Welcome, Groupies!


If you’ve always wanted to try sailing, here’s your chance! Sail Solomons’ GROUPON deal (Washington DC) runs April 24th and 25th, or until limited quantities expire. We’re offering 53% off our 2-hr “Introduction to Sailing” course, normally offered at $95, now just $45!  Learn the lingo, hoist the sails, and take the tiller. FEEL what sailing is all about! This is a terrific opportunity for those who’d like to try sailing, but aren’t yet ready to commit a lot of time or money. You may also apply the GROUPON value to one of our 2-day weekend courses, if you’re ready to take the plunge. Please note, this is an adult sailing course; you must be 18 or older to participate.

If you don’t know about GROUPON, click the logo to learn more, and subscribe!

If you’ve just bought our GROUPON deal, here’s how to redeem it, or get more information:

Groupon Recipients:

1. Click to download Information Packet for GROUPON Sailors

2. View Availability and Register Online for “Intro to Sailing” course

3. Or, call 410-326-4917 or email info@sailsibackup with selected dates to book with a human!

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Cultivating a Happy Bareboat Charter Crew

The Diamond Breeze Crew

by Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Is this article for real?  Isn’t “Happiness” synonymous with “Bareboat Charter”? History tells us that crew morale is a topic that has occupied many a captain, and has inspired some notable solutions. Pirates have long advocated distribution of booty amongst the crew. The Royal Navy used a ration of grog. Jimmy Buffet suggested cheeseburgers and margaritas. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a charter operator and charter captain is working with people on vacation, when they are relaxed and happy. Cultivating and maintaining a happy bareboat charter crew is an important skill which requires preparation, a healthy dose of reality, careful attention and active leadership. It also requires a good sense of humor and enthusiasm! Read on for tips to keep your bareboat charter crew happy; send in your favorite tips!

The most crucial steps to cultivating a happy crew are done well in advance of your charter:

Compatible Crew Selection

Living together in a confined space – even for a week – can challenge the most flexible of personalities. When choosing your bareboat charter crew, pay attention to personal compatibility. Your crew need not be best friends to start with, but they should be accommodating, flexible, and enthusiastic about sailing and about being together onboard. Charters are great ways to bring adult families together, but recognize that familiar roles may be reversed in this new environment. Be realistic; if your family does not enjoy spending a 2-day holiday together, a week of togetherness afloat isn’t likely to improve the situation.

Choose the Right Boat for the Crew

Refer to “Book it Right” (July 2010 E-News) to ensure you’ve selected a boat with the right performance features and amenities to keep your crew happy, and within budget. A catamaran may be the perfect solution if members of the crew don’t like heeling, or require more privacy than a monohull affords. Space onboard matters, especially when weather might not cooperate with your plans. Consider if you need a head for every cabin, generator & air-conditioning, or a dodger/bimini combination. A late-model, well-maintained boat can be well worth the extra cost, and can save you and your crew aggravation. For larger crews (or crews with diverse interests), consider adding a second dinghy or a kayak. You’ll appreciate the extra flexibility it affords.

Set Realistic Expectations

When gathering your bareboat crew, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. While some charter boats have more amenities than others, remember that you are basically camping on the water. Be sure you and your crew have realistic expectations regarding the boat that fits your budget, features onboard, meals, predominant weather and destination activities. I well remember the charterer who returned shocked and angry, having discovered that Chesapeake Bay winds were hot and light in August. Be sure your crew understands that you won’t have a service staff onboard, and that all crewmembers need to pitch in to help with domestic duties. If your proposed crewmembers state that their idea of camping is the Hilton and room service, perhaps a bareboat charter isn’t the best idea. Bareboat means…just that! Set realistic expectations, and be ready to flex with the inevitable surprises.

Now, having procured the boat and selecting a compatible crew with realistic expectations, the next steps follow naturally!

Provision for Success

Whether your crew wants to dine ashore or afloat, be sure you accommodate food and beverage preferences in your provisioning plan. Bareboat charter companies offer many options, and prior planning is key. Keep in mind the galley facilities, ambient temperatures and food availability at your charter location. Will you want Beef Wellington in the tropics, or Caribbean chicken salad in Croatia? Why not immerse in local specialties? Most people are likely to eat and drink more on vacation than while at home, and happy hour can easily stretch to two hours… so count on extra quantities in your provisioning. Good food and beverages are important facets of a bareboat charter. Go as elegant or basic as your crew desires!

How to, When to…

Your crew now understands that everyone participates in onboard duties. Everyone will want to help, but new crewmembers may not know how or when. Make a list of duties that need to be taken care of, and let crewmembers choose – either for the entire charter, or for rotating chores. Keep it “fair and balanced” so everyone is involved and engaged in both domestic and seamanship/sailing activities. Demonstrate proven techniques, and be open to learning new ones!

Charter Etiquette

Domestic practices onboard may be very different from those at home, so coach your crew on charter etiquette (details in upcoming article). Focus on topics including use of the marine head, water conservation, refrigeration and cleanliness onboard – it will pay big dividends for the greater enjoyment of all crewmembers.  Lead by example.

Itinerary Plan

Learn what your crew wants to see and do before your charter begins – must-see attractions, snorkel, hike, lie on the beach, explore. Design the itinerary to balance sailing and shore time. Consider spending an extra day at favorite destinations, so the crew can relax and explore. For more detail, see “Planning an Itinerary in December 2010 E-News.

Kids Onboard

Chartering with kids can be a fabulous vacation, especially if you include excursions ashore where they can swim, climb and explore. (Assuming that they like to swim, climb and explore!) Bring along favorite books and games, and have the kids keep a journal of their adventures.  They’ll have memories to last a lifetime.

