Family cruising is not as easy as it seems. What does a skipper need to know about skills and team relationships before embarking on such a journey?
Skipper around the head
Let's assume that you will be the skipper. Your team consists of family members or friends. Or maybe you have family and friends. You can often hear the phrase: "Relationships that began at sea can be continued on the shore." The situation, however, is also true in reverse. But for quality rest or sports sailing, you need to consider several important points.
In yachting, there is almost always a teacher-student dynamic that is barely perceptible to the uninitiated. Someone on board will be much more experienced than the rest of the team, to know and be able to do more. Your sailing experience and sailing miles will form the basis of trust and teamwork at sea.
But sometimes it is very difficult to maintain the required level of subordination, especially when your old friend or, for example, your father, who only heard about yachting from you, is in the position of first mate.
To begin with, the primacy of the skipper should be clearly defined, which is supported by his experience. That's why you and the captain - your decisions are higher than the decisions of others, but you also have the responsibility for the safety of the life of your team. Therefore, before setting orders, think about your willingness to make serious decisions in difficult situations.
Ideally, if the weather and the sea favors, such situations should not be. But in any case, the possibility of a sudden storm exists. Keep this in mind and build the hierarchy on board accordingly. Yachting is all about safe holidays, but safety goes hand in hand with safety rules and discipline.
Planning and team
We all know that moderately careful planning and choosing the right itinerary is at the heart of what we call a successful and enjoyable cruise. You must remember that the purpose of planning a route is not only a good rest, but also the development (or acquisition) of skills.
In addition, the cruise must be comprehensive - i.e. so that it has a place for practicing skills, and a good rest, and a busy time on the shore. This is especially true for skippers with families, because children are unlikely to easily endure 8 hours of harsh sailing, and the older generation will want to take a leisurely stroll along the coast and relax.
In addition, if you are a skipper with an inexperienced crew, then you should not build Napoleonic plans for a cruise. You need to take time for everyone, show them what to do and how to do it, give them time to process the information received. Add to this the time for “making mistakes”, without which any learning is not possible.
At the same time, you should not take absolutely everything for yourself, because you are not a hired skipper who is paid for a cruise. Break down the time you have into briefings, skill development, rest, etc.
For such purposes, protected and not very busy routes are best suited. Too stretched in class time (once a week on Sundays for several hours). It is better to work out with an average intensity for a week than to try to learn everything in a couple of days.
People who are not involved in yachting are unlikely to understand how damp, cold and wet it can be on the deck, even on seemingly warm days. Considering that some of your crew may even be on board for the first time in their life, you need to make sure that newcomers are ready for this.
Remember that even a summer breeze on the shore can be an invigorating breeze a few miles from the shore. You need to choose clothes appropriately. There must be enough warm clothing on board, including waterproof clothing and boots. If anyone on your team is under the delusion that they might come on board light, remind them to bring some extra jackets and jumpers.
Make sure these clothes are actually fit for use. It should give warmth, comfort and protection from the elements, and only secondarily - stylish and beautiful.
Home Sweet Home
Probably the most difficult thing for many people is not storms and bad winds, but the daily routine on board. Including a visit to the latrine. Routines, responsibilities, going to the toilet are among the important things to discuss when a crew member steps on board.
Intelligibly, directly and clearly explain to the crew what, with what and how to use when going to the shower, toilet. Add here the points about controlling the stove for cooking and washing dishes.
If you show everyone what and where lies in the galley, then you will reduce the burden on yourself, help the team feel at home. Food should be quick to prepare and high enough in calories to satiate the crew. If you are the only experienced sailor on board, you will not have time to cook. Leave the young venison carpaccio to the chef in the marina.
Security and what is usually not talked about
If you are a skipper and inexperienced “cabin boys” go out to sea with you (albeit not far), then take the time to conduct a high-quality and serious briefing about what safety is and why it must be observed. Yes, we understand that we do not want to overshadow a fun weekend with the family with stories about the gloomy and bad. But if you do not conduct a briefing, then gloomy and bad things will happen to your team.
