Captaining a bareboat yacht on a sailing vacation is an acquired skill.
All of a sudden you’re transformed from friend, co-worker, family and sometimes complete stranger into the authoritative figure with ultimate power. That’s not an easy formula so I’ve put together the top ten tips on how to be a great captain.
When people are led by good captains they do not even remember that they were lead. That means they just remember that the vacation went off with out a hitch and the boat seemed to work itself, yet somehow, every one contributed and a great time was had by all.
Good leaders make people feel comfortable in any environment. Your confidence and promotion of a good time for everyone will help people feel comfortable through out the trip.
Obviously as every one will tell you, your job #1 is to ensure the safety of the ship and crew, however following closely behind that comes the job to ensure that every one onboard is feeling comfortable with you and the vessel. So let me shout this out load and clear. NO SHOUTING OR YELLING. The bareboat charter sailing vacation is not time to prove how much you know or to be Captain Blye. It’s time to prove your quiet confidence and steady character amonst your friends and family. After all I’m sure you’ll want them to come back with you and one wrong snarl and you’re off the christmas card list.
Give up the helm time to others when practical and safe.
Don’t be the supreme commander, you can do that with a rubber ducky in the bathtub at home by your self.
Involve everyone in the sailing process (if they want)
Don’t always be teaching and preaching but offer to show, help, teach.
You’re not their to impress everyone that you can sail, instead impress people with these leadership skills instead. You’ll be liked better.
Make the dinners and do the dishes more than every one else.
Let others participate in the navigating.
There is no need to stay on schedule. If the others are having fun shopping in a cute little port or laying on the beach let them stay. It’s their vacation.
Read up on the local area with a travel book like Frommers and discuss the area and highlights of things to do with everyone.
Plan the trip so there is only 3-4 hours of sailing everyday. And plan to stay in a port or two for a full day.
Keep the boat tidy and clean. Every morning do a wash down of the boat, start the process yourself and I bet others will just join in. After a few days they will self start the wash down.
Every day, give yourself a reality check and ask yourself this: “Am I doing all these things above?”
Ok that was 12 but the extra two were worth it . I didn’t make this stuff up though. The theory of it came mostly from a book I read called Lincoln on Leadership. His phylosophy was to always roll up the sleeves and get into the trenches. People follow more what you do rather than say especially when you’re in a new leadership role.
I’ve applied this phylosophy on the dozens or charter trips I’ve lead all over the world and I can assure you that if you pour the drinks, cook breakfasts and dinners, swab the decks, speak calmly and confidently, tell the jokes, go ashore to buy supplies before everyone gets up, give up the helm, be knowledgeable about the area and make good suggestions and just relax on the schedule, then everyone will remember you as being the BEST CAPTAIN EVER.
The top ten (12) tips on great captaining was extracted from the NauticEd Bareboat Yacht Charter Sailing Clinic which is packed full of real practical bareboat chartering tips guaranteed to enrich your charter sailing vacation and make you look like a star and it’s a requirement for your Bareboat Charter Master Sailing Certification. Take the Bareboat Charter Sailing Class online. And now available in a downloadable PDF. Did we mention our money back guarantee?
Recently on our NauticEd flotilla with the Moorings to the Kingdom of Tonga we wanted to pass through the Fanua Tapu Pass which is a gap in the reef to get to the eastern islands of the Vava’u archipelago. Normally the gap is marked by a series of buoys, however the latest storm ate them.
The pass is well documented by two waypoints. Traversing using a GPS map, however, was out of the question because Tonga is one of the last places on earth to be accurately placed on the world coordinates. Yes you’re reading that right – the islands are not actually where the maps say they are and especially reefs and rocks are not where they are positioned on the maps. That’s pretty absurd for this day and age but it’s true. Call the Moorings base in Tonga for your self.
Navigation is performed using good old eyesight (some of our eyesights are older than others) coupled with map reading skills, a depth sounder and a keen watch out on the foredeck.
So anyway we had to get the first waypoint dead on to pass through the reef. The first waypoint was 18 deg 43.914 min South and 173 deg 59.12 min West. Our position was 18 deg 44.902 South and 173 deg 62.014 West.
