Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-20-2016 Thread Starter
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Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

I have been asked to put together a presentation/class that educates small keelboat (Rhodes 19, Ideal 18, Sonar) sailors about what they need to learn so they can skipper a bareboat charter. We're trying to tell them what they need to learn, not teach it to them. We're operating under the assumption that plenty of hours on these engine-less keelboats in a protected waters (1 square nautical mile) is the extent of their sailing experience. They moor, practice man overboard drills and dock under sail on dinghies and these small cabin-less keelboats.

Key Objectives:
1. Teach students enough about what is involved in skippering a bareboat charter to decide whether or not skippering a bareboat charter is something they'd like to pursue
2. Introduce students to the plethora of requirements, knowledge and skills needed to successfully skipper a bareboat
3. Familiarize students with some options for fulfilling the requirements and acquiring the knowledge and skills

We've decided to focus the presentation on the British Virgin Islands as they're a great place to get your feet wet as a bareboat skipper.

I've had some other club members who've skippered bareboats look over this outline but I'm hoping I can get some more diverse expertise here. What have we forgotten? Where is the bad advice?

Here is the Outline (PDF, 4 pages)
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Last edited by SavvySalt; 04-21-2016 at 08:21 AM.
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-21-2016
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

I guess I see what you're trying to do here, but...

Well yes, they'll encounter 25-plus knots, but more typically in the Drake channel its around 20, at least when I went many years ago, in March. But first, they should get experience in say 10-15 knots if possible, preferably before heading down there where 10 knots is harder to find. I've only been there once, but it was with 3 42-foot boats, 19 prep school kids from Massachusetts on spring break, and five "adults" as skippers and chaperones, with my wife and me at 27 being the "elders". Challenging, but ultimately a lot of fun.

Sailing on main alone in a charter boat (which tends to be sorta undercanvassed) can be kludgy, especially above a reach. More pertinent may be learning how to reef main and partially furl/reef jib, move jib cars, ease travelers out so as to "depower" the boat, but keep the sail area balanced fore and aft.

I've never reefed a small boat either, but they don't have reefing. Remind them it's easier to reef at anchor than bouncing around underway, and easier to unreef than reef, in lumpy windy weather--safer, too.

Boats don't steer like cars at all, cars have the "rudder" in front. Agree with you about the "on ice" part though.

Oh yes you do need to anchor, a lot, at least we did way back in the '70s


The rest after page one, looks very good. I especially like page 2, "don't sail onto land" ;-) Seasickness?? try Ginger Ale (with real ginger), put the sufferer on the helm, and head towards a harbor. They often recover before you get there.

You might cover radiotelephone procedure. Say the other boat's name first, then "this is", and get off 16 onto another channel, etc.

Also Prop-walk (clockwise prop will back to port, use it to your advantage or else be frustrated) and how to give a "kick" ahead to get straightened out. Try this in open water first!! then at the slip.
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-22-2016
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

All in all, not bad. Here are my comments...

"All chain in water where you can see the bottom is the easiest"
True, but I don't think I have ever had a charter boat that had all chain. Usually 30-40 feet of chain (or thereabouts) and rope. Anchoring is pretty much the same anyway.

"Docking: In the BVI your charter company can handle this. Insist they do"
Well, yes and no. If you want (or need) to stop at the dock in Spanish Town, Leverick Bay, or anywhere else, your charter company is not going to send someone to dock the boat for you. There will, usually, be very helpful boys on the dock to guide you, though. First time I docked at Spanish Town, I had never backed in before, and that's what they wanted me to do. The guy on the dock (who looked like he was about 10 years old) walked me through it step by step--turn your wheel to the left, a little more gas, now straight, a little to the right... Swallow your ego, go slow, do what you're told, and it will work out fine (and then give him a nice tip).

Mast steps? I cannot imagine any reason for a charterer to go up the mast. Call the company and let them deal with it.

Diesel inboard... Don't forget that you press the kill switch and THEN turn off the key! Yeah. It's not like your car, and you will feel stupd the first time you get this backwards. (Go ahead, ask me how I know.)

