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?
Bareboat Charter Sailing Course
Go to http://www.nauticed.org/sailingcourses/view/bareboat-charter
Have fun promote fun
The Grinch in Iles des Saints (actually just me having a lot of fun with a Christmas surprise for the crew)
Next week we’re going to Tonga and the island of Vava’U for a week long NauticEd Flotilla sailing trip amongst the archipelago. After a rainy and relatively cool winter in New Zealand this year its going to be a welcome and fun trip. We’re bareboat chartering three catamarans from the Moorings. 21 adults and 3 three children aged 2, 3 and 6 are coming. Correction that makes 24 children I think by the excitement and way every one is acting so far. We’re looking forward to doing some excellent sailing, fishing, swimming in warm water, snorkeling under the rock wall into Mariner’s cave and maybe have a few lovely glasses of red wine under a warm evening sky. So in light of catamaran sailing then I thought this week we’d review a method of getting a catamaran off the dock when a difficult wind is blowing onto the dock. We needed to use this in the British Virgin Island last year and with some whacky wave action we also had to time it right. It’s just as well we used this method because, with the waves, some serious damage could have occurred.
Using a spring line to get off the dock with a catamaran
The concept is pretty simple and effective. First tie a dock line from the front of the boat to the dock towards the aft. Then turn the helm all the way towards the dock and engage the out side engine in forward. The thrust from the backward wash of water as depicted by the arrow onto the turned rudder plus the force moments from the outer thrust and inner dockline will act to turn the back end of the catamaran out away from the dock. You must position a crew member with a dock fender to hold it between the boat and the dock. When the boat is turned out a significant amount, you can engage reverse but make sure it is more than 45 degrees out, else you can be in trouble with the wind pushing you back onto the dock. Once in reverse, turn the helm the other direction to get the boat moving in the right direction. Wait until the boat is a significant distance away from the dock before you decide to engage forward and swing the boat around otherwise the back quarter of the boat can broadside back into the dock, especially if the wind is strong.
You can apply a little reverse thrust to the dockside engine but keep it so that the tension remains on the dock line. The method of using the dock line rather than just opposing engines turns the catamaran more effectively when operating close to the dock because the dockside front quarter is essentially trapped thus a simple rotation won’t work.
Make sure that the dock line is arranged so that it is tied to the boat then looped 1/2 turn around the dock cleat then back to the boat. In this manner the crew member managing the fender can, at the right time, release one end of the dock line and pull it back around the dock cleat to retrieve it – all the while standing on the boat as it pulls away from the dock. Make sure the end has no knots in it. Also ensure the crew member understands not to release the dock line too early because they will not be able to hold against the thrust force.
Obviously this concept works similarly for monohulls.
Full concepts of maneuvering sailboats under power, sailing rules and catamarans are covered in these two NauticEd sailing courses.
Here is a question posted by one of our students today with our response following.
On 6/4/10 1:54 PM, “Ted” wrote:
I have recently started through your courses in the hope of chartering next winter. My own boat is a 25′ Catalina. From your information it appears that I will not receive credit for my days on water due to my boat being under 28′. Is that correct and therefore will I not be able to progress beyond crew level 0?
Thank you for your time
Some of your small sailboat experience is counted. However, the sailing certification and experience that the yacht charter companies are requiring is that their customers have some experience on larger sailboats before they responsibly release a sailboat to anyone on a chartered sailing vacation. As you can imagine, sailing experience is a major factor for them in lending out their charter sailboats. When we consulted with the major yacht charter companies in the world to put this program together they were adamant and rightly so that a proper and valuable sailing certification would include some big boat time.
My advice would be to buddy up with some one the local yacht club who has a larger boat to gain the experience you’ll need.
You will be able to advance to Skipper as soon as you log 5 days more on a sailboat 28ft or longer whilst you are acting as master of the vessel.
I hope that answers your question.
While I’m waiting for the America’s cup race to start and twittering the updates to the delayed start – I thought I’d add a blog update about our upcoming Tonga Sailing flotilla.
The dates will be August 30th to September 7th 2010.
Sailing in Tonga
Come join us in one of the most tropical sailing locations in the world. Only seven boats will be in the flotilla so contact NauticEd now at email@example.com
Requirements are that the skipper must have reached the Bareboat Charter Master Rank – see the video about how to get to this rank at NauticEd Certification on youtube.
