This course is presented in three Modules. Planning and Arrival; Getting to Know your Boat; and Underway.
The following are excerpts from each Module
Many charter companies can stock and provision your boat before you arrive. This is a good idea for the basics but there is usually little imagination in the food that is supplied. So we recommend allowing the charter company to provision for basics but plan on a trip to the super market for the sometimes delectable local foods and cheeses. There is typically a large super market close to the charter base. But check with them before you arrive via phone or email. Even in non-English speaking countries, most people who will answer the phone speak pretty good English.
Also it’s a good idea not to go overboard on provisions. On most islands that you'll visit during the trip you can get extra provisions and ice, so don't buy too much. For those that are used to ice in their drinks however, the Mediterranean is definitely lacking in ice machines so get used to one cube in your drink. There are often other remote places like Baja and Belize that have limited ability to re-provision. So definitely find out that information before you head out. Once while in the remote Baja region, we pre-arranged for a dive master to come out with their dive boat and meet us to lead a dive about 3 days into the trip. We also cleverly arranged for him to bring us more ice at the time.
Here’s a list of extra things to make sure you provide for your boat
Zip lock bags
Salt and pepper
More bug repellent
Cheap little hand towels
Rum (for your guests of course)
Once on the boat, the charter company will provide a checklist, however
also check these simple things that are not on their checklist:
Cooler that does not have a leaky drain. Very Important!
The charter company will probably supply all your bedding but it's a good idea to check each cabin is supplied
Here's a "must list" of items to bring from home ...
Module 2 - Getting Familiar With Your Boat
We’re pretty certain here that you know how to operate sails on a sailboat, however – chances are that you’re chartering a boat much bigger than you’re normally used to. Therefore contained in this section are just a few tricks to operating these sails. Forces are potentially twice to three times larger than you’re used to and so extra precautions must be taken like teaching your crew to always wrap lines around winches before cleat clutches are released. So please read on and try to pick out the few gems from the following.
Modern charter sailing vessels are equipped with a roller-furling jib or genoa and often a roller furling mainsail. These sails make deploying and stowing the sail much easier than hoisting and hauling down hanked-on sails. Roller furling systems allow us to deploy the sail by releasing the in-haul furling line from its clutch, and pulling the sail out with the appropriate jib sheet for the jib or main out-haul for the main. When the sailing is over, roll the jib/genoa sail in by removing the jib sheet from the winch, and maintain slight tension it while the jib furling line is hauled in. The sail should furl tightly around the forestay foil mechanism. Continue furling until the jib sheet wraps twice around the forestay, and then close the line clutch on the furling line and stow the sheets.
Caution: The jib sheets when loosened will whip wildly and dangerously. First, ensure no crew are on the foredeck and secondly keep enough tension on the jib sheet to reduce the whipping.
For the mainsail, sail in an upwind direction, release the main out-haul line and pull on the main in-haul line. It is VERY IMPORTANT to keep slight tension on the out-haul line so that the mainsail rolls up tight inside the mast. This can be achieved be having one wrap around a winch bollard. The reason that it is so important to maintain slight tension is that the sail cannot be loosely wrapped inside the mast. In this case it will be extremely difficult to pull back out. If this ever happens you can free it with a bit of patience. Carefully and alternately pull the in-haul and out-haul lines but never with high tension. In this manner you'll slowly be able to ease the sail out a little, then in a little, out a bit more and in a little etc.
Traditional mainsails are rigged on about 60-70% of most charter boats and are most commonly flaked along the boom when not in use. Lazy Jacks are lines extending from about 1/3 or 1/2 way up the mast down to various positions along the boom. These are a great invention. They automatically envelope the sail side to side as it comes down into a Stac Pack. This is a giant sail cover already positioned on top of the boom. This makes lowering the mainsail quite simple. With the boat pointing in an upwind direction and two wraps of the halyard around the winch just release the halyard clutch and let the mainsail lower into the Stac Pac. Here’s a trick that we always do for safety. With a sudden and unexpected high wind, the sail can be blown out of the Stac Pac. This is potentially dangerous and could pull you off the anchorage etc. To prevent this you can either zip up the Stac Pac to prevent the sail from deploying (this is difficult and time consuming) or you can reach up and grab the halyard close to the head of the sail and then pull it down to wrap under the halyard winch or a mast mounted cleat then close the halyard clutch and tighten the halyard. This serves to pull the sail down and lock it down.
