How to prepare the boat for cruising: the crew and the galley. Everything you need to know before setting sail.
Our boat is almost ready, our itinerary has been set, our crew members have arrived filled with goodwill and everyone is ready to set sail. What do we need now?
We must make everyone prepared to survive any situation on board! We cannot indeed leave without first having given our group some basic notions which, during our cruise, might be essential for our safety and for the success of our holiday.
It is therefore important to establish clear roles on board, split tasks cleverly and according to everyone’s skills.
Our advice is to hold a pre-departure briefing with everyone to deal with the most important topics.
The first topic concerns safety on board; everyone must have knowledge and be able to carry out some basic procedures, such as: engine starting, autopilot activation and deactivation; MOB (Man Over Board) button working, use of the VHF radio and location of the main emergency devices.
It may happen that you can’t handle emergencies by yourself; in this case, you have no choice but to ask for help and this is exactly why it is so important that everyone has his own task. Co-operation can solve any problem and, above all, it preserves passengers from panicking on board.
Make everything a procedure; for example, you can explain that, in case of danger, ” Tom” will use radio, ” Dick” will make sure that all passengers have put their life vests on (and, when necessary, he will take additional equipment) while “Harry” will stand by you, giving a hand with the charts and so on.
Everyone must be aware of his task and focus on it because, when people channel their energies into something specific, they handle both stress and panic significantly better. Please don’t forget to give someone his life vest before departure so that the latter can be adjusted according to their sizes and put in an easy-to-reach place.
It is also advisable to write the emergency call procedure and leave a sheet of paper on the chart table bearing specific instructions: Mayday, Mayday, Mayday ( to be used in the event of an imminent life-threatening situation for passengers) or Panpan, Panpan, Panpan ( in the event of a danger of a failure which don’t threaten the safety or the life of passengers on board), this is ( boat name and identification number), are you receiving me? Position ( latitude, longitude), description of the unit (..), type of emergency (…), number of passengers on board (…).
As for maneuvers, performing them all alone can be slow and tiring but, with the help of well-organized and able helpers, everything will be faster and safer.
Here, too, the principle of organization is essential. Everyone must be at the right place at the right time. So, entrust every member of your crew with a specific task! This way, one of your men will deal with mooring operations, taking mooring lines and preparing them on the bitts before throwing them; another will position fenders at the right time while the relieving rope attendant (yes, we know, this is the most thankless task!) will deal with head-on mooring operations and, in case of anchorage, he will maybe also in charge of the windlass. The first times, they might be clumsy but they will learn and you will soon be able to trust them.
If you are travelling on a sailboat, tasks change but philosophy is the same: an operative role for each member of your crew. Be good and patient teachers; everyone will be grateful to you and will be happy to help you!
There is one final aspect to take into account: galley. If prepared correctly, with many delicacies for any taste, it is the pride of the captain. If, on the contrary, it is scarce or unappetizing, it can become a real drama for the crew, overshadowing any earthly paradise you will make your fellow travellers discover. Do we really want to compare a good lunch consisting of spaghetti with bottarga and a good glass of fresh white wine with one made of just a few rice cakes and water?
The first rule is to make a list shared by all the crew; everyone will have his specifics needs and, as far as possible, we must make sure that all needs can be met in order to prevent the responsible for shopping from receiving the complaints of the others!
The second thing to do is to consider our cooking equipment: cooktop, pots and their compatibility with burners. A number of stackable sets with detachable handles are commercially available.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, if left out of the fridge and closed in cabinets, will ripen soon; so, it is preferable to let them in the open air or, if possible, put them in some nets attached to the ceiling. Please pay attention to apples, since they speed up the ripening process of the other fruits.
Drinks are generally stowed in the bilges; please remember to use easily accessible bilges and that glass bottles (wine or beers) break easily when sailing in rough sea if not properly protected.
In case of large crews, don’t let that one single person stows food an drinks; otherwise, he will be stressed the whole time with questions like this: “Listen, where have you put pasta?”.
Or everyone gives a hand or you can make a map of the food arrangement and add it to the safety equipment’s one: it will be like checking that gas bottle and its reserve are full!
Well, are you ready to leave now?