Essentially you must have passed the following sailing courses: Skipper, Maneuvering Under Power, Coastal Navigation, Bareboat Charter plus have documented a minimum of 50 qualifying days on a sailboat.
This will be one of the most fun sailing vacations you could have. We’ve got loads of fun activities planned every day including a mini regatta. Tonga is known for its whale watching, pure white sandy beaches, the friendliest people and tropical fruit like you’ve never tasted. Come on!
NauticEd Online Sailing School will begin offering a Post Graduate Sailing Flotilla to its students. Students who graduate to the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Rank will be invited to celebrate their graduation by skippering their own charter sailing yacht with their friends and family for a week long sailing adventure.
Grant Headifen, Educational Director and Founder of NauticEd, has previously lead dozens of successful sailing flotillas throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Pacific. “This time we’re spicing it up a little with a sailing adventure to the Kingdom of Tonga” says Headifen. “Tonga is ideal for this type of trip. It’s navigationally a simple sailing ground and is a safe introduction to yacht charter sailing vacations for someone who has not ventured beyond local and familiar waters. It’s also a pretty awesome location to ‘come and get your feet wet’ ”.
The Moorings charter sailing base in Tonga is owned and operated by Shane Walker. “Tonga has always been an excellent sailing ground but has not been highly publicized because it is slightly off the beaten track – but that’s part of the allure – untouched beauty. NauticEd has chosen well, during the flotilla participants will almost certainly see humpback whales, other incredible sea life, breathtaking beaches and clear clear water, with consistent 10-15 knot winds”. Says Walker.
NauticEd students who have reached the Bareboat Charter Master Rank have logged a minimum of 50 days of practical sailing experience on large sailing vessels and have completed relevant courses online through NauticEd’s online learn to sail, sailing education program. The online sailing courses that are a prerequisite are:
- Skipper course
- Maneuvering a Large Sailboat Under Power clinic
- Coastal Navigation” clinic
- Bareboat Charter Clinic
A video explanation of the NauticEd Sailing Certification system is available at http://www.nauticed.org/sailing-school-student
NauticEd’s electronically managed Sailing Certification allows students and NauticEd to determine automatically if the student has reached the Bareboat Charter Master Rank. Once reached, the student will receive an official invite to the Post Graduate Sailing Flotilla. “This is going to be a really fun and excellent celebration event” says Headifen. “on top of the excellent sailing and fun navigational exercises, we’ll have GPS treasure hunts, a mini regatta, a 100m dash on the beach wearing mask, fins and snorkel, there will be spot prizes for best boat maneuvering, best dressed crew, sand castle design etc etc etc. Reaching Bareboat Charter Master Rank is really an achievement and we’ll be there to make sure the Skippers are appropriately recognized.
The NauticEd post graduation flotilla will take place in August 2010 – with exact dates to be announced. Sailors interested in participating in the sailing flotilla in Tonga lead by a professional Captain should contact NauticEd.
Here is a question posted by Nancy KnudsenEditor Sail-World Cruising. Sail-world is one of the largest and respected online sailing news companies (http://www.sailing-world.com) to NauticEd this week. Followed by our answer.
On 1/16/10 6:47 PM, “Nancy Knudsen Cruising Editor Sail-World” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I have a question about the sailing certification video you have sent me. The practical experience that is mentioned in the video. For a sailor not within practical distance of your facilities, how does this happen. Do you take the word of the sailor that they have completed this? – or what happens.
As my readership is international, this is a very important point for me. (I understand that if it is an honour system then the ‘verification’ process at the end would make up for this)
TetraMedia established in 2000, operates the largest online marine news network in the world. It now has regional sites around the world, with Sail-World UK-Europe, Sail-World Asia, Sail-World NZ, Sail-World USA, Sail-World Australia, Sail-World Cruising International, Sail-World Cruising USA, Sail-World Cruising Canada, Sail-World Australian Cruising, Powerboat-World and Marine Business News.
Each week, more than 165,000 newsletters are sent to subscribers, by its seven editors. More than a million individual boaters have visited Sail-World and Powerboat-World in 2009.