So it’s a bit funny trying to hit a point like this because you’ve got to be able to work with a few obvious things but understanding the principles makes it much easier. First you’ve got to know which directions you need to be heading based on the hemispheres you’re in.
In the northern hemisphere to increase the latitude you’ve got to head north but in the southern hemisphere to increase latitude you’ve got to head south.
Similarly, in the eastern hemisphere to increase longitude you’ve got to head east where as in the western hemisphere to increase longitude you’ve got to head west.
OMG how do you remember that? Especially in the heat of the moment with waves and rocks all around you and your life depending on it.
I’m sure there is a memonic for it but it’s best to understand the principle first and below is the way where I can best understand it. For me, I find that principles are better than memonics.
Imagine you’re standing on the intersection of the prime meridian (below grenwich) and the equator. You’re at 0 deg Latitude and 0 deg Longitude. Move in any distance to the North and the latitude increases North. Move any distance to the South and the Latitude increases South. Now place yourself at about 17 degrees south latitude. Move North and you’re moving towards the equator and towards 0 deg Latitude.
So in principle then, if you understand this; move towards the equator you’re decreasing the Latitude no mater which north or south hemisphere you’re in. So in our example above our latitude was greater than the waypoint so we needed to head towards the equator. We were in the southern hemisphere so we needed to head north.
IE when dealing with latitude – just figure out if you need to head towards the equator or not. That should take care of that from an understanding principles point of view.
Longitude. Back to our Prime Meridian/Equator intersection. Looking towards the North pole, everything towards your left is West Longitude right? And everything towards the right is East Longitude. So anything from England, past the Americas and all the way around to Hawaii is West longitude. Any everything from England, past Asia and all the way to Australia and New Zealand is East Longitude. This is why the USA is known as western society and Asia is known as eastern society.
So now you just got to know where you are East or West. In Tonga we were on West Longitudes. So anything back towards the Americas or England from that point was decreasing the Longitude numbers towards the zero prime meridian in Grenwich. Which meant to get to our waypoint we had to head East to the America’s.
So overall we needed to head to the North and to the East. Next we looked at what was the relative differences between desired and present positions for latitude and longitude. The longitude difference was about 3 times that of the latitude difference. This means we needed to head more east than north.
In the old days (I mean the old old days) before longitude could accurately be determined, traders would head north from Africa and purposefully miss England far far to the west of England. Then once on the latitude (easily discovered by the angle the north star makes with the horizon) they would then travel East. This ensured they would miss all the potential dangers. Hundreds of ships were being lost due to the difficulty in accurately determining the longitude. In early 1700’s the King of England offered a 10,000 pound reward to figure out how to accurately determine Longitude. For those of you interested, watch the history channel show on this or read the book “Longitude”. Both are excellent!
So lets go back to the principle. Where ever you are you should establish this before any issues come up. IE if you’re on a bareboat charter – answer these questions before you leave the base.
Am I in the southern or northern hemishere? Then based on that, embed into your head which way do you go to increase/decrease latitudes. Should you head towards the equator or away.
Am I in Eastern Longitudes or Western Longtiudes? Then decide which continent you should head to decrease or increase longitudes.
Here’s a little test then. You’re in the Aegean Sea at:
36 deg 56 min North Latitude, 27 deg 19 min East Longitude
you want to get to:
36 deg 57.897 min North Latitude, 27 deg 17.295 Min East Longitude.
Which way should you be heading?
Simple enough – we’re in the North Eastern hemisphere. We want to increase the latitude so we need to move away from the equator and thus head north. We also want to decrease the longitude and head towards Grenwich England which means head west.
Both are almost 2 minutes in difference and so the VERY APPROXIMATE direction should be North East. We say VERY APPROXIMATE because the latitude lines and longitude lines are not the same distance apart and vary according to latitude. The closer to the poles the closer are the longitude lines. Therefore the heading would be more north of northeast.
In this blog we’re placing quite an importance on this concept. The reason being is a funny (potentially not so funny) story attached. On the Tonga trip one of the crew was an ex Airforce Navigator. He got turned around for a second in the reef because we were heading east to reach the waypoint but his brain was telling him to head west. The reason is that he was used to Navigating around New Zealand which is in the Eastern Longitudes. Tonga is just on the otherside of the 180th Meridian in the Western Longitudes. Whoops being turned around in the middle of reefs is NOT good. There were rocks all around us and correct decisions had to be made fast.
