Going on a yacht charter? As a crew member? Want to contribute? Then this course is for you. Authors Samantha Burrough and Neil Collier are proven professionals and ideally positioned to write this course. They own and run BlueFoot Travel which is a crewed yacht charter experience in the Caribbean. Their yacht "Nemo" is a Gib'Sea 51 foot monhull. Neil is an accreditied RYA Yacht Master Ocean, RYA Cruising Instructor, and NauticEd Captain Level V instructor. Samantha (Sam) holds an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore accreditation. Each year Sam and Neil have dozens of guests visiting for adventures up and down the Caribbean. They consistantly are teaching folks how to enjoy their time afloat and learn if they want to learn or how to just kick back if they want. Come join Sam, Neil, and Nemo and learn how to be a great yacht charter crewmember.
The dinghy (aka the tender), is typically used to get ashore, go snorkelling, go exploring. They are great fun, but they can be a little awkward to get in and out of and they do have their inherent dangers.
Image courtesy of BlueFoot Travel
Dory, Nemo’s Dinghy out and about with guests in The Grenadines.
Here are some handy tips on getting in and out.
Don’t rush - let the driver tie up the dinghy to the main boat. Give the driver time to get everything ready before you get in – including turning the engine on, as that requires some space for flying elbows when starting the engine .
To ensure the dinghy is balanced, the skipper will advise where you should sit. This is important, so don’t argue about where you sit, most dinghy rides are short.
When getting into the dinghy it is safer to sit on the back of the main boat and slide yourself into the dinghy. Don’t jump in. If you must step in, use a rock climber’s safety creed of always having three points out of your four (2 hands and 2 feet) touching something. i.e. if you lift your foot to step in then make sure two hands and one foot are stabilizing you. If you are shifting your hand to grab something make sure two feet and the other hand are stabilized on something. You can’t fall over if you are using the three point method even if the dinghy moves due to some waves.
As on the main boat, it is usual not to have shoes on in the dinghy, especially if you are going to do a beach landing. Don’t throw your shoes or bags into the dinghy. They can often hit someone or bounce and fall in the water.
Once you are underway, someone will have to hold the painter (rope that is tied onto the dinghy) so that it does not fall in the water and get wrapped around the propeller.
When you arrive at your destination, the first thing to do is secure the dinghy to the dock or get the dinghy up on the beach. Listen to your skipper as there will be specifics depending on where you are and the wind and water conditions, which may include dropping a small stern anchor if there is some swell. You will likely have to padlock the dinghy to something as well, just like you would lock your car if you were going to leave it.
Sometimes you might head out to a reef to snorkel in the dinghy. In which case you will have all your snorkel gear with you and you will get into the water directly from the dinghy.
It is best to practice getting out and more importantly getting back into a dinghy when you are still tied up to your main charter boat. You can then use the swim ladder to get back onto the main boat if you can’t get back into the dinghy from the water.
Remember when you get back into a dinghy, especially from the beach or ashore, take of your shoes and make sure there is no sand or dirt around.
Here is a comprehensive video on dinghy usage.
Anecdote from Grant Headifen
One time when we were riding the dinghy back to our anchored boat, there were some big waves. Really big! Well not that big but big enought to make it pretty dangerous. We elected for the crew to get out of the dinghy into the water and swim to the boat ladder rather than risk everyone trying to get out of the dinghy with the dinghy banging up and down against the boat. It was a good decision. Unconventional, but a good decision none the less.
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