Tips & Tricks
Daily Routine: A day in the life of a Charter Advisors charter
These are the basic routines for a pleasant trip.
Ok, we admit it. A cruising vacation has a few more moving parts than a traditional boring trip to some hotel / casino. A routine will cut down on misunderstandings (read: Spousal relations), accidents, and most importantly, keep everyone happy and safe. This is especially important if you're taking the kiddos along. No... you don't have to do your Blackbeard imitation to snap everyone into their roles and routines... Most everyone wants to help do something... and those that don't... generally stay out of the way and make their own fun anyway. Here are a few examples of what is in our daily on charter routines.
NOTE: The first two are for day one... the others can be used daily.
Arrive on Time or Before
Why? So we can get the yacht in order and get things stowed (put away). You will also want time to inspect the yacht for any items that might be missing (can you say.. where's the boat hook?). We normally arrive the day prior to our departure and spend that night aboard. You will get to know the yacht, things that could make the next over night better (maybe one more pillow), and you wont be rushed to get situated, to get to know the yacht, and develop any questions that come up while aboard. You don't really have a chance to ask a bunch of questions after you have shoved off. As Mr. Rogers used to say... "Take your time, and do it right".
Why? Why not. Find where the life jackets and other safety gear is located on the yacht. If you have questions about any of it, ask. And of course, if you have a little one, bring along there own life jacket. The fit and comfort of the jacket is as important as the fact that it floats. If it doesn't fit right, the kiddo is going to fight you every time they have to wear it. We have learned these things from experience.
Every Day Routines
Dinghy / Outboard
What is there to check on the dingy? When you arrive you are going to need to check out the dingy. It's a boat too and needs inspection. Be sure you have what you should have. Meaning.. Is there a gas can? Is it full? Are their ors for back up? Does it have its "key" (little plastic clip). Other thing to check before you head out, does it start? If it started once, will it start again? Always start the engine on your dingy at least twice before you head out. Note anything that does not seem right. If it has an electric starter, ask where the ignition fuse is and where the back ups are.
We have been stuck with a dingy with crap motor before. rowing is no fun! Start it twice before leaving.
Dingy - Painter / Everyday
You will have the dingy working most days. Some yachts have a lift outfitted at the stern allowing you to lift the dingy clear of the water and others use the painter (line attached from the bow of the dingy to a cleat at the stern of the boat). The painter is used as the main line on your dingy. It ?s important to remember to let the painter line out while in open water to get the dingy well clear of the stern of the yacht. When you come back to a mooring field or anchorage you will shorten the painter considerably. Leaving a few feet of line at most. The idea here is to take out any slack that could reach your prop(s). The last thing you want is to tangle your painter around a prop or prop shaft. In a mooring field your going to need to maneuverability. Backing up the yacht from time to time is normal. A long painter line, with a dingy trailing behind on a long painter makes bad things happen. The other thing you don't want is to get your dingy painter tangled around another mooring ball or another yacht. Something else to consider, bringing the dingy up alongside the yacht for tie off. If you have considerable backing up to do, like, backing into a slip or Med-Mooring.
If you're so equipped, use the lift to raise the dingy clear of the water whenever you head into open waters. That way you it's out of the way.
Not all yachts have lifts fitted to the stern. But, as long as you use some common sense you will keep you're little dingy from being eaten by your yacht.
Last note on lifts... Over night it is recommended to lift your dingy clear of the water. We recommend this for a few reasons. Here are the main ones. Safety. Its much harder for someone to "walk off" with your dingy (or outboard, or gas can) if it is lifted.
Good nights sleep. A dingy in the water is another hull to slap the waves. Even if there isn't much in the way of wave action, you'll hear the sound of the dingy bouncing slightly (unless you like to run your Generator and A/C all night). It is silent with the dingy up on the lift. If you're in the bow cabin, this is a non-issue for you, but those sleeping in the stern cabins... take heed.
Ok., what is up with the boat hook.. What kind of advice do I need here?
