We'd like to hear from you if you've had a good or bad training course or offshore charter

Last year the directors of two sailing schools were prosecuted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and received substantial fines for causing endangerment of life at sea. Since then the MCA have been looking into several other rogue businesses.

The two businesses in question had been offering mile-builder and fast track Yachtmaster courses in a seriously ill-equipped yacht or with an under-qualified skipper.

The schools were also derecognised by the Royal Yachting Association, which sets down the standards of the various RYA training programmes. But that did not deter these companies. Both continued to trade and transferred operations to the Caribbean, offering holidays online.

These two cases are among the most serious, but they are the tip of a large iceberg. Every year I come across people who have bought a berth for a passage or are joining for mile-building experience and been justifiably disappointed, sometimes before they even set off.

Perhaps the boat is not up to standard, key equipment is missing, or the skipper doesn’t inspire confidence. In some cases these boats are flagged in countries where standards aren’t set out or inspected.

Rarely have customers checked out the boat or organisation in advance or followed up any references before parting with money. They looked online, liked what they saw and booked.

Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of good, reputable companies that offer excellent offshore or transocean charters, and I also meet lots of happy customers. But bad charters are not unusual and I want to try to find out how best to avoid the cowboys.

I’d be really interested to speak to anyone who has had a bad experience, or a very good one to find out the best ways to get what you’re hoping and paying for. Is there some way of filtering out the corner-cutters, the inept, the careless, or of homing in on the top performing charter operators?

If you have some past experience or advice that could be useful to anyone contemplating a training course or offshore charter, let us know. Please email us at yachting_world@ipcmedia.com or give us a call on +44 203 148 4842.