Preparing for Downwind Passages

Most of our passages this season have been to windward, despite our best planning. Any downwind legs have been with strong winds; plenty to keep the main and headsails full. Winter tradewinds have generally run from the East Northeast to East, but as Easter approaches we’re seeing more Southeasterly trades. As we look ahead to our return passages – from the Leeward Islands to USVI, and then USVI to the Chesapeake – we anticipate quite a bit of a downwind sailing, and want to be well prepared.

Our Outbound 46 Kinetic features jibe preventer lines running from the back of the boom (port and starboard) to a blocks on the bow, and then back to the stern cleats – so that jibes can be fully controlled from the cockpit. We also invested in a Forespar cruising whisker pole to “pole out” the jib or genoa on downwind runs. This arrangement allows us to sail wing on wing securely for long distances without fear of accidentally gybing. The pole is stored on the forward face of the mast, one end is fixed and travels vertically on a mast-mounted track. The pole position is adjusted and stabilized by triangulating it with a topping lift, afterguy, and foreguy. The foredeck crew adjusts the car height, topping lift and pole extension, while the cockpit crew controls the foreguy, afterguy, and sheet. When set, the pole is parallel to the deck, about 7’ high, and is angled to form a straight line with the mainsail’s boom. This position maximizes the surface area of the sails presented to the wind, for best downwind performance.

With the exception of a few practice runs and some downwind time off the Delmarva coast last summer, we’ve barely had a chance to use the whisker pole. Today we took advantage of a layday anchored in Deep Bay, Antigua, to practice pole sets, jibes and securing. To avoid excess “spaghetti” on deck, our “lazy” boom preventer line becomes the active foreguy, so jibing both main and pole involves some careful orchestration. Five hours well-spent, as we worked through the process, marked halyards and car positions, and documented the procedures in photos and written steps. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and then again, swapping crew positions. Our anchorage neighbors probably thought we were nuts, but practice makes perfect! Or at least, safe and efficient.  Now to try it on a rolling deck, with the headsail, and a dinghy stored on the foredeck.

When we return to the Chesapeake Bay in mid-May, we look forward to receiving our new cruising spinnaker, and a whole new level of downwind sailing… and training!

Training on Whisker Pole sets and jibes while anchored in Antigua

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Wind Power

There’s something very satisfying about waking to the sound of the wind. Wind whistling through the rigging portends a good sailing day, or cool breezes at anchor.   Wind also makes our wind generator spin, and that whirring turbine means electrical power, produced without burning fossil fuels. Wind generators harness the free (and generally abundant) wind to top up our battery banks, which run virtually all our onboard systems – electronics, lights, refrigeration, water pumps. Without that power, we’d have to run the diesel engine a couple of times a day just to maintain the batteries. Independence from shore or diesel power is a very gratifying to a cruising sailor, especially as we’re trying to keep Kinetic as “green” as possible.

Our Silentwind 400 wind generator was out of commission for two weeks while we awaited a new controller unit to be shipped to our cruising location from the Silentwind headquarters in Portugal (note: exceptional customer service). The silence was disconcerting, and the necessity to run the diesel engine was irritating, noisy and expensive. We still had a good solar panel, but it just wasn’t enough – we realized how much we relied on the wind/solar combination to meet our energy requirements. Now the new controller has been installed, and our wind generator is back in business – converting the tradewinds to amps, and feeding those amps to our grateful battery bank. We’re so glad to hear that whirring wind generator again!

Kinetic’s Silentwind Generator and Solbian Flex solar panel (plus Luci light)

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Blessings from the Sky


Kinetic being blessed

Kinetic being “blessed”

In many of the Caribbean nations we’ve visited, we hear the islanders refer to “blessings”. In some cases they are talking about good health or children, but much of the time they mean rainfall!   For the local populace, “blessings from the sky” mean healthy crops, cooler air and clean drinking water. One local radio program advised schoolchildren to remember their raincoats and boots, so they wouldn’t catch the flu in the (82° F) rain.

Onboard Kinetic, we see those blessings in several forms. Sometimes they arrive with 35 knot squalls while underway; generally with sufficient notice to put an extra reef in the sails, and remind us of who’s really in charge. Other times we are blessed with (indeed, we pray for) a quick freshwater shower to rinse the salt off the boat after a sporty passage. Blessings often include a rainbow, to put a wonderfully positive note on the whole event. Occasionally, blessings arrive when we’re unprepared (ie away from the boat with the hatches open), and that requires some airing of bedding and cushions afterward. It’s rare to have a full night without blessings, and we’ve become proficient at jumping up to close the cabin hatch, open to the ocean breeze. We have had limited success with our rain catcher, designed to supplement our freshwater tanks; perhaps we’ll have better luck if we call it a “blessing catcher”? No matter how or when our blessings arrive, we have no control over them, so we may as well adjust our attitude. Isn’t it refreshing to think of rainfall as a blessing, and make the most of it?