Well, this little thing can be a bit of a lynch pin. Without it, you are going to have one heck of a time catching a mooring ball. Not only is the one of the most common items we have found missing on yachts when we board, but it tends not to get the respect it deserves. I have seen way to many boat hooks laying around on deck after mooring up. People trip, it gets knocked into the water, or left on deck and "disappears". Just remember to put it back where you got it when you done.
When anchored overnight, you are required to turn on your anchor light. IN a mooring field this is an optional activity. We use ours every evening.
The anchor light is a small light that is turned on only when at anchor or when moored up. Once even is upon you, light it up. This little light tells other yachts and boats in the area that you are at "anchor" and are not underway. Knowing you're staying put and not navigating making it easier for other to navigate around you and know your intentions. It is very common to see yachts at "anchor" without their anchor light lit. This is dangerous. In the darkness of night you run the risk of someone running into you. Not to mention this is a navigational requirement outlined by the Coast Guard. So three purpose.
1. To be seen at night increasing safety.
2 Alerting the other yachts and boats around you that you are not moving and they can maneuver around you safely.
3. To follow the rules.
Last note: remember to turn it off in the morning... it's the equivalent to driving in your car with the dome light on... sure.. you could do it.. but you look pretty silly.
Note: We have not and do not discuss Navigation lights. When chartering you are not allowed to navigate at night or in the dark. We want everyone to be safe, and do not endorse or recommend sailing a chartered boat of any type in these conditions.
Why? It's the little things that matter. Most cruising yachts and charter yachts have propane stoves and some have propane grills.
LP stands for Low Pressure Gas. This switch turns on the gas so you can operate the items running off the propane. If this switch is left on, the gas valve will stay open. This could create an additional danger if an accident occurred. It must always be turned off after using these propane "systems". When you're done cooking, just turn it off. That easy. It's a small item that can be forgotten. Charter Advisors assigns this task to a single person. Usually the one that is more into the yacht and less into the sailing. Yep, there's one on every crew (and we're glad to have ya!) they want something to do too. And this is an easy but important task.
We admit it, the 3 year old on the crew manages this switch and the anchor light... she just happens to have the best memory of us all. With adult oversight, kids take to their "crew" responsibilities with pride!
Generator / Batteries
Every evening when you anchor or Moore up, check your battery levels. If they are low, start up the generator. It is a good habit to run the generator each evening when you first tie up for 2-3 hours depending on your yacht. More generator time wont hurt anything. If your yacht is not outfitted with a generator, running the engine in neutral will accomplish the same thing. To be curious to others anchored near us we do this early enough so that we wont be keeping anyone awake or messing up a nice sunset. Insuring your batteries are always topped off is important. But if you don't keep up with it, that's ok, the loud low battery alarm will remind you just fine! If you have A/C on board, you will run your generator to run the A/C, topping off the batteries in the process.
As we mentioned, from time to time you may get a low battery warning (a signal sound and a light), If you get this, don't panic, pretty normal stuff, press and hold the center round selection button (on 90% of the yachts we have chartered) until the alarm has shut off. Teach this to at least one other person. Then start the generator for a few hours and you'll be good to go.
Water and Batteries?
If your showering and cooking on board, hot water is a good thing is all apart of the deal. But the water heater is one of the biggest drains on the batteries. You can turn off the water heater to extend the batteries in between charges. You can get away with a little more depending on the yacht.
For example, a good size catamaran like a Lagoon 420. We have left the hot water heater on the entire time with no issues. The evening generator charge is all that we needed.
On the flip side.
On a good size Monohull like a Jenneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS we would not keep the water heater on. Yes it has a smaller battery bank, but that's not the main reason. True, we are saving battery power, but on a Monohull the heat of the engine will warm the water plenty! Sometimes even too hot! A little tip for ya.
Why? You power boaters already know this, but you guys have blowers you can turn on to blow gas or diesel fumes out prior to engine start.
Sailboats are split here. Some have a manually operated blower while others do not. Those that don't, have a manually operated switch, have a blower that runs only when the engines are on. Part of this is because Diesel and Petrol (gas, whatever) are different. Diesel is not as fumy (is that a word?), as gas and does not ignite as easily. But it still smells and can build up to unhealthy levels.
