Episode #004: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: Off-Season Training: What can I do during the off-season?

This episode will focus on helping you figure out how to improve your knowledge and skill in the off-season! So if you winterize your boat, or just take a break for a few months, here are some ideas on where you can focus your energy!

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Listen to Episode #004: Off-Season Training: What can I do during the off-season?

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Off-Season Training: Boating Skills

Here is a list of things you can work on in the off-season that will increase your seamanship skills:

  • Knots: this is a pretty simple & fun thing to work on! Cut yourself two pieces of rope about a foot long each. Make sure they are different diameters. Use Animated Knots, a knot book (like Ashley’s Book of Knots, Knots, Splices & Ropework, etc.).
  • ColRegs & Race Rules: the off-season is a great time to brush up on Race Rules and the Collision Regulations. Although not always the most exciting of topics, this is the time to dig into some of those rules or regulations that you’re just not quite sure of. Check out the North Sails racing rules explained.
  • Sail & Rig-Tuning: during this time of year you can take some time to learn more about your rigging and sail trim. There are plenty of things you can tackle on your own to make your boat faster and more efficient. One book I have referenced for this is Illustrated Sail & Rig-Tuning.
  • Certifications: there are several courses that lead to certification that are offered over the off-season. These typically include the VHF Marine Radio course, Coastal Navigation, Celestial Navigation and the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). Winter is a great time to knock a couple of these off your to-complete list.

Off-Season Training: Boating Projects

Winter is an excellent time to complete some boating projects that will make your vessel top-notch! Some of these include:

  • Owner Manuals: I am a big fan or downloading and/or printing your owner manuals. It is great to have copies of these accessible when you are out on the boat. If something goes wrong with your head, you can refer to owner manuals and diagrams. If your GPS is acting up, you can look up troubleshooting tips. There is great value in making sure you have these handy!
  • Wiring Diagram: do you know how your boat is wired up? This is a bit time-consuming, but can be very satisfying to dig into your wiring and chase everything down. It is also helpful if a pesky cabin light is not working and you need to check it out. Just pull out your diagram and Bob’s your uncle 😉
  • Plumbing Diagram: same applies to your plumbing and thru-hulls. Map them out and be sure you know where they are and how to access them. I attach softwood tapered plugs to every thru-hull hose in case of malfunction or damage. It is there, ready, and the right size.
  • Safety Gear Grab Bag: Episode #003 of Your Pocket Sailing Instructor talks all about safety gear. Consider setting up a kit, or a grab bag to be used in case of emergency.
  • First Aid Kit & Tool Kit Top Up: off-season is the perfect time to dig into these kits to make sure they are fully stoked and ready to go. Are you needle nose pliers getting a bit tired and need replacing? Screw driver left out on deck and rusted up? Tap into those holiday sales!

Off-Season Training: Personal Growth

Finally, this is a great time to brush up on person skills and plan for your future sailing adventures.

Personal Growth Courses & Activities: there are several non-boating related courses and activities that I would recommend. These include: a first aid course, try conditioning workouts, and online weather courses.

Making Plans: start researching some destinations you’d like to sail to. Make a passage plan, watch YouTube videos, purchase some charts, read some online forums, and start dreaming about your future destinations!

PRO-TIP: Plan, plan, & succeed!

The off-season is a great time to look ahead to where you want to be next year with your sailing journey. Knock off some projects, get more familiar with your boat, and learn a few new tricks! Most importantly, have fun!

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