Skipper’s Tip, 08/01/11 – Guests need training, too!

Most (if not all) of us take non-sailing guests out on occasion.  The temptation is to get to the fun part right away and just “commence to sailing”.  When we do, we are doing our guests a disservice.  Part of the fun of sailing is learning how to sail.  By not reviewing a few critical things before heading out they will be missing out on some of the fun.  I know … learning how to use a head is not particularly fun, but how much fun is it to have to use the head, not know how, and have to ask?

What would I consider to be my top 5 things to learn before leaving the dock.

You probably already guessed, how to use the head is near the top.  And while on the topic of through-hulls … just exactly what are those tapered wooden things used for.

The radio!  Your inexperienced crew knowing how to use the radio may be the difference between life and death for someone.  What channel to use … what do the words mayday and ponpon mean … how do you change channels when the Coast Guard asks you to?

Where are the fire extinguishers … and how do you use one?

Stopping the boat.  If under power, how do you shut down the motor?  I don’t know about you, but if I am in the water, I do not want some inexperienced boater coming at me with the motor running!  I would rather take my chances with the sharks … their teeth aren’t as sharp.  If under sail, how do you release the main and jib sheets?  I even think learning where the anchor is and how to deploy it in an emergency might fall into the category of stopping the boat.

Finally, what is the plan if someone goes overboard?  What if it’s you … what do you want them to do.  If someone else … what will you be doing?  How can they help?

WOW … I just realized … I don’t think I can limit my list of “must knows” to five!  There is a sixth that is so important, that it’s in a class all it’s own.  Proper use of a PFD.

Ah, but here is the problem.  Look how much time it will take to teach them all of this stuff. Actually, it doesn’t take any time at all.  There is nothing on this list you are not already reviewing while setting up the boat to depart (remember SAFETOGO).  Trust your guests enough to have them help at every stage of SAFETOGO, and you will improve their sailing experience, help them to have more fun, and keep everybody just a little bit safer.

-Submitted by Tradewinds Instructor Don Gilzean

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