General Questions

Where can I see pictures of the actual boat we will be sailing?

EVERY photo on this website IS the sailing yacht that you will be sailing on. We use the largest sailing yacht on Lake Travis and that’s it. There are also over 200 photos on TripAdvisor and a bunch on Yelp and Google as well which people have posted.

What are the options for sailing with Sail Austin?

There are two ways to sail – on a PRIVATE charter or on a SHARED SAIL.

If you do a PRIVATE charter, you determine how long the charter will last. It is a minimum of 2 hours and can be any length of time including overnight. The base price of the private charter pays for the first eight (8) people regardless of how many you have on board. If you have more than eight (8), you pay an additional fee.

Or, you can do a SHARED SAIL where you pay only for the number of passengers in your group. So, if there are only 2 of you, it can be a great date night sail and you don’t have to pay for a private charter. Instead, the sail is shared with others. We typically have 6-10 people on these sails. But, it can be up to 15. The shared sails can be scheduled for any day of the week or time of day. However, every Saturday sunset is always scheduled as a shared sail (you can make it private by buying a minimum of 12 places). The shared sails are 2 1/2 hours long typically returning to the marina a half hour after the published sunset time. The yacht is large and you can spread out. However, by the end of the most cruises people tend to have become acquainted  with each other enough to be interacting and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere together.

What about safety issues…I’m not really a boater?

As part of our schedule, we will start our cruise at the dock with a brief safety orientation. The Captain will go over basic safety procedures and familiarize your group with the safety features of the boat, including life preservers and fire equipment.  Safety is THE most important consideration of our company when providing a wonderful and safe day on the water. Please be patient with this United States Coast Guard requirement. It is for the safety and well being of everyone on board. Also, the time for the safety meeting does NOT count against your charter time!

What if I and others know nothing about sailing?

Cruising with Sail Austin is the very first sailing experience for ninety-five percent (95%) of our customers. Whether you have never sailed or you are very experienced, we want you to have a fun and memorable cruise.  If you wish to participate in the sailing, learn about sailing, or just sit back and relax, it is your choice. The Captain and crew are fully capable of handling the boat.

How qualified is the crew?

Your Captain and crew are experienced sailors and are fully capable of handling the boat.  The skipper is a U.S. Coast Guard credentialed charter boat Captain who holds a Master level 100 gross ton vessel rating including power, sail and tow as well as the European SLC required to sail in the European Union countries. He brings over fifty years of boating experience to your cruise.

Can I bring food and drinks - including alcohol?

Certainly, you are welcome to bring food and drinks. However, nothing red is permitted on board including red wine. Nor are any foods allowed which can stain the boat. Fiberglass is very susceptible to extreme color stains. Please be respectful of that when selecting things you wish to bring aboard. If you have any doubts, call the Captain!

What kind of shoes are acceptable on board?

This is a BAREFOOT cruise. We ask that everyone remove their shoes before boarding. This is both a safety issue and to keep shoes from marking or damaging the boat’s finish. We recommend that people wear tennis or deck shoes to the boat. High heels are definitely not advisable on or around a marine environment since the docks move from wave action.

What supplies should we bring with us?

Following is a list of things you may want to consider bringing to make your sail more enjoyable:

  • Towels – we do NOT supply towels
  • Food & drinks, water & ice (no red-dyed drinks including red wine or Big Red type sodas)
  • Sunscreen & suntan lotion (NO OILS!)
  • Paper & plastic products (paper towels, napkins, paper plates, plastic knives, forks, spoons)
  • A hat for each person (floppy hats do not stay on well when the winds are up)
  • Shoes for the dock. Shoes must be removed before boarding the boat. High-heeled shoes are dangerous on a dock. The best shoes are marine deck shoes or tennis shoes.
  • Bathing suit, dry clothes
  • Your choice of music (you can plug or bluetooth your iPod or phone into the stereo system)
  • Camera
  • Phone

Having listed these things, please remember to PACK LIGHTLY unless you are on an overnight cruise. If you have a large group of unrelated people, try to coordinate everyone so we don’t have a lot of redundancy in what is brought aboard.

