Caribbean Charter: Look Like a Pro

So you have taken the step and decided to live your dream by experiencing the magic of the Caribbean for yourself. The arts, the music, the flavors, the fragrances, the beauty…there is no better way to explore paradise than aboard a Caribbean charter. Whether this is your first time and you are unsure what you are letting yourself in for or you are an old salty dog, when it comes to cruising, everyone can make mistakes. As they say in the islands, however, “No worries, Mon.” By following these tips, charteracatamaraninthebvi you will look like a pro on your Caribbean charter.

Sailing has a language all its own. Some terms make sense, others do not, but if you know even just the basic words/phrases, it can keep the novice sailor out of trouble. If you hear terms you do not know, do not be afraid to ask! Here are some of the most common:

A) Port, starboard, forward, aft, bostonhaikusociety bow and stern. These are the most basic directional terms. Port is left. (My husband taught me, “You sip port on the left bank”). Starboard is right. Forward is the position in front of the captain, while aft is behind the captain. The stern is the rear of the boat and the bow is the front.

B) Not all ropes are the same. Some are called lines, others are sheets, and others are called halyards. Any lines that open and close sails are known as “sheets”. The term “sheeting in” means to haul in the sail, while “sheeting out” means to let out the sail. Sheets are usually part of the rigging on a sailboat. Halyards are used to raise the sail.

C) Windward vs. Leeward. These are also directional terms referring to how the wind is blowing relative to your boat. The windward side of the boat is the side over which the wind is blowing. For example, if the wind is coming from the right, the starboard side of the boat is the windward side. Leeward is opposite of windward- so in the above example, the port side of the boat is the leeward side.

D) Falling off vs. coming up. If a captain “falls off” he is not getting wet! Rather, he is steering the boat more downwind. If he wants to come up in the wind, sho he is steering closer to the direction from which the wind is blowing.

Listen and ask questions at the chart briefing and use your cruising guide during the charter. The employees at the charter base know a lot more about the local sailing area than anyone else and they want you to have a good time on your Caribbean charter. You will learn about great places to go, as well as places to avoid. Pay special attention if a “red line” chart is provided since this highlights dangerous or off-limits areas.

The charter company representative should give you a thorough orientation to your charter boat. Even if you are an experienced sailor, pay attention because each boat is different and may have unique idiosyncrasies. Make sure that you understand how the onboard systems work, watin-p such as the sails, safety equipment, sunshades, ventilation systems, windlass system for anchoring, storage, galley facilities, navigation gear and radios, marine heads and showers, and of course, the dinghy. Also make sure that all the required equipment is on board (ie. the right number of life vests, etc). Point out anything you notice is wrong to the base rep, and try and have any broken equipment fixed before you leave.

Before casting off, disconnect the shore power line first! Check to make sure no lines are in the water that could foul up the propeller. Turn on the engine and then release your dock lines. You can put the sails up after you are in open water and away from the crowded charter base. Coil up your dock lines and stow them. (See below). Untie your fenders as well and stow them in a locker. There is nothing that gives a novice away more than motoring or sailing around with his/her fenders dangling over the side!

Neatness counts, especially because it is safer. Do not throw lines in heaps about the boat. They will kink, this website tangle or jam when you need them and you or someone in your crew is likely to trip over them. Rid the line of any kinks or knots. Take one end of the line in one hand, and feed the rope to the other hand, making loops. As you coil the rope, place a slight twist in the line to flatten the coils. Continue to make the loops until you near the end of the rope. Wrap the free end of the line 3 times around the top of the coil. This will form a neck and the coil will have the shape of a bowling pin. Tie off the free end of the rope, brownjanitorialservices and place the coiled line in a storage locker.

