How to prepare for going boating with novices?
Last week, TEMO organised its team day. The famous “team-building” exercise for getting together, taking a step back from the last few months where we’ve going at 100 miles an hour and spend some quality time together before the end of the year which promises to be busy.
Nothing better than a boat trip! Not least because it’s in the TEMO theme...(the call of the sea is our battle cry, let's remember!) But also because a sailing boat ticks all the boxes for a team activity: fresh air, we share the manoeuvres, and we spend time together in a confined space - which favours interaction.
So we set off, bound for the island of Houat from the port of Le Crouesty, in southern Brittany, aboard a beautiful 32-foot yacht. A day's sailing with a stopover ashore to take advantage of the tender and our electro-portable motor! Let’s combine business with pleasure...!
We were fortunate to have Alexandre, the founder of TEMO and an outstanding sailor, among us. It was therefore only natural that he should put on the captain's cap and that we could set off, just ourselves on board, without the need for a professional skipper. We could therefore take full advantage of our team intimacy ... and put Alexandre's managerial and teaching skills to the test! Aye aye Captain! ^^
It was clear that not everyone in our little team of four has the same “sea legs”! In particular, we had Louise aboard, who is the latest arrival to the TEMO team and who was about to climb on board a sailboat for the very first time.
So, what are the right reflexes to adopt when setting off on an adventure with novice sailors? The first piece of advice is obviously to:
1) Check the weather conditions.
The captain is playful...but not reckless! He is responsible for the safety of his crew and must therefore keep an eye out for squalls, study the tides, the wind and make sure we stay on course.
We were lucky, good weather was forecast with just enough wind to have fun and make the whole crossing under sail (between 12 and 15 knots). It looked ideal!
1) Louise's first questions weren’t long in coming: “So what are we taking on board the boat? What do I need to have for setting off?”
2) How to prepare your bag?
A kitbag for just one day is quickly prepared:
- a soft backpack : we avoid big suitcases in a small space!
- Suncream and sunglasses: yes, it is October, but the sun is reflecting off the water much more than usual so it’s a good idea.
- a good windproof jacket, a thick sweater, a scarf and a hat: - sailing means wind (at least we hope so!)
- Comfortable clothes for easy-peasy sail manoeuvres!
- Good shoes that grip the deck: Trainers will worl well.
- a change of clothes : - you can never be sure of avoiding a bit of spray... (or even a wave or two).
- and a mini first-aid kit - of course with a few essentials including, as the star feature, some seasickness tablets: how do you know if you suffer before ever getting on a boat? It’s better to take precautions, otherwise it may be a long day.
And besides, where does this damn seasickness come from?
Seasickness is caused by a conflict between our senses, because of the contradictory movements of the body and the sea. The brain is unable to process the information transmitted to the inner ear and the eyes, resulting in dizziness and nausea. That says it all..!
To overcome this, we recommend eating and drinking well on a boat.
So a refreshment break is a must. We headed to the bakery and the supermarket to buy some snacks to have on board. A thermos of coffee will also be on the boat and we’ll all have enough water in our water bottles for peace of mind.
There we were on the pontoon, eager to take charge of the boat.
The crew climbed aboard and following the technical presentation of the boat by the charter rep (radio test, functioning of the equipment), Alexandre took his role of captain to heart, and presented us with the detailed programme for the day with a special briefing about safety on board.
3) The briefing
When you have never been on a boat, there are a few essentials to know:
- What will be the sailing itinerary: we got out the chart map and looked at it together..
- Where to sit safely and what are the dangerous areas on the boat: a bang on the head from the boom can happen so quickly…
- Where to find the life jackets
- And what can we do or must not do on board.
That's it, we're ready to cast off!Louise is “standing by at the cleat” ...but what is a mooring warp?
4) Speaking the same language
Obviously...with novices on the boat, it’s recommended to give them a few pointers on the vocabulary to be used on board. The basics!
- A line = a rope
- A fender = a protective buoy
- The helm + the thing that allows the skipper to steer the boat (a steering wheel!)
In short...the basics for understanding each other..
Everyone ready? Then let slip the lines! Everyone to their posts. Henri to port, Justine to starboard, Louise at the bow and Alexandre at the helm. Friendly teamwork that allows everyone to feel useful on the boat.
5)Explain to your crew how they can help with each manoeuvre.
The important thing is to warn them of the dangers: hands, feet and legs are no substitute for a fender, and you must always be careful when moving around, to keep one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat.
We left the port of Le Crouesty without any problems. Alexandre, like the conductor of an orchestra, led the crew with a masterly hand, though always with diplomacy. Let's not forget... Having fun is the most important part!
A few lines escaped here and there, but overall, the greenhorns were doing marvellously.
Very quickly, we even got out the SPI (the what? The spinnaker, of course! This sail is hoisted at the front of a sailboat when the wind is blowing from behind).
There we were sailing at high speed in the calm waters of the Gulf of Morbihan. With the impression of being alone in the world in this season.
The course was set for the island of Houat, and we had time to have our coffee, chat and even play some games. Warning - whoever loses (the dice) has to go swimming...!
After an hour and a half under way, land was in sight! We planned to anchor off Houat’s long beach and go for lunch on the island. A few more manoeuvres together to prepare our stopover: some sorted out of the anchor, others prepared the dinghy.
The dinghy is this small, light boat, indispensable on board a bigger vessel, allowing us to get to shore when we’re at anchor. There was a fair distance between the boat and the shoreline, but that would pose no problem with the help of TEMO, our electroportable motor.
Compact, it doesn't take up any space between us on the dinghy and its one-hour of autonomy easily allows us to get ashore. And to ensure our return later.
We put on our life jackets, indispensable even on the shortest journeys, and in just a few minutes we reached the Houat’s big beach.
Discovering the island was a delight. Wild and deserted. We treated ourselves to a trip to a restaurant, and ate on the go, then enjoyed a nice walk along the coast.
2.30 pm: With the dinghy waiting for us on the beach, it was time to think about heading home. We were soon back on board, propelled efficiently by our TEMO.
What had we said about the loser of the game already? Ah yes...it's time for a splash for the bravest... Fortunately the sun was shining for the rest of our crossing.
We took the time to sail, to rest, to enjoy ourselves.
A few turns of the winch, two or three gybes and as many tacks later, we found the calm waters of the port of Le Crouesty.
We got out the fenders to ensure we came alongside gently, then set about emptying the boat and hosing it down for the lucky ones who will sailing the following day.
Here we are disembarked after a day roundly led by a crack crew (according to the captain). Louise was delighted with her sailing baptism and we all came out regenerated from our salty ride.
In the end, it's also about sailing with novices:
6) Passing on to them the pleasure of boating and the passion for sailing.
So... now all we have to do is overcome this damn land sickness...!
See you soon..!
The TEMO team (from left. to right: Alexandre, Louise, Justine et Henri.)
Watch out the video of this day on instagram