Are young children permitted?

Children are welcome! However, all children under the age of thirteen (13) are required to wear a life vest from the time they board the boat until they depart the boat – except when they are inside the cockpit or below deck (inside the cabins of the boat).  No exceptions will be made to this policy, so please do not ask. Also, it is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to manage the younger children while aboard. Young children tend to want to roam and investigate the yacht and this can be difficult to control. The parent or guardian has the responsibility to keep the child from getting into risk situations. If you intend to bring children under the age of two, it is acceptable to do so. However, if you want to truly enjoy the experience, we highly recommend leaving the child at home with a caregiver. You also need to understand that the cruise may be very slow with a level ride or it may be fast and exciting with a lot of leaning – it depends on the wind. All children also count as a passenger regardless of age which does affect your cost on shared sails as well as private sails with over eight (8) people.

Can I bring my pet along?

Sorry, but for the safety of your special family member, no pets are allowed on board. (We are also leaving ours at home, Sparky, a 17 year old Jack Russell Terrier. Don’t worry about him, though. Since he’s blind and deaf, he probably doesn’t know we left! )

Do you sail year round?

Hello? Helloooo? Of course! We absolutely sail year round! Austin’s weather is pretty wonderful all year. And, even when cold, sailing is a great experience.  So, come out whenever you like and we will work to ensure your cruise is memorable!

Can I set up decorations or food prior to my cruise?

You are welcome to set up decorations or food ahead. However, the time required to do so becomes part of your scheduled cruise time. So, if you want to do a four (4) hour cruise and need an hour to set up, the reservation should be made for five (5) hours. Also, decorations must be non-marking which typically means they have to be tied on. No tape or other semi-permanent or permanent attachments may be used. This is a beautiful yacht and we wish to keep it that way. Any damage caused by decorations is the full (including financial) responsibility of the person who has signed for the charter.

The yacht

What about COVID-19?

The world has turned upside down…so how is that handled?

Your Captain has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. We use antiseptic spray on the boat daily – but not between every charter on days with multiple charters. The vessel is power-washed each charter day before the first charter of the day. We believe these are reasonable steps to take and are happy to do so. People choose sailing as a way to enjoy what they believe to be a relatively safe form of entertainment. It’s outdoors, typically in the heat and the yacht is the largest sailing yacht on Lake Travis which allows distancing for those who wish to do so.

How are the boarding and disembarking processes handled?

The Captain and crew will carry EVERYTHING onto the yacht upon arrival. They will also carry everything off the vessel at the end of the charter. This is done for passenger safety. All passengers are requested to board and disembark with nothing in their hands. Additionally, each person will be assisted by hand between the stairs and the deck of the boat, both onto and off the yacht. Disinfectant spray is available on the yacht. If you are not comfortable with this process, we understand, and respectfully request that you do not join the charter. THIS IS FOR YOUR SAFETY.

What about life vests?

We are required to have an appropriate Coast Guard Approved life vest on board for each person. In fact, we carry many extras. We have vests for a wide range of sizes of guest including children and toddlers. However, if you have a vest that you want to bring, we are happy for you to do that – especially ones that have been acquired specifically for your children that you know fit them well. Also, if anyone in your party is unusually large, please bring that to our attention before the charter so that we can ensure a proper fitting vest will be available. If in doubt and you have one, please bring one that you know fits the person. This is a safety issue.

What's with the NO SHOES policy?

We require everyone to be barefoot while on the yacht for two reasons. First, it is safer. The boat moves and leans and people simply have better footing with bare feet. Second, we get a lot of people on the yacht each year and in order to minimize wear and tear, we do not allow ANY TYPE of shoes to be worn on board. And that is correct, we do not even allow yachting or deck shoes on board. If you have a medical issue for which this would cause a problem, please bring it to our attention prior to the cruise and we will consider the specifics of your situation. PLEASE do not show up at the yacht and ask for an exception which has not been brought to our attention prior to the scheduled departure. If you do so, it will NOT be permitted. Also, socks are dangerous since they typically have no grip, so they are also removed. Feel free to call ahead of your charter if you have any questions. If your charter is during the winter and the temperature is expected to be below 60 degrees, please call the Captain to discuss options.

