Monday, January 24, 2022

Bringing Guests Aboard

Herman and Frances (center) with friends. Submitted photos

Herman and Frances (center) with friends. Submitted photos

All of us who have sailboats have been in this situation at one time or other: Our non-boating friends who have never been aboard would like to go for a quick day sail. Sailing looks so easy and restful to the uninitiated. They can’t imagine what is involved to get the boat moving and how to get it to stop. Whenever we have taken non-sailors aboard, we try to give them a quick course in “sailing.” Also, we make sure we have a life jacket for each person aboard.

First, we tell them “don’t do anything” unless we ask them. I know, everyone wants to help, but it is easier and safer if they do not unless you ask them to help. Next, we try to explain that sailboats heel to the right or left when the sail is full from the wind. No, the boat will not tip over! Also, we offer each guest a life jacket in case they feel uneasy. Before we set sail, we give them a brief introduction telling them how a sailboat moves and how the different positions of the sail affect the angles and velocity of the boat. This helps to explain why a sailboat does not necessarily sail directly towards your intended destination. Each guest, almost always, wants to try his

Jackie and Gary and their dog.

Jackie and Gary and their dog.

hand on the tiller or wheel. Of course, they are quite surprised when the boat begins to heel and quickly give the wheel back to you.

Now it is time to tack. You ease your jib as you steer through to wind to the opposite tack. When you do this, the fun begins. First the jib makes a bit of noise fluttering in the breeze. Ask your guest to go to the windward side to sit, as it is more comfortable there. As you continue sailing with your guests, you will probably repeat this maneuver a few times until you reach your intended destination.

At your destination, first you have to drop your sails and lash the main and furl the jib. This makes a fair amount of noise in a breeze and you might want to assure your guests that all really is “ship shape”. Once settled, you can head to a slip or you can anchor your boat for a quiet lunch aboard. By now your guests are more comfortable and may even be looking forward to the return sail to the dock.

Now is the time for a relaxing lunch as the gentle wind water rocks the boat. For some reason, after your sail there lunch will taste great and the conversation should be lively. Since this may

Don and Marge.

Don and Marge.

have been their first time aboard a sailboat, or at least your boat, now is a good time to show them below deck and to walk them around the deck to show them how and why each line has a specific purpose.

Your guests will have a better understanding of how and why the various lines do different things. For the most part, sailboats are line specific. Each line is dedicated to doing its job, such as forward port line, aft port line, reefing lines, and so on. Lines go back and forth. Sheets are lines that go up and down such as “mainsheet” to raise the main. When it is time to return give your guests tasks to do. Everyone always asks to be at the helm. If there is not too much wind, give them the helm and ask them to watch the telltales or mainsail for back winding.

Once you are back to shore at a dock and or anchorage, either to anchor or pick up a mooring ball, ask your guests to remain seated while you and your crew (read “wife”!) go through the necessary procedures.

After all has been secured it is really “Cerveza Time” or “Cocktail Hour.” Now is the time to talk with your friends about the day’s sail and answer questions about their enjoyable day at sea.

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