Lessons learned from a Yacht Week first-timer: A guide to not dying

I’ve been struggling to find words to encompass my experience with The Yacht Week. It’s not real life. It’s nothing like real life. It’s a fantasyland of rainbows and abdominal muscles and beers and inflatable devices. It was the best week of my life.

Me having a time

Me havin’ a time.
Hopefully I’ll have some GoPro footage to show you later.

For one week I put aside all insecurities, all troubles, all deadlines, and escaped from reality. Nothing could interrupt such bliss. Every day kept getting better and better, and somehow we kept on truckin’. We’d wake up feeling like garbage but within an hour of sailing we’d be right back on top of things. Swimming in the Adriatic, cold beers on deck, inflatable dinghies prepped and ready to go. I find it hard to believe it all happened. Water guns and inner tubes and guys dressed as bananas riding dragons. Everything was just…perfect.

Skip at sunset

Our majestic skip at sunset.
BUT it was a first-time experience for my entire crew…skipper included. There are a lot of things I’d do differently. I’m here to tell you about them.

Candice and her floaties

1. Don’t be a stingy bastard

Our biggest mistake of all time was picking the cheapest boat we could get our hands on. It was a small racing yacht for six people, including our skipper. It was a fine yacht, but everyday the cabin area looked like a hurricane blew through, and sleeping arrangements occurred on a first-come-first-serve basis. Our toilet was small and smelly.

Raft party

Meanwhile, we made a friend named Mete who happened to be skippering for a catamaran. I was given the grand tour one evening. Their upper room was bigger than our freaking yacht, and they had two bathrooms and a handful of bedrooms. I’ve never dreamt of such luxury. Never again will we take the cheapest option; I can assure you of this.

Blue Caves

We did get to actually explore our surroundings, like the Blue Caves
Jumping at the submarine bunker

And jumping at the submarine bunker.
Diving at the submarine bunker

2. Don’t bring tuna (plan a grocery list)

I don’t know why we let Nick think tuna was a good idea for food. When it’s 30 degrees outside and you’re hungover, the last thing you want is tuna.

For the love of all things sacred, plan a grocery list in advance. On our last day we had plain pasta with chopped carrots because we literally had no other food left. We might not have even eaten if it wasn’t for the fact we had to feed our poor skip. I’m sure he’s had better meals.


Even better, hire a hostess. We’re doing it next year. They cook AND clean, because few things are more hellish than being stuck below deck cooking dinner in the sweltering heat while a party rages above you. They’re not even a terribly expensive extra cost.

Let's Get Weird Floaties

3. Put all your money in a money pot

Our wonderfully responsible and perfect skipper, Josh, had advised us beforehand to arrange a sort of “money pot” – everyone tosses in an equal amount to buy booze and food, and when resources get depleted, we simply fill it back up with an equal amount.

Sunset and Yacht Week

Except we didn’t do this. We paid for our group purchases at random and were too careless to record things properly. I ended up paying for docking fees, someone else paid for groceries, etc. We figured we’d worry about it later, but believe me when I say that on the final day of The Yacht Week when you’re scrambling to get everything off your yacht the last thing you want to do is sit down and sort out every last item you purchased. It was a nightmare and I’m sure at least one of us got stiffed.

Jump session at the caves

Cave jumping.

4. Have fun, but for the love of god, mind your safety

Getting blackout drunk during The Yacht Week is about as smart as not keeping track of your expenses properly. Do you know how easy it is to injure yourself hopping from yacht to yacht when you’re sober, never mind drunk? I literally fell off a boat that was moored next to the sidewalk. I smashed my face into the pavement so hard that my tooth drove through my lip and bled EVERYWHERE. My knees looked like hamburger meat. I’m glad that’s all that happened. I later saw a guy with a sprained foot using one of his crutches as a chin-up bar.

Messy Candice

Yes, I’m a disaster.
On another night, my buddy Nick FELL THROUGH the skylight of a yacht. He wasn’t even drunk – some idiot had placed an inflatable over the hole and he stepped through it. He landed on a table, and thankfully that’s all. Mind your footing.

For the love of god GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!!!! You’d be crazy not to buy travel insurance for a week-long boozy Mediterannean cruise. I always go with World Nomads and they’ve never failed me yet.

I’ve had to file claims with World Nomads several times and they’re always fantastic to work with.

David at the raft party

We made a circle raft one day and threw a big party. It was obscene and delightful.
Raft party

Speaking of footing, invest in some Sperry shoes (or similar). Your feet can get pretty nasty if you’re hopping from yacht to yacht barefoot. Same goes for your inner thighs if you’re clinging to the lines to keep from falling in. Bruises and cuts galore.

And really, I mean don’t get blackout drunk. You’re kinda screwed if you pass out somewhere on a boat, because how the hell are we supposed to get you home?

5. There is no such thing as too crazy

We had a pretty weird boat. I mean, our sign literally said, “let’s get weird.” One day Nick shaved half his beard. We had an awesome array of inflatables that everyone loved, and we had t-shirts. But now I wish we had put a little bit of extra work into everything: more costumes, more glow sticks, more weirdness. This is literally your moment to do whatever the hell you want. Let your freak flags fly.

Let's Get Weird

The No Fun Club

We celebrated Melissa’s birthday with Hello Kitty hats.
We also didn’t have any Canadian or American flags, and I’m not really sure why. People are hella patriotic, although most of our fleet seemed to be Canadian or American. And really good looking.

Best group ever

I love this group of people.
Will I do The Yacht Week again? Oh, you betcha. Already started saving. SHOTS!

  • June 26 2014

    Sound like you had a blast!