Wearing life jackets is the rule, not the exception. The ability to send an SOS or MOB signal is an important skill to have in your arsenal. There are many such things and entire books have been written about safety precautions on board any ship, yacht, motor boat.
For better assimilation of the material (especially for life jackets), it is best to show everything by example. Put on the vest for yourself, then put it on all the other crew members. Explain how to use it, how it works.
Ideally, there should be at least one other person on board who has a similar experience as you. It is he who will bear the burden of responsibility if the skipper falls ill or for some reason cannot control the boat. Inexperienced yachtsmen who spent a day or two on board are not able to return the boat to the marina on their own. But they, at a minimum, can give an SOS signal and request help by radio. Make time for this.
Marina and access to the sea
As the proverb says: “Don’t leave the dock until you are sure that you can return to it.” Translated into specific actions, it would mean a clear and concrete demonstration that the boat is in a normal condition and not in emergency condition, and the crew is sufficiently aware of the mooring progress and their skills have been worked out.
Again, show and tell - how to moor, what lines and mooring lines to use. To do this, it is not necessary to leave the marina and return to it. Some of these briefings can be done on board even when the boat is moored.
First of all, if you are going with beginners, then prepare to sail and moor as if you are going on a solo voyage. Beginners do not yet have the necessary experience and will not be able to completely replace you if necessary.
Before you start deck work, you need to decide who and what will do. Your brother/friend is probably a natural born helmsman who can give you the peace of mind to deal with the lines, fenders, setting the sail, etc.
Take the time to explain the basic and most important deck skills. Among them: the use of winches, how to take or give up a reef, the need to pay attention to the boom and take care of your head, as well as dozens of other interesting and not so interesting moments.
Talk about how brute strength isn't always the key to success - technique and fluidity are just as important, if not more so. You do not need to be a hero in order to manage a large boat with relative ease.
Forget about dividing the crew into “physically prepared” and “physically unprepared”. Everyone on board is capable of doing some specific job that will be within their power. The exception is bedridden people and people with problems of the musculoskeletal system.
Yachting and some magic
If you have equipped everyone, conducted briefings, given the mooring lines, raised the sails, found something for everyone to do and finally left the port water area, then most likely you have already overcome the most difficult stage. Now it's up to the small thing - to let the wind fill the sail and ...
And then the sailing, cruise, or whatever you have already planned for yourself begins. Don't expect perfection from your charges on the first day. It will probably be difficult on the second day, but hard work, good weather and fresh sea air will do the trick.
Do not rudely correct people in the style: “What are you doing!” etc. Remember that what is ordinary for you is a new experience for them. It would be better to point out a clear mistake, but at the same time recall that mistakes are part of learning and if they are not made, then a person will never learn anything new.
By the way, let people make mistakes within controllable limits. In any case, it is impossible not to make these mistakes, especially if the crew, in principle, is on board for the first time.
Yes, keeping others safe can be tedious and difficult, but it is the responsibility of the skipper. Be attentive to the wording, conduct “debriefings”, and do not give dry commands. “Debriefing” is best done not in an orderly tone. The best option for such “analysis” is a small informative briefing with instructions and warning of certain problems. Your team should not blindly follow orders, and you should not turn into a harsh teacher who yells at his students.
Things to Remember
A couple of last tips:
- You should not demand from yourself or from the wards the ideal performance of work. If your team understood the basic principles, then this is also a success.
- Everyone should be doing something - involve the crew in planning and routine.
- Does anyone have difficulty with the given task? Do it together! Not instead. TOGETHER.
- The routine should be divided equally among all. Nobody likes routine.
- Calmness, kindness and positive is the key to a healthy atmosphere on board. Raising your voice is also not good practice. You are unlikely to achieve significant results by shouting, especially in training.
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