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T Clewring - Cruising

How to be a great skipper on a sailing holiday

by Grant Headifen on 1 Aug 2011
Being a great skipper keeps everyone friends AFTER the holiday .. .
Grant Headifen from Nauticed here gives another great sailing tip - how to suddenly become the skipper to friends and family (who may not be used to crewing or not used to taking instruction) on a sailing holiday so that you are still friends after the vacation is over:

Maybe you're a good sailor, but all of a sudden you’re transformed from friend, co-worker, family and sometimes complete stranger into the skipper of your chartered sailing boat, the authoritative figure with ultimate power. That’s not an easy formula so I’ve put together the top ten tips on how to be a great captain.

When people are led by good captains they do not even remember that they were lead. That means they just remember that the vacation went off with out a hitch and the boat seemed to work itself, yet somehow, every one contributed and a great time was had by all.

Good leaders make people feel comfortable in any environment. Your confidence and promotion of a good time for everyone will help people feel comfortable through out the trip.

Obviously your number one job is to ensure the safety of the ship and crew.

However following closely behind that comes the job to ensure that every one onboard is feeling comfortable with you and the vessel. So let me shout this out load and clear. NO SHOUTING OR YELLING.

The bareboat charter sailing vacation is not time to prove how much you know or to be Captain Bligh. Sometimes it is the skipper's own nervousness that causes the shouting, so you need to deal with your own nervousness yourself, and not let it inflict on others. It’s time to prove your quiet confidence and steady character amonst your friends and family. After all I’m sure you’ll want them to come back with you and one wrong snarl and you’re probably off the Christmas card list.

So here's the list:

1. Give up the helm time to others when practical and safe.

2. Don’t be the supreme commander, you can do that with a rubber ducky in the bathtub at home by your self.

3. Involve everyone in the sailing process (if they want), at their own level - the leeward runner is a fine place to start.

4. Don’t always be teaching and preaching but offer to show and help.

5. Make the dinners and do the dishes more than every one else.

6. Let others participate in the navigating.

7. Unless there is a compelling reason like a weather event or the need to get somewhere before dark for instance, there is no need to stay on schedule. If the others are having fun shopping in a cute little port or laying on the beach let them stay. It’s their vacation.

8. Read up on the local area with a travel book like Frommers and discuss the area and highlights of things to do with everyone, and plan the trip so there is only 3-4 hours of sailing everyday. And plan to stay in a port or two for a full day.

9. Keep the boat tidy and clean. Every morning do a wash down of the boat, start the process yourself and I bet others will just join in. After a few days they will self start the wash down.

10. Every day, give yourself a reality check and ask yourself this: 'Am I doing all these things above?'

Now I didn’t make this stuff up. The theory of leadership is the same no matter whether you're sailing, building a company or winning a war. Mine comes mostly from a book I read called Lincoln on Leadership. His philosophy was to always roll up the sleeves and get into the trenches. People follow more what you do rather than say especially when you’re in a new leadership role.

I’ve applied this philosophy on the dozens or charter trips I’ve lead all over the world and I can assure you that if you pour the drinks, cook breakfasts and dinners, swab the decks, speak calmly and confidently, tell the jokes, go ashore to buy supplies before everyone gets up, give up the helm, be knowledgeable about the area and make good suggestions and just relax on the schedule, then everyone will remember you as being the BEST CAPTAIN EVER.

The top tips on great captaining were extracted from the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Sailing Clinic which is packed full of real practical bareboat chartering tips, and it’s part of the requirement for your Bareboat Charter Master Sailing Certification. You can take the Bareboat Charter Sailing Class online and it is now available in a downloadable PDF. You can try it too to see if you like it - there's a money back guarantee. For all information go to the www.nauticed.org!NauticEd_website.

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