Is there a bathroom on board?

In fact, there are two bathrooms (or “heads” in the nautical term) on board.

What about music?

We have a sound system both inside and outside the yacht. We can stream Spotify ™ so you can select whatever music you want. Or, if you have your own music, you are welcome to bluetooth to our stereo.

Is there a safe place to store my valuables?

While Sail Austin assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY for your valuables, there is an on-board safe where valuables may be locked up during the cruise. Please see the Captain if you would like to use this convenience. There is no charge for this service.

What things do and do not come with the charter fee?

The charter fee includes:

  • bottled water and
  • light snacks including crackers, chips and cookies.
  • complimentary photography – we are the only ones on the lake who do this!

The charter does NOT include:

  • ice (although you may request to have it ready on board for a fee)
  • food and drinks other than listed above, unless you arrange for us to cater the sail
  • paper plates and cups
  • towels
  • other personal items (sunscreen, hats, etc – BTW, floppy hats are not the best idea – they simply do not stay on in a breeze and they end up lost in the lake)

Is smoking permitted on board?


Smoking is NEVER permitted on board. That includes electronic cigarettes. Some guests have smoked in the water while we have been anchored in a cove. However, smoking is NEVER permitted on board. That includes sitting on the very back of the boat. In respect to the crew and the yacht, please do not ask. The answer will be NO.

What's the difference between this and a pontoon boat?

Hey, we love pontoon boats. We are boaters. Give us a bathtub and a paddle and we ‘re happy! If you have rented pontoon boats in the past and are looking for something different, sailing is an option you should consider. Pontoon boats are completely different from a sailing yacht. First, this is a yacht. It is designed as an offshore vessel. They are built to handle the weather. They are much stronger and imminently more expensive to build. This is a luxury experience. It’s very comfortable and, depending on the weather, can deliver a calm, serene and beautiful experience or a super exciting one. But, regardless of the conditions, the Captain will manage that experience to the preference of the customer. If you want to go 40 MPH  across the water, a pontoon can be a great option. If you want to feel like you’re going 40 MPH when you’re actually going 12, try a sailboat. If you’ve never experienced gliding through the water without the sound of an engine in your ear, select a sailboat. It can be a party or family or team-building environment.  But, it will be a higher-end experience for everyone.

Do you have blankets on board for cooler weather?

Yes, we have a few that guests may use.

Is the yacht handicap accessible?

In general, the answer is no. Each passenger must be able to board the vessel on their own which is comprised of climbing about 5 steps and then stepping across a small space onto the deck of the yacht. We have had a few guests who were carried onto the yacht by someone in their party. Once aboard they are able to sit in the cockpit and enjoy the cruise. However, each situation requires the agreement of the Captain after reviewing the abilities of the passengers involved. The Captain has the final decision on appropriateness of a person being aboard given that person’s life challenges.

The Cruise

How many guests can I bring with me?

Your charter fee is based on a maximum of eight (8) people total in your group. If you exceed that number, an additional fee of ten percent (10%) of the Basic Charter Fee per person will be added. The yacht capacity is 15 although we have squeezed a couple more on board.

Who will be on board the boat?

When you charter the yacht  privately for your group, only the Captain, possibly one crew member (a hostess is available based on the needs of the charter), and the members of your party will be on board. You have the vessel completely to yourselves.  We do also offer weekly sunset sails where passengers can individually pay to go on a sunset sail.  When that is the case, you will be sharing the yacht with others who are doing the same depending on how many sign up for that day’s sail.

What will we do on our cruise?

The itinerary of the cruise is up to you. We can sail the entire time, or motor, or anchor and swim. You can watch the sunset or float and enjoy drinks and visit with your friends. It is completely your choice. Usually our charter groups choose a mix of these options. You and your guests make the decision. Please take a look at our Typical Charter Experience page.

What if I decide, on the day of the charter, to delay or cancel after I have committed to pay the charter fee?

