Captain Ben Baylis took some time out from his Chalamar vacation in Verbier, to share with us his key to a successful charter. Ben also shares his 3 favourite cruising destinations in the Med.

So Ben, What is the key to a good charter?

Planning of the itinerary and the ability to adapt based on the changing weather and guests’ requests are uniquely important. The crew must also be prepared and flexible while also remaining focused on maintaining a great atmosphere for the clients.

Another key is having a good chef who can adapt to the preferences of the guests.

Creating variety through food presentation, different techniques and the incorporation of certain surprises. Whether it is a unique scent or an unexpected taste, elements that make certain chefs stand out and can impact your experience as a whole. I always appreciate it when chefs can work with ingredients local to where the charter is, too.

What are your 3 favourite spots in the Mediterranean?

Elba, Italy:

This spot is often overlooked due to its small, domestic airport. Those that make their way there, though, tend to think that that is what makes Elba so special.

 The beautiful beaches and coastline feel relatively untouched and nearby inlets feel particularly off the grid and peaceful. 

Furthermore, Elba and the bays nearby feel so tranquil because the Mistral Winds that come to that part of Mediterranean in the summer are stopped short by the nearby landmass of Corsica. Anchoring on any north, south or east facing coastline provides for great shelter should winds elsewhere in the western Mediterranean be high.

Another great thing about this spot is the wide range of docking places nearby. There are three large bays and many other quaint and quiet ones. Nearly every overnight spot will be near a great sandy beach. They can get crowded in the summer, particularly Biodola Bay, Viticcio and Procchio, but the beauty of this area is unparalleled.

Take time to see Napoleon’s former estate which is accessed through the port of Portoferraio. This big town is the largest on the island and has a host of great seafood restaurants and fantastic old architecture. Porto Azzurro is another township worth visiting. It’s a little smaller than Portoferraio, the new marina and old narrow stone streets combine for an evening stroll and a cocktail at one of the bars with water views.

Corsica, France:

Starting your charter in picturesque Portofino and cruising overnight to the northern part of the island of Corsica is the idyl beginning. The bay of Saint Florent is a great place for an overnight anchorage with nearby ‘Plage `Saleccia’ offering tranquillity.  A perfect anchorage in turquoise waters away from big developments and beach bars. Next stop would be the port of Calvi, where you’ll get the chance to walk around a beautiful citadel and eat a meal at one of the local seafood restaurants looking out over the sea. If you prefer a peaceful anchorage `Calvi Bay’ is also an option.

Continuing south, there are the spectacular red rock cliffs of the Scandola Nature Reserve. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is best explored by tender, allowing you to get close enough to snorkel the crystal waters and see the bountiful marine sea life.

Further South, about a day’s cruise away from Scandola, is Erbaju Beach. I recommend you anchor near this mile-long white sand beach and allow the crew to set up a picnic by the water, while guests spend the day relaxing. It’ll be well worth the trip.

Next, you ought to cruise to the town of Bonifacio at the South Tip of Corsica. Cruising by yacht, viewing the incredible cliffs, revealing a hidden natural harbour steeped in history. The Hotel Caravelle has a great restaurant right beside the water’s edge in the port, near to small boutiques and authentic Italian gelaterias.Cruising Bonifacio -Corsica- Mediterranean

Dalmatian Islands, Croatia:

The rocky coastlines and crystal clear waters in this part of the Mediterranean are pleasantly uncrowded. Croatia is in some ways more like the Caribbean in that you have to make your own fun. The experienced crew know that ‘theme evenings’ on board produce private entertainment, allowing charterers a fun night without going ashore.

What Croatia lacks in jet-set nightlife and sandy beaches, it more than makes up for in beauty and tranquillity.

It’s worth your time to visit the small island of Bisevo. There you’ll find an awe-inspiring emerald grotto that goes deep into the island’s cliffs, which are lit in places by shafts of light that project through the rocks. Trogir (Unesco site) is a beautiful historic port and a great spot to visit.

If you make a slow cruise up the river to Skradin, spectacular protected waterfalls await you at `Krka’. Here the famous scientist Tesla built the first hydroelectric power plant, to supply the town of Sibenik with electric street lighting- the first town in Europe to have it. The small towns around here retain the untouched and calm feeling that exists in the majority of this area of the Mediterranean

Korcula is one of my favourite ports and towns to visit. Once the home to Marco Polo, the town was specifically designed to allow wind to circulate the streets and cool it mid-summer. With excellent restaurants, I would not miss this area.  

If you are missing the nightlife of the Western Med I would recommend a visit to Hvar. There are bays quite close by, here you’ll be able to anchor for the night alone and away from town. Mljet is a beautiful island where the native pine trees grow close to the water’s edge. The pines enable you to drop an anchor and reverse closer to shore. Here you can then moor the rear of your ship to one of these trees and avoid any swinging whatsoever.   

Dubrovnik’s historic city is definitely worth a visit.  Afterwards, cruising through Cavtat and dropping guests at the historic wall town of Kotor, in Montenegro. Kotor is accessed via an amazing Fjord with mountains plunging thousands of feet into the water’s edge. Guests can then depart via the international airport of Tivat, Montenegro.