We created these animations to show the process of sailing your boat to the dock when approaching from an up-wind or down-wind position.
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These are the kinds of really helpful tips and tricks that we post in our Skipper Course. Take the NauticEd Skipper Course NOW and add it to your FREE NauticEd online sailing resume. A sailing resume is required by Yacht Charter Companies EVERY TIME you charter.
Heading Up-Wind at the Dock
Heading Down-Wind at the Dock. Notice the difference in start positions.
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Another Maneuvering technique for your bag of tricks.
This is a great trick we learned in the Bahamas last week when doing our ICC license with Mark Thompson from Yachting Education. Mark has been instructing students for 30 years and has an enormous bag of tricks to teach. This one was cool. South of the dock was a shallow area and so we could not drive up to the dock in a normal fashion. Instead we “ferryed” the boat across the wind.
Play the animation now.
This is just the one of the many tricks we have put into our Maneuvering and Docking a Sailboat Under Power Course.
It is pretty amazing – you can now see the content of all your sailing courses in your curriculum offline AND take the tests offline. Once you reconnect, the test results are sent up to the cloud. i.e. it does not matter where you take the test – on iOS or on online on your computer.
NauticEd Sailing App
It is pretty amazing – you can now see the content of all your sailing courses in your curriculum offline AND take the tests offline. Once you reconnect, the test results are sent up to the cloud. i.e. it does not matter where you take the test – on iOS or on online on your computer.
Right now it’s for iOS – an Android version is coming.
Also in the App, is the ability to add to your new style logbook (launched in 2014). So on the dock after a day of sailing, just right there – add the day and it will show up in your sailing resume.
A really amazing feature is that you now carry your sailing resume and certificate with you on your phone at all times and can email it in an instant to anyone.
Here’s a couple of good docking stories and also see below for a great animation on how to dock a sailboat in a tight space in the marina.
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How to Successfully Dock a Sailboat
Yesterday I was out at the marina and decided to do a pump out of the holding tank. I was on the boat by myself. The pump out dock was at the south end of the marina on a tee head and the wind was blowing stiffly out of the north. This means that the boat would be pushed away from the dock so that docking by myself would be a challenge. A challenge in the sense that while it’s easy to get up next to the dock, getting off the boat and getting her tied up was the hard part. A plan was needed – see below for how this incident turned out.
In St. Lucia, the Caribbean, last year I witnessed the worst docking of my life performed by a self-proclaimed experienced sailor. A sailor that claimed he sailed from the channel from Martinique to St. Lucia every weekend bar two the previous year. Well maybe he was a good sailing sailor – but the worst docker of all time – and so that makes him a poor sailor. I mean a really bad one.
Here’s what happen in St. Lucia. This boat with 6 crew and the skipper was wanting to come up to the fuel dock. There was plenty of room – maybe 3 boat lengths. It was a similar situation whereby the wind was blowing off the dock. It’s hard to describe the tangle he put himself into but it involved having to push him away from hitting the two boats (one mine) at the dock. Everyone on the docked boats were pulling out fenders trying to stop this guy from banging everyone up. The guy had no plan and no idea what to do – proof was that none of the crew even had a line in their hand. When I asked him to organize a shore-line to toss to us, he himself left the helm and pulled an old doused tangled spinnaker halyard out of a bucket which was badly coiled and now full of knots in his panic. One crew member scrabbled around eventually and found a line tied it on with a knot I’d never seen before and tossed it. Unfortunately, it was only 6 feet long and barely made the dangle into the water.
On shore, we all grabbed our own supply of dock lines to toss. When we tossed them to the boat still about 20 feet out (which was as close as the skipper could get the boat to the dock without serious damage) the crew just hung on to the lines and expected to be able to hold the boat against the wind rather than cleating them down so that the lines could be cinched up.
You know, at NauticEd we are glad that people need training – that’s our business and we are good at it. But this guy was in serious need of training WITH A BOAT, was a self-proclaimed sailor and was crossing 30 mile channels with inexperienced crew in the ocean – you know that dangerous non-breathable media called water.