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Making Landfall – Guadeloupe

Making Landfall, Guadeloupe

Making Landfall, Guadeloupe

Approaching Guadeloupe today, we were struck by how much we enjoyed making landfall – especially a new one! At first, you might identify an island’s location by the cumulus clouds forming above, due to the rising warm, tropical air over the terrain. Since Guadeloupe is a volcanic island, we were able to see BasseTerre (perhaps mis-named, since it’s quite high) as we departed Antigua some 40 miles north; Guadeloupe appeared as a grey silhouette on the horizon, merged with clouds. As we approached, naturally the island grew, but we’ve determined that we can start seeing an island’s colors at about 12 miles distance. We practiced last week on other islands – St Eustatia, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Antigua. As you approach, that small gray silhouette takes shape, and you can see contours, headlands, colors, and eventually fields, forests, towns, buildings and roads. We were amazed and delighted as we came around the headland that protects Baie de Deshaies. The dramatic coastline suddenly opened to reveal a beautiful bay enclosed within, protected like a pearl in an oyster. As we approached the anchorage, the church bells ashore beckoned us in, while the sun set on our stern. Welcome to Guadeloupe!

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Hurricane Tips for the Weather-Wise Mariner

By Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Hurricane season is upon us, and it portends to be an active one.  With so many sources of information available, it’s easy to get overloaded by the variety of data and media hype. Here are some definitions and tips to weed out the key information and keep you prepared.

Definitions – adapted from National Hurricane Center’s Glossary:

Tropical cyclone – a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level circulation. TC’s rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. They are further classified as:

  • Tropical Depression:  maximum sustained surface wind speed of 33 knots or less.
  • Tropical Storm:  max sustained winds of 34 to 63 knots. Tropical Storms are assigned names.
  • Hurricane: max sustained winds 64 knots or higher. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons; similar storms in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean are called cyclones.
  • Major Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 96 knots or higher, corresponding to a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Storm Surge – An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm. (Storm surge is generally the most dangerous aspect of a storm for mariners in port, causing the greatest damage to life and property)

National Hurricane Center (NHC) is the primary source of hurricane forecasts for the US.  The information is distributed in various formats – text, graphic, voice – to reach all users.  Commercial organizations use the same base layer of information, but use value-added graphics and discussions. The combination can be confusing, so look carefully!

Weather Underground Graphic of Hurricane Irene, Aug 2011

Weather Underground Graphic of Hurricane Irene, Aug 2011

Size Matters – a hurricane’s size is important because of the area it impacts, but its strength (intensity of wind speed) and track are even more important.  Things to look for in the graphics:

  • Forecast track – most probable track of the storm’s center, based on models and meteorologists assessment.  
  • Radius of possible storm center locations (measure of track uncertainty)
  • Radius of damaging winds, where the strongest winds are nearest the storm center, and on the right leading quadrant (as the storm travels). 
  • Wind Speed Probabilities – given for TS strength, 50 kt, and Hurricane strength, by geographic area.
  • Storm Surge – depicted in feet above predicted astronomical tides along coastal regions.
  • Mariner’s 1-2-3 Rule – refers to the rounded long-term NHC forecast errors of 100-200-300 nautical miles at 24-48-72 hours, respectively. It’s a graphical depiction the forecast uncertainty

Understanding these factors of a hurricane forecast will help you keep a sharp weather eye, so you can prepare appropriately. 

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Chesapeake Bay Dreaming

by Captain Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Immortalized by writers, naturalists and artists, the Chesapeake Bay is America’s ultimate cruising destination.  Explorer Captain John Smith described it as “a faire bay encompassed but for the mouth with fruitful and delightsome land” when he created the first maps of the Chesapeake in 1608. A visit to the Chesapeake includes history, beautiful scenery, wildlife and plenty of action.

Origins and History

The Chesapeake Bay formed over 10,000 years ago when melting glaciers effectively “drowned” the Susquehanna River valley. It is the largest estuary in North America, extending 200 miles from Havre de Grace MD to Virginia Beach VA, and measuring 30 miles across at its widest.  Its 11,600 miles of shoreline exceed that of the entire US West coast – a gunkholer’s dream come true.

Chesapeake Bay is steeped in history, perhaps best captured in James Michener’s epic novel “Chesapeake.” The Chesapeake and most of the rivers feeding it carry names from the original Native American residents. English colonists seeking land and opportunity arrived in the Chesapeake region during the early 1600s.

Many towns along the Chesapeake played crucial roles in the War of Independence, the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. Privateers and pirates (including William Kidd and Edward Teach / Blackbeard) also played a big role in shaping the Bay.

Visitors can step back in time and explore the nation’s history in many museums and historic settlements throughout the Bay. Shoreline villages still host shipwrights, crab shanties, bascule bridges and scenic lighthouses. Classic oyster skipjacks, crab scrapers and oyster tongers ply the Bay as they did a century ago.

Seafood Nirvana

The Bay’s estuarine nature (the combination of tidal waters and freshwater influx) makes seafood fresh and plentiful; over 500 million pounds of seafood are harvested each year.  Savor the best crab dishes ever in the Chesapeake – known as the blue crab capital of the world. Try your hand at “chicken-necking” and catch crabs from your sailboat! Oysters are one of the Bay’s most valuable commercial fisheries, and you’ll find oysters served every way imaginable.  Another favorite is Rockfish – not only excellent sport for recreational and commercial fishermen, but also great eating.