When in Rome

If you are in foreign waters, coach your crew to be good guests and ambassadors. Read ahead so you can understand and respect local traditions and cultures – your crew will have a more rewarding experience. Plan accordingly if shore facilities close down for afternoon riposa or siesta, or dinners ashore are offered much later than you’re used to. Many first-time Caribbean charterers are surprised by the early sunsets in the Caribbean winter. While it feels like summer, you may only have 10 hours of daylight to pack in your charter activities – or eliminate a few. Getting to your favorite snorkeling location with optimal light may mean an early rise and departure. Or, adapt to island time and spend an extra day!

Be Inclusive, but Respect Private Time

There’s a fine balance between crew togetherness and respecting privacy. Be inclusive – be sure everyone on the crew feels welcome to participate in activities onboard and ashore. But respect individual’s desires for privacy; sometimes people need some time alone, without the pressure for group activity. Along those lines, captains may need to set appropriate “quiet hours” so that crewmembers (and harbor neighbors) can sleep. Charter boat bulkheads are thin, hatches are open, and sound travels easily!

Pay Attention

Watch your crewmembers – body language can tell you as much as verbal communication. People express anxieties in many ways – some get edgy or giddy, some get drunk, and others withdraw.  Have a private conversation, and find out the issue – it may be a simple need for more privacy or a phone call home, or a bigger issue of illness, anxiety or a personal conflict onboard. Address the issue before it gets out of hand. Don’t try to be a psychologist – just a captain.

Gripe Session

If you have a morning pre-departure brief, allow for a short gripe session where crewmembers can air issues in a constructive manner. If public airing is not appropriate, invite crewmembers to speak with you privately. A small problem, rapidly aired and corrected, can prevent greater problems and resentment.

Praise in Public

A leadership axiom in any environment, this is equally important on a bareboat charter. It’s easy and natural to praise the cook for a fantastic meal. But every crewmember is pitching in, often at unfamiliar, menial or “thankless” tasks. Having all contributions acknowledged can go a long way to bolstering crew morale.

Music, Maestro!

Your crew will have varied tastes in music, and you’ll likely come upon some new local music during your charter. Invite your crew to bring along their favorites, and rotate the selection so everyone can enjoy the music. There’s something about rum and reggae that gets people dancing on deck!

Theme Party

A locally-flavored theme party near the end of your charter can really add to the happiness quotient, and provide great photos too! No need to pack extra gear; crewmembers dress in locally-procured garb, and feast on local favorites or provisioning leftovers!  Invite your harbor neighbors to join the fun.

Cultivating and maintaining a happy bareboat charter crew depends a great deal on the personalities of the individual crewmembers – so choose your crew and boat wisely, and set realistic expectations. After that, train and coach on location or charter-specific topics. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal signals so you can nip issues in the bud. Above all, encourage participation, praise liberally, and set the example with humor!

Copyright © 2010, Lisa Batchelor Frailey
All rights reserved.

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Caribbean Flotilla & Catamaran Week

Sail Solomons club members had a fantastic time in January in the BVI! Sailors met at the Tortola BVI Sunsail base on January 14th for the monohull flotilla. Four boats and 17 sailors enjoyed fantastic tradewind sailing and all the benefits that a flotilla can offer. Two new “Bareboat Charter Captains” were certified, as well!  On January 22nd, the catamaran crew came aboard our Footloose 4300 for another terrific week. Four sailors completed the Cruising Catamaran course, and two are also new “Bareboat Charter Captains”. All  eight had a great week of sailing, snorkeling, dining on Anegada lobster, and exploring the BVI.  Planning is in the works for next year’s flotilla – let us known if you’d like to join us!  Photo links will be available shortly!

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Bareboat Chartering Crew Management

Maestro's Crew

by Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Experience” is often defined as “learning from your mistakes”. If that’s the case, then I gained lots of experience during my first bareboat charter!  Eager to skipper my first BVI charter in 1995, I gathered a crew comprised of my college roommate and best ski-buddies – ladies whom I knew could remain friends after spending a week onboard together. None of us had chartered before, but my willing and capable crew onboard “The Blonde Lady” made a well-coordinated sailing team. Sailing, however, is just one aspect of chartering. While I focused on the sailing and seamanship aspects that first charter, I neglected to delegate tasks for domestic chores. Instead, I simply asked each day “would somebody like to…? “. Given the option of taking the trash ashore or basking in the sun, these requests were not always met with enthusiasm. Consequently, I often felt like a mother hen instead of a Captain. The next year (yes, they all returned!) I changed tacks. Covering the spectrum of seamanship and domestic tasks, each crewmember chose one preferred duty and drew straws for the remaining less-desirable jobs. Everyone knew what was expected, pulled their weight, and I didn’t have to ask for chores to be done! We were a stronger team all around, and had a lot more fun in the process. Since then I’ve experimented with a number of ways to delegate onboard tasks for training, social and family cruises. Read on, experiment, and discover what methods work to build your team!

Why Delegate?

Delegation isn’t easy. Let’s face it – it’s often easier to “do it yourself” than to delegate a job to someone else. You may have far more experience than your crew, and be perfectly content to handle all the jobs onboard by yourself, or with your sailing partner. Besides, the adage “You can delegate authority but not responsibility” applies even more when at sea.  So… why bother?  Because successful delegation:

  • Provides the Captain breathing room to perform at a higher level and see the big picture
  • Allows the entire crew to accomplish more in less time – leaving more time for sailing and fun
  • Allows each crewmember to develop or refine skills
  • Promotes a sense of worth and accomplishment in crewmembers
  • Fosters teamwork and team thinking
  • Builds a “deep bench” of experienced crew – critical in a crisis

How to Delegate

On your bareboat charter, it’s pretty safe to assume that “Everybody wants to help.” Otherwise, your team would be on a professionally-crewed charter sipping pina coladas! But while everybody wants to help, not everybody knows what to do, or how you’d like it done. Follow these tips for successful delegating:

  • Identify the tasks – lay out the range of seamanship, domestic and social duties for your charter, and explain what is involved in each.
  • Match crewmembers to the duties – identify your crew’s interests, strengths and capabilities, and delegate duties with these features in mind.
  • Coach and train where needed. Partner novices with more experienced crew to get them comfortable with new duties.
  • Establish expectations and timelines. In delegating, you are giving crewmembers authority, but you may need to define the degree of authority. (e.g. “check the engine oil daily” – if it’s low, should the Engineer tell the Captain first, or go ahead and top up?)
  • Remember that your way is not the only way – there may be several ways to achieve the desired end result. So long as safety is not compromised, be open to creative new methods.
  • Write it down. Put the duties in writing; make a watchbill or list to avoid confusion and maintain accountability.
  • Follow up. Encourage feedback and provide a positive environment for communication.

