Ten tips for landlubbers: The first time as a guest on a sailing yacht

Who drives along for the first time as a guest on a yacht, whether because you are invited to spontaneously spend a day together at sea or as part of a crew that has chartered a yacht, should consider a few things so that the trip succeeds and makes fun for all. Ten tips from the SeaHelp editorial team for boating beginners.

So that the first trip as a guest on a yacht does not literally “fall into the water”, but becomes an all-round successful day on board for all, some basic rules should be taken to heart by beginners; so you make yourself the stay on a sailing or motor yacht as pleasant as possible, and also the other crew members and the skipper will appreciate.

1 Preparation is everything

It is always good to know what to expect on the water. You should first find out where you are sailing (which area); a look at the map will quickly make the relationships and distances clear. It is recommended to download the free SeaHelp app before the start of the trip: Here you will find many yachting areas not only with a comfortable map view, but also photos and videos, by means of which you can get in the mood for the trip.

The weather to be expected is also not completely irrelevant when carrying out a trip, potential sailors would do well to check the weather forecast of the respective area in advance. Reliable information is available, for example, from Windfinder, a cell phone app, or from the weather service. The SeaHelp app provides additional warnings for particularly severe bad weather.

2 Don’t be afraid of seasickness

For those who fear getting seasick on his/her first cruise, rest assured: no one is completely immune. However, you can do quite a lot yourself to minimize the risk. For example, it is said that histamine promotes seasickness. Therefore, foods containing histamine, such as alcohol, fish, liverwurst, aged cheese or foods and drinks containing cocoa should be avoided before the cruise.

A good way to prevent seasickness is also to arrive at the start of the cruise well-rested. Those who have the chance to check in on the yacht the night before and sleep on board the night before the cruise should definitely make use of it; this gives the body enough time to get used to the rocking movements on the water.

3 Come aboard! – Getting on the ship for the first time

If you want to enter a yacht for the first time, you should draw attention to yourself beforehand. Especially for smaller yachts and boats, just say loud and clear: I’m coming aboard! Then the skipper and crew can adjust to the fact that the boat may rock a bit right away and, if necessary, prevent the boat from tilting by counter-trimming. Tip: Do not jump on the boat, but put your feet gently on the deck, the owner will thank you.

Keeping a yacht in good shape – and above all: clean – costs money and also a lot of effort. That’s why it’s best to wear boat shoes on board. They should have a light-colored, soft, non-soiling sole and be slip-resistant, even if the deck is wet. Normal sneakers with bright clean soles also serve this purpose. If neither is at hand, it is called shoes and socks off; then it just goes barefoot on the yacht.

4 So much time should be – briefing on board

If this is their first time on board a yacht, insist that they are briefed on the most important parts of the yacht, find out about “do’s” and “don’ts”, have them show you the safety equipment and the life-saving aids, and just try on a life jacket. Remind them where it is stowed. And ask them where they should be most practical during the trip – without getting in the way of the crew or skip during maneuvers, or getting the main boom to their head themselves.

A good skipper will approach them on their own, welcome them aboard, ask them about their yachting experience and, if necessary, introduce them to the boat during a brief tour. Don’t be afraid to ask – there are no “stupid” questions here, on the contrary: the skip will appreciate your interest. Remember: after all, it’s also about your own safety and well-being on board.

5 Sailing lingo – it costs nothing to ask

There is hardly any field (except for lawyers and hunters, perhaps) that has as much technical gibberish as sailors. This often makes sense, for example, when the crew is international, or when hairy maneuvers have to be done quickly, and clear commands are needed that are understandable to all sport skippers.

For example, the front part of the yacht is called the bow, the back is the stern, right is called starboard and left is called port. The small sail in front is called jib, the large sail in the back is called mainsail (if the yacht is slup-rigged), lines called halyards on board are used to hoist the sails on the mast (to strike the sails), and lines called sheets on a yacht are used to haul the sails tight or to unfurl them (open them), depending on the wind.

Do not be afraid to ask if you do not understand something on board. This is important (after all, it is for your own safety to know what is happening on board); and again, no question is embarrassing! And: on board, “you” is part of good manners.

6 Participate instead of just watching

On board there is no democracy – the skipper has the say on a yacht (and then also bears the responsibility for it) – but sailing is a team sport. For everyone on board there is always something to do, everyone can (and should) make themselves useful somehow. Even inexperienced newcomers on board are no exception.

Ask the skip what they can do – within the scope of their possibilities – be it in terms of sail handling, mooring or other things. Important: do not interfere with the maneuvers without being asked if it is their first time on a yacht. Otherwise, they can quickly put themselves and others in danger. Safety first! The principle applies: one hand for the boat, one for the maneuver (means: always hold on tight, no matter what is being done on board).

7 Think of sun protection

Even if the sky is cloudy, the sun’s rays on the water can be intense. That’s why you should have sunscreen with an appropriate SPF, sunglasses with good UV protection, and headgear, such as a cap.

8 There is no such thing as wrong weather, only wrong clothing

There’s usually more wind blowing on a boat than on land, whether it’s from the airstream on a fast motor yacht, or because you’re sailing in an open unprotected area. And: it is often a bit colder, especially when the weather suddenly changes. So it is better to take one sweater too many than too few.

If rain and bad weather are to be expected, the trip can still be fun – with the right clothing. Then there are weatherproof pants and jackets, the sailors say “oilskin” to it; often the skipper keeps on board an appropriate sailing wardrobe for guests. The on-board shoes are then exchanged for waterproof boots, and there are also sailing gloves if required. They not only protect against the cold, but also against injuries. Expensive oilskins can also be rented.

9 Food and drinks on board

Do not forget to drink enough during the trip, preferably water (and no alcohol), if necessary, take your own water bottle with you and deposit it in a place on board that you can easily remember and reach. As food during the cruise on a yacht can be recommended light, freshly prepared food, also taking some power bars depending on your own taste can not hurt. By the way, there is no skipper or crew who would not be happy to receive a bottle of wine as a guest gift when they are invited to come on board for a cruise.

10 Enjoy your cruise

Last but not least: enjoy their day at sea. If they consider the above factors, the most important conditions should already be met. But be careful: water sports, whether on a sailing or a motor yacht, can quickly become addictive. It’s quicker than you think to discover a whole new passion for water sports by taking a trip on board as a guest. The world of water sports is multifaceted, extremely versatile – and doesn’t always have to be expensive.

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