Planning your Sail

You can reach the Chesapeake Bay by plane, train, car or boat.  Baltimore’s airport and rail station are most convenient for the northern reaches, and Norfolk for those starting south. Cruisers enter the Bay through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, or from the Atlantic at Cape Henry. The predominance of bareboat charter companies is located in Annapolis, but you’ll find ASA sailing schools and charter bases along the 200 mile length of the Bay. This distribution is ideal, as the Bay’s size and variety allows you to explore on many visits without ever repeating a destination.

Most charter bases operate from mid-April through October. While mid-summer weather is typically hot and humid, you’ll find good sailing winds throughout the season. Early Summer and Fall are favorites, and holiday weekends are in high demand. Prevailing winds are not distinct, but Southerly to Westerly winds are most common in the summer, heavily modified by sea breeze and local topography. Thunderstorms can be wild, so be sure to keep a weather eye and plan accordingly. Tides and currents are easy to manage, since the tidal range for most of the Bay is only about 1.5 feet.

Provisioning is simple; most charter bases have well-stocked grocery stores nearby. Be sure to plan for a few meals ashore to experience the local flavors and specialties.  Fuel, water, ice and pumpout stations are conveniently located throughout the Bay. Sailors can berth in marinas ranging from luxury resort to “mom ‘n pop”, anchorages or moorings in major harbors with water taxis, or secluded anchorages where herons are your closest companions.

Notable Cruising Destinations

The Chesapeake offers remote, unspoiled beauty in close proximity to cosmopolitan city centers. The variety is so diverse that it’s impossible to capture it all in a lifetime of cruising, much less to describe it in a single article. From north to south, here is a sampling of notable destinations to whet your appetite.

* Sail the Patapsco River into Baltimore Inner Harbor, featuring museums, shopping, dining, arts and major league sports in a waterfront urban setting.

* On the Eastern Shore, Rock Hall features the annual “Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend”.

* Annapolis visitors can enjoy a bustling port town, state capital and the home of the US Naval Academy. Known for the National Sailing Hall of Fame and US Sailboat shows, Annapolis features the largest selection of bareboat charter yachts on the Chesapeake.

* “The Town that Fooled the British”, St Michaels is one of the most charming colonial towns on the Bay’s Eastern Shore. Visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and wander the brick-paved sidewalks to browse shops and galleries.

* Glide through the bascule bridge at Kent Narrows, lined with workboats and skipjacks. Continue up the Choptank River to find abundant snug anchorages off the meandering tributaries of Broad Creek. Watch soaring osprey dive for fish, and keep your eyes open for celebrity estates!

* From the Choptank, follow the Tred Avon to the beautiful waterfront town of Oxford.  Marinas and restaurants nestle among tree-lined streets; don’t miss the iconic Cutts & Case Shipyard. If Oxford seems familiar, perhaps you’ve seen one of the many films set there.

* At the mouth of the Patuxent River, Solomons offers sailors a host of fine marinas and the world-famous Tiki Bar. Climb the Drum Point Screwpile lighthouse, take a cruise on a Skipjack, or wander through a sculpture garden featuring works from the Smithsonian.

* Enjoy a pile of steamed crabs in Crisfield, the “Crab Capital of the World”. Crisfield’s National Hard Crab Derby features feisty crabs racing on a track, and the largest boat-docking completion on the Chesapeake. Nearby Deal Island hosts the annual Skipjack race.

* Step back in time on Tangier Island, one of two island communities of watermen in the Chesapeake. You’ll hear a relic Elizabethan dialect still intact from the island’s original Cornish settlers. Distinctive crab shanties line the channel to the harbor; bikes and golf carts are the principal transportation ashore.

From cosmopolitan Baltimore to the time capsule of Tangier, the Chesapeake Bay is a cruiser’s dream. Capt John Smith’s words still ring true: “heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation.” Or, man’s sailing!

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Destination: Solomons for Screwpile!

by Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Securely berthed on a tee-head in Solomons, Maryland, you savor a mug of fresh-brewed coffee in the cockpit of your well-appointed bareboat charter yacht. You relax in the sunny warmth while you plan your day’s sail on the Chesapeake Bay. Suddenly, a blast of music breaks your reverie, and you watch in awe as a hundred race boats parade past you –  battle flags flying – headed for the Patuxent River. It’s Screwpile in Solomons!

The Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge is a regional sailboat regatta, drawing over 120 boats (and their crews and enthusiastic supporters) each year from across the country. The event features three days of round-the-buoys racing and three nights of rip-roaring parties. A point-to-point race from Annapolis to Solomons on Friday night, July 19th, brings many of the fleet contenders to town. After a Saturday of rest, relaxation and rum, this year’s Screwpile begins on Sunday, July 21 and ends on Tuesday, July 23. One-design and PHRF classes compete three races per day across courses set at the mouth of the Patuxent. Each morning features a 9 am Harbor-Start parade, and camaraderie prevails at the post-race parties hosted at the waterfront Solomons Holiday Inn.

Screwpile has been a Solomons institution since 1993, when the Southern Maryland Sailing Association (SMSA) took over the efforts of the (departed) Yachting Magazine Race Week.  The regatta is named for the screwpile-style lighthouse that once guarded the mouth of the Patuxent at Drum Point, and now stands proudly at the Calvert Marine Museum.