What to Delegate

Because the Captain is ultimately responsible for the safety of the boat and crew, the role of Captain cannot be delegated. The Captain delegates tasks and the authority to conduct them, but cannot delegate overall responsibility. The Captain’s task is to monitor all the duties onboard (delegated or not) and to ensure they are being carried out properly. The Captain provides training and infuses the crew with enthusiasm.  A bareboat charter involves a wide range of seamanship, domestic and even social duties – most of which can be delegated. The titles are not important, but the tasks are. Let’s look at some examples:

Underway/Seamanship Duties

  • First Mate – Second in command, the Captain’s primary assistant. Often a “Captain in Training.”
  • Engineer – Checks and maintains the boat’s systems. Daily checks of fuel, engine oil, coolant, belts, battery state, freshwater levels, holding tanks. Ensure below-deck areas are secure for sea. (See checklist in ASA’s Cruising Fundamentals text)
  • Bosun – Topside focus; sails, rigging, deck hardware, ground tackle, hatches, safety gear, flags. Takes lead in anchoring, mooring pickups, docklines & fenders.
  • Dinghy Captain – Ensures dinghy/outboard are secure for voyage (towed or lifted) or mooring/anchoring detail, fueled, bailed, safety gear stowed, dinghy secured when ashore.
  • Weather – Checks forecast against actual conditions, advises on implications for sailing plans.
  • Navigator – Focused on boat’s position; plans journey, maintains charts, advises Captain, avoids hazards, maintains position and provides time estimates. Often dual-hatted with Weather.
  • Helmsman – Drives the boat along the point of sail or course ordered. Generally the most fun job, and the most often rotated.
  • Trimmer – Responsible for trimming sails (main, genoa, spinnaker) for optimal performance.
  • Lookout – Focused on spotting traffic and hazards, and advising Captain and helmsman. A lookout is always required.

Domestic Duties

  • Purser – Responsible for the “cruising kitty” – credit/cash used for provisions, daily expenses including mooring or marina fees, ice, trash disposal, pump-outs, fuel, gas and water top-up, etc.
  • Steward – Head provisioner; stows provisions onboard for best access and security, monitors provisions, helps cook find required ingredients for planned meals. May also plan the menu.
  • Cook – Prepares and serves onboard meals. Requires close coordination with steward and galley cleanup. May be one person/team or a rotated duty. Don’t forget a “Snacktician”.
  • Galley cleanup – Responsible for cleanup of galley after meals and throughout day. May be an individual or team, rotated by day or meal.
  • Ice Supply – Monitors ice supply, restocks as needed. Not as easy as it appears!
  • Trash Disposal – Responsible for taking trash ashore for appropriate disposal.
  • Swabby – Keeps topsides and common areas ship-shape. Crew maintain their own cabins.

Social Duties

  • Maestro – Maintains appropriate music onboard, respects “quiet time” at anchorages.
  • Cruise Director – Researches and advises on highlights and events in port, promotes onboard entertainment (games, jokes, story-telling, etc).
  • Mix-Master – Takes the lead for “sundowners” acknowledging crew preferences and local specialties.

Timing & Options

  • Start the delegation process early. Once your crew “signs” on, learn their capabilities and interests. These factors may have already played a role in your crew selection.
  • Rotation of duties is necessary in a student/training environment. You may wish to have crewmembers retain certain duties throughout the charter, and rotate others for variety.
  • On small crews, each crewmember (including the Captain) will be responsible for many duties. Titles are not important, but it’s key to ensure that all required duties are covered.
  • Even with a larger crew, it makes sense to streamline functions and share the load. Ice Supply and Trash Disposal both require a dinghy-ride ashore. Navigation/Weather are complementary. One Cook/Galley team per day or meal spreads the load, while alternating teams act as Swabby.
  • Don’t forget to delegate to young children and teens; ensure the tasks are appropriate for their age and skill levels. It’s never too soon to contribute and feel like a valued member of the crew!

Delegation is a great way to build your team.  Your crewmembers will develop and refine skills, and come away from the charter with a sense of accomplishment. With the Captain focusing on the big picture, the crew can pull together to think and perform as a team. Take time to define the wide variety of tasks and duties on a bareboat charter (or your own boat) – there’s quite a lot! Explore ways to delegate these tasks to build your team for success!

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Bareboat Charter Checkout – What to expect when you arrive onboard

Checklist for Bareboat Charter Checkout

by Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Your bareboat charter date is finally here! You and your crew (and hopefully your luggage) have arrived safely at the charter base, and you’re ready to board and get underway. What can you expect now?

The Bareboat Charter Checkout! Don’t think of this as just a paperwork drill; knowing what to expect and planning accordingly can help make this process smooth, efficient and very rewarding. You’ve planned your charter carefully so far; now follow these tips to make your Charter Checkout a learning experience that pays big dividends.

Read Ahead

It’s true for any sailor – the more you know about your boat, the better. You can learn a lot about your charter boat before you ever leave home, so try these resources and do a little homework.