Weather is never guaranteed! Mother nature has her own mind and we can not control her. Also, you may have other reasons out of our control for needing or wanting to either delay or cancel your cruise.  If the charter is cancelled by the Chartering Party (you) on the day of the charter, then the full Charter Fee will be forfeited. If we are able to re-book the charter to another party, we will be happy to apply your charter fee to a future cruise – less a $200 charge for the rescheduling. Either way, the charter will be charged on the original sail date as scheduled at the full (credit) rate.

What if the Captain cancels the cruise because of weather or safety issues?

The Captain has the final decision on whether or not it is safe to cruise. If the Captain decides it is not prudent to sail, then all fees will be refunded or you may apply them to a future cruise. The choice is yours.

What happens if I think the weather is questionable?

THEN WE SUGGEST YOU STOP WATCHING THE WEATHER FORECASTS!! Please do not call and ask what we think about the weather forecast that is a week away. NO ONE can accurately predict weather that far out including the very best weather professionals.

First, we can never guarantee the weather! And forget weather forecasts! They change many times a day. Mother Nature has her own mind and so we never know what she will provide. The typical weather that will definitely cancel a cruise is lightning.

Charters are NOT cancelled prior to the scheduled departure time. If the scheduled time arrives and the weather is not safe, we will cancel at that time with no charge to the client. However, we will NOT cancel for weather prior to the scheduled time, so please do not ask. It is the responsibility of the charter party to show up for the cruise. If you do not and in our opinion it is safe to cruise, the full charter fee will be charged at that time.

So, you can count on the yacht leaving the dock when your cruise is scheduled. We typically do not really look at the forecast until the last few hours before a cruise simply because Texas weather changes too quickly. Having stated that as our policy, we do not want our guests to be unhappy with their charters. If WE believe the weather is sufficiently bad to warrant offering cancellation without charge, we will make that offer at the scheduled time of departure – not before. But, we do not do that simply because it is overcast or there is a 75% chance of rain. We use our judgement based on our experience. The VAST majority of time the cruise will sail.

What happens if it is raining or about to rain when the charter is supposed to start?

Read the previous FAQ! The odds are the cruise will go. Now, if it is raining sufficiently in the judgement of the Captain, he MAY offer to reschedule the charter at no charge. HOWEVER, that is NOT the norm. The norm is that we sail. As for cancellations offered by Sail Austin, it will strictly be the Captain’s decision if he decides the weather is sufficiently unpleasant at the time of the scheduled departure to warrant offering a cancellation. If a the Captain offers a cancellation due to weather, there is no charge. However, it will not be offered ahead of the scheduled departure since the weather so often changes very rapidly. If the Captain determines that a sail should be cancelled during a charter, the charter fee will be adjusted based on the percentage of the charter time used.

Why do I have to show up at the scheduled departure time in order to qualify for a cancellation with no charge?

Texas weather is very quick to change as anyone who lives here will tell you. In the past, we have agreed to cancel due to expected poor weather even as late as the day of the sail, only to have great sailing weather during the cancelled time period. The customer misses out on a wonderful time on the water and we lose the business. And, in accommodating the customer’s request to cancel, we often have turned down other requests for that time and referred those requests to other companies. Since we have only one yacht, that is truly lost business. For this reason, in order for your charter to qualify for a complete cancellation without charge, we ask that the customer do their part and show up for the charter regardless of what the customer thinks the weather will be. We believe that is reasonable but fully understand if a customer does not. If you do not agree this is a fair policy, we will be happy to help you find another one of the great companies in the area with which to work. We want everyone’s experience on Lake Travis to become a wonderful memory so you come again!

What about the photography?

Our primary reason for doing the photography is to differentiate our services from those of our competitors by providing something unique that they do not provide. We want you to leave with a memory of your experience with us. And, candidly, we hope it will encourage you to write a review about your experience which we always work hard to ensure is wonderful for each passenger. Along with the link to the photography which we send you after your cruise, we send you links to some of the key websites which list our services in order to facilitate your writing a review. If you choose to do so, we will love you forever!! If you have anything constructive to share with us about how we might improve our services, please let us know directly so that we may have the opportunity to assess it and improve our services for customers in the future – including you when you return!