Here are a few tips for engine venting:
If you have a pre-blower... Turn it on for at least 8 to 10 seconds prior to starting your engine. And don't forget about shutting the engine down when you pull into port. A few extra seconds of blower when you shut down helps too. Fumes can build up over the day and you want them gone before you settle in for the night.
If you have a Catamaran or a yacht without blowers...
Open the engine hatches (as long as they hatch open on the outside of the yacht). Do not open an engine bay inside the cabin to vent it. You will stink the place up.
Engine Hatches on a cat are normally located in the stern lazeretts (at the top of the stern steps). None of the Cats we have sailed had pre-blowers. If you find yourself in this same situation, simply lift the covers on the engine bays and leave them open for an hour after you return to anchor, and for 5 min or so in the morning before heading out.
Line Clean up
A daily Routine
Why? Nothing say's "I don't know what I am doing" quite like a tangled mess of lines (ropes) laying all over the deck.
Keeping lines tidy is not just to look good; it is also a good exercise in good seamanship and safety. You need to keep you gear in good shape and you wont use any gear on the yacht more than you will the lines. And besides, you don't want your crew or yourself to take a header off the side tripping over a tangled monkey fist of lines. Worst case is getting tangled and taking the header while underway. No one wants a free tow this way, and besides, a line tangled around arms and legs don't make for easy swimming! The small effort it takes to sort and stow your lines at the end of the day can make a big difference. Do you really want to do line sorting first thing in the morning, groggy, and possibly hung over, before you head out, just to pull all the lines out again? A bit pointless...
Tail your lines. Feed the end of the line into a small tailing box below the winch. This will catch the line keeping it off the deck and out of the way.
Keep lines not in use tidy and out of the way.
Keep all working (in use or about to be in use) lines at the ready, separated from other lines, coiled and untangled.
When the sails come down:
Close all locks and cams
Coil all lines and hang out of the way.
Little work with big returns (clean deck!).
Note: Notice we keep saying Lines.. .not Ropes. There are no ropes on a boat. We have heard mention that there is in fact one Rope on a Boat... But we have yet to find it. Sailors will never call a line a rope. When in doubt.. call it a line.
For some reason this also holds true for buckets. For some reason buckets are not allowed on a boat.. but a pail IS. Maybe too much time at sea isn't a good thing.. But we digress.
Capt. Deck walk
Why? Because we said so.
Ok.. so you probably need a better reason than that.
After we have moored up, the Captain in charge (who ever was driving the yacht that day, or you if you're the sole captain) will walk the deck.
We do this because the Captain is responsible for everyone on board. Meaning... Keeping them safe. True, you probably wont find much (or anything) in need of attention. But when you do find something it is important!
The Deck walk... Starting at the helm the Captain should walk the entire deck all the way around the yacht until you arrive back at the helm.
The captain will check that lines are stowed and out of the way, Boat hook is stowed, things that can blow away are picked up, the Sail is stowed properly (or zipped up in the lazy jacks), and that the line being used for the mooring is tied off at the proper length and secured correctly. Note anything that does not look right or has gone missing.
When your done you can rest knowing that the yacht is not moving anywhere and the yacht is clean and clear for "play time"! A captain has no one else to blame except themselves... Lets not start the blame game.
It is also important for the others with you to understand that your not checking anyone else's work and this has nothing to do with faith in the way they did something (tied the mooring line), or anything like that.. Just one last sweep to double check everything. At the same time, don't worry about hurting some ones feelings if you retie their mooring line... You're the captain. If you think an extra turn of the line around the cleat will make you rest more easily, by all means, put the extra turn in it. If you come off a mooring, it's always the captains fault.
What do we find on our Deck Walks?
Last trip - We found the port side water tank filler cap was almost all the way backed out (lots of threads showing!). It would not be fun to discover we had salt water in our fresh water tank!
And.. Loose knots on the fenders being stored tied to the bow lifelines (sounds small, but you don't want to have to circle back to pick up your fender if you don't have to, assuming you saw it fall!) That's it short of a few messy lines the captain left lying about himself!
Previous trips we found mystery screws and washers on the foredeck.
We discovered we had a twist in our halyard waaaaay at the top of the mast.
