Finding an opportunity to go racing, whether it be on a Hunter 336 for a weekly beer can series or a professionally crewed TP52, can be daunting. All the way through the ranks, most sailboat teams are tight little units with core groups of regulars. Standing on the dock with a sign, or registering with an online crewfinder are ways to get a spot on a boat. Word-of-mouth helps too. But it’s what you make of those opportunities that will determine your racing career trajectory, no matter how small your aspirations.
At some point in its life, every boat will need a deck fitting replaced or will develop a leak that must be corrected. And while replacing deck hardware is not a complicated operation, doing it incorrectly can cause serious damage down the road.
The decision on whether to carry a life raft and what kind of life raft that should be can be a challenge for sailors. New six-person, non-commercial life rafts cost at least $1,700. Used life rafts can be a relative bargain, but all rafts need periodic maintenance. The decision on what is right for a boat can hinge on factors as varied as budget to the kind of sailing you do.
Folding a sail is a task that sailors do every day, on the dock or on the deck, and while it won’t make or break you as a sailor, knowing how to fold a sail correctly will make your sails last longer, make them easier to set and ingratiate you to the rest of the crew.
All sailors are used to tacking upwind. And if you think about it, it seems fair that if you have to tack up wind, you should also have to tack down wind. But when your destination is straight down wind, it’s almost irresistible to resist the urge to aim right at it. The problem is that when it’s windy, dead down wind is dangerous, and when it’s light, it’s slow.
Few things can seem more inconvenient that the briefing all bareboat charters start with. You may be anxious to get off the dock and set sail, but the briefing is no time to let your mind wander. Pay attention, ask the right questions and you'll be on your way with crucial information in no time.
In the moments after you realize you have run your boat aground, it’s best to take a deep breath and recite The First Rule of Holes: “When you’re in one, stop digging.” Many of the steps you are inclined to take can make matters worse. You may already doubt your own skills and your decision making. You’ll get a lot of advice, some of it noisy, a lot of it not grounded in experience. Chaos is lurking.