Episode #016: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: Sailing Goals – Liveaboard Sailing

This week we are talking about my favourite kind of sailing! Bareboat cruising or living on the boat for a few days, weeks, months or years! I really enjoy the pace and lifestyle of being on a boat. Don’t get me wrong, a yard for the kids to play in is also great, but I do love spending extended days on a boat. This episode is geared to those sailors who are thinking about spending more and more time on a boat. Perhaps you’re looking to do some bareboat cruising in the Caribbean, or maybe you’re wanting to venture off for a week or two to explore your surroundings. This is the episode for you!

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Who is the Liveaboard Sailor?

The liveaboard sailor is someone who is wanting to spend more and more time on a boat. It could be for a long weekend of boat camping, or, more likely, for a week or two of bareboat chartering. Which courses will help you to prepare? What are some sailing aspects you should focus on? What are some extra skills you should consider acquiring? These are some of the things I am going to touch on in this episode.

What is bareboat cruising? Bareboating is the act of chartering a sailboat that one lives upon, navigates, and operates for a vacation from an owner or a charter company.

Which key courses should you take to go bareboat cruising?

Liveaboard sailing is all about planning, adapting and managing changes that come your way. Prepare your trip plan (see Episode 7: Day Trip Planning for some advice), prepare your crew (check out Bonus Episode 12: Crew Selection), and get ready to enjoy everything sailing has to offer! This is one of my favourite ways to spend time on the boat. So, here is a short list of key courses I think you should take to step into liveaboard/bareboat cruising:

Intermediate Cruising: for Sail Canada our bareboat cruising course is called Intermediate Cruising. This course teaches you the fundamentals of living on a boat. Provisioning, boat systems, passage planning, etc.

Intermediate Coastal Navigation: I would highly recommend that you have the Intermediate Coastal Navigation course under your belt and you have practiced plotting on your charts. When you are out sailing you will want to be able to take your bearings, plot them and move on to the next item on your list quickly.

What have you been practicing & learning?

For this level of sailing I am not going to focus on certifications you should have, but more so on things you should have knowledge about. These include:

  • boat systems: head & black water, fresh water, grey water, basic engine maintenance, galley cooking systems, and electronics on the boat.
  • provisioning: ice box, refrigeration, cooler, fresh water capacity, and desalinator troubleshooting.
  • sailing maneuvers: crew overboard, reefing, heaving-to, docking, anchoring –> should all be easy-peasy by this stage.

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Which courses will give you more when bareboat cruising?

Once again, there are several courses that will add to your sailing arsenal. You could take some specific courses that focus on boat systems (head, boat wiring, generating power on the boat, etc.), or you could take some general courses. Again I recommend the Safety at Sea course and some sort of engine maintenance course is ideal to have under your belt when liveaboard cruising or bareboat chartering. Many European and Carribean destinations now require you to have you an International Certificate of Competency (ICC) and a basic sailing course for you to be able to charter. I would also recommend you create your sailor’s resume and keep track of certificates, nautical miles sailed, positions held on the boat, etc. They will all add to your credibility when trying to charter a boat.

Top 3 Habits to Perfect

  • Weather: you should be checking the weather frequently throughout the day when bareboat cruising. You should have a plan for what to do if the weather is not what you expected (ie safe harbours) and you should not just rely on the weather forecast, learn to read the clouds and signs around you as to what the weather is doing.
  • Anchoring: you will get a lot of practice with anchoring and you will become comfortable and familiar with what a secure anchor feels and looks like. I personally do not use an anchor alarm, but I do take several reference points around the boat to ensure my anchor is set and holding.
  • Planning: at this level of cruising planning is key. Have your daily trips mapped out with backup plans depending on what the weather does.

Happy cruising!

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