We found a scattering of slippery marshmallows. Yep.. We had been attacked by marshmallow pirates that night. True story.
None of these have been major.. and you really shouldn't find anything major. That's the charter companies job. But if you should find anything at all, that extra couple of minutes is well worth it.
Why? Really?? Do we need to explain?
Every (or nearly every) day ends at beer thirty. True.. there are no drinking a boating laws where we cruise, but no one wants a drunk Captain. So.. Beer Thirty is a great way to wind down with the crew after everything has been put up. And yes.. the Crew does get to begin before the Captain. Someone has to do the deck walk.
Wipe down (not every day)
Why? Your yacht should be pretty tidy most days. After all your not on the yacht for too long.. how dirty can it get? Well.. the short answer is.. more than you might expect. From salt to spilled drinks.. things happen. And then there are the things you don't expect to have to clean up.
Case in point. After anchoring for a couple of hours off a small spit of an island appropriately named Sandy Spit we discovered the wind had been blowing the sand from the small sand bar turned island all over our yacht. And the majority gathered at the stern where the wind stalled and swirled around. It was suprising to see piles of sand everywhere. We have never tracked sand from the beach into the boat and it took a second to realize that all this sand was coming from the island a few hundred yards off our bow.
It was in that moment we figured out that they call this island sandy spit, not because it is a spit of an island.. But because it literally spits sand at you! So... you never really know if you have a clean up day on your hands, until the end of the day. When its time.. you will know.
Lock up - don't forget the Keys
Why would we even bother reminding?
Because for some reason some sailors think that because they are on the water that they for some reason don't need to mind the locks or keys. But they should. The most important are the engine key(s). Always bring them inside when your done for the day. No sense in creating temptation. Do be sure to let others know where you have stowed the key(s) incase you need to start up in a hurry (or incase you forget!).
This really should be listed first. But we wanted it to be the last thing you read in this section. You know what they say about the last thing you see or read.. you remember it. Anyway.. Respect is essential in close quarters. Respecting others space, noise levels, mess, qurks, and personality (to name a few). We all know how to respect one another, but for some reason this can become a test when chartering with a group. A famous quote attached to no one, but yet some how attached to everyone goes something like this... "I was heading out my first charter with soon to be ex-friends and ex-wife".
A running joke, blown way out of proportion and maybe a prime barrier for people considering chartering... but it does express the pressure cooker that can come from a lack of patience, understanding, planning, and RESPECT. With so many personalities in a small space, your going to bump heads at times (Figuratively and literally). They key is to remember, intentions.. not rock solid plans rule the day. If a member of your crew really wants to see that sand spitting island and you know it is going to entail a stern deck sand pile clean up... remember that the smiles on your crews face are worth it and that pile of sand can be swept away (maybe even with a little help from the crew member that just had to see it). When your at sea it really doesn't matter... and "it" is a little, big word that covers a lot. In the end the only thing that really matters that everyone is safe, happy, and you have water under your keel.
Weather is what it is. Your job will be to use it to your advantage and never fight it. When on the water we are one with the world.. weather included. You will see sun, rain, and wind. Or at least 2 of these 3! Use the anchoring and mooring tips we went over earlier to keep out of the wind when the weather comes up. Get off an anchor and pick up a mooring ball. If the weather looks like it is turning.. pull out the charts and find a close by leeward anchorage to "hole up" in until the system passes. Your at the mercy of nature, so don't fight it.. go with the flow and trust your instincts. As long as you give yourself a decient margin for error and don't try to cut things close, you will have the time and the forshght to handle whatever comes.. except a hurricane.
Weather information is available on your VHF, through your charter base, Posted weather faxes (marinas), and the internet.
Hurricane season is the cheap season for chartering for a reason.. your trip may be cut short...
In 2008 the Mayday Crew was on island in Virgin Gorda the week before our charter began.. Thank goodness. It was during this week that hurricane Omar hit the BVI square on. We listed to the radios and monitored the internet as the storm approached. We heard the calls from the charter bases to their customers to get the yachts back "Today!" Only about half did that day.. mistake.. they didn't leave a wide enough margin for error. By leaving the next morning all the morons who "thought" they knew better ended up sailing out in the nastiest stuff short of the actual hurricane. Let their mistakes be a lesson. Better to get the yacht back and keep everyone safe than stroke the captains ego.