After the calamity, I walked over and offered my hand – expecting a few thanks at least for the help and directing an onshore crew to help. Instead, I got a talk about how he is the master of the area and felt like the docking was successful. Steam was pouring out of the other boat’s crews. I gave him my card and even an offer of a free Maneuvering Under Power course and I offered it in the nicest mild mannered way possible. I even used third party sales technique so that it would not be an affront to him personally like “You know it looks like your crew could use a few tips – look this course over for free and if it’s appropriate we can sort something out for them”. Till now I have never seen him sign into our system. This guy is going to continue to embarrass himself (albeit unknowingly) and endanger his boat his crew and others and there is going to be a lot of gel coat on harbor bottoms throughout the Caribbean. What went wrong? There was no plan!
So what does a good plan entail? It should involve a thorough preparation for the maneuver AND all other possible issues.
Miles out from the harbor, when you have plenty of time, use the local marina guidebook to study the harbor. Study the layout, the depths throughout, the tide height, the entrance, the approach buoys (are you IALA-A or IALA-B), the docks. Where is the customs office, water dock, fuel dock, grocery store and restaurants etc? Learn the harbor masters VHF channel if it is offered.
Discuss with the crew the needs for the boat and make a marina visitation plan – e.g. length of stay, who goes to the grocery store, who stays with the boat to help fuel-up water-up who takes out the trash yakety yak. Are we staying for lunch etc.
Side note: You are the facilitator of the crew having a good time on THEIR vacation – you are NOT the boat nazi with a need for an ego stroke. People follow a good leader and a good plan. See our Bareboat Charter Course on being a good leader.
Call the harbor master on VHF and announce your desire and plans – e.g. Would like to check into customs, visit the fuel and water dock, then dock up for 3 hour stay. Listen to the harbor masters instructions.
Often times you don’t have the luxury of a nice friendly harbor master to give easy instructions and you have to make it up. But at least you are armed with a previously studied layout of the harbor.
Discuss a docking plan with the crew. This involves lines and fenders. It’s important to get lines tied on both sides of the boat as a contingency plan. The last thing you want is a line scramble at the last minute in a tight windy marina with a flustered crew who tend to tie bad knots whilst in a panic. Use long lines as dock lines – obvious, see below.
Fenders – the crew needs to know the appropriate fender knot (usually a clove hitch). Before you get to the dock, you don’t know the height of the dock relative to the boat so the fenders will need to be adjusted before the final “kiss”. Or it’s even possible that they may need to be moved to the other side at the last minute. There should be at least one (or two) roving fender with a crew member assigned to manage it. A roving fender is a loose fender with a line to be used should there be close quarters, the fender can be used to protect both boats. BIG POINT – make sure all crew (including kids who are desperate at all times to help) that arms and legs are NOT to be used to push the boat away from other boats or docks. A boat-boat crunch is better that a boat-arm-boat crunch.
Appoint crew members to each dock station, forward and aft. Ensure those crew members know how to coil and throw a line – obvious but not many people know how to properly and effectively do this. As a docking helms person, you cringe when you need that line ashore and you see it thrown poorly missing the mark. These skills are taught as a game whilst under sail out in the ocean.
Appoint an able bodied person to step ashore and take the lines. Explain the order of tying off. They need to know that trying to hold the boat against the wind is not possible. If you’re coming in forwards then usually you want the forward line tied first to a dock cleat aft of the bow. This help stop the boat and can save you from exchanging $100 for gel coat repairs to the forward boat. Thus explain this carefully and clearly. “The first thing to do when you get off is to catch the forward line and get it cleated as fast as possible to the dock at a position backward from the bow of the boat to stop the boat moving forward. Then get the aft line cleated. Don’t worry too much about getting it prefect just get them cleated. We can all tighten them up later but the priority is to get the boat cleated.”
Each docking maneuver requires a different plan. For example a Mediterranean mooring requires the boat back up to the dock. Different wind directions and force require a different order of things. The important thing to do is have a plan and have the crew understand the plan.
In your minds eye, visualize the whole maneuver way prior to starting it when you have no distractions. Think about each crew members abilities, the wind, current, what could go wrong. Visualize the lines being thrown and everything. Try to predict any weaknesses through your visualization.
So what happened with my docking maneuver yesterday?
I’m going to admit it. My plan had a flaw in it, and I initially failed, but I survived. The flaw was that I did not have long enough dock-lines. Being by myself, I needed to get off the boat with both forward and aft dock lines in hand so that I could control both ends of the boat at the same time.
