‘Airbnb Boats’ allows you to charter ships and navigate in the UK

A classic holiday abroad on the sunny beaches of Spain and Greece is unfortunately not a given in 2021.

Many of us made our peace with a summer vacation, and luckily here in England there are many beautiful places to explore – and arguably one of the best ways to see them is by boat.

Sailing is a great vacation option, but many of us aren’t fortunate enough to have access to a boat.

Fortunately, Borrow A Boat, which is essentially the ‘Airbnb of boats’, has ships available throughout the UK which can be chartered with or without a skipper depending on the sailor’s experience.

One of the country’s most popular boating hubs is Portsmouth, where myself and three other people boarded one of Sunsail’s Sun Odyssey 41 yachts on a sunny June morning to see at how easy it is to “borrow a boat”.

I boarded the boat with three friends

The 12-meter yacht we would sail was new in 2020, is perfect for travel in the Solent, and has three cabins that can accommodate up to nine people.

Borrow A Boat offers over 35,000 boat rentals and yacht rentals like this, in over 65 countries, so it’s easy to find one that suits your taste.

On board our home for the next two days, skipper David Parker gave us an important safety briefing, which accompanied us on the trip with First Lieutenant Nicole Ames, both of whom work for Sunsail, a yacht charter which lists their boats on the Borrow A. Boat website.

With our life jackets we set off from Port Solent in glorious weather, and after about 30 seconds I was given the steering wheel to steer the yacht myself.

We veered a bit

It didn’t take long for the initial shock to wear off, and after a while we all got involved in the piloting and raising and lowering of the mainsail and jib.

Always under the watchful eye of David, who made us feel included, at ease and relaxed, but always felt he was in control if the unexpected happened.

After a wonderful morning of sailing and passing sights like Porchester Castle, we anchored in Osborne Bay for lunch on board, overlooking Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s former vacation home and of Prince Albert.

Before leaving, we let our feet hang from the boat in the (very cold!) Water, which definitely put us off going for a swim, but it was very refreshing.

David was on board to help us navigate safely

Once our lunch was settled, we were thrown into the “deep end” and we embarked on more intense navigation – mainly learning to tack.

Those who want to book a trip through Borrow A Boat will be able to choose the type of trip they want – and if you just want to relax and sail more relaxed, you can.

The company wants to make boating more accessible, affordable, flexible and inclusive, which means you’ll be able to find the exact trip you’re looking for, whatever your experience.

But we were all ready to get involved and we ended up with seven knots of wind, which felt really fast!

The water was a little too cold to swim in!

Above all, David showed us that even when everything is going very fast, we can also “go for it”, which means slowing everything down and coming down at a comfortable speed.

After an afternoon of tacking and jibing, we docked in the peaceful town of Cowes, home to the world’s oldest and largest sailing regatta, on the Isle of Wight.

We were surprised at how early the shops were closing in the sleepy harbor town, so by the time we docked most places were already closed – but luckily we were able to get an ice cream on the beach and to take a nice walk.

We also enjoyed a well-deserved drink at the Royal Ocean Racing Club, offering stunning views of the sea we had just spent the day on.

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Later, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Gastronomy, a restaurant located on the High Street that serves exciting dishes with global influences.

You will find appetizing small dishes as well as salads, burgers and other large plates – and I would definitely recommend trying one of the Bao Buns.

After a day of fresh sea air it is safe to say we were ready to go to sleep – an interesting experience if you’ve never slept on a boat before.

Cowes Harbor seems safe and peaceful, but if you’re not used to all the noises the boat makes when docked, it can be a bit of an adjustment.

The next morning, after breakfast on the boat, we enjoyed more sailing – including a trip past HMS Alliance – the only submarine remaining from WWII.

We had time to explore Cowes and enjoy a delicious meal

With many more great views on the way back to Port Solent, the second day was just as enjoyable – albeit with slightly worse weather.

After docking safely at Port Solent again, we thanked David and Nicole for such a smooth and exciting experience before heading to the promenade, where there are plenty of lunch options, before heading back to London.

Those wishing to charter through Borrow A Boat will find that all boats comply with safety and insurance codes, standards and strict regulations for chartering yachts in their respective locations.

Boat rentals start at just £ 40 per day, sailboats from £ 1,000 per week and luxury motorboats and superyachts, under Borrow A Boat Plus, from around £ 10,000 per week.

For more information or to make a reservation, visit the website www.borrowaboat.com.

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