Whether you’re racing Screwpile, cruising the Bay or exploring by car, Solomons is a fabulous place to visit. This historic maritime community was recently named one of America’s “15 Happiest Seaside Towns” by Coastal Living Magazine, and deservedly so. Located just 50 miles south of Annapolis, Solomons is an easy reach for cruisers and bareboat charterers.

Several full-service marinas cater to visiting boaters, offering secure berths, hot showers, restaurants, swimming pools, bicycles and marine services. You’ll also find a sailing school and bareboat charter base (Sail Solomons), as well as fishing tours. Rent a kayak or SUP to explore the harbor from a new perspective. For those who prefer seclusion, snug anchorages are available in Solomons harbor and surrounding creeks. Solomons offers a number of hotels and gracious B&Bs for those not staying onboard.

Most marinas are an easy walk or bike ride from town, which boasts a wealth of activities for visitors. At the Calvert Marine Museum, visitors can explore how the prehistoric past, natural environment and maritime heritage blend to tell a unique story of the Chesapeake. Climb through the Drum Point “Screwpile” lighthouse, watch the sea otters at play, and enjoy a river cruise on a historic oyster “buy-boat”. CMM’s waterside concerts include classic favorites like Bad Company and ZZ Top.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center is an oasis for the art lovers. Weave your way along the wooded walking path and feast your eyes on sculpture, including many on loan from the Smithsonian Institution and National Gallery of Art. The ship-inspired Arts Building includes rotating exhibition space, so each visit is a new adventure.

Solomons is home to the University of Maryland’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, where visitors can learn about the natural environment of the Chesapeake Bay.  CBL’s location at the mouth of the harbor makes it a perfect spot to watch the Screwpile Harbor-Start parade and returning racers.

Savor a meal at one of the many Solomons waterfront restaurants, featuring fresh local seafood. Stroll along the Riverwalk and enjoy the fabulous view of the Patuxent River. Shoppers will appreciate the galleries, antiques, gift shops and boutiques in the heart of town. A spa treatment is just the thing after a hard day of sailing (or shopping).

Solomons’ summer-time events include a July 4th fireworks extravaganza and boat parade, the Offshore Grand Prix powerboat races, Arts Fest, and Watermen’s Festival.  You may have come for Screwpile, but Solomons offers so much more. Discover the magic of Solomons, and you’ll return again and again.

For more information, see and


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New Chesapeake Bay Charts

By Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Attention all US boaters!  If you’re looking for nautical charts, there’s a whole new game in town – “nv-charts”.   I’ve been using nv-charts’ Caribbean charts for years, and have always been impressed by their practicality, accuracy of data and clarity of presentation.  Whether a chart kit or a waterproof folding chart, nv-charts (formerly marketed as CYC) was an easy choice when cruising Caribbean waters. I met with nv-charts owners Hasko and Connie Scheidt last Fall, and was thrilled to learn that nv-charts has expanded their coverage to US East Coast waters. They released the Chesapeake Bay regions –  just in time for the 2012 boating season.  I showed my first set to our dock neighbors and sailing students who really loved the product; now I can barely keep them in stock!  Read on to see why nv-charts are the hottest items of the season.

The Chesapeake Bay series is divided into two regions, North and South, for easy handling.  The North region (5.1) includes Delaware Bay and the C&D Canal, and covers from Cape May, NJ to the Potomac River. The South region (5.2) overlaps at the Patuxent, and continues in detail from the Potomac down to Norfolk, including Tangier Sound and the Delmarva coast.  Together, the region provides all the coverage you need for cruising the Chesapeake or Delaware Bays and a Delmarva circumnavigation.

What’s included:   The spiral-bound chart books are 23.5” x 16.5”, designed to fit conveniently on most chart tables, and protected with a clear vinyl waterproof cover.  Each chart set comes with a Harbor & Anchorage Pilot Book with comprehensive navigation and cruising information and regional descriptions, weather and tide information, cruising destinations, harbors, moorings, and anchorages from entries referenced on the charts. Each chart set also includes a CD containing the entire chart set in digital format, for use on PCs with navigation software and GPS input. Free navigation software is available to download from the nv-charts website.

Key Features. At first glance, you’ll notice some differences between nv-charts presentation and that used by NOAA and commercial competitors. With a little examination, you’ll find the nv-charts presentation to be more intuitive than other charts; regardless, a complete and easily understood legend is included in the pilot book.  Key features of the nv-charts US charts and pilot books:

  • Charts are based on NOAA data with a new layout, clear cartography and international chart standards using WGS-84 datum;
  • Seaworthy chart layout – easy flow from one chart to the next;
  • Standardized chart scales:  passage charts 1:340,000;  coastal charts 1:100,000 and 1:45,000;  detail charts 1:25,000 or less;
  • Pre-plotted GPS lat/lon waypoints; tracks and distances between waypoints for easy planning
  • Depths and heights are charted in feet; referenced to MLLW and MHW, respectively
  • Unique color differences:  dark blue less than 18’ deep, light blue 18-30’ deep, green for exposed tidal areas;
  • Contour lines for 6’ (red), 12’ and 30’ depths;
  • Channel markers (day shapes and lighted markers) are depicted in red and green; buoys have realistic symbology
  • Arrow-symbols show buoyage direction;
  • Enhanced Lighthouse symbology  for better identification and light characteristics;
  • Illustrations of lighthouses (sea level view) are depicted on the chart margin
  • Tide and current information depicted on each chart, where data is available.
  • Grocery,  Marine Services and West Marine stores  indicated for convenience


Who is nv-charts?  This global supplier of precision charting products began producing navigation charts over 30 years ago in Germany, and their charts are used by cruisers, racers, the US Coast Guard  (for Bahamas and Caribbean) and the Baltic-Kiel-Pilots.  nv-charts’ parent company is Nautical Publications, with offices in Newport and Germany. They produce about 600 charts and over 1000 details & harbor plans, derived from government data and  confirmed and/or revised through nv-charts’ own survey vessels and aerial images. nv-charts now offers charting products for the U.S. East Coast from New England to Key West, Europe, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the entire Caribbean, including Cuba.