Here’s how it worked the second time – successfully. Away from the dock I cleated a long forward line and brought it back (outside of everything) to the cockpit. I cleated a long aft line and coiled it next to the forward line. I motored the boat at 45 degrees towards the dock at a place at where I wanted the stern to end up. About 5 feet out, I turned the boat sideways to the dock and engaged reverse to stop the boat. This bought the boat side to the dock nicely but I still had the wind to contend with blowing me away from the dock. The reason for the 45 degree point is that you get some dock-ways momentum which gets your final position closer to the dock. If you come in flat and parallel to the dock, by the time you get to your stopping position, you’ll always be too far away to step off because of the wind. After stopping, moving quickly, I stepped out of the cockpit with both forward and aft lines in hand. I stepped off the boat and went forward to cleat the front of the boat. The long aft line allowed me to keep the aft line in hand whilst I quickly cleated the forward line. By this time the stern had blown away a little but not much. I ran back and cleated the aft. I was able to just pull the stern around. Had the wind been higher or the boat bigger I would have been able to use a spring technique shown in the animation to bring in the stern with the engine. That’s why I put on the forward line first.
Pretty simple you might say but I wanted to point out that having a plan makes success. My first pretty poorly planned maneuver failed me. It came from having the luxury of a crew, once one variable changed the viable planned became a failure. I’d failed to visualize the whole maneuver. I’d not visualized how I would prevent the stern of the boat being blown downwind.
Docking is where ALL the damage happens. Become an excellent docker. Our Maneuvering Under Power course is probably the best course in the world on teaching how to effectively dock a boat.
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A Sailing Resume beats a Sailing Certification
It’s obvious when you think about it. It’s like Rock Paper Scissors.
Show up to a charter company with a sailing certification and it’s like showing up to a job interview with a degree. You’re going to get an entry level job which is akin to being authorized to charter a dinghy.
Every Charter company asks you every time for a resume. Show up to a job interview with a fully documented resume showing all the experience you have and you’re going to get an upper level management job – akin to getting a 40 foot charter boat ready for you to skipper yourself.
This is why many people are disappointed when they go get a BareBoat Sailing Certification from a random sailing association only to find out that it’s not worth what they thought it was – sure it contributes but it’s about time the sailing associations stopped lying to their own customers. A Bareboat Sailing Certification on its own WILL NOT NOT NOT allow you to charter a boat. Here is proof – the number for Sunsail USA is 877-651-9651. Call them and ask them if they will charter you a boat whereby you will not give them a resume but just a certificate. They will politely request a resume.
You must have a resume in order to charter a boat. You can fill one out on paper – or you can use NauticEd’s free cloud based resume builder. Either way is fine.
Another Variable is the International Certificate of Competence – the ICC. Most countries in Europe require you to have an ICC. And some even specify that it is a jailable offense. The ICC is not hard to get – the easiest way is to pass the RYA Day Skipper Course online at NauticEd and then visit an RYA Practical Training Center for practical training/sign off. In the USA, visit Yachting Education in Annapolis elsewhere find an RYA local training Center here.
You can also do the book work and exam at the Practical training center whilst you’re there – it’s your option – personally we believe getting it done prior to the practical training makes for a better practical training experience. Note: for North Americans, you can not get an ICC from an American based company who uses American training systems. It must come through a country who is a signatory to the United Nations Resolution 40. THe USA and Canada did not sign the resolution and thus the best way for North Americans to get the ICC is to go through the English RYA system. Fortunately, NauticEd has stepped up to provide this course and pathway to gain the ICC.
So if you’re going to Europe, all Charter companies will require an adequate resume AND an ICC. If not Europe then all Charter Companies will require an adequate resume.
So what is an Adequate resume? It’s one where you have believable documented experience as Master of a sailboat within close approximate length to the one you are chartering. When we interviewed charter companies world wide to see what they would accept and what they thought would be average safe experience, their answers were the precursor to our ranking system.
For Bareboat Charter you should document at least 50 days of sailing. 25 at least as master of the vessel and 25 at least on a sailboat larger than 28 ft (8.4 m).
Additionally, you should document theory knowledge. What they wanted to see was knowledge around anchoring, navigation, docking and maneuvering, general sailing and knowledge of bareboating and what to expect. These represent the courses we also require for our Bareboat Charter Master Rank.
Charter companies take notice of documented instructor time but they don’t require it. Certainly it makes them feel more comfortable and this is where a sailing association bareboat “certificate” comes in – it adds to the confidence.