Seasickness... Yes, scop patches work pretty well. In the islands you can also buy stugeron, which works quite well for some people also (they sell it at the pharmacy in Spanish Town). The main thing about seasickness, though, is that everyone is different and what works marvelously for one person may be completely ineffective for another. You just have to find out what works for you.

"The boat won’t have the gear needed to navigate with the paper charts"
I would amend that to MAY not. I've had boats that were fully equipped, and others that weren't. In any case, even without any plotting tools, if you know your navigation you can manage--it's pretty much all line-of-sight in the BVI anyway.

Don't take ASA course in the BVI? Why not? I didn't, but I know people who have and were extremely happy with the class and the results.

Last edited by denverd0n; 04-22-2016 at 09:31 AM.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-22-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolatom View Post
Well yes, they'll encounter 25-plus knots, but more typically in the Drake channel its around 20, at least when I went many years ago, in March. But first, they should get experience in say 10-15 knots if possible, preferably before heading down there where 10 knots is harder to find. I've only been there once, but it was with 3 42-foot boats, 19 prep school kids from Massachusetts on spring break, and five "adults" as skippers and chaperones, with my wife and me at 27 being the "elders". Challenging, but ultimately a lot of fun.
My goal is to prepare them for the strongest winds they are likely to encounter. When I was in the BVI in 2014 we had a squall with 30 knots for about half an hour. I hear that is neither expected or unusual which seems like the right balance to me.

I go back and forth on suggesting their ultimate "heavy" weather strategy be start the engine, drop the sails and head for shelter.

Quote:
Sailing on main alone in a charter boat (which tends to be sorta undercanvassed) can be kludgy, especially above a reach. More pertinent may be learning how to reef main and partially furl/reef jib, move jib cars, ease travelers out so as to "depower" the boat, but keep the sail area balanced fore and aft.
I agree. I just think it's good to have in your bag of tricks. And, if you've needed to do this before, the 30knot squall won't be as frightening.

Quote:
Remind them it's easier to reef at anchor than bouncing around underway, and easier to unreef than reef, in lumpy windy weather--safer, too.
DEFINITELY. Thanks.

Quote:
Oh yes you do need to anchor, a lot, at least we did way back in the '70s
In March 2014 we anchored once: the day we arrived at JVD really late. And we could have gone over one harbor and moored but we wanted to try anchoring.

Quote:
You might cover radiotelephone procedure. Say the other boat's name first, then "this is", and get off 16 onto another channel, etc.
That is a good idea. There are so many things to cover!

Radio procedure strikes me as something that would be well suited as a handout. They're not going to remember it all but if they print out out or download the handout they're all set.
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

We've bareboated in BVI twice. Nearest i can tell is they'll charter you a boat within 5 feet of your own or your experience. Our Lancer is a 25 and we chartered a Beneteau 311 both times. If I were to give advice on what was important, other than the operation og the boat . . .

1) Picking up a mooring, into the wind, under motor
2) parking the boat in tight spaces, alongside a pier.
3) "Right of way" on the water
4) Towing a dinghy
5) Reefing in strong wind
6) ATON identification and meaning
7) Radio etiquette

Take a look at Nuaticed.org. YOu might get some good ideas. It was suggested that we take a few of them to bypass the chart briefing. Pretty good stuff for like, 10 bucks. Some is actually free.
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
"All chain in water where you can see the bottom is the easiest"
True, but I don't think I have ever had a charter boat that had all chain. Usually 30-40 feet of chain (or thereabouts) and rope. Anchoring is pretty much the same anyway.
Huh. I've done 5 charters that included 7 boats. All of them were all chain. Generally we've stuck with Sunsail & Moorings.

Quote:
Mast steps? I cannot imagine any reason for a charterer to go up the mast. Call the company and let them deal with it.
I thought I deleted the bit about mast steps. ::grumble:: technology ::grumble::

On the 45+ footers we've chartered the short crew can't reach the top of the boom hence the one or two mast steps. But my intention is to suggest no larger than a 42'er hence the deletion.