We weathered the storm on shore and went sailing the day after Omar made his exit. Can't time it better than that!
1. What to Expect Cleaning up
You know... even cleaning up is even fun on a yacht. You get to use tools, utencles, sinks, that have been in some way shape or form been Yacht-ized. Playing with a power washer that plugs into your deck just dosent happen every day. Even using a micro-size sink to wash dishes slightly larger than the sink is, is very entertaining (not only to do, but to watch too!).
The following are the normal "cores" for your First Mate and Crew (and Captain in your on one of our yachts!)
You, your dishes, and clothes
Did you know that technically, with the right soap you can wash yourself, your clothes, and dishes?? Well, you can. But we only recommend trying 2 out of the 3 at a time!
Ok.. back to reality..
Earlier we mentioned that you dish water, when drained, drains directly into the water. So.. you will notice the dish water sitting in the sink all day while at anchor or mooring. This isn't something to lament.. It's actually an opportunity! Huh, you say? Well.. you can use dish water more than once. Use it in the morning to clean up after breakfast and again after lunch in the afternoon if you plan on staying the day. Soo.. don't drain it right way.. you never know when (or what) your going to need to wash up something.
Sticky dishes attract flies!
Keeping clothes clean is not a major worry unless you packed way too light! Your going to spend most days in your swimsuits and a t-shirt.
Baithing suits are easily rinsed out in the shower when you taking care of all your 2000 and 1 parts.. Hang on the life line and your done.
If you picked up some of the biodegradable soap we talked about earlier you have a few more options.
You can wash everything with this soap. Clothes, dishes, the boat.. anything.
A dab of this stuff in the sink.. a bit of old fashioned hand washing.. a quick rinse in fresh water and it's off to the life lines.. and you have an extra day of clothes. Nice.
Ok.. you know how to do what you do.. but do consider that soap. It goes a long way.. keeps you clean.. organic.. smells good.. and comes in a container that will not leak on the plane.
Nuff said.. yall can take it from there.
Leave it better than you found it (or at least as you found it).
Well.. you just got done with the dance.. now its time to take her home. She better looked like she did when you picked her up!
Yes.. these anolgies are correct. Sailors talk about boats and sailing in these terms. And ye be best to heed their words. They don't call boats "her" and "she" because you don't show them respect. Or refer to sailing as a Dance if it weren't an intimate experience. And with any experience like this.. things can get a bit messy.. but that dosent mean "Big Papa" has to know!
The Mayday crew never returns a yacht the way we found it. We return in better than we found it. Yes it is just as clean as when we picked it up. Yes everything is in it's place. The difference.. normally something that wasn't working when we left is returned working. Or a Baton that was duck taped into place has been properly prepared with an end cap and set screw. Or something as simple as oginizing the fenders and dock lines in their hatches or discarding "mystery trash" found in some forgotten storage area.
We don't do all this because we are neat freaks... it's a pride thing. If it were our yacht someone else is chartering.. we would want the same. Rather than the golden rule.. why not use the platinum rule here.. Do unto other not as you would have done unto you, but as they would like to be done unto.. Rather than say.. it's good enough for me.. we prefer to think.. I wonder if the owners would be proud? If the answer is yes.. it is good to go.
And besides... You want to be remembered by the charter company.. and not for the wrong reasons. How they remember you could play into your favor next time your looking for a deal or if availability is limited!
2. Keeping the Peace
Peace, Love, and Mutiny
No really.. it's going to be one of the three!
We have seen and heard this story time and time again... "we chartered a yacht with our soon to be ex-friends and ex-wife." Ok.. so we're paraphrasing others who are probably paraphrasing themselves... but you get the gist.
This is a common misunderstanding... call it fear of the unknown. Or think if this like the Mayday Crew does... You couldn't make a joke about it if it were true! It would be a mean jab. An I told ya so. I cant say when we have ever heard another sailor say I told ya so.. We cant because it has never happened in any of our travels. Maybe we're just lucky.. but I would venture to guess this is not the case.
