There are two issues here:
i) Getting the boat chartered & ii) doing so 'legally'
i) you might look at www.cowesweek.co.uk
which contains a message forum much like this, you might also track down the yacht charter companies who will own a percentage of the larger boats on corporate charter during the week
ii) You then have a decision to make. To charter a vessel out now it needs to be fully 'coded' under the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) rules. Depending on what you want to do (ie how far from a 'Nominated Point of Departure' you wish to go ) you need to go through a torturous process. I'm currently taking a RIB to 'CAT 3' coding which is up to 20 miles from a 'safe haven' in day or night. The rib is likely to sink under the weight & specification of the kit I need to carry! These include a liferaft (yes - a liferaft on a rib), all manner of safety equipment to very precise specifications etc etc I estimate it will cost £1500 - £2000 to achieve this coding once the surveyors have done their assessment etc. You might have it slightly easier in that the Solent is a great place to operate as (eg) if you are based in Cowes your nominated departure points are at (roughly) Lymington & Nab Tower giving you a massive operational area. In Poole any distance is from the chain ferry giving a very limited operational area if you go for coding less than cat 4. (20 miles from safe haven in daylight). You are probaly okay to go for Cat 5 or Cat 6 coding which is less onerous. However (and its a big however) at present it has been possible to get coding under cat6,5 (& possibly others) without a liferaft, according to the RYA this is changing and it may be that all such situations require a liferaft which is quite a big commitment; I suspect the above is all quite confusing the books to get are:
- The safety of small commercial motor vessels - a code of practice (known as the yellow book) - this covers the rules for coding cat 0 to cat 4
- The red book (can't remember its title) - cat 5& 6
from the Stationary Office 0870 600 5522
MCA 02380 329112
NB: If you are a RYA powerboat school you can speak to James Stevens at the RYA about all of this
Finally (if i understand correctly) there used to be an exemption whereby you could get local authority licences to charter your vessel in certain areas - this has now been cancelled and replaced by the above - John - if i remember rightly you've had experience of this - is that true?