OK and here’s a real scenario to scare you into taking this blog and the NauticEd sailing simulator serious. A family member falls overboard at night and you hit the MOB button on your hand held GPS. You’ve got the lat and long where they went over. By the time you get turned around and the sails down with all the confusion – all you’ve got is their lat and long and yours and a compass. How do you save your family member’s life?
MOB is at 16 deg 33.250 min N and 62 deg 11.501 W
You are at 16 deg 33.200 min N and 62 deg 11.595 W
Which way do you head? Quickly now the current is drifting them away from that position.
Catching the ferry from Charlotte Amarlie was easy the next morning. The ferry terminal is about 15 minutes away from the Marriot. We took the “Fast Ferry” which motored us at about 15 -20 knots to Road Town. The trip was about 1.5 hours. We cleared BVI Customs in Road Town with very friendly customs agents then another taxi ride of about 5 minutes to the Sunsail Base.
ferry ride to Road Town
Upon arrival, we sent some of the crew to the two grocery stores to provision. Cash and Carry is a bulk shopping place which is quite inexpensive but you have to buy a lot of each item. Shop Rite is next door and is more of a traditional grocery store. Between the two stores you can get everything you need for the week including precooked chicken which serves as a great idea for cold dinner and lunch the next day. Take a Van Taxi to the stores so that you can lug everything back to the base.
Boats on the dock at Sunsail
We were disappointed to learn that Fishing Licenses are only issued on weekdays in the BVI’s and from only one place through the entire island chain – Road Town. And since today is Saturday and we’re not returning here until the end of the trip – our spirits of eating Tuna Sashimi are waning. Also we are warned by the locals that the fines for fishing with out a license are very heavy.
Come on BVI Authorities. Make it easier for your tourists – allow local sporting shops to sell fishing licenses.
We learn however that if you call Last Stop Sports on (284) 494-0564 a few weeks ahead of time, theywill arrange to get a fishing license for you. Take note.
A few other things not to forget or check before you leave the dock.
Adequate sheets and towels
Mask and Snorkel supplied free by the base if you need
Swim Ear for after swimming
Cooler with properly operating plug
And lastly unplug the yellow dock line (power cord) before you pull out.
A more extensive list is given in our NauticEd Bareboat Charter Clinic
Also in our Bareboat Charter Clinic is an excellent Crew Brief list prior to leaving the dock.
With charter yachts, you can never tell what kind of music system you’ll get on the boat. Some come with just CD players some have mp3 connections. So I recommend that you bring some favorite CDs as well as your iPhone/mp3 player and don’t forget the cable plus you can also bring your FM transmitter. Between all those you should be covered music wise.
Anthony Wighting is the Sunsail Base Manager and was very helpful in getting us underway early enough for us to get 5 miles to the south to The Bight on Norman Island.
We pulled out of the dock at 4:30 which is about the latest we should have in order to get to Norman island before sun down at 6:30 this time of the year. Norman Island lies on about compass heading 212deg Mag once you clear Road Harbor and is about 5 miles away. We chose Norman Island for our first night because it was a Saturday night and we didn’t want to miss the Famous Willy Tee’s floating bar.
Willy Tee’s lies in “The Bight”, which is a large bay on Norman Island. A famous rock out cropping called The Indian’s is just outside The Bight. The Indians is an excelent place for snorkelling and has a few underwater swim through caves and lots of colorful fish. Given the time – we elected to leave the Indians until tomorrow but we did get this stunning photo of The Indians with the setting sun light.
The Indians - famous for its snorkelling. Just outside The Bight on Normal Island
Folowing our entrance into The Bight, we moored to one of the Mooring Balls far enough away from Willy Tee’s so that those that wanted to sleep would not be awoken by the party noise that would surely come later.
A stunning sunset from The Bight.
Our advice for Willy Tee’s is take a maximum of $20 ( the entire BVI’s run on US dollars). When you have spent that – go back to your boat. The place is entirely encourageble and it seems like the energy field surrounding the vessel removes all your common sense and knowledge about alcohol consumption.
