When planning a day cruise — or longer — there’s more to consider than just your location and the amount of time you’re out and about. Cruising is just as much about the people you’re cruising with as it is about the sailing. A happier crew means a happier cruise, so here’s what to consider as you get down to planning your next outing.
ADVENTUROUS, NOT ADVERSE: KEEP THE CONDITIONS IN CHECK
Find the balance between excitement and enduring less-than-pleasurable conditions. Tame your desire to squeeze all the performance out of the 20-knot day, and remember that cruising is about the journey. Hit your top speed, then back it off to keep your crew comfortable for the duration. Plan for the breeze, sea state, and precipitation with a point of sail that keeps the boat flatter and drier whenever possible. Take hints of white knuckles from your crew and depower the sails to keep those smiles big. Reef, furl, drop the traveler down, and play your sailplan to maximize the joy, not that extra two-tenths of a knot of boat speed with 15 degrees of unnecessary heel.
Sometimes the destinations are quiet, secluded anchorages, or a marina that just opened a new restaurant with a rave menu that your dockmates have told you about. Other times, the destination is more about the state of mind as you embark on your sailing journey. Every sailor can enjoy getting to the place you want, but other times it's about enjoying the sailing experience for the sail itself. With your crew in mind, consider the priorities to help decide the desired destination, and plan accordingly.
Eating and drinking complements just about every sailing adventure, and the easiest way to keep your crew happy might be through their stomach. No one is suggesting the most elaborate charcuterie board with an array of cured meats and stinky cheeses, but having a few snacks goes a long way. Whether that's a bag of pretzels and a 6-pack of beverages for a day sail or properly provisioning to accommodate the complex palates of your guests, take the time to plan out what you're bringing — or better yet, encourage your guests to bring something with them to share.
Pro Crew Tip: If you're the crew and reading this, take the hint. Bring something with you! A little goes a long way here, too, and happy skippers generally create happy crew. Spread the smiles with spreadable dips, a box of crackers, and an affordable bottle of your favorite fermented grape juice.
It can be intimidating for new sailors to come aboard for the day or weekend. Sailboats are generally tight on space, so suggest a packing list to your guests for the anticipated conditions ahead. Whether the itinerary involves a weekend on the hook, a dinghy ride into the harbor, swimming off the transom, or just going for a day sail, give your crew some suggestions on what to wear and bring. They'll be happier knowing they're prepared; you'll be happier knowing how many bags to expect and where you're going to have to stow them below.
If your vessel is a modern sail plan where everything is on a furler, then take the time to ask your crew how they'd like to participate. They may need to learn which way to wrap the winch, but most crew are eager to lend a hand. Take a teachable moment to increase the enjoyment of "hoisting" the sails while you man the tiller to make the experience as smooth as possible. Also, prep your boat before you leave the dock, and hank on your sails for the smaller day-sailor.
Deploy the dodger and bimini. Keeping your crew comfortable in the cockpit is essential. Seek shade from the mid-summer sun, or shelter when things get sporty, the breeze builds, and water starts splashing. Ensure the comfort of your guests with properly fit and maintained canvas.
Consider this the start of your checklist as you plan your next cruising adventure — a happy crew leads to a happy day on the water! Never underestimate the importance of preparation when it comes to an enjoyable cruise — and when in doubt, reach out to your local Quantum Expert. From sails and service, to chatting about local cruising knowledge and making sure your inventory can get you to your next destination, our team is here to help.