Where can you get nv-charts?  At Sail Solomons, of course!  Call Lisa at 410-326-4917 or email info@sailsibackup to order.  For best value and more diverse cruising options, buy the Chesapeake Bay Box set including both North and South regions.  Happy Cruising!

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Flotilla Fantastic!

BVI Flotilla 2012

What is a Flotilla?

By Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey.

    When social networks go sailing, you get… a flotilla!  Simply stated, a flotilla is a small fleet of similar vessels operating together for a common purpose. While historical purposes have included military operations, law enforcement or commerce, the modern purpose for sailboat flotillas is a bit different. These flotillas offer a balance between independence, support, and social sailing. Essentially, a flotilla allows one to “cruise in company.”  As kids, our annual summer vacation was spent onboard the family boat on the “Commander’s Cruise” – a weeklong flotilla on the Chesapeake, hosted by the US Sail & Power Squadron. We’d cast off each morning to our new destination, meeting up in the afternoon at a marina or anchorage for a social evening together. Kids and adults met new and long-lasting friends. Local sailing clubs frequently sponsor weekend flotillas, allowing new and experienced sailors to sail independently by day, and raft up at night.  Bareboat chartering allows sailors of all levels to experience the world of flotilla sailing, in local waters or across the globe. Read on to see how it works, hear testimonials from flotilla veterans, and learn why flotillas might be right for you!

Flotilla Primer

Bareboat charter flotillas combine the essence of bareboating with the benefits of a flotilla. Boats are chartered from a company, and those onboard are the captain and crew. The cost of the boat and operating expenses are shared amongst those onboard.  You may have pre-selected your shipmates and boat, or perhaps you’ve just signed on and will be matched up with a cabin-mate by captain or the Flotilla Organizer. Sounds like a regular bareboat charter so far, doesn’t it?

The big difference is the Flotilla Leader (FL), who typically sails the lead boat. The FL has local knowledge and experience, and will suggest a flexible itinerary for the group. The FL holds regular captain’s meetings, advising on best routes to the selected destination. The FL provides a safety net, and is the “go-to” person for problems and troubleshooting. Enroute, the FL is accessible to answer questions, or you might simply sail “follow the leader” if you choose. At your destination, the FL can assist in finding a good anchorage, help with the mooring, and coordinate the flotilla’s social activities.  Bottom line – each boat sails independently, but is secure in the knowledge that help from a trusted Flotilla Leader is close by. Social activities extend beyond your own boat to an entire flotilla of like-minded sailors.

Bareboat Chartering

Independence is a key feature of bareboat chartering – you cast off the lines and become self-sufficient afloat. The more sailing experience you gain, the more independent you can become. In a bareboat flotilla, each boat has its own captain and crew, and is able to cruise independently. This allows each crew to discover and explore on its own. Flotilla may have different policies on “tethering”; some like to cruise independently for days before a rendezvous, others meet up each day. Departures from the group are fine, so long as everyone is clear on destinations and timing. Flotilla veteran Kris advises “… let each boat wander and explore as they please and meet up every couple of days.”

Flotillas are an ideal part of the sail training continuum. Mark, an experienced captain and boat owner, notes “The flotilla allows risk taking with support.  As a captain, it’s a safe way to get a check on your own skills, and a tremendous opportunity to test your navigation and sailing skills in unfamiliar waters.” 

For new captains, one school owner adds “Our members love flotillas! We use them as a ‘rite of passage’ around here.”  Crewmembers at all sailing levels have a great opportunity to see the full spectrum of a bareboat charter, while contributing and learning.  Having sailed on a charter, a crewmember’s next sailing course will take on far more relevance. It’s quite likely that their next course will be with new-found flotilla friends!

Sailing Support

Support is one of the primary reasons that new captains choose flotillas for their first charter.  The logistic support comes first. The Flotilla Organizer (FO) charters the boats, helps to organize crews, gathers payments, and advises and assists with travel and individual boat logistics. That advice is invaluable to new charter captains, and saves time and effort for all involved. For those captains who aren’t able to pull together a full crew on their own, or for crew with no captain, the FO Organizer can fill in the right sailors to round out the crew and help share the cost.  Depending on who sponsors the flotilla, the FO may also arrange planning parties and seminars where you’ll meet the flotilla members, talk about itineraries, provisioning, crew coordination and receive great information on your upcoming charter.

