Sailing often conjures up thoughts of Jimmy Buffett, Margaritas, warm breezes, sunshine, no worries mon, stress-free and laid-back. And in the charter business, we are on the other end of folks taking hard-earned vacation time and spending hard-earned money to forget about the realities of everyday life for a while.
And we take that serious…that they’ve spent their hard-earned money with us for a little escapism.
So there’s a delicate balancing act that must take place between getting into that ‘Margaritaville’ state of mind…while also being held accountable for the safety of the boat and the crew, along with reacting to good ole Mother Nature…you know, that ‘reality’ part.
With safety, comes a more enjoyable and relaxed sailing vacation.
So if you’d like to experience a little escapism, and not have it suddenly ruined by a cold hard slap of reality, here are few things to consider:
- An honest and detailed charter application. The more information provided in your charter app, the easier it is for us to determine if the boat being requested will be comfortable and appropriate based on the captain’s (and crew’s) experience.
- Get in some docking practice. In the Caribbean, there’s not much docking being done. In the Great Lakes…we dock. And if you’re a little nervous about docking, let us know. We can work with you on the morning of your check-out doing a little docking and marina handling. And guess what? Everyone could use more docking practice. You are not alone. Trust us.
- Involve the crew. It’s good to have your crew pay attention during your morning briefing. All on-board should have a general knowledge of the boat. Simple things like knowing how to start the engine, anchoring signals and throwing dock lines become very important when needed most.
- Look at the weather. I can remember taking my 101/103 class years ago with Capt Dan. He drilled into us that if you decide to go out for a sail, look at the weather and decide if you have the experience and confidence based on what the weather is (or will be) doing.
- Understand reefing. You might think it’s cool to fly full sail and bury the rail…until something gives. Not only is is hard on the rigging, it’s also inefficient. As Capt Paul likes to say, “reef early and reef often.” Not sure how to reef, or why, or when? Just ask.
- Plan accordingly. Don’t go 60 miles north, if you have to return to the charter base the next day and the forecast is calling for strong winds out of the south. That makes for a long day, and an unhappy crew.
- Be willing to adapt. It’s good to have an itinerary. But with sailing, it’s also good to be able to adapt accordingly based on the weather, the crew and any other unexpected circumstances that may arise. Sure, you can be completely dedicated to visiting a certain island, anchorage or port. But if the weather does not want to cooperate, don’t force it.
It’s simple, really. By using good ole common sense and taking time to think things through, you can have the perfect balance of escapism and safety. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about…returning home safely from a memorable sailing vacation.