It is a big ocean out there, right!? You still have to know the rules of the road. In most cases, motorboats have to give the right of way to sailboats. A sailboat is a motorboat anytime you are using the motor to propel the boat. Sailboats must give the right of way to large vessels such as ferries, barges and tenders because they are harder to maneuver. If you change your course to avoid a collision, make it obvious. Sailboats on the starboard tack have the right of way, as does a boat being overtaken from behind. Even if you have the right of way, do not play chicken on your Caribbean charter. If it is obvious that the other boat cannot or will not change course in time to avoid a collision, you need to change your course.

A cleating knot allows you to secure a line from one of the strong cleats on your boat to a dock or mooring ball, and can also be used to secure your dinghy to your boat if you are hauling it. First, take a length of line and pass it under the safety rails of your yacht. Wrap the line around the base of the cleat for one full wrap so the line crosses itself once. Second, cross the line over one of the horns of the cleat and then pass the line under the horn. Then bring the line up to cross itself on the top, center part of the cleat and take it around the second horn. Third, make a loop in the line by twisting it once. Place the loop over the first horn, making sure that the end of the line runs toward the rest of the cleat and not away from it. The results should be that the 3 rd crossing of the cleat sits parallel to and on the same side as the 2 nd crossing of the cleat. Finally, pull the knot tight and make sure all lines run freely and will not get caught and tangled on other lines.

Winches are a great tool for sheeting, but plenty can go wrong like pinched fingers or fouled lines. Here is how to do it properly. Make sure the sheets are running straight from the block to the winch without rubbing against anything that will inhibit turning. Lay the sheet in the open palm of your hand, than begin wrapping it in a clockwise motion around the spool of the winch until you have 3 wraps that lay next to each other, snug to the winch. There should be no overlaps or knots in the sheet. Then pull the sheet over the silver guide and into the self-tailing jaws. Make sure the sheet is secure in the jaws. Insert your winch handle and crank away. With enough tension, the winch should rotate and you will hear it clicking. When you are not grinding the winch, remove the handle and place it in its holder. These expensive items have never passed the float test, and having the handle removed is safer if you must quickly release the line on the winch. Remember to wrap your winch before you need it – while there is no load on your sheet. And, always keep your fingers/hands outside any wraps that might come under load.

Determine the wind direction and point the bow of the boat into the wind. Trying to raise the mainsail before pointing the bow of the boat toward the wind is a common mistake of new sailors. If the boat is not pointed into the wind, raising the mainsail may be impossible because the wind fills the sail when it is part way up, putting too much load on the halyard. Make sure the halyard is securely attached, and then unclamp and release the mainsheet in the cockpit. Hand-over-hand, steadily pull the halyard to raise the sail. When the resistance becomes too heavy, wrap the halyard around the winch and grind the winch by turning the winch handle until the sail reaches the top of the mast, and the sail cloth is taut along the mast. Cleat off the mainsail halyard, coil it or place it out of the way so you can sail. Be careful, however, theveggiedoctor that you never tie off a coiled halyard in a way that you cannot immediately release it to run freely. You never know when you will want to lower a sail quickly! Steer slightly away from the eye of the wind and haul in on the mainsheet until there is tension and the sail fills with wind.

Most yachts on a Caribbean charter use a jib roller. The sail is unfurled with the jib sheets. After raising the mainsail, and when the boat is in the open – away from other yachts- release the furling line so it is free to run without snagging. Then with the boat on a leeward reach, pull the leeward jib sheet and the wind will unfurl the sail. Pay attention, however, because if the sail is unfurled too quickly, the furling line cannot unreel quickly enough and begins rewinding on the drum in the opposite direction – similar to what happens on a fishing reel that is unreeled too quickly. To furl the jib, ease the sheet tension and pull in the furling line until the sail is fully furled. Always maintain some tension on the jib sheets to permit a tight wrap on the furler and prevent the lines from knotting as they whip in the wind as the sail luffs. Make sure the jib is tight on the furler, with only a small area of sail projecting, if any. The sheets should be tightly secured around the jib sheet cleats aft and the furling line should also be firmly secured. Any looseness in the system will cause a problem if strong winds develop because the jib will catch the wind and unfurl.


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