As Mark points out:

“You not only have the support of the Flotilla Leader, but also the support of the other captains.  On the BVI flotilla, Kal and I compared notes every day. It’s a chance to try out a new boat, and to test your skills on a bigger boat.  You could do this alone, but I’d rather do it in a flotilla where someone else may be figuring out the same boat.”

This allows captains and crew to push their envelopes and build confidence, with the reassurance of nearby support and local knowledge. “It allows you to experience new places with direct recommendations of people you know.” Some flotillas allow for crewmembers to swap boats for a day; this can enhance training and put additional experience onboard for more challenging passages.

Benefits of Flotillas

Social benefits are paramount in flotillas. Sailors cruise with old and new friends and meet people with similar interests. When you rendezvous at your agreed destination, you can join the group for sundowners, dinner, shore excursions, parties or even regattas. You’ll have the opportunity to re-live that fabulous sail with like-minded sailors who will appreciate your perfect jibe! No matter how much you enjoy your crew, you’ll likely appreciate the opportunity to get off the boat for some private time, or to mingle with other crews during a flotilla.  Kal says:

“The flotilla is a great ice breaker that allows you to go over to other boats and say hi or share a drink. It’s a very fun and social event.”

Flotillas forge new friendships which you can continue to build while sailing at home base. If you are chartering with children, flotillas allow kids to meet other kids and parents to engage in adult conversation.

Finding your perfect flotilla is easy.  ASA offers flotillas year-round and across the globe; simply pick a location you like and a time that works for you. Flotillas are the perfect compliment to good training!

Charter companies also offer flotillas – sometimes by the boat, and sometimes by the cabin or berth. Anyone who’s sailed the BVI has seen the Sunsail “flagship” carrying the Flotilla Lead and Hostess – you can’t miss it.

Check with your sailing club or sailing school; if you’re a member, you’ll probably get advance notification of flotilla opportunities. You may even be able to take a course during the flotilla, getting maximum benefit from your sailing week.  If your club doesn’t offer a flotilla, look for other clubs or schools who do; listen up for referrals, and check references!

Before signing on for any flotilla, ask a few questions. Is there a theme or special demographic? Pirates, families, singles, accountants, politics? What costs are included, and what will you need to pay out-of-pocket?  Will you be sharing a cabin or head?  Will you have an opportunity to meet your crew before the flotilla? When you find a flotilla that fits the bill, jump in – you’ll be glad you did!

Pam, an ASA 103 graduate and sailing club member who participated in her first flotilla with Sail Solomons last winter sums it up beautifully:

“As a relative newcomer to sailing, I thought the flotilla provided an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience under the tutelage of a skilled captain in a beautiful setting.  I enjoyed the daily routine of waking up to the sunrise in the harbor, checking the weather, planning our course, setting sail, executing perfect tacks and jibes to the next destination, attaching to a mooring ball and celebrating the wonderful day with a swim and a sundowner!   You can experience all of these things in a single sailing excursion, however a flotilla allows you to practice several days in a row and learn from the previous day’s experience.  There is a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction gained from the teamwork of a great sail.  As an added bonus, it was a lot of fun during the course of the week to gain new friends with like-minded interests.”

Enquire now about Flotillas
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Bareboat Chartering with the Kids

Bareboat Chartering with Kids

by Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Families and boating go together like peanut butter and jelly. My family boating experience started when I was 2 months old; Dad had converted a Navy-surplus 36’ wooden landing craft into our family cruising boat.

As a kid, I spent virtually every summer weekend and vacation boating, and I am ever grateful for the experience. Shared family time, learning new skills, seeing new ports, swimming off the boat, fishing and “sleeping out” can bring a family together like nothing else. As a cruiser and charter operator, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing families literally grow up sailing together – whether on their own boats, or on charter vacations. In this article, I draw from the tips offered by seasoned sailing parents to make chartering with kids a memorable and enjoyable vacation.

Preparing to sail with children

As in all aspects of chartering, preparation is key. Talk with your kids so they’ll know what to expect regarding getting wet, moving around the boat, sharing with siblings, and safety onboard. Since so many chartering activities are based around water, it’s best if kids can swim, and are not afraid of water. If your kids aren’t boaters yet, try to visit a local marina before your charter to get them familiar with boats. Do some research using books, movies or the internet on the local history and sights at your charter destination. The exciting Caribbean pirate culture is bound to be a hit; make a treasure map to go with your itinerary! Many sailing areas in the US are rich in the history of Native Americans, early settlers and watermen. Laminated fish identification cards give a special goal for new snorkelers. Help your kids keep a journal or log, to which they can add photos and postcards; in addition to keeping the memories fresh, they’ll have all kinds of material for school reports or show-and-tell. Make your own, or purchase one of the excellent kids’ nautical logs and journals on the market.

Kids sailing safety

Sailing gear and life jackets. To keep kids safe and to fully integrate them into the crew, they should have the same sailing gear as the adults onboard. This includes non-slip shoes, sailing gloves, hat, sunglasses, sun protective clothing and plenty of sunscreen. Explain why it’s important, and set a good example by wearing this gear yourself! Children’s life jackets are great safety gear and legally required in most charter areas. Shop with your kids to pick out appropriate life jackets that are safe and comfortable (perhaps adorned with a favorite cartoon character). Take a tip from these sailing parents: Sue and Mark set clear guidelines for wearing life jackets (or “boat coats”) – on the dock, onboard on deck, underway, etc. Sara and Chris’ children wear new life jackets at home to “break them in” and make them more comfortable. Parents can identify and fix any hotspots before the vacation. Even the family dog has a (broken in) life jacket!