Administrative Arrangements

What is the process to reserve my charter?

The process is simple:

  • call Cap’n Tim at 817.909.2378 (leave a message please if I’m currently busy – text is great)
  • over the phone you will need to provide your name, address, and credit card information which is to guarantee the charter – however, nothing will be charged at that time
  • a Google Calendar Invitation will be sent to you right away for your review and acceptance. That invitation must be electronically accepted within 24 hours or the reservation is subject to cancellation. At either the top or the bottom of the invitation, you simply click on YES to accept the reservation. When you do that, it will lock the reservation on our calendar and share it with yours. It also authorizes us to charge your card for the full amount of the charter. However, we do not charge ahead of time unless you cancel within the non-refundable period. Otherwise you will pay the day of your charter when you come are at the yacht.

All credit card information must be provided by telephone. Please call 817.909.2378 or we will call you after you submit a reservation request on this web site.

What other documents will be signed?

On the day of the cruise there is also a Charter Damage Agreement which is electronically signed by the person who is responsible for the charter party (typically the one who makes the reservation). Additionally, when you and your guests arrive at the yacht, each person in the group must electronically sign a Hold Harmless Agreement prior to boarding. This form requires the person’s name and email address as well as their signature. Minors, under the age of eighteen, must be signed for by their parent or legal guardian.

What are the costs and when do they have to be paid?

To hold a charter date, you can simply provide a credit card, and accept our Google Calendar invitation. Even if you are planning to pay cash to take advantage of the cash discount, a credit card is required as guarantee of payment for the charter and for any damages to the boat. Beginning 45 days prior to the charter date you become fully responsible for the Total Charter Fee. If the charter reservation is made within 45 days of the charter date, the charter fee is committed in full at the time of the reservation. Cancellations or changes to the reservation date made prior to the 45 day non-cancellation period will be charged a $200 fee.

When do I become obligated for the $200 cancellation or change fee?

As soon as you ACCEPT the calendar invitation, you become obligated to the $200 cancellation or change fee. Why?? We require clients to ACCEPT the calendar invitation in order to lock the reservation onto our calendar. Beginning at the point of acceptance, we decline other requests for your reserved time. We try to get potential customers to select a different time. But if they can’t or choose not to, we refer them to other companies in order to help them find a good alternative to our service. For that reason, if you either cancel your charter when it is still more than 45 days out, or you change your reservation date, we charge the $200 cancellation/change fee. If you do not agree this is reasonable, then please do not accept the reservation invitation.

What are the cancellation and rescheduling periods?

You may CANCEL a charter up until forty-five (45) days before your charter and pay only the $200 non-refundable fee. You can RESCHEDULE your charter as late as twenty-one (21) days prior to your charter and pay the $200 rescheduling fee. Once you are within the 21 day period, there are no cancellations or rescheduling.

What is the policy on needing to cancel for personal reasons?

This is a difficult issue for both our clients and for us. However, when we commit our calendar to a charter, we turn down other business for that calendar time. If we allow cancellations for any reason, we very likely will have lost business. So, the policy is that once you are within the non-cancellation/rescheduling period, if you cancel, the full charter fee is charged. PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR AN EXCEPTION TO THIS.

Do I have to pay for my child to come on the cruise?

Yes. Children are welcome on the charters. However, they count as a passenger and count as one for purposes of charter cost calculation regardless of age. Please do not request an exception to this policy. If that is a concern, please consider getting someone to care for the child at home so that you are free to fully enjoy the cruise.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept credit/debit cards or cash. We do not accept checks or electronic transfers like Venmo, Wallet, or PayPal. We do have the ability to process a credit card at the boat. Isn’t technology great?! But if you want to save, you do earn a 5% discount if you pay in cash!

What if we are having a good time and want to extend our cruise?

As long as there is not a previously scheduled charter following yours on the same day, you are welcome to extend the cruise at the standard hourly rate. Just let the Captain know what you would like to do.

What about tipping?

Our responsibility is to provide the best service and experience and to make this a safe and memorable event for you and your guests. That is our commitment as a result of you paying the charter fee. If your personal cruise experience is one of great service, gratuities are certainly always greatly appreciated and never taken for granted!