Something else that we did to help charter companies increase their confidence about chartering to a NauticEd student was to implement an Authenticated entry ability into our logbook system. When you go sailing with someone, you click in your logbook that you went out with them. They are sent an email that asks if this was real. If they say yes then it authenticates your entry AND authenticates their entry if they are a student. The NauticEd Resume then shows the amount of time on the water with the % of Authentication.
When you add up the above conversation, you’ll now understand why we built this Resume system as we did. We set out in 2007 with tools such as the internet with burgeoning eLearning technology and the ability for students to login to the cloud and permanently store real life experience data. It’s what a modern education system should look like.
Start a NauticEd FREE cloud based sailing resume now. Just set up a free account and start loading up your experience into your resume. Then go to your profile tab and create a logbook code. Give this logbook code to your yacht charter company when you want them to view your sailing resume. They simply visit http://www.nauticed.org/student_verification – you can go there now and view yours or view the example student we have set up there.
Whilst you are entering your experience make sure you add CrewMates to Authenticate your time. If you ever get instructor training, make sure you give to your instructor your logbook code. They will login and verify your practical competence which shows in your resume.
We hope you “get it”, like a job resume – your sailing resume is a living breathing document that should be kept up to date. But it also tells a story about you and your competence. If you were a charter company, who would you charter a boat to – A certificate holder who gained that certificate from a sailing association with low standards on quality enforcement, or a student with a fully documented sailing resume?
On top of all that – our team has a lot of experience in Yacht Charter and we can organise a yacht charter for you – chances are we’ve sailed in every location you want to go. We can fill you in on the best places and charter companies. We don’t charge a fee for this service.
Sign in or sign up now and fill out your sailing logbook.
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What is the ICC?
Wanting to go sailing in Europe? You’re going to need the International Certificate of Competence (The ICC).
The ICC is defined by United Nations Resolution 40 of which 22 member states in Europe have adopted the resolution. It is the only sailing certificate fully recognized by these countries. Additionally, many countries who are not signatories to the resolution still require the ICC via local marine laws. There is no other sailing certificate that is government issued and United Nations accepted.
Why do you need an ICC?
By it’s very nature, sailing is an international recreation. When sailing you will invariably interact with shipping lanes and internationally bound ships operating under international laws of the ocean as well as light houses, lights, buoys etc. One such set of laws is the International Rules of Preventing Collision at Sea. Another is the international agreements on lights and buoys known as IALA-A and IALA-B. As a recreational sailor YOU MUST adhere to these laws whether educated about them or not. In considering this and remarkably so, enough countries got together and developed a minimum standard of education a sailor must meet to be able to sail in their waters. This standard was then adopted by United Nations so that the standard would extend internationally. Wow what a great idea and huge kudos to the founding diplomats and promoters of this standard.
What is the requirement for the International Certificate of Competence?
The requirement is a demonstration of competence in all areas of sailing from the rules of preventing collision, navigation techniques, safety of lives at sea, understanding lights and buoys, meteorology, tides and currents, good seamanship etc. You must be able to demonstrate theory knowledge and practical competence.
How do I get an International Certificate of Competence?
This can best be achieved in one of two ways but only through an approved ICC issuing training center:
(1) A one day assessment. This is an intensive one day on the water test out. There is no instruction. The assessor will merely ask theory questions and require practical demonstration in all the areas of requirements above. If you can’t quickly and effortlessly demonstrate how to calculate, plot and follow a series of courses, determine tidal heights and current flows, answer questions about day markers, cardinal buoys, lights etc etc – then more than likely you will fail the assessment.
(2) Complete the RYA Day Skipper Certification. This is a five day on the water training combined with extensive theory training. To do the theory training, complete the NauticEd RYA Day Skipper course online prior to your practical training. At the end of the 5 days and given that you have demonstrated growing competence, you will more than likely be awarded the RYA Day Skipper Certificate which automatically qualifies you for the International Certificate of Competence (ICC).
If you don’t do the Day Skipper Course theory onshore prior to the practical, you will not be able to demonstrate the competence required. For example, during the 5 days on the boat you will be expected to already understand the theory of navigation. On board you will learn how to apply the theory already known to the practical situation. Simply stated, if the theory takes 40 hours to go through at home, how could you go through this on board while also trying to learn the practical?