  • Charter Company – see what your charter company has available regarding boat specs, layout, photos, equipage lists, inventories and checkout forms. Some of these may be posted online or available upon request. These materials may be fairly generic, but it’s a good start.
  • Online yacht brokers – if you chartered a reasonably standard production boat (e.g. Beneteau, Jeanneau, Bavaria, Hunter) you’ll have lots of online options. Manufacturer’s websites proudly display photos, layouts, and specs of their latest models. Sites like Yacht World are excellent places to research new and older boats. Realize that the specs will include add-on equipment (electronics, generators) which may or may not be on your charter boat.
  • Electronics vendors – suppose your charter boat is equipped with Raymarine electronics. Check the Raymarine Owner’s Manuals site and browse or download to your Type-A heart’s content!
  • Bareboat Charter materials – break out your ASA text for a review of systems and checklists, or get a “Bareboat Charter Supplemental Information” packet from an ASA school (e.g. Sail Solomons).

Welcome Aboard

When you arrive at the charter base, you’ll be welcomed by a staff member who can help get you settled onboard and orient you to the charter base facilities. Here you’ll learn the briefing process and schedule, where to select snorkeling gear (if provided), and the location of shore-side heads/showers, nearest groceries, recommended restaurants, etc. If you plan to arrive after-hours, be sure to coordinate with the charter base in advance.

Documents, Please

Charter companies frequently require photocopies of passports or ID, and signatures on liability waivers or charter company policy statements. You’ll also need to leave a security deposit for the boat – a credit card imprint, cashier’s check, or cash. Check the policy before you leave home to ensure you’ve got the correct currency. If you’d like the charter company to assist with post-charter transportation logistics, bring a copy of your departure information.


Most charter companies offer the option of sleeping aboard the yacht the night prior to your charter. Sleeping aboard gives you to time to stow your gear and provisions, and to get acquainted with the boat before your morning checkout brief. Some companies will give Sleepaboard Skippers a late-afternoon checkout brief upon arrival, as time and staff permit. A Sleepaboard is a great way to acclimate to the weather, and to decompress after a day of travel. Caution – marinas are often sheltered from the prevailing breeze, so you may want air-conditioning or a good fan while dockside in a hot, humid environment. In most cases, a Sleepaboard allows for a quicker get-away on your first charter day.


Your charter checkout will involve verification of the yacht’s equipment inventory. If you delegate the inventory to a Mate, emphasize the need for accuracy. Be sure the person taking the inventory actually eyeballs or touches each inventory item – no “pencil-whipping!” Here are a few very good reasons to complete the inventory accurately:

  • You’ll want all the inventory items onboard; the tool kit does you no good if it’s back at the base!
  • Identifying all the inventory items familiarizes you with their location. You’ll be able to find the items quickly when or if they’re needed – especially key for safety equipment.
  • You are responsible for any loss of inventory items. If you said you had all 8 life jackets on departure but you only had 6, then you’ll be paying for 2 upon return.


Pre-ordered provisions may be dockside (or already loaded onboard) when you arrive. Bring along your order form and verify that you received all the provisions you ordered. Meat-lovers, be sure you didn’t accidentally receive the order for the vegans in the next slip! If you’re self-provisioning, a Sleepaboard night gives you the opportunity to purchase and stow your groceries before the checkout process begins. Streamline your checkout by sending the provisioning team to the grocery store while the Skipper does the inventory and boat brief. Stow provisions so you can easily access and find items. Apply tactical fridge storage techniques to minimize the waste of cold air. Refer to Bareboat Charter Provisioning in ASA’s Sep 2010 E-News for more.

Boat Checkout Brief

This is probably the most critical aspect of your charter checkout, and warrants the full attention of the Skipper (and a Mate, if feasible). In most cases, boat checkout briefs are personally conducted on your boat by a member of the charter staff. At very large charter bases, you might be briefed on a similar model boat. Plan for a full hour to go through the sail plan and controls, ground tackle, topside gear, power and domestic systems. A few tips:

  • You may have scheduling options – ask early to secure the most suitable time. Some charter operators will brief you on the afternoon of your Sleepaboard.
  • Engaging a large crew in the brief may be counter-productive. Better to have the Skipper and Mate participate, who then brief the rest of the crew afterwards, as appropriate. By “re-briefing” you’ll learn the material even better, and discover any information gaps.
  • Start with a ship-shape boat to allow easy access to systems, thru-hulls, controls. Stow your gear in advance, or wait until after the brief to bring your bags onboard.
  • Don’t try to impress the briefer with your knowledge, or they may gloss over areas that you need to hear. Listen carefully, even if you know the boat well. Every boat has nuances and you’ll always learn something new (which may come in very handy during your charter).
  • Take notes as needed, and ask if there’s an operations manual onboard for future reference.
  • Be absolutely sure you know how to reef the sails; verify that reefing gear is properly rigged.
  • Demonstrate operation of key functions (e.g. engine start, windlass operation), and get as “hands-on” as the briefing permits. The more senses you engage in the learning process, the better.
  • Study the battery bank and selector switches – is the engine start battery isolated from the domestic battery? How much battery capacity do you have? What is the recommended recharge process?
  • Ensure that fuel and water tanks are full, and that holding tanks are empty.
  • If you’ve ordered extra electronics gear (inverters, MP3 players, etc.), check that the gear is onboard and functioning properly.
  • Don’t forget the dinghy! Test the outboard motor and the towing painter.
  • If you have questions – ask. Now. That’s why the briefer is onboard!
  • Verify procedures for departure and return of your boat. Is the staff available to assist with docking? Must you refuel or pump-out before return?
  • Ask whom and how to call if you have questions or problems while on charter. Note the cell phone number and VHF channel.