Why do people worry about killing each other on a charter cruise? Maybe it has something to do with the close living quarters. Maybe it has to do with different personalities. Or maybe it is just fear of the unknown, plain and simple.
Whatever it is.. it will soon be realized by all aboard that you become a team real quick. People step up to help where they can. Everyone looks for a way to be involved. As long as you let everyone pitch in as they can, you will have a happy crew. Equally important is not pushing someone who really doesn't want to help (or cant for some reason or another). Let it be... who cares.. more time playing with the yacht for you!
You will rub.. oh yes... you will rub..
That's rub each other the wrong way. Hey we all do it. The key is to remember what is really important. If your mate is sailing the yacht 10 degrees closer to the wind than you would.. so what.. let it be.. As long as you not going to hit or damage anything... Really.. you got something better to do?
Or the rub could be an "discussion" over how to jibe, tack, which mooring ball to take.. etc.. The best advise we can give is acknowledge that the other person has a good idea / thought.. whatever.. and maybe they can show you next time they are at the helm. Hey.. if they have something you can learn from, great! But if their wrong.. it's going to be a good show and you have a front row seat! Again.. you got something better to do.
The Captain is the pilot in charge. When a hard decision needs to be made (I'm not talking about dinner here), the Captain must make the call and the crew need not debate it. In a crowded mooring field this could be something as simple as choosing a mooring. When safety is at issue, it's always the Captains call.
Want one of these?? Just bark commands like Blackbeard, demand respect, make every call yourself, listen to no one, and hand out chores to the crew without consideration. Instant Mutiny!
As long as your considerate of others, honest about your abilities, and willing to lend a hand AND you have a like minded crew... your in for a good sail.
3. Returning the Yacht
The night before you return the yacht is pack up night. Time to grab all the mushed up clothes and sand filled gear and pack it all up. There wont be time the next day to get everything put up, so take this time to prepare for your exit. The next morning will come soon enough.
It's the saddest day of the trip. The last day. The word "day" is a bit misleading sense you have to get the yacht back by 11:30 am in most cases!
Anyway.. the last day.. Sigh..
You chose you final nights mooring so you would be within reach of the charter base before you return time... So you have some time get things moving and picked up. True, your packed up, but now's the time to get you ship, ship shape. A good general clean up and a final walk though to make sure you didn't donate anything to the next charter.
Make yourself a nice breakfast before heading back.. If your going back to the real world later today you want to have at least one good meal. And what better could you have than ANYTHING on a yacht swinging on a mooring.
Your Last Reach
On your last reach will be a somber one, but the Captain has some business to do still. Either by Cell phone or by VHF you will contact your charter base and let them know your on your way back. Inform them of your estimated arrival time. The will either instruct you which doc to go to at that time, or ask you to call in again when you twenty or so minutes away. Prep your fenders and dock lines as they instruct you and remember to repeat all instructions back.
The Fuel Dock
This is your final stop. After you have dropped sail and motored into the charter base, you will head to the fuel dock. After tying up, it's time to top off the tanks. You only pay for the fuel you use, but in our experience, you usually have to pump it yourself.
Final Check list
The Charter Company will supply you with a final check list. This is similar to the walk around you did at the beginning. Except this time it's all about how the yacht performed for you. As you go though the check list you will see all the various yacht systems . Note any that did not work, stopped working, or just didn't seem right. Also note anything that was not up to par. This includes the yacht, the folks at the charter company, the provisions, and the gear they outfitted you with. And likewise.. be sure to let them know what was really outstanding!
This checklist is important not only for you but so that any issues that might have come up on the yacht are addressed before anyone else goes to sea on her. We look after each other out here.
Becoming a landlubber again
You wont. You might think you can.. or even that you have... but you'd be wrong. The daydreaming never ends. The planning never ends. And your passion will grow. Enjoy!
Guess we should have warned you earlier on!
- Charter Review: The Moorings 5800 Ocean Suite by Captain Kev
- Charter Review: VOYAGE Charters, VOYAGE 520 Silver Lining by Capt. Kev