Watch this video to understand about the RYA Day Skipper Course and the ICC
Who are approved ICC issuing training centers and where are they?
Signatory countries to Resolution 40 appoint their sailing governing bodies to issue the ICC to their citizens.
But what about non-signatory countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand?
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) through the government of England is the largest governing body appointed to issue the United Nations ICC. Approved training centers of the RYA worldwide are assessing and training centers able to issue the ICC to English and non-English citizens. Americans, Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis then are able to gain the ICC through an approved RYA training center. For Americans and Canadians the best place to go is the approved RYA training and assessment center Yachting Education in Annapolis, Maryland. Yachting Education’s chief instructor is Mark Thompson who uniquely holds a United States Coast Guard Masters Licence as well as an RYA Chief Instructor Licence. Mark also has over 20 years of sailing instruction under his belt. Strange as it may sound to you but no American sailing association of any type or name or school can issue the ICC.
Why is this? Well simply stated, the United States and Canada did not sign Resolution 40 and thus are not able to appoint any governing body to issue the ICC. This means that there is no certifying body resident in the USA or Canada who can issue the ICC. Other certifying private companies have tried to fake it by making up an international certificate. These are not recognized by the United Nations and are not government approved or issued and the level of tested competence is not to the standard of the ICC in any case. If there was an accident on your boat and you did not have the right Government Approved Sailing License you can be held personally responsible as the captain of the vessel regardless of the Charter Company who leased it to you.
So how does NauticEd fit into the ICC equation?
NauticEd through its approved RYA Day Skipper course provides the proper level of theory instruction as required by the standard to pass the theory knowledge portion of the ICC. NauticEd directs its North American students seeking the ICC to Yachting Education in Annapolis who is an affiliated practical sailing training school of NauticEd and an RYA approved training center. For other countries, after taking and passing the NauticEd theory, NauticEd directs its students to visit an RYA training school in their area to do the practical. As above, you have the choice of 1 day assessment or 5 day training.
Are you considering Europe for Chartering? Contact Yachting Education in Annapolis or visit your local RYA training Center.
So what about the Caribbean and Pacific etc?
As of now there is no government approved certificate required by any country in the Caribbean and equatorial Pacific Islands. While NauticEd still recommends the ICC under any circumstance, our Bareboat Charter Master Certificate without the ICC stamp is sufficient proof to Charter Companies of competence. The Bareboat Charter Master Certificate is not the easiest to obtain. It requires at least 50 hours of home based theory study with extensive exams plus it requires 50 days of logged sailing experience on the water – 25 at least of which must be as master of the vessel and 25 at least of which must be on a vessel 28 ft or greater. Other companies will issue a Bareboat Certificate after a weekend on a boat training – but we just say “come on everyone – really? One weekend? With the potential of all the what-if scenario’s at sea one weekend or even two is asking for trouble and is irresponsible”. Fortunately, Yacht Charter Companies require a practical resume even if a student shows up with one of these weekend or two certificates. If the experience is weak then the yacht charter company will not accept the charter reservation despite the “certificate” and will require a captain on board for the duration. This is exactly why NauticEd provides it’s cloud based sailing resume built automatically from experience logbook entires and eLearning courses passed in addition to practical instructor electronic signoff and NOW the latest – CrewMate Authentication whereby your sailing logbook can be fully authenticated and digitally signed.
Practical instructor sign off can be achieved through a NauticEd affiliated sailing school where instructors have been socially rated by pier students. And if 5 days on the Chesapeake Bay is out of the question for you, then get instruction at your local NauticEd Sailing school then do the one day assessment option in Annapolis.
Some students have asked us the obvious – if I can get a bareboat charter certificate easier through another company why would I not do that. Our answer is two fold (1) Yacht charter companies go off a resume not the certificate. It maybe so that they approve you anyway based on the NauticEd certificate we digitally produce for you based on your courses and own logbook entries (2) our personal belief is that if you have not yet achieved at least our standard of education and experience then we think you should prior to risking lives of friends and family at sea. What if … ?
Additionally, NauticEd is the only company in the world that produces a cloud based authenticated logbook. This gives charter companies the confidence that your stated time is more than just made up. It is living proof of your experience. Learn more about the authenicated sailor’s logbook.
