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.