Will your sailing crew be ready for tight quarter maneuvering?

Have you trained your sailing crew or partner to expect the unexpected and to be ready to react in tight quarters? Read these sailing tips to learn more.
Dock a boat in a tight marina, and you know how it can be a challenge. But how many times have you seen other boats with crew that were unprepared. Maybe the crew were up forward taking in some rays of the sun. Or back aft in the cockpit yapping on the cell. Why does this happen time and again on boat after boat? Use these easy sailing tips for safety in tight quarters maneuvers.

Look around any marina and you can start adding up property value in the millions. And it's all just a few feet away from your boat. Things can change in a heartbeat when you approach a dock or slip. You could lose control in wind or current. Or the engine dies when you least expect it. Or another boat pulls out of a slip right into your path. Or you touch bottom and the boat jerks to a stop.

Is your crew ready in an instant with lines coiled and in hand? Boat hooks fully extended and in hand? Fenders and lines set and ready to go on both sides (yes, that is both sides for fenders and lines) along with a portable 'roving fender' with a long line attached? All hands alert and ready?

I believe we skippers are sometimes a bit hesitant to get brand new crew involved to assist in tasks such as docking and maneuvering. But even the greenest of crew will rise to the occasion if given small tasks. Indeed, this often boosts their morale in a big way because they are now part of the crew and the evolution at hand.

For example...

Show a new crew how they can use the roving fender to cushion contact points. They 'rove'--walk, never run--to any place they see contact may be made. Then, they ease the line of the fender down to that point on the hull to cushion the impact. Keep hands and feet clear. Simple as pie, easy to learn, and a vital crew position when docking or undocking.

All crew participate in docking or undocking evolutions. Just never assume even the experienced salts aboard know your wishes. Communications are the 'make or break' formula in most all maneuvers aboard any boat, whether docking or undocking, tacking or jibing, overboard emergency recovery, or passing along information that pertains to the safe navigation of your boat.

Assign your crew simple tasks based on their ability and watch them rise to the occasion. It'll make your job as skipper smoother and easier--wherever you choose to sail or cruise!

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Put simple 1-2-3 training tips like these into play aboard your sailing boat for both old salts and sailing newbies. Keep communications and expectations simple and clear to make docking smoother, easier and less stressful wherever you sail!

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at Skipper Tips. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!
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