Decide on the types of fishing your party require and pick the most suitable ports by checking out the reports in angling magazines and web sites.
Try to do some background work and select the top skippers in the port you want to fish from. Reports in magazines and web sites are again a good way. Just note the names of the boats that continually make the headlines. Word of mouth from other anglers is also usually reliable.
Contact several skippers and chat to them detailing exactly what you want to do regards the types of fishing your party require. Respectfully ask if the boat is properly licensed. There are still unlicensed boats working in some ports. Make your final judgement on these conversations.
Be prepared to book the right skipper a year or even two years in advance if you want the exact right tides to target a specific species or when wreck fishing.
Do not try to cram on the maximum number of anglers to keep the costs down. Room is at a premium on many charter boats. Ask the skipper his ideal number of anglers for comfort and stick to that. For shark fishing, four is the absolute maximum for comfort and bait presentation.
Good skippers offer contracts. These can be excellent and safeguards both the skipper and customer from reneging on the deal. Read any contracts carefully and fully understand them before signing.
Get a definite total price in writing and understand the deposit system and what it guarantees you if there is no proper contract.
If you fail to show for the trip, then the skipper will have the right to retain your deposit. Mitigating circumstances will not come in to it. If you book and don't show, you should pay the full amount.
If the skipper cannot fulfil the charter for any reason including bad weather, then he must return all your deposit unless you choose an alternative date with him.
Ask if the skipper will provide drinks and if there are facilities to heat up basic food such as pies and the like.
If any of your party needs to hire tackle state this to the skipper at the time of booking.
Advise the skipper if one of your party has a physical disability. Most skippers are excellent and will be able to help regards extra comfort and access to the boat should the person require it.
Give the skipper your contact number and also a mobile phone number of possible. Likewise get a mobile number from him for emergencies.
Arrive a little earlier than the scheduled time so you are available to board immediately the skipper says so. Never board a vessel until the skipper is present on deck and gives permission.
Some skippers do not allow customers in to the cabin. This is unfortunate, but probably down to bad behaviour by previous anglers or safety reasons giving the skipper good reason to apply this rule. You have no choice but to accept his judgement
Modern boats should have toilet facilities. Do not let skippers refuse their use. He takes your money and should therefore provide the full service.
Inevitably, boats get dirty while fishing. That said, make a conscious effort to keep the boat as clean as possible. Do not leave old bait on the decks as someone may slip and potentially fall overboard.
Be wary of skippers that bring another person outside your party and lets them fish. You pay for the boat and only your party, the skipper and crewperson should be aboard.
You are under no obligation to tip the skipper if you've had a good day. It helps though, the next time you book him. We all like to be appreciated!