Chart Brief

The chart briefing reviews the local cruising grounds, prevailing wind/sea conditions, popular itineraries, recommended anchorages and cruising restrictions. The briefer’s local knowledge is priceless, so listen carefully! Notes to consider:

  • Large charter companies generally have a scheduled group briefing which the Skipper and Mate attend. Small companies may conduct a personalized brief onboard your yacht.
  • Assuming you’ve planned your itinerary (see Planning an Itinerary in ASA’s Dec 2010 E-News), keep your plan in mind as you listen to the brief. Be flexible and prepared to adjust your itinerary based on the briefer’s advice. Ask specific questions without disrupting the group brief.
  • Learn the best source for local weather conditions – can you easily call back to the charter base for updates? Discuss current/near-term weather forecast implications on your planned itinerary.
  • Ask if there are other groups or events (races, festivals?) that may impact your trip; flex accordingly.
  • Be sure you have adequate charts and a cruising guide onboard your boat.


Use the Bareboat Charter Checkout process to your full advantage. Glean as much information as you can from the Boat and Chart Briefers – never underestimate the value of local knowledge. Streamline the process by using your time and crew efficiently, but don’t take shortcuts. Once your Charter Checkout is complete, brief your crew and get underway. Happy Sailing!

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Bareboat Chartering: What to Pack – Beyond clothing

Christmas Lights onboard Zingaro

By Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey     

All ready for your bareboat charter? Trip booked, provisions ordered, clothes packed …is there more? In the preceding articles, you learned all about the nitty gritty topics; now for the fun stuff!

In this article you’ll find a selection of great gadgets and entertaining items to help you get the most from your charter experience. Verify what equipment is already onboard your charter boat, and augment accordingly. Minimalists go camping – everyone else, read on!

Entertainment / Communications:


With so many memories to capture, you’ll want a camera that’s easy to pack and use. Be sure to bring appropriate batteries or recharging unit, and additional memory cards. So sea spray won’t be an issue, bring a camera-sized waterproof bag (carried at dive or kayak shops) or Ziploc. Consider a disposable underwater camera for snorkeling trips.


What’s a charter without music? Most charter boats will have a radio/CD player, so bring your favorite CDs. For iPod/MP3 users, check if the system is compatible and bring appropriate attachments or speakers.

Cell Phone

If you need to have cell phone connectivity, you’ve got several options. Check with your cell phone provider to see if you’ll have coverage in your charter area, and verify the roaming rates (they may be significant). You can rent “global” phones from any number of providers before your charter. Many charter companies will provide you with a local cell phone with a minimal amount of airtime credit; you’ll have the option to purchase additional airtime.


If you use a cell phone/laptop with an internet access plan, verify the data rate before going abroad; you may want to disable the data feature. You’ll find many wi-fi hotspots in the islands (some free) where you can connect your phone, blackberry or tablet or iPad.  Many great sailing and navigation apps are available, and are fun to try on vacation.  Whether or not to answer emails from work – your choice!


Be sure you have a way to power or recharge your electronics. Most boats will have 12V chargers, similar to your car’s cigarette lighter/charger. Bring a small USB adaptor plug for the 12V outlet – you can then charge multiple USB-powered devices directly. Boats MAY have an inverter to energize the 110V/220V outlets onboard when away from shore power – check with your charter company. A good alternative is an inexpensive inverter (e.g. Black & Decker 100W) which plugs into the boat’s 12V outlet and allows you to power/recharge low-wattage 110V or USB items – generally sufficient for recharging phones, cameras, etc. All of this puts a demand on the boat’s domestic battery supply, so watch your power consumption carefully. Bring batteries where you can.

Down Time Entertainment

You’ll have some “down time” in anchorages, on longer passages, or on quiet evenings (depending on your charter companions), so bring paperbacks, playing cards, or travel-sized board games. Cards from Trivia games (especially the nautical variety) pack well, and provide lots of entertainment. If you’re sailing with kids, be sure to bring their favorites. Consider a kid’s logbook (Weems & Plath) or journal.

Reading onboard

Phrase Book

If you don’t speak the native language in your charter area, bring along a phrase book to help you communicate. Locals will appreciate the effort made to speak their language, and you’ll have a lot of fun learning! Practice a few greetings before you go; someone on your flight is bound to help you with pronunciation.

Christmas Lights

Colored LED Christmas lights add a festive atmosphere to your cockpit – but not while underway, please! They also make it easy to identify your boat when dinghying around a crowded anchorage at night. Solar-powered lights are perfect for the sunny tropics; buy them when Christmas lights appear in the stores.

Snorkeling Gear

Your tropical charter will likely involve a good bit of snorkeling. Most charter companies provide or rent snorkeling gear, and have a variety of sizes available. Many people prefer to bring their own mask and snorkel (fits easily in a duffle). If you wear glasses, consider ordering a prescription mask before your charter.


For excursions ashore, you’ll want a water-resistant daypack or beach bag to carry your gear. Attach an ID tag with your name, boat’s name and charter company.


Cruising Guide

Most charter boats will have a local cruising guide onboard. The guides contain a lot of information useful to your charter planning, so you may like to purchase your own copy well before your trip. Record notes to keep the memories fresh for future trips.


If you’re a chart junkie as I am, you’ll want to bring your own charts, either paper or electronic. Check what’s onboard your charter boat, and augment as you see fit. If you’re particular about your nav tools, bring your own.

Handheld GPS

A bit of redundancy to your boat’s chartplotter (if it has one) and your paper charts. Be sure your chart chip is reliable for the charter area. Many smart-phones have GPS capability; be sure to download charts while you have good data access. No matter how many gadgets you have onboard – don’t neglect your basic piloting skills!

Handheld VHF

Great to have in the cockpit, if the boat doesn’t have a cockpit microphone. Also useful for those in the dinghy/shore party to communicate with those staying onboard, or between helm and bow when anchoring. Choose a working channel so you don’t crowd Channel 16.