This is NauticEd’s response
Yes - as with all charter company resumes – it is the honor system. It is completely impossible to verify time. Additionally the United States Coast Guard accepts the honor system for the USCG Commercial Captains license as do most other country licenses.
What I’ve been able to do is to also back this up with a Proficiency Verification by a NauticEd affiliated sailing school. Right now we are encouraging schools to be affiliated with us because there are a ton of “students” (we are all students) out there who don’t see the value in taking a basic course if they are already past that point. Thus the entire sailing school network is missing out on touching many students. With the verification check out, schools now can actually add this to their income stream thus it’s a big incentive for them to align. Students benefit by solidifying their resume to charter companies and by picking up a few professional tips along the way.
The technology is simple but clever. When an instructor is finished verifying a student’s proficiency, he or she simple logs into the site and clicks the verification button against the student. Before the student can get home, their certificate is updated with the Verification stamp.
We’re making it pretty simple for a school to sign up with us. They must be an established school with a website and have commercially legal instructors and follow our standard when performing a verification. A new system that we will implement shortly is a way for students to publicly rate the experience with the school on-line on our site. This ensures the school is providing an excellent learning experience for the students else they may get a bad rating. This I think is essential for the growth of the industry – no one in the sailing industry wants a single student to have a bad/boring/unprofessional initiation experience to sailing.
So to answer you question specifically – we plan on expanding our verification-training schools. However even with out a verification the honor system for building a resume is fine. Whats’ exciting to us is our sailing iPhone app which makes it easy for a student to update their resume on the dock in 2 clicks.
If you have any more questions please let me know.
Go Completely Nautical
Take the FREE online Rules of Right of way clinic for Sailboats at NauticEd.org
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Thursday 1st October
Savannah Bay BVI: There is nothing like a swim ashore and a morning run on a white sandy beach and that is exactly what I did on Thursday morning. We’d anchored in about 15 ft of water which meant the boat was about 200 meters from shore which made for a nice swim. Then I ran 4 lengths of the beach. Ahhhh.
Savannah Bay BVI's. Makes for a really nice morning run.
After the run and fruit with yogurt for breakfast (which by the way is a really easy breakfast when you’re on a charter boat) a few of the others came ashore.
Savannah Bay BVI's
The weather was warm and the bay was very sheltered from the east. Plus the outer reef shelters the bay from any swells. Alexandra cam e ashore and we had some fun introducing her to small waves in the shallow beach.
Playing with Alexandra in the water in Savannah Bay
Granpa also had some fun.
Gramps and Alexandra
We bought the dinghy up onto the beach so that the waaves could not pull it back out in to the water and drift away. One way to stop this happening is to use the dinghy anchor and spike it into the sand. Under heavier waves we have in the past dug the anchor into the sand a little more to give extra holding power.
Using the Dinghy anchor to stop the dinghy from drifting away
And of course you need to pull the engine up out of the water to stop sand getting into the water intake and causing the engine to over heat. Tilting the engine up also protects the engine and the mounts and propeller etc. There is a tilt lever under the engine and behind the transom. It’s a bit difficult to operate when you first start using it but after a while you get familiar with its operation. To put the engine down you pull the lever again and it unclips the engine.
The Dinghy outboard tilts up and clips in with the tilt lever.
Savannah Bay was completely empty and it was a delight having such a beautiful place on the planet all to our selves. Then we pulled anchor and motored around to the other beaches in the bay. Very impressive! Around the corner to the east is another part to Savannah bay which is a little more inhabited with some cottages.
A few cottages on the east end of Savannah Bay
Another view looking west.
At the east end of Savannah Bay looking west.
To exit savannah Bay you must exit through the west end to clear the reef. But there is also another reef inside the reef that you must pay attention. The beauty of the bay may lull you into a false sense of safety so just read the guide and watch the charts, guide book and especially the depth sounder.
A short motor to the south on Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town where we topped up with ice for the cold drinks.
Filling up with water at Spanish Town.
At each place you have to pay for water and since we only had two days to go, we only filled one tank.
Spanish Town has a very nice marina with a full grocery store and chandlery. You can stay overnight in Spanish Town Marina if you like but it’s advisable in peak months to call ahead and make a reservation.
Empty marina in Spanish Town
However this time of the year the marina is almost completely empty. So we had our choice of spots. There is also an internet wifi in the marina which is free so you can down load email if you REALLY have to.
