Being the skipper comes with a lot of responsibility; you’re responsible for the boat and most importantly responsible for the safety of the crew. Here are a couple tips on how to create a more enjoyable time for your crew while still maintaining safe keeping of the boat and passengers. For the purposes of this blog we will write from the perspective of chartering boats from a club like Harbor Sailboats.
Stay within your skill. It’s very exciting to be certified with ASA 103 and boats up the 37′ but chances are high that you’re not ready for a 37′ boat right out of a 103 class. Stay within your skill level by chartering a boat you feel comfortable on and work your way up in size in small increments. For sailors fresh out of the 103 class this is probably the Catalina 28 or Beneteau 31. Boat handling will become more stressful once you add 4-5 friend/family and being outside your skill level can create and not so enjoyable experience for your crew.
Get to the boat early. Getting to the boat 30-45 minutes before your crew is extremely important and even more so for new sailors. By getting to the boat early you can really get your feet under you and create a better atmosphere for your check out with the dock staff. This allows for a more detailed review of the boat and even a practice docking if you would like. By getting to the boat early your crew will able to step on and go sailing without having to sit through your check out and practice docking.
Prep your crew at the dock. Most likely you and maybe one other crew member are sailors and the rest of the group are friends and family along for a ride. Spending a few extra minutes at the dock explaining how the boat works will go a long way towards making the sail more enjoyable. Show how a winch works, how the boom will swing, how to walk forward in a safe way, and of course demonstrating how the head works are just a few examples.
Keep the boat flat. Getting the boat powered up and heeled over may be fun for a group of sailors (even though its not fast and not good for the boat) but it’s not always fun for a group that is new to boating. New sailors may not understand how the keel will prevent the boat from flipping or know how to properly brace themselves on the high side so it’s extremely important to keep the boat calm and flat. Don’t be afraid to take in a reef or just sail with the main if its a windy day.
These are just a couple example on how to create a more enjoyable time for you crew and improve your skills as a skipper.