Helps your boat stand out from the crowd of charter look-alikes, and identifies your sailing club. Your charter boat probably won’t have the traditional masthead pigstick, so fly your burgee on the starboard flag halyard, below the host nation’s courtesy flag.


Your boat will have flashlights onboard, but a small personal LED flashlight will come in handy for night use in an unfamiliar cabin, or for night-time dinghy excursions.


Generally included on your charter boat, but if you are particular about binoculars (whether to spot navigation marks, birds, or other charterers), bring your favorites.

Leatherman/Multipurpose Tool

Useful tools for myriad purposes, ashore or afloat. Pack in checked baggage only, or you’ll part company with it at the security gate.



A pack of clean new clothespins will ensure your swimsuit is not clipped onto the lifeline with the mildewed, rusty pins that might already be onboard.

Soft-sided Cooler

Very useful for carrying ice & groceries during charter (which you’ll need to transport in the dinghy). Chill and store easy-access beverages here to reduce excess fridge openings. Use it to pack some provisions onto your charter (see Provisioning Article, Sep 2010), and to tote your souvenirs home!

Ziploc bags

Pack a variety of sizes, use to store documents, first aid supplies, food, wet swimsuits, laundry, treasures. For easy packing, remove bags from the box and secure the roll with a rubber band.

Marine Body Wash, Bathing Puff

On a tropical charter, you’ll do a lot of your bathing in the ocean. Savon de Mer makes an excellent biodegradable shampoo and body gel designed for use in salt-water and hard water. An inexpensive bath puff will make a good lather from many soaps and body wash products.

Drawstring Mesh Bag

Perfect to store your shampoo, body wash and bath puff while it dripdries over the stern. Also useful for dunking sandy sandals.

When packing for your bareboat charter, remember – keep it simple, keep it light, keep it fun! Refer to prior ASA E-news articles for tips on Provisioning and Packing your clothing and personal items. Coordinate with your crew so you don’t have too much gear overlap. Follow these guidelines, and have a terrific vacation!

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What to Pack for a Caribbean Charter

By Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey           

I love packing for vacation—it puts me in the vacation mindset! Conversely, my husband absolutely dreads packing; he waits till the last minute to get it over with as fast as possible. With a little advance planning, packing for a Caribbean bareboat charter can be quick, simple and enjoyable—the best of both worlds!

Today’s lightweight, fast-drying technical fabrics make the packing even simpler. You’ll be appropriately attired, comfortable and still have space left in your duffle for a souvenir tee shirt. Read on for the packing basics for Caribbean bareboat charter, followed by a handy Packing List.

Charterers invariably pack too much for a Caribbean vacation. I remember seeing the 3 duffle bags my brother packed for his first charter—I didn’t think he owned that much clothing! When I saw him unpack, I realized that most of it was fishing gear and provisions; his clothing amounted to 3 tee shirts and 2 pairs of shorts. A general rule of thumb: lay out what you think you’ll need on your bed, and consider critically if you’ll need each item. Put half the clothing back in your closet. Look again at your clothing pile, and reduce by half again. You’ll be all set! As a general guide:


While onboard, you’ll practically live in a swimsuit. Bring 2 or 3 for variety (and changing tan lines), add a cover-up for sun protection and modesty.


Bring 3-5 favorite tees or polo shirts. While cotton is comfortable, it doesn’t dry easily in tropics. Fast-drying technical fabrics allow you to quickly wash your shirts in a bucket, so they can dry on the lifelines. You’ll probably buy 1 or 2  souvenir tees along the way anyway.


Bring 2-3 pair of comfortable, fast-drying shorts. Zippered pockets retain cash or credit cards during dinghy rides or excursions ashore.


As appropriate.

Sun protective clothing

If you’re sun-sensitive, bring a fast-drying long-sleeved shirt and long pants, preferably with Ultraviolet Protection Factor integrated into the fabric. To save more space, wear these on your flight to and from the Caribbean, so you’re not lugging winter clothes onboard.


You’ll welcome a lightweight fleece or sweater on cooler evenings. You’ll be even happier if you don’t need it until your return flight!


Daytime beach wear is very casual, and your onboard clothing will be fine. But if you’re shopping in town, respect local traditions and dress accordingly. When visiting churches or museums, covered knees and shoulders may be required. Ladies, a pair of capris or a sarong are invaluable. Most restaurants you’ll encounter when chartering are casual; pack casual slacks/shirts (men), and a capris/skirt/sundress (ladies) for evenings at restaurants. Higher-end resort restaurants require a jacket & tie for men; if you’re planning to dine here, check the dress code and pack appropriately. Before packing your best silks or cute heels, keep in mind that you’ll likely be scrambling into a rubber dinghy when going ashore!


Non-marking, close-toed shoes (boat shoes/Keens/Crocs) are best for wearing on deck—they give you good traction while protecting your feet. Bring water shoes or sandals for wearing ashore. Try to keep sand off the boat by rinsing “shore-side” shoes before reboarding your boat. Bare feet only below decks!

Rain Jacket

As with the fleece, you may be happy to never have to wear this on vacation. But in the event of tropical showers, squalls, or head-on seas, you’ll be very glad you have a lightweight, breathable rain jacket!


Important sun protection—ballcap, visor, sailing hat—whatever you’re most likely to wear. A chin-strap or tie-down clips are critical when sailing!


Good-fitting sunglasses will protect your eyes from all that tropical sunshine. Bring a spare pair, just in case. Polarized lenses cut the glare and allow you to distinguish coral reefs under water. Retainer straps will help keep your sunglasses on your head, instead of overboard! For the over-40 crowd, consider magnified “cheater” sunglasses available in many pharmacies. You’ll be able to read charts or a novel while still protecting your eyes from the sun.

Sailing Gloves

If you wear them while sailing in home waters, bring your sailing gloves along.

Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

Charter yachts will come equipped with PFDs (probably Type I or II), but if you prefer to wear your own, bring it along. Check airline regulations if carrying a CO2 cylinder for a Type V PFD.

Toiletry/Wash Kit

To your normal compliment of products, add salt-water soap and a bathing puff (which foams up most liquid soaps). Leave the hair-dryer at home; it’s unlikely to work onboard, and you’ll ruin that sought-after windswept look!


Most charter companies provide cotton bath towels, but microfiber sports towels are more absorbent, quick-drying, and easily packable. Beach towels are generally not provided.


Bring plenty of high-UPF sunscreen and lip-balm, and apply liberally each day onboard. You’ll still get plenty of sun!


Bring necessary medications in your carry-on luggage, with copies of appropriate prescriptions. Unless you’re SURE you don’t get seasick in the conditions in which you’ll be chartering, bring seasickness medication. Check with your doctor, and try the meds in controlled conditions before your charter.

Personal Gear

Camera, phone, small flashlight, books, magazines. Tablets or iPads keep you connected, and have great sailing and navigation apps. A watch or travel alarm will help you make the flight home, and remind you that your colleagues are still at work. See our post ‘What to pack – beyond clothing‘ for a more detailed guide!


Pack everything in a soft, collapsible duffle, which can be stowed easily. There is no room onboard for hard or wheeled suitcases! Also bring a lightweight beach bag/backpack for going ashore.


Don’t forget your Passport (is it current?) and appropriate Visas. Bring your sailing logbook and Charter Documentation. ATMs are easy to find; bring a credit and/or debit card with PIN for cash advances.

When packing for a Caribbean bareboat charter, remember—keep it simple, keep it light! Follow these guidelines, and have a terrific vacation! Check our other post for: “What to Pack—Beyond the Clothing.”

Packing Checklist

1-week Caribbean Barefoat Charter

– Swimsuits (2-3) & cover-up
– Shirts—tees, polo shirts, sun-shirts (3-5)
– Shorts—quick-dry, zippered pockets (2-3)
– Underwear—as appropriate
– Quick-dry long pants, long-sleeved shirt (UPF)
– Fleece or lightweight jacket
– Evenings ashore: Ladies: capris, top, sundress/Gents: lightweight slacks/shorts, shirt
– Shoes/onboard—non-slip, non-marking, closed-toed (eg. deck shoes, Crocs, Keens)
– Shoes/ashore—sandals, water shoes
– Rain jacket—hooded, lightweight, breathable
– Hat—ballcap, visor, or sun hat (tie-down)
– Sunglasses (polarized if possible), retainer strap. Bring a spare pair.
– Sailing gloves
– PFD (for those who prefer their own)

– Toiletry / wash kit
– Micro-fiber sports towel / beach towel
– Sunscreen & lip balm (30+ UPF, waterproof)
– Seasickness medication—as required

– Personal LED flashlight (small) or headlamp
– Travel alarm clock—if it matters!

– Camera, phone, tablet, books, magazines

– Duffle bag (soft, no frame)

– Passport (if overseas)
– Debit or credit card, with PIN for cash advances
– Sailing logbook

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Sail Solomons at US Sailboat Show

US Sailboat Show

Join Sail Solomons at the East Coast’s biggest boating event – the US Sailboat Show, Oct 7-11 in Annapolis! You’ll find us in K-tent, booth K-15, bayside of the Marriott Hotel. Recognized worldwide as the premier sailing showcase, this is the place to buy, sell or dream.

See the SHOW LAYOUT to find us, or call 410-326-4917 for directions!

Stop by to see us while you browse the show, exploring hundreds of boats, vendors, seminars, etc. Enjoy great food and drink and festive music – it’s simply a fantastic time!

Sail Solomons will be speaking at two seminars at the show:

  • Cruising Couples – sponsored by ASA and BlueWater Sailing, Saturday, 9am panel discussion, Maryland Inn
  • Start Sailing Now – sponsored by Spinsheet, Sunday, 11am, Marriott Hotel, Arnold Room

Read more details about the show at: US Sailboat Show. See you there!

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Learning Styles – Women and Sailing

By Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Women really do learn sailing differently from men. As a retired Naval Officer, US Coast Guard Captain, Sailing Instructor and co-owner of a Sail Solomons Sailing School, it took a season or two of instructing in the “real world” for me to truly recognize and acknowledge the difference. But embracing the concept of learning styles has enabled our Sail Solomons instructors to teach
better across the genders.


I am a retired US Naval Officer, having spent 24 years on Active Duty as a Naval Flight Officer and Oceanographer. I attended flight school in 1982, the 3rd year that the Naval Flight Officer designation was open to women. There, as in many competitive work environments, there can be no gender-specific training; to do so would alienate female students from their male colleagues. There simply aren’t the resources to accommodate different learning styles, much less genders. So while we women officers formed close, unofficial support groups, we trained and worked the same way as our male counterparts, and tried to ignore (or deny) the differences. However, teaching sailing in the real world, I see things differently. Most women students that I’ve encountered have very different motivations and learning styles than men. While I already knew of basic learning styles, I hadn’t realized how gender-aligned these styles seem to be. Whether teaching a single or mixed gender course, its important that instructors recognize the differences in students’ learning styles, and balance instructional techniques to provide the most effective and enjoyable training for all.

