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Old 07-21-2010
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The total sailing on Friday is now 7. (5 Adults, 1 Teenager, 1 Child) Three of the Adults have had sailing lessons. One of the adults is career military, on leave from Iraq. The others have no sailing experience. The Catalina can hold 7 with no problem. (It sleeps 7) We have 12 life jackets on board.

Now what I really want to know is when you take people sailing on your boat (if you have one) what information do you impart to them before you cast the lines off.

ericread thank you for your suggestions, VERY GOOD
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Old 07-21-2010
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I give them a rundown of the rigging on my boat. Even those who have sailed before won't automatically know where your halyards, sheets, and winch handles are. I also make sure everyone knows where all the safety equipment is ... flares, air horn, life jackets, fire extinguishers, first kit, throwable cushions, etc. I give instructions on proper, safe usage of a winch. I give a specific briefing on how I intend to leave the dock, assign people to their own docklines, and show them how to coil up and stow docklines. Basically, take nothing for granted on even the most basic of boating skills if you expect help from the "crew". Or ... just tell them how to stay out of the way, ensure them that heeling is normal (ie the boat really won't tip over), and singlehand it. Also, I tell them where the beer box and bottle openers are located.
1981 C&C 32
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Old 07-21-2010
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there is a fine line between giving a safety briefing and making everyone on board apprehensive. here's what i do, for whatever it is worth:

1.Everybody sits in the cockpit and we discuss the plan for the day. Anyone under the age of 12 and non swimmers put on PFDs now, and I show everyone whetre the others are, along with the fire extinguishers. More safety later. i don't TELL my guests what the plan is, I ask, "what do you want to do?" unless there is a specific predetermined destination. Then we haul out the charts, fire up the chartplotter and everybody plays a part in charting the course.

2. now that we know where we are going, we plan how to get there. I explain the sequence of events, and assign tasks- my boat is an Oprah boat; EVERYBODY gets a job! Even the pouty uninvolved Nintendo DS playing pre-teen; he ( or she) is responsible for sheet management, for example. show them how to tie a simple knot and give them a little responsibility and they are all over it.
3. i explain basic sailboat physics, using actions. here's what;s gonna happen, here's why, here's what it does, here's why it's not a problem, here's how we fix it.
4. I explain why we sometimes YELL on our boat. Don't say it, YELL it. With sails luffing and engine running and things moving and everything happening at once when tacking, docking, raising and furling sails, information needs to be exchanged clearly, concisely and NOW. There is a difference between yelling TO each other and yelling AT each other. Amazing how many people don't understand that. We all will STOP yelling when the engine is off and the sails are up. Amazing how many people don't get that, either.

5. Now that everyboyd knows how it all works, and that everybody knows to yell, everybody gets a quick rudimentary lesson in terminology. Front is bow, back is stern, left is port, right is starboard, big front sail is jib, sail overhead is main, big pole is mast, small pole is boom, if it mkaes a sail go up it is a halyard it if makes a sail go in and out or side to side it is a sheet... and we all point and repeat it three times. Looks goofy, but it works.

6. Like I said, this is an Oprah boat- everybody gets a job, but everybody also gets a chance to be behind the wheel.

7. I explain the safety features, in the unlikely event they will be needed, and explain how to work the MOB pole, lifering, and an overview of MOB procedures. We discuss seasickness, and how to prevent it, deal with it, and that it's really no big deal, just YELL and let somebody know you're gonna toss your cookies, preferably off the low side.

8. we go below and i show everyone where the galley is, how to find what, where the beverages are kept, etc.

9. We all troop down to the head and i show them how it works, and then get one or tow guests to explain it back.

10. A quick VHF tutorial.

11. last but not least, the "Captain's word is law' speech. Do what you are told, when you are told, without question. if you want to know who, what, where, when, and why, ask afterward. i am always happy to explain LATER, but do it NOW.

12. We light the engine, and i do a chalktalk on leaving the dock, who does what when, mmake sure everyone is ready, and off we go!

By getting everyone invloved in the process, there is a lot more fun, a lot less apprehension and fewer surprises.

Last edited by bljones; 07-21-2010 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 07-21-2010
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First thing I do is find out who has some boat experience and who doesn't. For those with experience I review some basics of how we are going to pull out of the slip and how we are going to return and their possible roles.
For everyone, I walk them through a safety briefing. Top side first then down below. I also give them the boat rules (e.g., no one outside of the cockpit without a life vest on). During the safety briefing I also point out some basic operations (like the head, VHF and main power shutoffs).
Those that want to participate or learn to sail give specifics on the function they will have to perform (e.g., tacking). I try to make everyone take the helm.
Most of the time with guests I'm only behind the helm at the start and when docking.
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Old 07-21-2010
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I tell them I have only one rule, Don't fall off the boat.
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If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most - E.B. White
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Old 07-22-2010
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Thanks to all who responded to this thread. My wife and I are on our way to prepare the boat for her voyage on Friday.
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Old 07-22-2010
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Originally Posted by ericread View Post
Rotate each of the guests at the helm for a short while. Have each of the other guests man a jib sheet or the mainsail sheet and constantly have them trim the sails. While it will be somewhat tiring for you to captain the boat by providing non-aggresive instructions to your crew, your crew will never forget the great time they had "sailing".

The best time I ever had sailing was when I never had a chance to sail. My "crew" worked their butts off, and had a great time. I helped, advised, and was able to assist should a situation arise. The only time I had a problem was when I kept instructing the guest at the helm on how to read the tell-tales. Finally, I had to ask; "what are you, color blind?" You guessed it, the answer was "yes".


I will strongly SECOND this post. I used to sail a 43' Ketch out of Annapolis (among other boats) and some of the best days were when I only had the helm to take her out and back in the narrow channel. Otherwise I just let other people steer, maybe gave them a hand to demonstrate something and that was it. Most everyone had a BLAST, esp. the newbies.
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Old 07-24-2010
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The trip went great. The advice was good. We sailed in light winds, traveling about 2kn. The kids on board would like to go a lot faster. Hay its a sailboat not a speed boat. One thing the kids liked was the opportunity to get behind the wheel. The 6 year old went down into to the cabin and yelled back can someone turn the electicity on! She wanted the A/C on.
We anchored out in the lake and went swimming.

Thanks to all ! You helped my family have a fun and safe adventure.
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