Really Useful Sailing Tips – Onboard Wellbeing
Often much of the effort of preparation for a voyage is put into the passage planning and boat preparation with the well being of the crew taking a back seat. The few tips below will help to ensure that everyone gets off the boat as happy and excited about sailing as when they got onboard!
Before mobile phones, radio was the only form of contact between boats whilst out sailing and it is still the primary means of raising the alarm in an emergency situation, which is why it is important to know your radio etiquette.
Tip 1 – Seasickness
Some people are never seasick and others can feel ill when they are just standing on a pontoon. Caused by an imbalance in the inner ear, for many the effects can be minimalised with a few simple precautions. Always take an anti-seasickness drug 2 hours before setting sail. Stay on deck and look towards the horizon as much as possible. It’s important to keep warm, hydrated, and eat moderately. Don’t come on board after a heavy meal or with a hangover! If you do have to go below, ie to go to the heads, try to take your wet weather gear off while in the companionway while looking out to sea. Then be as quick as you can! Keep busy if possible, take the helm, trim the sails, and move around. Going below, sitting down and reading a book is guaranteed to make you seasick!
Tip 2 – Wearing the right gear
It is imperative to keep warm at sea. Never set off (at least in the UK) without a full set of oilskins and a warm fleece in your bag, even it if is warm on shore. At sea it always feels a good few degrees cooler and the weather or sea state can change quickly. Always put wet weather gear on if it looks rough, before the first wave hits you. Once you are wet, it’s easy to get cold. Remember that it is easier to take clothes off than to put them on, so wrap up to start with. You lose 30% of your body heat from your head, so if it’s cool wear a warm hat. If it’s sunny wear a sun hat, and plenty of sun cream. Reflection off the water is deceptively strong and burning.
Tip 3 – Offshore comfort
If you are sailing for a night or more, make sure you prepare for darkness and wet conditions. Commandeer your bunk and store your stuff so it’s easy to find and ensure your sleeping bag is always kept in a waterproof bag when not in use. Also pack a change of clothing in another separate waterproof bag. Make sure everything you need is easy to find in the dark such as extra warm clothing. Make sure your phone, laptop and any other valuables are stowed well away from any damp. Even on a large yacht salt water can get everywhere – you only need one wave to wash down the hatch!
Tip 4 – Eat, drink and stay merry!
It’s easy to dehydrate on board a boat. There’s a lot of wind drying you out, and with all that water around it’s easy to forget to drink any. Drink plenty of fresh water and hot drinks in cool weather. In summer weather it can feel cool at sea but the sun is as strong as it is on the land, so it’s even more important. Avoid rich food and especially alcohol, which can affect your judgment and balance just as much as it could if you are in control of a car, leading to injury and danger. Bring food that is easy to grab hold of, and put hot drinks in thermoses so that they are ready to drink, and avoid pouring boiling water from a kettle which often misses the cup when it’s rough at sea, and ends up scalding someone.
Tip 5 – Respect!
If you are the owner, the crew members are your guests. Remember that you can’t achieve your sailing goals without them, even if they are eating all your food and seemingly having a great time at your expense! Shouting at people rarely endears them to you and could be one of the reasons that finding crew seems unnecessarily difficult! If you are a crew member remember that the owner’s (or skipper’s) word is final when making a sailing decision and you are part of a team.
Sailing is meant to be enjoyable – not something to endure! So wrap up, stock up and have fun.