Given all the time constraints and directional pulls in our lives, there are few things left for us to be able to achieve on a personal basis. What about achieving for yourself an International Certificate of Competence. It means that you will be approved by the United Nations to sail anywhere in the world. Let’s hang that on the wall in your office. Maybe even your boss might recognize it. But it’s going to take some work and sweat investment.
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How to dock a Catamaran
Here is an email we received from a student asking about how to dock a Catamaran.
Good day Grant and team,
Your Catamaran Sailing Confidence course is great thank you and achieved for me the confidence you designed it to do. I am bare boat chartering a catamaran in the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia in a few weeks and, while I have reasonable keel boat experience, your course gave me the complete picture of catamaran sailing. Thank you.
I have one question which I would appreciate you answering: How do you dock a catamaran side on to a dock, for example, at the very end of a marina arm or alongside a long jetty?
Section 2.1 of your course explains manoeuvring under power (spin; slow forwards turn; vector) and sections 2.5.1 and 2.5.2 discuss getting out and coming back to the dock. However, other than the repetition of the vectoring animation, I don’t see an explicit description of how to dock the catamaran side-on to a dock.
Would you recommend vectoring and if so, where would you position the boat relative to the jetty (i.e. how far away and where relative to the two yachts you could be docking between)?
Alternatively, would you recommend approaching the dock forwards at a shallow angle, turn the wheel hard away from the berth when the bow nearest the dock is within (half?) a boat length of the dock and then, and when the bow nearly touches the dock vector the boat to the dock (or spin the stern of the hull closest to the dock towards the dock)?
I would value hearing your views which I will be putting into practice in the Hamilton Island Marina at the end of August. Thanks very much.
Kevin here is our answer. Dock the Catamaran exactly as you would a monohull. We’ve included an animation below of how we do it on a tight space. The advantage to docking a catamaran is the extreme awesome ability to maneuver. You don’t have to worry about propwalk either. Just steer the boat in at an angle. As the bow gets close, round the boat out to glide parallel with the dock and engage reverse to stop the boat. As below you can use springing with a dock line forward to drive the aft in. But you don’t need to lend on the spring as much because with the bow held by the spring the aft will naturally spin in with engines engaged opposite.
As with all our recommendations on maneuvering, try this out in deep water next to a floating buoy.
Thanks so much for the compliment on the catamaran sailing course – we get a lot and it is one of our most popular courses.
Two sail boats collide. One had wind over their port side and one had wind over their starboard side. The starboard tack boat saw the port tack boat and gave the port tack boat plenty of warning with a horn, but the port boat just kept on going straight. Who will loose the legal battle in court? Are you really sure? If you said starboard is the stand-on boat over port you could be dead wrong.
Below, the aft boat who is on a starboard tack catches up to the forward port tack boat. Port tack boat does not get out of the way and starboard passes close just to prove the point that port should give way because port gives way to starboard right? right? But there is a collision because port refused to move – who’d loose?
Starboard Tack Boat and Port Tack Boat – who gives way?
Power boats give way to sailboats right? So if a power boat collides into a sailboat the powerboat looses in court right? Well maybe not!
The above might have a few sailboaties jumping up and down wanting to pick up the phone and call us – first you might want to take a look through our new Navigation Rules Course.
Inspired by our Sailing School Instructor, Tim McMahon of Sail Quest in Thailand we have revamped our Navigation Rules Course. And because of Tim’s passion for explaining the dry – we were able to turn a completely dry topic into something interesting and engaging. In fact, we actually guarantee that you will love this course AND we guarantee you will learn something. If you do neither then we’ll give you money back on this course – well that’s slightly hard because the course is free. But none the less – OUR NEW NAVIGATION RULES COURSE ROCKS – thanks Tim McMahon of SailQuest Thailand.
What we did with the revamp of this course was to go through the International Regulations on Preventing Collision at Sea. We pull the rules apart and describe them with animations and example situations. Then we added a discussion about that rule to show who and why you might loose in court if there was a collision. What you say? But I was in the right! The discussion points out why even though you may have been the stand-on boat you might loose.
What this means is that everything you have learned from reading and learning the Rules of the Road might be wrong. This free sailing course is a definite must do and a definite must share.
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Most charter boats use all chain anchor rode. The rules of anchoring say with chain you should use a 5:1 ratio. For example, for an overnight anchorage at a 4 meter depth plus 1 meter from the water line to your boat you should use 5×5 = 25 meters. If you have a 15 meter long charter boat then this is just over a boat and a half length. The trouble is no one has marked the lengths on the chain. So how do you know how much to let out?