To hoist the traditional main sail, first open the Stac Pac or unhook the halyard from the winch (as above). Now remember how I said lazy jacks are a great invention? This is where you might have a sailors mouth. Lazy Jacks always snag the battens at the leech of the sail. Always – every time – with out fail! So don’t just keep winching the halyard up, the lazy jacks ARE going to snag. A couple of tricks we've learned here. Have a good helmsman to steer the boat constantly and accurately into the wind. Have one person hoisting the sail while keeping a watch on the lazy jacks and battens and have one more person maneuvering the boom to port or starboard to prevent the snagging and at the same time calling to the hoister to go up or let down. This problem is especially prevalent on catamarans. If you have lazy jacks on your own boat, attach bungee cords from the spreaders to the lazy jacks. This tends to pull the lazy jacks out wider and reduce the chance of snagging.
One more thing that tends to get snagged on the way up are the reefing lines. Inside the boom at the front of the boom are clutches that grab the reefing lines. Ensure that these don’t lock as you hoist the main.
NOW HEAR THIS:- We once saved a boat from running up onto Prickly Pear reef just outside the entrance to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. The captain and crew were so intent on getting the sail up around the lazy jacks that no one was watching where they were going. They were all looking up. We were able to attract their attention about 100 ft before disaster. Keep a watch out where you are going while hoisting the main sail.
The topping lift should not support the main sail after its hoisted, but it must be tight enough to support the boom as the sail goes up.
Determine whether the main sail should be reefed before its deployed. Reefing is most easily done before raising the sail. Reefing lines on charter boats are typically colored and already set up. Most commonly you'll pull in the appropriate reefing line and lock it with the clutch inside the front of the boom. This acts to pull down the leech (trailing edge) of the sail to the boom. Then simply hoist the main halyard as normal. (Watch out for those batten catching lazy jacks).
The sail is hoisted according to wind conditions and the intended point of sail; more luff tension when sailing upwind (close-hauled or close reaching) or with higher wind strengths and less luff tension in light airs or sailing downwind. A convenient gauge is to look for either vertical (too much halyard tension) or horizontal (insufficient luff tension) along the luff area of the sail. See NauticEd Sail Trim clinic.
Once the sail is hoisted, be sure the line clutch is closed, and coil the remaining halyard into a neat roll and stow it out of the way. The main sheet is now tensioned appropriately, the sail is adjusted along the traveler, and the sheet tweaked for optimum sailing efficiency.
A final safety trick to share in this department. As you know – sailing downwind has the dangerous potential of the accidental gybe. This can be quite a common occurrence if you have an inexperienced crew at the helm or perhaps with a major wind shift when sailing close to an island and ... well… with the added distractions of vacation, an accidental gybe is probably going to happen. Please teach your crew to only walk to the front of the boat on the boom side of the boat when sailing down wind. In this manner the boom is only traveling at a bruising 20 miles per hour when slamming across instead of the fatal 100 miles per hour when it reaches the other side.
Module 3 Underway
The Crew Briefing
The following is a reminder list of things to brief your crew prior to leaving the dock. You can download this, print it out and take it with you.
Thanks for viewing the excerpts - we're pretty sure you can extrapolate this information into dozens of gems that will make your charter trip more enjoyable. We know you'll be very impressed with your $39 investment. Please do download the Crew Briefing sheet attached here for free. You'll love the simplicity of it and so will your crew.
The NauticEd Faculty.
Other sailing courses you might enjoy
Anchoring a Sailboat