Food and snacks

Food and drink are important aspects of any yacht charter. Whether you provision in advance or onsite, be sure to include plenty of nutritious foods that you know your kids will enjoy. They WILL be hungry from all the activity and fresh air, so meals and snacks are crucial. Remember to pack saltines for occasional motion sickness or tummy-aches. You’ll likely have many meals onboard; why not take a blanket to the foredeck, and picnic in the sea breeze? Travelling gives you a chance to explore new foods, and you may be surprised at what your kids will eat when introduced on vacation.

Drinks and hydration

Hydration is extremely important while boating. Be sure everyone has a no-spill water bottle with their name on it, and keep track of consumption to be sure they are well-hydrated. A little bit of powdered drink mix can make water more interesting, without adding too much sugar. When the adults sit back to enjoy tropical sundowners, the kids will love virgin daiquiris or coladas as a special treat.

Gettings kids involved with sailing

Involvement onboard is the key to energized sailing families. Kids of all ages can actively participate in the boat handling and sailing; with duties expanding as their skills and interests grow. Be sure to give plenty of opportunity to take the helm, pull a halyard or sheet, place a fender, and call out “Hard A-Lee!” Teach the kids a few basic knots before your charter, and have them tie the knots “for real” while onboard – fenders, cleats, stopper knots. Supervise and assist as needed, and give lots of praise. They’ll love to help, and to be part of the crew. Consider crew tee-shirts!

Kids also love to push buttons, and in this age of technology, they’re very good at it. But the onboard environment is very different from home video games, and pushing the wrong button can cause big problems. You’ll need to lay out the rules before any trouble occurs. Captain Andy (immediately re-named “Cotton Candy” by a set of 4-year old triplets on charter) told his charges that pushing the wrong button could sink the boat, so if they wanted to push anything, they must first come to him to ask permission. Many buttons were pushed, but all under supervision. Happily, the boat did not sink.

Delegate responsibilities

Consider delegating some specific responsibilities to your kids, so they’ll have something of their own to be proud of. I was the “Flag Lieutenant” on our family boat when I was 8, responsible for hoisting and lowering the flags; it probably influenced my joining the Navy! Dinghy Captain, Forward Lookout, Keeper of the Ship’s Log are all duties that kids might handle. Jim & Hedy have been chartering as a family for several years; they designate a “Captain of the Day” who calls out orders and delegates duties. The kids are now so proficient that they can take their parents for a sail!

Most charter boats have dinghies; many have kayaks, as well. Alex and Avi love seeing the absolute delight in their eldest son’s eyes when he’s in charge of driving the dinghy, and the autonomy and independence their boys feel when paddling the kayaks around the anchorage.

Kids sailing entertainment

There will be times onboard when you’re not underway, or when kids are not actively participating in the sailing. Be sure to have activities to keep them engaged – books, games, portable electronics, waterproof playing cards, logbooks. If feasible, designate an area of the cabin for each child to keep their things, where they can retreat when they need some private time. I can’t think of any kid on our boats who hasn’t created a blanket fort in a cabin. Take advantage of quiet family time to read or play games together. Avi notes that his favorite times onboard are early morning chess games with his sons; Alex loves reading stories with the boys on the catamaran trampoline at sunset.

Itineraries and Activities Ashore

Most kids will enjoy time ashore more than time underway. Many consider the voyage as a necessary means to an end (getting to the beach), so try to keep passages short. All charter itineraries should be flexible enough to accommodate inclement weather (or maintenance issues), or to linger in a favorite spot – this is especially true when chartering with kids. For a week-long charter, Hedy & Jim recommend building in a land day where the boat stays put, so you can dedicate time to shore excursions. Your kids will have ample opportunity to swim, snorkel, build sand castles, go fishing, clamber over rocks and explore pirate caves, hike to lookouts, chase chickens and goats, and search for seashells. What’s not to love?

When anchored or moored, expect your boat to become a diving and jumping platform. I once watched two young live-aboard kids entertain themselves for three hours by jumping off the bow and climbing back up the anchor line. I wish I had that energy! A moored charter boat is perfect for staging dinghies and kayaks, as well as noodle-raft flotillas. It’s also an excellent base for a natural science class – watch the fish swim around your swim platform, and use the onboard binoculars to study the wildlife along the shoreline.

Chartering with Kids – Overview

Chartering with kids can be a rewarding and magical experience for all, and a way to create family memories to last a lifetime. It’s a completely different experience than an adults-only charter; you will rediscover the joys of boating through a child’s eyes. Don’t try to pack every activity and destination into the first charter. Families are over-scheduled as it is; give yours a chance to relax and play together. Involve your kids completely, and plan for activities afloat and ashore. It’s vacation – have fun!

Find out more about Sail Solomons Sailing Courses

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to those whose ideas, suggestions and photos are pivotal to this article – Hedy & Jim, Alex & Avi, Sue & Mark, Sara & Chris, Captain Andy, and my parents, who instilled in me the love of boating!