Anchoring a Charter Boat
This thought process gets a little more impossible the deeper you go. For example 15 meters deep (50 ft) you’d need to lay 16×5=80 meters (250 ft). Your charter boat does not come with this much chain/rode and nor do most boats for that matter. Typically you’ll have a maximum of 50 meters onboard. Thus at deeper depths the 5:1 rule needs to be relaxed a little to accommodate or better yet only anchor in shallower waters. The most important thing is that there needs to be plenty of chain, at least a full boat length laying on the sea floor during a strong gust condition. This ensures that the anchor is always being pulled horizontally across the sea floor and thus making the anchor dig in more rather than getting pulled upwards (and out of its hold of the bottom).
When chartering, the anchor chain is frustratingly never marked for lengths. Here’s what we do. Take with you some plastic tie-wraps. On your first anchoring, swim the anchor after you have settled and you feel it is a good length of payout. Ensure that there is plenty of chain laying on the ocean floor. When you are satisfied with the lay, mark the chain with one of your tie-wraps remembering the depth that this is good for. Mark it prior to letting out the bridle/snubber so that next time this is where you stop the paying out – then attach the bridle/snubber and pay out enough to make the bridle/snubber do its work. As you anchor at different depths you can attach different numbers of tie wraps. We attached 1 tie wrap at a comfortable 3 meter depth and then 2 tie wraps at a comfortable 5 meter depth. This made it so we would not have to snorkel it every time and be confident that what we were letting out would be fine.
See our video we shot in Martinique of our anchor chain laying on the ocean floor.
Motoring into wind the drop spot is selected. The helmsperson and the foredeck crewperson work in unison to let away the anchor. The foredeck crewperson holds their hand up palm facing the helmsperson to indicate to stop the boat dead in the water. The anchor is lowered until it hits the bottom and then the foredeck crewperson points to the helmsperson to back the boat away. The chain is paid out at a rate to allow the chain to lay in a straight line on the ocean floor. When enough has been paid out, the foredeck crew person closes fist to indicate to stop the engines and allow the boat to continue drifting back. This will load up the anchor allowing it to set from the momentum of the boat. The bridle or snubber line is attached and the job is done. After this, it is important to sit and wait for any signs of slipping backwards. Preferably snorkel the anchor every time.
We also used the App – DragQueen Anchor Alarm which is an anchor watch alarm. This alarm will definitely wake you in the night no worries. It did us – we had the tolerance set to low for swing.
We highly recommend the NauticEd Anchoring Course. You will learn the best types of anchors and ones to dump and make into lawn art. What types are best for each bottom type. Bridles and snubbers, The course was written by Alex and Daria Blackwell who have dozens of years of global sailing. They’ve anchored in more bays than most of us have had hot dinners. The Anchoring Course is a requirement for the Bareboat Charter Master Certification – and rightly so!
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Prop walk can be quite frustrating on sailboats with a drive shaft. On most boats the aft of the boat “walks” to the port when the engine is put into reverse. It seems like there is nothing you can do. Watching this animation will help you deal with prop walk when backing into a slip. Note that however it is always best to start out far away from your slip with the aft pointed into wind. Then engage reverse at low revs. Once the boat speed has picked up, water flow over the rudder will combat the prop walk effect and you can begin to steer the boat in what ever direction you want. Water flow over the rudder is key to combating prop walk. Therefore DO NOT stop the boat’s motion before the boat enters the slip. To do so will be to start the boat from standing position again where the prop walk will take over and completely embarrass you in front of the entire marina.
Play the animation below.
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The Maneuvering a Sailboat Under Power Course is a must. In a marina is where you will have your accidents and they are not cheap. Become an absolute expert with the Maneuvering Under Power course. You’ll learn how to maneuver forwards, backwards, spin in tight circles, deal with a 40 knot cross wind, do a Mediterranean mooring with a cross wind etc etc. We put together 28 sample exercises that you can use to practice with. Take these exercises with you on a windy day, a mate, a few refreshments, lunch and have a fun day out. And become an expert. You’ll really like our most popular NauticEd Course and it’s part of your skipper certification – rightly so!
Maneuvering a Sailboat Under Power Course
Now also an iBook – view it on your iPad or now on Mac with the Mavericks update. Go to our Sailing Apps page