Quote:
Diesel inboard... Don't forget that you press the kill switch and THEN turn off the key! Yeah. It's not like your car, and you will feel stupid the first time you get this backwards. (Go ahead, ask me how I know.)
Gahh. I'm right there with you. FACEPALM.

Quote:
"The boat won’t have the gear needed to navigate with the paper charts"
I would amend that to MAY not.
Amended.

Quote:
Don't take ASA course in the BVI? Why not? I didn't, but I know people who have and were extremely happy with the class and the results.
It's cheaper and you learn in more challenging conditions if you go elsewhere. It's not a bad place to take it but there are better.

If I had it to do over again I'd take the catamaran edition in St. Vincent and The Grenadines. Or somewhere in the med with lots of med mooring. Or, if I could find it, somewhere in Maine with 20+ feet of tidal range.
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

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Originally Posted by vtp View Post
It's cheaper and you learn in more challenging conditions if you go elsewhere.
True, but then there are people who don't really WANT "more challenging!" All they want is to be able to charter.

I know at least one couple that spent two weeks in the BVI. First week was taking the ASA courses from Sunsail. Course done, they stepped onto another boat and spent a week bareboating. Sunsail can hardly tell you that you are not qualified to bareboat when they just finished selling you a course that is advertised as all you need to be able to bareboat! This couple has since done progressively more challenging charters elsewhere, but mostly they avoid "challenging." They just enjoy time together bareboat chartering.

So, whether or not the BVI is the best place to take your ASA courses, I would say, depends on what your objectives are. I certainly would not tell people that they should NOT take them there.
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
If you want (or need) to stop at the dock in Spanish Town, Leverick Bay, or anywhere else, your charter company is not going to send someone to dock the boat for you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonScribner View Post
2) parking the boat in tight spaces, alongside a pier.
I must admit I've been trying to avoid making docking a requirement.

It's very difficult to accumulate experience docking without buying a boat. It's safe to assume the audience, dinghy club members, don't own a boat to practice with. If students start sailing or racing on a big boat as crew the owners will almost always pull into the slip. All of the clubs in the area keep their boats on moorings or have the most straightforward docking arrangements possible. If you're lucky you'll get to dock the boat once during an ASA bareboat course. I've met several sailors with their bareboat rating that have never pulled into a slip: I was one of them for a while! A sailor could obtain all of the other skills and knowledge mentioned in the course sailing club boats, crewing on OPB and getting their bareboat certification via a course without ever having had the chance to be at the helm when docking.

I even took an ASA 118 (Docking Endorsement) class to see if that would get the job done. $500 later I spent two days grinding rubrails into pilings learning docking techniques that were, by and large, only applicable to the docks that the school kept their boats at. The time at the helm in close proximity to docks was valuable but the skills necessary to dock in the BVI simply weren't covered.

My suggestion to attendees will be plan to anchor and pick up moorings during their trip. To have the charter company handle getting them into and out of their slip. I'll suggest that, if they must dock, do it on a day that isn't very windy in a location with lots of room for making mistakes. Organizing one's bareboat to avoid docking removes the largest barrier to entry; a barrier that is both expensive and time consuming.

If somebody has a better suggestion for learning how to dock I'd be overjoyed to hear it.
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Re: Learn to Skipper a Bareboat Charter Outline - Feedback and Suggestions?

My comment about docking comes strait from the hallowed piers of Road Town. When we drop off the charter, we pull in between two rows of boats, stern to stern about 50 feet, and head directly towards a concrete wall. At the precise second, I had to crank hard to starboard, hit reverse, ram the throttle, kill the engine and step over the coming onto the dock while handing the dock hands the spring lines, the bumpers barely compressing. Wait . . . no . . . that was Capt'n Ron. I actually had to goose it a few times and let prop walk work its magic. But, it was nerve wracking and if there was someway to prepare folks for close quarters maneuvering, it would be a nice-to-have.
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