hour, yet one would be like a BMW and the others like a second-hand Ford! Obviously, if they all cost the same, you’d probably want to snag the BMW!
TIP #3: KNOW YOUR GUEST NUMBERS BEFORE BOOKING
Perth charter boats come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Just because a boat can take 48 guests does not mean that it would be perfect for 48 people. Boats can be configured with small back decks and big cabins, or the reverse. Some charter boats may have limited covered space which is not perfect for protection from the sun and (god forbid!) the rain.
A good rule of thumb (apart from dealing with a booking agent) is to go for a vessel that has a bigger space and more comfort.
TIP #4: BUDGET FOR YOUR CHARTER BOAT PARTY PROPERLY
Most charter boats have a minimum four hour boat hire which means you will be on the water for a while. For that reason you need to bring everything with you.
Budget for food (all the charter boats have a decent BBQ on board) and if you’re no dab-hand at cooking, get some outside catering. There’s no point slaving over the hotplate whilst everyone else is having fun. A basic budget for food goes from about $15 per person for a sausage sizzle and up to $65 for a gourmet BBQ. Again, talk to your booking agent. There are heaps of options and costs.
Don’t forget water (really important!). Budget on at last two small bottles per person. It won’t break the bank especially as a case costs between $8 and $12.
Most charter boats have eskies so you don’t need to bring any. But you will need to bring ice. Budget on about 15 bags of ice for groups of up to 45 guests. Buy them from the local “servo” ($10 for three bags) or use a trusted bottle shop to deliver everything, including your alcoholic drinks. Don’t forget wine glasses too. The throw-away ones are best. No cleaning required and nothing to carry with you afterwards.
TIP #5: USE A DRINK SUPPLIER TO SAVE THE TIME AND HASSLE
At home, most people don’t have the cold storage facilities to chill down their drinks before a boat charter. If you’re lucky, you can squeeze in the odd case of beer and a few soft drinks but generally you need a lot more grog space than that for a boat party. And then there is the hassle of carting cases of beer, water and wine in 35 degree heat! You need a shower before boarding the vessel!
Use a bottle shop like the award winning De Vine Cellars to drop off all your drinks. De Vine have been servicing the charter boat industry for over 12 years and know pretty much every jetty and every skipper. Highly recommended, call them on 08 9271 9197.
TIP #6: BOOK A SWAN RIVER BOAT CHARTER FOR BEST VALUE
Swan River boat cruises provide the best value for money, especially if you depart from the East Street Jetty in Fremantle. You can originate your journey from the city, and many do, but you will incur a small extra traveling surcharge (approximately $300-500 extra, depending upon the size of the vessel). On Swan River boat charters you can still swim, use the BBQ, listen to fabulous music, and above all else, enjoy each other’s company in style.
TIP #7: CARNAC ISLAND BOAT CHARTERS ARE CHEAPER THAN ROTTNEST ISLAND CRUISES
22.5 kms northeast of Fremantle is “the” destination of choice for ocean boat charters: Rottnest Island. And although she is the preferred spot for the party-minded, look out for those hidden, extra costs. You will need a bigger budget than for river cruises.
The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) slaps a “landing fee” on those that enter her marine park and you either pay $18 per person to land on the island or $11 per person if you are not landing (ie swimming and snorkelling off a vessel). In short, make sure you have accounted for this in your budget.
However, there is a little-known secret in the charter boat world and that is Carnac Island.
Carnac Island is closer to Fremantle (10 kms away) and there are no marine park entry fees. The water is still turquoise and gorgeous and you generally have the wind behind you when you return. Much better for those that suffer from sea sickness.
TIP #8: GO FOR A BBQ MEAL – EASY, FRESH & AFFORDABLE BOAT CATERING
Charter boats are not floating kitchens, but never fear, you can have the most amazing gourmet BBQs on board. Better still, many of the boat crews will actually cook up your favourite treats, provided you don’t come with anything too complicated. That would require expert caterers and there are quite a few out there. Most people spend between $25 and $65 per head, excluding extras like staff, equipment and delivery.
TIP #9: COME UP WITH A PARTY THEME
Boat charters give you the perfect excuse to dress up, so why not crank up the party mood with a theme that will have everyone laughing and relaxing. Google search “inflatable toys” and you’ll discover a whole world out there with 2m inflatable flamingos, ride-on swans and if you have the bucks, an “inflatable island boat raft with sunshade and couch (from My Deal), a snip at $363 but so much fun!
Remember don’t leave your order to the last minute, as you must allow sufficient time for shipping. And even more important, don’t forget to buy an electric pump. Get them from Clark Rubber. You don’t want to be huffing and puffing for hours!
TIP #10: BRING YOUR OWN MUSIC – PLAY YOUR iPOD THROUGH THE BOAT SOUND SYSTEM
Why pay for a DJ when you can be the music pro yourself? Everyone has their favourite tunes on a playlist or two, so bring your iPods or iPads. They are so easy to plug into a charter boat’s sound system and more importantly, they take 2 seconds to put in your pocket at the end of the event.