A few tips for the new sailors out there.

Tip #1 – Starting: Check for prop walk whilst tied alongside. Ensure the rudder is straight, engage the astern gear, and observe which side the wash comes out from under the hull. Wash to starboard suggests a kick to port in astern. It is useful to establish which way a single prop boat kicks before maneuvering out of the berth.

Tip #2 – Safety: As a responsible skipper, always ensure someone (be it the coastguard or a friend) knows where you intend to go and when you should be there.

Tip #3 – Launching: To avoid the boat sliding off the trailer when backing down the slipway: ensure the winch strap remains attached to the boat along with an additional safety chain or line between the boat and trailer.

Tip #4 – Navigation: Electronic navigational instruments have great advantages, but they also have their negative sides. Like any electronic they can fail, so use them alongside paper charts when going for longer passages and reprogram the data card annually to update the chart.

Tip #5 – Coming in: In very windy conditions or a difficult berth consider dropping a crew member off to tend lines for you, or if shorthanded call the marina for assistance.

Tip #6 – Safety: Stow flares in a waterproof box. Place foam at the bottom and around the sides to soften the impact on the flares. A pair of gardening gloves will help protect hands when handling them. 

Tip #7 – Boat handling: Use stream and wind to aid maneuvering – find out which has the greatest effect and use it as a break.

Tip #8 – Boat handling: When coming alongside a berth, never let your crew jump onto pontoons from the boat – teach them to lasso cleats from the safety of the boat.

Tip #9 – Boat handling: The golden rule when boat handling is in close waters: turn the wheel first, and then apply the gear. This immediately diverts the prop wash or thrust in the correct direction.

Tip #10 – Boat Handling: Learn how to use the wind when maneuvering, rather than letting the wind push you around uncontrollably. 

Tip #11 – Safety: Always check the weather forecast and ‘notice to mariners’ before setting sail.

Tip #12 – Good practice: Keep a set of shoes specifically for the boat. This improves grip and reduces scratches on board.

Tip #13 – Skipper/owner: When you go sailing with friends or charter guests, strike a balance between having fun on the boat and taking care of it – don’t let your guests ruin the boat but don’t spoil their good time either. It is best to tell them the ‘rules’ in the beginning and then let them be unless they are about to do some major damage to the boat.

Tip #14 – Weather: A fairly easy-to-handle Force 4 wind for one craft may be equivalent to storm force to another. Beware of and understand your vessel’s limitations and those of its crew.

Tip #15 – Hull: make sure you know well the characteristics of your hull and the implications they have for maneuvering. 

Tip #16 – Refreshments: Bring an appropriate amount of food and water (non-salted variety) for a long day out as the local conditions may get bad (really windy) or worse (no wind).

Tip #17 -VHF: Make sure your VHF is working BEFORE you leave the shore. Notify someone of your sailing plans for the day and when you plan on returning.