For all those who cannot resist lists, here is my personal list of the five things not to do during a boat holiday so that the latter can be really nice.
1 – Don’t contradict the captain: that’s the gravest sin, punished with lashes or other corporal punishment in the past. Today, of course, disobedience does not imply punishment but serious risks are possible anyway. First of all, the captain might get angry and no one wants a furious captain on board. The second, and more serious risk is that safety of all might be compromised. Democracy does not exist on board because everything happens is the captain’s responsibility; consequently, it is right to let him/her to decide. If something doesn’t sound right, wait for the cocktail hour or another quiet time to ask him the reason of certain decisions. But, when he asks you to do something, take orders without complaining!
2 – Don’t ask “What time do we arrive”? Please remember that not all of us ride on the high-speed tracks. The kindest will answer you: ” It depends on the wind” but, for this question, there is rarely an answer. If you really can’t resist, you can ask: ” how many miles until we’re there?”; then, divide miles by speed and get an idea on your own.
3 – Don’t act as a capricious racer: you are on holiday and it is very likely that you are traveling with people who have never sailed before or who just want to relax. So, there is no need to act as a Paul Cayard. Try to avoid spending your time saying : ” ease a little more”, “haul in a little more”, or worse, asking for more speed if a 25-knot wind is blowing.
4 – Don’t abuse the ” while you’re there…” sentence: this is the hardest thing, I know. For those who don’t know it, the sentence ” while you’re here” pronounced when someone stands up and goes below deck is generally followed by the all sorts of requests. ” While you’re here… can you bring me a beer? Can you bring me a towel? Can you bring me my phone?”. Sometimes, requests become real treasure hunts: ” While you’re here, can you bring me my beauty case? It’s in the bathroom mirror. You will find 35 bags of the same colour; well, I need that one with the shampoo in but, please, don’t take that with the air-conditioner, it’s just a little smaller”. I’m not making anything up, I swear.
5 – Don’t brush your hair, don’t smoke and don’t do anything else when you stand windward: it’s not fair that your hair, smoke, crumbs or other things fly at someone staying downwind. Sharing tight spaces is difficult and might make everything very annoying. My advice to you is very simple: wait to be at the anchor, where you can do anything which might annoy you in the stern.