Sailing Partners

Andy and LisaMy husband Andy and I learned to sail long before we met each other. Andy learned though the Royal Yachting Association, and I learned through a combination of seat-of-the-pants, friends, and Navy sailing courses. Andy and I met at a sailing regatta, owned boats independently, and have made many of our life decisions (both personal and business) while on the water – far from the demands of shore-bound life. So when we bought our first “together” boat we were surprised at the conflicts that arose. Each of us was used to being Captain, and we each had our own ideas on “the right way” to do things on a boat. We adopted a few practices which have really helped:

  1. Alternating Captains – when we’re cruising on our own, we alternate days when each of us is Captain. The Captain has the helm, makes the calls on sails, and takes overall responsibility for the boat and crew (standard Captain duties). The other covers navigation, line and sheet handling, meals, external communications. The practice of alternating Captain and Crew positions ensures we both stay proficient at all the skills required onboard. Equally important – it makes us refine our leadership styles (planning, constructive communication, feedback, timing, etc) and fosters teamwork. By learning to become good Crew, we each become better Captains, as well.
  2. We have a standing arrangement that when we disagree on the risk involved in an event or maneuver, then the more conservative choice wins. There is certainly plenty of discussion involved, but the advance agreement keeps discussion from escalating to argument; the result is generally a compromise. If either of us is operating too far out of our comfort zones, then nobody is happy. We learned this practice from Bernadette and Doug Bernon of Ithaka, having heard them speak at a Safety at Sea seminar in Annapolis.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Take time to learn your partner/crew’s styles, comfort zones, strengths and weaknesses. Communicate with your sailing partner, never assume he/she just “knows” the plan. If things go wrong, then talk it over later, with the intent to learn and improve.
  4. We sail with other captains and crews, sail with instructors, and continue our maritime education. Sailing is a life-long learning journey, with many facets to the education.

No matter how you learned to sail, you need to practice and re-train with your sailing partner. If sailing with your spouse or partner is stressful, then “Sailing in Harmony” lessons may help save your relationship!

Basic Instincts

Basic InstinctsIn general, I’ve found that our women students are more cautious than the men – probably basic survival and protective instincts. Women will point out marine traffic well before that traffic becomes an issue; they’ll be faster to reef the sails, and they generally have more questions on safety than their male counterparts. As students train and practice, they gain confidence and control, and realize that they’re perfectly capable of handling situations which seemed scary at the start. The survival instinct keeps a sailor alert and attentive, but training allows the sailor to discriminate between “normal event” and “danger”, and to handle the event accordingly. Many courses for women seem to focus on the fear factor – the message seems to be that women should take courses so they can survive if their husband is incapacitated (eg. Suddenly Solo, Sail Yourself Safely Home). Absolutely good skills to learn, but I find it more effective to focus on the positive – learn for enjoyment and achievement of sailing – solo or as a team.

Learn on small boats

We find that basic sailing is best learned on small boats, where cause and effect is apparent. Students can really feel the boat, and get a good understanding of sail trim, weight and balance. At Sail Solomons, we use the Capri 22 (tiller steered keelboat) for beginning sailing courses. (They’re also really fun boats!) Students then progress to larger cruising boats, and bring their skills to the next level.

Spouses aren’t always the best teachers

Most of us have figured this out – from driving, cooking, laundry or sailing. I had a call last year from a gentleman who asked “Do you have a course for wives of guys who race?” (Translation: “I’m in race mode, and I don’t have the time, teaching skills or patience to teach my wife”) I designed a course for this gentleman’s wife, sister-in-law and mother, shown here – based on what THEY wanted to gain. In fact, Danielle, Patty and Jean knew a lot more than they were aware of, absorbed just from being onboard with their spouses; they just didn’t know the terminology (“that foreign language my husband yells to me”), nor did they have the confidence to practice or demonstrate their skills. After 3 days of training in a supportive, paced-to-order environment, all three were happy sailors. Patty’s remarks are included below:

Danielle, Patty and Jean

“My Mother-In-Law, Sister-In-Law and I have recently finished a 2-day sailing lesson, as well as a private lesson on a motorboat with Sail Solomons. We all had varying degrees of experience, and were very eager to gain a greater understanding of sailing concepts and verbiage. We worked mostly with Lisa, and I must say, she was more than fabulous! Her patience, understanding and ability to extract exactly what each of us wanted to get from our lessons ended up being exactly what we all needed! Lisa’s confidence in our boat handling skills and sailing gave us all the support and push we needed to excel in these lessons. Sailing is supposed to be fun! Prior to taking these lessons, it wasn’t always that way. I am now much more comfortable docking a boat, and have a much greater knowledge base of sailing verbiage, which is essential in communicating with the captain and crew, and I cannot wait to get back out on the water and have some sailing fun!”

Examples, and More Examples

The Belles Of Philadelphia

“The Belles” of Philadelphia regularly cruise together on charter boats. There is a variety of experience level onboard, with a core team of Captain and Mates. Nonetheless, everyone participates in crew orientations, engineering checks, docking and sailing maneuvers. Nobody is bored, and everyone learns. Prior to their first catamaran cruise, the Captain had asked for a multi-hull text, which she studied in full. Upon arrival, I took them out for an hour of multi-hull, close-quarters maneuvering practice, which allowed her and the crew to transition from text concepts to hands-on learning.

Diane chartered for a week, but hired a captain for the first 2 days to teach her, her husband and their 3 girls to sail together safely and in harmony. Here, college freshman Claudia and Kate practice knot-tying with the help of an illustrated book.

Julie owns and sails her own S2 on Lake Champlain, VT. She continues to develop her skills on larger boats, cruising and racing. Here, Julie takes advantage of low-wind motoring conditions to brush up on navigation and piloting. In a supportive training environment, Julie can ask all the questions she wants to help her understand key concepts.

Brenda riding the waves!

Brenda, 76 years young, takes her first sailing lesson with her daughter Karen (not shown). Age was no consequence, Brenda simply wanted to experience sailing, but also have her support structure nearby.

Kathy and Dave

Kathy and her husband Dave took sailing lessons together, in a group of 4 students. But it was when they went out on their own that the learning really took hold. Experiencing a greater range of conditions, and relying on their own judgment and decision-making, both Kathy and Dave feel confident in progressing to the next level.

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