Swinging from the rafters at Willy Tees floating Bar. The Bight - Norman Island
Remember what your dinghy number is.
The Infamous Ski Shot on Wille Tees
Don’t take your wallet and camera’s WILL end up full of sea water. Otherwise we had a fun evening at Willy Tee’s. Seriously however, the real problem with Willy Tee’s is that it usually is your first night out and your excitement level is at it’s height.
As we prepare for our yacht charter sailing vacation to the British Virgin Islands this month, I want to post a few emails that we are sending out to the group that is going. Below is one from my wife discussing provisioning. The name of our trip every year is called Bonga Bonga. Some years we do tee shirts. I’ve got one dating back to 1997 when we went to St. Maarten.
SUBJ: Bonga Bonga 2009
Here are a few tips we have picked up during our charter sailing trips – thought I would share.
Towels – you get two towels per person for the week – that is for swimming and showering – I take a few cheap hand towels along, very nice to have later in the week when you towel is yuck. Some people take a beach towel along – numerous smaller ones seem to be a better bet.
Daily I give the floor in the salon a wipe down – gets rid of the hair, crumbs and sand – best for this is wipes – either Clorox or Baby wipes, great for cleaning the counters too. We have been taking baby wipes along for years and swear by them. My used hand towel then becomes the door mat – helps tremendously with keeping the interior clean.
Toilets – if even one toilet stinks the entire boat stinks – hang a toilet freshener in the bowl from day one and the problem is solved.
Liquid body wash or soap – bar soap slips and slides all over your bathroom and when showering on deck it generally lands in the sea!
BONINE – the very best motion sickness tablet – no side effects, you can drink etc. Don’t be tough and be uncomfortable – be a woosy and have fun – take a tab on day one and then if the weather gets rough you’ll be ok! Otherwise since we have a catamaran if you’re not too susceptible then you should not get sick.
Floaties – up until our last trip you could still not buy Noodles for a reasonable price. It’s nice to have something to float on other than the boat fenders. So consider squeezing one in or a cheep blow up floatee. Vacuum suck the air out before packing since the airline will nail you for baggage these days.
Sippy Cups – although your drink is safer on a Cat, the best bet is a sippy cup for less spills – bring the most outrageous cup – win award!
Sunscreen – need I remind you.
Snorkeling gear – there is gear at the charter base, so not worries borrowing any if you don’t already own.
Zip lock bags – there is no Tupperware on the boat – zip locks are the easiest for food storage – left overs / cheeses etc. Only once have we been able to buy zip lock bags in the islands – so just in case I suggest taking them along.
PROVISIONS – couple of take alongs – sometimes hard or impossible to get in the islands.
Wasabi – I have bought 2 tubes as I have full confidence in my fisherman!
Soy Sauce – for the endless sashimi
Coffee – if you are fussy the coffee there is poor to pathetic – take your java along. We drink decaf, so we take an extra plunger as not to hog the coffee pot.
Benadryl for any bites and /or itch ease. (Stingrays / eels – only kidding! Mosquitos/jellyfish)
Cloth shopping bags. Use these for the freezer. Put similar things together so that you cn pull out and not find all the stuff in the bottom of the freezer at the end of the week.
Provisioning in Tortola
Don’t over stock, there are places along the way to pick up supplies.
Whenever we have bought beef – it has been the biggest disappointment – don’t waste your time. Eat fish – last trip we could not eat all G caught, and cold meats are great for lunch. But forget the steak, unless you get very lucky – then invite us over!
Chicken – the only time I am interested is if I can buy an already roasted chicken – great for salads / sandwiches – to cook on the boat takes to long, hot.
Pasta Sauce – a couple times during the week it is great to just whip up an easy pasta dish – I might take a fabulous pesto or two along in the suitcase.
We always seem to eat the most at cocktail hour, one days sample menu just to get your juices flowing.
Breakfast – FRUIT, yogurt, sometimes eggs and toast, cereal.
Snacks – chips and cookies
Lunch – Salad Nicoise
Sundowners – cheese and crackers, salmon, dips etc. (fresh bread is not easy to find – crackers rule)
Dinner – Artichoke pasta and Caprese salad. Chocolate!! Port!!
ICE is the big score every day – we go in search of it…..
