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Saturday, December 19, 2020

CRUISING WITH OTHERS ABOARD

Our cruising plan is to head up to Kawau, across to the Barrier and down the eastern side of Coromandel to the Mercury Islands and Whitianga area.

Here is an edited version of an article we wrote appearing in the latest version of Pacific PowerBoat.

After a difficult covid 19-dominated year and with lockdowns hopefully behind us, the summer cruising season finally upon us and overseas travel options restricted for the forseable future, unprecedented numbers of boaties are expected to head out to enjoy the delights of their local cruising area and beyond.

While a few old salts enjoy the seclusion that boating can offer one of the great joys of the cruising experience for the majority of us is sharing our adventures with family and friends (guests). We really enjoy showing guests around and not only are they great company, but give old destinations new life as they often discover new aspects and notice different features of interest.
But while there’s nothing quite like mates filleting the catch together over a cold beer at the end of a great day and telling tall stories about the one that got away, there can be a different sort of a catch. Guests may not be used to boats and you may not have previously have all spent so much time together in such close confinement.

Some guests may be experienced boaties, but even they need to know the peculiarities of your boat (yes and even those  of the skipper). So cruising with guests is made all the more enjoyable for all if they know what to expect and after being welcomed aboard are made fully aware of safety procedures, how things work, and the skipper’s basic “rules”.

If you’re planning to meet guests mid-way through your cruise consider that it’s generally much easier and cheaper for you if they come to where your boat is located rather than you needing to make major detours to meet them. It's a funny thing that we seem to baulk at spending hard earned dollars on a ferry or taxi, but not even more for diesel.

With space limited on boats you don’t want guests arriving with bulky suitcases so discuss in advance what they should bring. Do they need to bring their own linen and towels? If you don’t like guests wearing shoes aboard your boat you need to provide guidelines on suitable footwear as well as clothing for the cruise (experience-based tip: guests always bring far too many clothes). Discuss food supplies to avoid duplication and to ensure any special requirements (which seem all too prevalent these days) are met. 

Find out if your guests are prone to sea sickness. If they are it can be a problem for you as well as them so make some suggestions for medications to bring along. If they are bringing children do you have suitable life jackets? 
If you intend to share costs it might be wise to mention this from the outset. For example we generally share costs for food, drink and fuel for the time guests are on board.
Particularly on a larger vessel it’s all too easy to overlook a safety briefing as being unnecessary, but a briefing demonstrates your competence as their skipper to guests and shows you are serious about their safety. Tailor your briefing to your guests’ experience levels and at least cover the location of life jackets, use of fire extinguishers, man overboard procedures and any hazards specific to your boat. For some of our experienced guests I extend the briefing to include all aspects of taking command of the boat and use of the tender.
Most guests like to feel they’re part of the crew rather than passengers, so it’s often a good idea to encourage them to help with anything from anchoring to cleaning up after fishing to manning the barbecue. In open waters give them a spell on the helm.
Guests can be rightly concerned about weather patterns and sea conditions, so it’s best to fully explain each morning over breakfast the intended cruising plan for the day and relevant weather situation.

Two major challenging areas with guests aboard can be the heads and water conservation. Explain clearly to your guests exactly how the heads operate and what not to flush down them; dismantling a blocked head is not the ideal way to start a great holiday together! Also explain how your boat has limitations with fresh water compared with life ashore and the need to conserve water during showers (yes this particularly applies to the ladies).

Most guests find it important to be able to charge their devices - mobile phones, iPads, laptops etc and you need to explain how they can do this. We also ask guests to leave their phones off or in silent mode overnight to avoid interrupted sleep for others.

When having guests for more than a few days it can be a good idea to encourage them to do some exploring by themselves to provide some “time out” for all. Diane and I often take an early morning walk by ourselves for this reason.

By adopting some of the above suggestions your cruising experience with guests can be made a whole lot more enjoyable for all and with memories of a great cruise they will still be friends when they disembark.















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