After a sort stop in Spanish town Marina we motored a mile south to The Baths were we spent the afternoon exploring the cave and swimming.
The Baths: One of the high lights of the BVI's
The Baths are NOT to be missed. Even with 6 visits to The Baths now I would still return. It is a giant rock field all tumbled on top of each other creating strange shaped walk throughs and fun sea water pools.
You can spend hours there exploring the caves created from the giant rocks piled on top of each other.
You can even be silly (Deb and Susan) and pretend to hold the rocks up.
Holding rocks up in the Baths on a yacht charter trip to the BVI's
And of course, the swimming is awesome to.
Swimming at The Baths in the BVI's
Here are some other random shots of The Baths – just for proof that they are not to be missed.
Get the picture?
Also not to be missed is snorkeling at the south end of the baths. The rocks continue into the water where coral has grown onto them populated by the most amazing colored fish life. In one place we found a small swim through under the rocks which was about 30 feet long also completely populated by fish.
Having spent an incredible day in The Baths, and having enjoyed Savanna Bay so much we elected to return there for the evening. A most spectacular sunset gave us an awesome end to another day in the BVI’s.
If you want to go to the BVI’s on a sailing yacht charter vacation – no worries – just get a NauticEd Sailing certification
Wednesday 30th September 2009
Bath time on a catamaran is pretty easy and fun for the little one. The catamaran galley is so big that there is plenty of room and the sinks are big. Consequently, Alexandra loved this time of day.
Alexandra Loves Her Catamaran Bathtub
The crew set out in the dinghy to explore the rocky coastline and came back quite impressed. Lee Bay is certainly a nice stop for overnight or an exploring lunch, not with a Northerly or Westerly Swell however.
We then motored through the Cut between Little Camanoe and Great Camanoe through to Marina Cay to meet up with the other Catamaran in our fleet. They had spent the night in the lee of Marina Cay and reported a very flat sea due to it’s protection from Scrub, Camanoe and Beef Islands.
Marina Cay in the BVI's provides a very sheltered mooring
We sent the dinghy ashore to grab a few bags of Ice at Marina Cay and then we moved 4 miles North East over to Great Dog Island were we had lunch and a swim.While waiting for the Ice, Kay tried her hand at maneuvering the Catamaran in amongst the buoys. She did well and got the hang of the dual engines and how maneuverable the catamaran is. NauticEd is currently building a flash interactive Catamaran maneuvering game which should be released by Oct 25th 2009. It will be embedded into the Catamaran Sailing Confidence Course.
Great Dog Island - British Virgin Islands
We then moved over to George Dog island where the snorkeling is reported to be great and we were not let down. The BVI parks provide two mooring buoys on the south west of George Dog.
Excellent snorkeling at George Dog in the BVI's
We then snorkeled around the point to the North West of Kitchen point. We’d highly recommend the snorkeling here. There was lots of coral and colored fish. Other boats reported that the snorkeling off Kitchen point was also impressive. Some of the crew also found some impressive rock cliffs to jump off into the sea. If you’re chartering a yacht on a sailing vacation in the BVI’s do not miss The Dogs.
Excellent Snorkelling at George Dog inthe BVI's
Jumping from a cliff on George Dog BVI's
West Dog - The Dogs BVI's
After a very fun day at the Dogs we set sail for Savanna Bay on Virgin Gorda 2 miles South East of The Dogs. Savanna Bay entrance is not too tricky but you must follow the directions in the Cruising Guide as there are several reefs to miss.
Savannah Bay British Virgin Islands is truly awesome
However, once inside, wow, it’s a spectacular bay with three long beaches and clear water. Again with a swell from the north or North West this would be not advisable because it is completely open to those directions. If the weather conditions are right, Savanna Bay should not be missed. Several thatched shades are set up on the middle beach which is about 500 yards long. You can anchor about 200 yards off shore in about 15 feet of water.
At the end of the day we were rewarded with a stunning sunset. This picture was taken through the lens of sunglasses. Savannah Bay was one of the high lights of our sailing vacation.
Sunset in Savannah Bay
Saturday September 26th 2009
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
- Boat hook
- Boat brush
- Swim Ear for after swimming
- Sea Kayak
- 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.