Other than alcohol, nice to have iced tea and fruit juice along with lots of water. Grant is the world’s expert on making tasty rum drinks. Rum, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, mango, passion. – ouch!
We always land up drinking wine with dinner – so stock up.
Fishing gear – we need one more Reel – anyone got a fishing reel – pls let us know.
Can’t wait - see you all in a couple of weeks. And – you all should really take NauticEd’s bareboat charter course and catamaran sailing course. It’ll make the trip much more fun for everyone.
Hotel reservations to follow..
Chartering a sailing boat on a sailing vacation? Take the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Clinic
Bareboat Charter sailing Course
Chartering a catamaran on a sailing vacation? Take the NauticEd Catamaran Sailing Confidence course.
Learn to sail, handle and maneuver a catamaran with confidence
There is a myth that you need a sailing license to charter a boat. Call any charter company outside of Croatia, Greece and Spain (whose governments legally require a certification) and none will insist on a certification. What charter companies want is competence. And they will take competence in lieu of a certification any day. How does anyone define competence? The charter companies define it as total time on the water as master of the vessel which is within 10 feet of the vessel being chartered. They also list yacht ownership, blue water sailing experience, previous charters as master of the vessel, time sailing in the last 5 years, anchoring experience, and experience as crew as important factors in deciding whether or not to release the boat to a potential customer. No question however, they also certainly do put credence into a sailing certification and practical teaching by a professional.
What the charter company does then is look at the combined factors above and then make a decision. They most certainly would not charter a boat to some one who showed up with a Bareboat Charter Certification from any organization or association with just the minimum time required on the water to get the certification with the exception of perhaps the RYA Day Skipper certification – who require a significant amount of sailing experience for the certification.
In addition to the theory side of the certification, what NauticEd provides is easy access to the information you need to be safe. NauticEd also recognizes that you must have the experience to handle situations that arise and thus there is no substitute for time on the water. In addition to that – if you can get practical competence verification from a sailing school then you’re really good to go.
If you don’t have any experience and don’t have access to a boat, then starting out with practical training by a sailing school is the best way to get “helm time”. Then once you’re deemed competent, many schools can charter you a sailboat by the day. After about 20 times out, you’ll be at a point whereby you’re probably feeling pretty comfortable and a sailing vacation destination company would probably charter a boat to you.
Documented sailing experience including some of:
20 + outings as master of 30ft (9m) plus vessel
blue water experience
last 5 years experience
previous charter experience
Documented sailing experience above and documented education
Documented sailing experience above, documented education, verified practical competence.
When you show up at a charter company with time on the water as master of the vessel and proven education from any certifying body, they’ll be delighted to let you charter their boat. NauticEd recommends that you show up practiced, educated and taught by a professional.
With the addition of NauticEd’s two recent sailing Clinics – Bareboat Charter Clinic and the Maneuvering a Sailboat under Power Clinic, sailing charter companies are “getting” the value of NauticEd.
Reduction in damage: The first is the obvious reduction in damage at the dock and in the marina but there are other reasons as well.
Better charter experience for everyone: Persons chartering a sailboat are encouraging their crew to take the bareboat charter clinic as well before they head out on the ocean. Turns out that an informed and educated crew have a much better time chartering.
Increased number of people chartering: When potential charterers read the bareboat charter clinic material it reduces their intimidation factor about chartering a sailboat in an unknown destination. The bareboat charter course material is quite comprehensive and explains exactly what a skipper and the crew is signing up for and shows that it is actually with in the reach of experience that many people have but thought that they might not have – so more people are contacting the charter company and signing up.
Increased Brand Loyalty: Charter companies that are linking through to NauticEd have their logo posted on all the NauticEd pages when a charterer or student link from them. Thus the person is more likely to take a charter from them once the course is completed.
High tech investment in the industry: Having an online learning presence and capability makes charter companies look more organized and thus also increases their brand and sales.
Resume building and repeat customers: Coming soon – students can post their actual resume so that charter companies can simply login – see the courses that the student has taken and view their practical experience. this tends to motivate charterers to continue to build their resume and take more charters.
Simple, simple simple sign up: All this is big value for charter companies for increasing sales and brand. Charter companies can sign up through the hands on schools page whereby NauticEd will contact them directly.