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Money Matters – The Bareboat Charter Kitty

(by Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey)

Why are all-inclusive vacations so popular? Because the majority of the expenses are paid up front, so you can fully relax on vacation and not worry about constantly shelling out money for daily expenses. If you’ve already paid for it, then it feels free!

How to budget on a bareboat charter

This is especially true when you’re sharing expenses on a vacation, whether ashore or afloat. Even the best of friends have different spending styles and priorities, and nothing dampens the vacation atmosphere more quickly than constant questions of “Who’s paying for what?” On a bareboat charter, the cost of the boat itself comprises the largest shared expense, and is paid well in advance. Nonetheless, how you handle the collective daily running expenses onboard can make a big difference in your crew morale. Whether you’re a group of friends sharing expenses, or a couple wanting to maintain financial harmony onboard, a Charter Kitty makes sense. This is not a euphemism for Poker Night or a feline mascot, but a method of pre-paying shared expenses during your charter. Successful bareboat charter crews keep spending issues to a minimum and achieve that “all-inclusive” feeling by establishing a well-organized Charter Kitty.

As in most aspects of a smooth bareboat charter, a little advance planning goes a long way. Be sure to include the Kitty as a topic in your crew’s charter planning discussions; buy-in (pun intended) is important. The actual mechanics of running a Charter Kitty are pretty simple. If you can balance a checkbook, you can manage the Kitty!  Every crew will find their own way to “skin the cat”, but here are some tips we’ve found useful on our charters.

How much is enough?

Estimate the cost of your charter’s running expenses. Consider provisions, beverages, fuel, ice, water, moorings, dockage, customs fees. Discuss what additional expenses you’d like to share; your crew might choose to use the Kitty for cocktails or a meal ashore. Try to decide this in advance, so you’ll have enough cash to cover. It’s better to overestimate and splurge a bit at the end, rather than ask for top-ups midway through the charter. Crewmembers should still carry cash or cards for personal expenses, with cash in reserve to contribute in the event a Kitty top-up is necessary.

Nominate a Purser

Remember “Gopher” from The Love Boat? He was the ship’s Purser – the one responsible for handling the money onboard. Your charter Purser will handle the day-to-day management of the Kitty. The Purser should be organized, and good at making change. The only tools needed are a separate wallet or envelope (to keep Kitty cash separate), perhaps a small calculator, and a tally sheet or ledger. We use a sheet that resembles a check register; hand-entries are simple to make, and it’s easy to decipher where the cash is going and how much remains.

Feed the Kitty!

Once you’ve estimated your cost, split that cost amongst the crew, and have each crewmember contribute their share. If you’re chartering in a country that uses US dollars, it’s often best if crew members bring cash, and pay the Purser once onboard. If a different currency is used at your charter destination, it may be best to pay the Purser in advance, have the Purser deposit the cash/checks to a debit account, and use the debit card to withdraw local currency at an ATM. You’ll get a better exchange rate than using most currency exchange offices. Just be sure the debit card is programmed to work at your destination! Alternatively, each crew member could independently withdraw at your destination, and feed the Kitty with local currency.  A cash Kitty is generally easiest to work with onboard, however you choose to feed it.

Onboard Mechanics

The daily mechanics are quite simple. The Purser starts with a full Kitty kept in a separate envelope or wallet, and records the balance on the ledger. Whoever is charged with buying a service or product gets cash from the Purser, pays the bill, obtains the receipt, and gives the change and receipt to the Purser. If the buyer uses his own money (perhaps the Purser is off snorkeling!), he later presents the Purser with the receipt, and is reimbursed from the Kitty. The Purser records the item purchased and its cost, and calculates the balance remaining in the Kitty. It’s a good idea to keep the receipts for reference.

Top-Ups and Rollovers

The Purser should keep the Captain and crew apprised of the “State of the Kitty,” so you’ll know if you’re making ends meet – or if you need to modify the Kitty’s spending patterns. The ledger will point out where the money is going, so you’ll know what to target. In the event that expenses exceed your estimates, you’ll need to top up the Kitty enroute. This is the time to call upon the crewmembers’ cash reserves (see above “How Much is Enough”). If you’ve got Kitty cash left over at the end of your charter – great! There are lots of fun options for the extra cash. Splurge on your last evening, divvy up the money, buy a lottery ticket, or donate to a charity of the crew’s choice!  Remember, since you’ve pre-paid, it feels free!

Family Plan

For families or couples not sharing expenses, running a charter kitty may still be a great idea – even if the cash is from your joint account. The pre-pay aspect helps you achieve that all-inclusive atmosphere, so you don’t feel like you’re being “nickel-and-dimed” each time an expense arises. For many charter expenses, using a cash Kitty is often the easiest option. Credit card companies often charge fees if the purchase involves a foreign currency. Some vendors charge additional fees to cover credit card processing, and others simply won’t accept credit cards, so be sure to have plenty of cash.

Bonus Points

The greatest advantage to a Charter Kitty is minimizing onboard spending issues for a more enjoyable vacation and preserved crew friendships. But the advantage continues well after your charter. Keeping a good record allows you to review your expenses, targeting specific categories to help you streamline future costs. Apply your “lessons learned” to make the next charter even better. If you’re lucky, that winning lottery ticket purchased with leftover Kitty cash will pay for your next trip!

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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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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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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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