  • June 27 2014
    Empty rucksack

    Great tips, will keep them in mind while away at sea, any tips for sea sickness? Or is it onlu something that happens in books

    • July 04 2014

      I didn’t really get seasick! I was more land sick…every time I got off the boat, I felt like I was swaying. It was a gross feeling.

  • June 27 2014

    Oh my god. This. Looks. AMAZING!! I feel like if all you came out of it with disaster-wise was some nasty bruises and a cut lip, given the photos. you did damn well.

  • June 27 2014

    This looks like the best vacation ever. I never thought of doing a Yacht Week, but now I think it’s something I seriously need in my life.

    • July 04 2014

      DOOO IT! If you’re the type of person who can keep going for a week straight, do it. It’s not for everyone…this I know. But my god. What a ride.

  • June 30 2014

    That looks like a lot of fun haha. Cool piece!

  • July 04 2014

    Hahaha. Worth it!

  • July 06 2014

    This post could not have been better timed!! I’m going sailing with sailing.hr next week & I’m so excited :D Loving the way you write – you’ve got yourself a new reader, lady! You can check my blog at http://www.girlvsglobe.com if you want :)

  • August 28 2014
    Kyle Brown

    Love this post!! Miss you silly sailors!!

  • December 31 2014

    Awesome blog post. Thank you for the wise tips. Is early June a good time to go to croatia yacht week

    • January 02 2015

      Yes, most definitely! I was told by many skips that beginning of summer is best time to go, when all the skips are still fresh-faced and the port towns don’t hate everyone so much. Hahaha.

  • January 19 2015

    Thank you for this post. I am officially terrified…. I’m not a big partier, and now feeling like I should back out.

    • January 20 2015

      Haha oh no, I don’t wanna discourage anyone! It’s definitely a party trip but there’s so much more to it than all that. It’s total, pure freedom. Real vacation. If you’d prefer to hang out on the boat instead of hitting the big events, I’m sure no one would hold it against you.

  • May 10 2015
    Sophie Knight

    Thank you for this post. I was wondering how much spending money is needed for a week?

    • May 10 2015

      I would budget at least $500! Maybe a little less if you have a hostess. I’d budget MORE than you think you’ll need, to be honest. I wish I had.

  • July 25 2015

    Are life jackets needed for novice/non swimmers?

    • July 27 2015

      Nobody polices such things but I think there are life jackets on board!

  • July 09 2016
    Nu Nu

    Thanks for the advice. Heading over to Split in 2 weeks to do this and taking notes.

    • July 18 2016

      Have a blast!

  • July 17 2016

    hi there,

    I’m looking to do a sail in Croatia with TYW and im just wondering because I am young single and love party but I also want to swim and see the sights or the islans/ beaches do you get to do that much? or is it mostly just party party party?

    • July 18 2016

      It’s really kinda up to you! You can easily get out and explore the islands when you’re docked, but I didn’t do much of that. My hangovers are killer, haha.

  • July 28 2016

    Hey, great tips. If I can ask, how much did you spend beside the week package ? And i mean food, parties, etc.
    Thank you!

    • August 02 2016

      I spent between $500-$1000 total other than the week package! I think closer to $500 though. Food and drink in Croatia is cheap (at least when you’re drinking and eating on the yacht).

  • October 31 2016

    This looks like so much fun! Would you recommend it for someone going by themselves? I was planning a trip for my 30th birthday but I’ll be in Greece by myself.

    • November 07 2016

      Yes! If you feel like you can be a good judge of character. I did my second year in 2015 and hopped onboard with a bunch of strangers. Just use the Yacht Week Crew Finder app and you’ll see all sorts of people looking for crew members! I really lucked out with mine. They were amazing.

  • May 09 2017

    Hi, I’m considering doing my first trip this summer. Is the boat docked at night or are you sailing at night? Also, how many hours would you say you’re sailing in a day? Was the water calm? I’m just a tad bit nervous

    • May 09 2017

      The water was always calm! The Med is pretty quiet. The boat is always docked at night. Sailing could be between 5-6 hours a day, from what I remember

  • May 11 2017

    Hi Candice! Thanks for your post!!:)

    My bf and I are considering going with 4 single-friends.
    But we as a couple get the impression that this is more of a trip for singles. We are super keen to meet new people and make friends though. What do you think?

    Also, Our group will probably be split as we have a 8-person boat and we are a 5/1 boy girl ratio. Does that mean we might have a chance of not sharing certain experiences?

    • May 15 2017

      You may not be able to book a yacht with that ratio, but I’m unsure how it works now! You may be split up for some things, but not all.

      My last YW experience had a bunch of couples, and it was totally cool. :) Just know what to expect! Haha.

  • July 28 2017

    We just finished our trip, and I think I barely escaped that place with my life. My buddy and I were nicknamed “Cuts n’ Bruises” cause he was bruised from head to toe and I was cut up all over the place. Its a small price to pay for having the time of your life! I made a video that recaps the trip pretty well, check out the fun for yourself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54fl3ZVFZqI

  • March 04 2018

    Hi Candice,
    I loved your post specially your tips. My bf and more 6 friends are planing to go to TYW Croatia in July second week. I just can’t find any post that gives me any idea how much are the extra costs such as fees for the marine, fuel, water etc. Could you tell us what to expect? and which company/website did you book your yacht? do you recommend? It’s my first YW so I am very exited !
    Thanks a lot

    • March 27 2018

      Hi Selma, you end up paying all those extra expenses through TYW! Including booking the yacht. The marina fees are low, and TYW usually collect them at each port. I can’t really give a sense of expenses for fuel and water, etc., as that depends on the size of your boat as well as who you’re travelling with. We just split everything among the crew!

  • August 06 2019

    Just wondering how you packed for this kind of trip? I am horrible for overpacking and I dont want to make that mistake if Im on a little boat. Any day clothes for dinners and such or just mostly bathing suits?

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