What are the cancellation and refund policies?

If the cruise is cancelled more than forty-five (45) days prior to the charter date, all charter fees are refunded less a $200 cancellation fee. No refunds are provided within forty-five (45) days of the charter date. However, if the charter is more than twenty-one (21) days out, we will reschedule the charter for a fee of $200. Please note that once you ACCEPT the calendar invitation which we send to confirm your acceptance of the charter and the charter terms, you are committing to a minimum charge of $200 and authorizing us to charge your credit card for at least that amount regardless of why you might decide to cancel or change your charter date. If you do not agree with that, do not accept the calendar invitation.

What is the Frequent Floater program and how does it work?

We LOVE our repeat guests! So, in order to reward them, we offer the opportunity to freeze our charter rates for those who come back for more sailing fun with us. As long as you charter 1 time anytime within the calendar year (365 succeeding days) following your last charter, your charter rate will not change….ever ! So, just keep it rolling and we will keep you sailing! That’s our way of thanking you for your continued business.

Getting To The Boat

What are the transportation options?

Our location is approximately 35 minutes from downtown. Most charter guests who do not have cars use either a car service like ExecuCar or Ride Austin. Others have hired large limos and party buses like 4Leaf Limo to carry groups of 10 or more. When getting quotes, give them the address of your sailing location – 16405 Clara Van St, Austin, TX 78734. If you do use something like Ride Austin, please make sure you have arrangements to be picked up at the end of the charter. We recommend that you discuss those arrangements with us so that we are sure to have you back to your pick up location on time. Also, some services like 4Leaf Limo will give you a 15% discount if you mention that you were referred by Sail Austin.

Can Sail Austin pick us up at our dock on Lake Travis?

We are happy to pick up clients at other locations on Lake Travis. The time to bring the boat to the location and return it to the marina after the charter will be added to the time of the charter. Please ask us for an estimate of the time based on your address. Also, the dock must be able to be safely tied to in order for passengers to board and disembark.

This all sounds GREAT! What are the directions to the yacht?

Click here to see the detailed directions to our South Shore location.

Food & Drinks

Are there any restrictions on foods and wines?

But I LOVE red wine!!

Sorry, no red wine or red-dyed liquids (e.g. Big Red, cranberry juice) or red colored foods are permitted on board. These will stain the boat when spilled. And, because sailboats lean when the wind is good, food and drinks do get spilled!

Can we bring alcohol on the cruise?

Guests who meet the Texas legal drinking age of at least twenty-one are welcome to bring whatever they want to drink with the exception of red wine or anything which has red dye in it (e.g. Big Red, cranberry juice, etc). So, beer and hard liquor are fine. Illegal substances are never permitted on board. If illegal substances are determined to have been brought on board, the cruise will be terminated with no refund of the charter fee.

What about an ice chest?

It is fine to bring 1 or even 2 ice chests. Smaller, soft-sided ice chests are preferable for handling up and down the stairs of the boat. The maximum size of any ice chest is limited to 35 quart. Ice chests with wheels are never permitted on board. There is a large ice chest secured on the deck which you may use. Most guests transfer their drinks into that chest to have them readily available.

Are food and drinks provided?

Sail Austin Charters provides bottled water and light snacks usually including packaged chips, cookies, crackers and breakfast bars as part of the charter. However, we will be pleased to provide full catering service for your cruise. Simply let our staff know what your preferred food and drink selections are and we will provide a quote for a full service cruise. Otherwise, if you prefer to bring your own food and beverages, you are welcome to do so. Alternatively, there are restaurants located on the water where we can pull in and eat if that is your preference. Popular restaurants currently available on the water include The Gnarly Gar, Sundancer Grill, and Canyon Grill Rough Hollow.

Can I grill food on board?

Grilling is only available for overnight charters. However, you can prepare food on the stove or microwave.

What about glass vs. cans?

Your choice.  Just remember that all containers must come home with us. No trash may end up in the water! We care about Lake Travis and the environment and want to make sure we maintain the quality of our waters.