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  • Writer's pictureMariana Bertalot

First Time on-board?

by Mariana

3 things you need to know before getting on a sailboat!

It's very interesting how people look at me when I say I live on a sailboat. Soon, two images come: a cruise ship and me being served by a huge crew or a children's cartoon boat, us there catching fish with spears and cooking on the fire. Sorry to disappoint you, but none of these images correspond to my reality, there is a multitude of things in between and that's where you will find me!

For those of you who have never been on a regular sailboat, with cabins and double beds, bathrooms and a lounge comprising a saloon, kitchen and navigation table; I share some points that will make your trip or your experience on board safe and memorable.

1. The Sailboat

Our Bavaria 44 Cruiser, Trouble Maker

To begin with, it is necessary to keep in mind that a sailboat is not a "stable" vessel. Its movements and agility are the result of the encounter of the sailor's skills, the boat's performance and the forces of nature (winds, sea conditions, storms). With all these variables, the safest thing is not to leave stuff loose around the salon and cabins. So, organizing everything in their places, closing doors, drawers and tying up big objects are the necessary procedures before every sailing, whether next bay or crossing.

The condition that I most enjoy sailing is with side wind (from what we call Close Hauled to Broad Reaching), as this is when the sailboat cuts the waves like a knife. It heels (sides over) but holds steady, picks up speed and the sails respond fast! This feeling is what characterizes a good sailing in my opinion. In this type of sailing, it is more comfortable to sit on the side that is higher and to be able to support your foot somewhere for a feeling of stability - and not get a good splash of salt water!

There are also less pleasant conditions, such as when the wind and sea are out of touch. The boat becomes soft, wobbling, at the mercy of the waves, it is difficult to adjust the sails and it moves on less speed. On these days, the thought is to get there soon or to find a safe place in the middle of the way to stop. The best thing to do when the sailing is like this is to stay on deck and have an antiemetic in hand in case of seasickness, here at Trouble Maker we often take it before even leaving for this conditions.

The good side is that, regardless of the balance, the boat does not capsize, the big sailboats have a keel that always leaves them "on their feet". Find a comfortable place and enjoy your sailing as much you can!

2. Security

Safety is one of the most important points to make your tour memorable. Have you ever thought about getting hurt in the middle of a paradise island with no medical access? Therefore, it is necessary to minimize the chances of an accident.

One of the safety principles to enjoy your sailing is “Always have a hand for you and a hand for the boat”, that means, on the boa,t you don't go with both hands full, as I said, the sailboat is at the mercy of the sea and it can rock her in a different way, either by a wave that arrives from the other side (in the sea it is possible to have waves from several directions) or by the bludger caused by the passage of larger boats. So don't forget, when moving inside a sailboat, always have a hand for the boat, holding it somewhere so you don't fall!

Over time, the perception of our body changes, we find other points of balance and the ability to do many things with one hand including cooking, increases, but it takes time to get to that point.

Another very important thing is to trust the captain's knowledge, action take in minutes at sea can avoid major complications. The captain, also called the skipper, is the person responsible for the crossing, adjusting the sails, maintaining the course, checking the weather and managing the crew. On a sailboat, all people on board, regardless of their nautical knowledge, are considered crew. Around here, we have agreed to comply with the orders first and ask later.

In some cases, two hands e 2 foot for the boat!

I remember the first time we were caught on a storm in the Mediterranean, it was a beautiful summer day without rain forecasted and sun was bright. We were having lunch anchored close to a beach and my mother spotted some dark clouds approaching quickly. Immediately, Tiago said that we were going to get out of there and it would just be the two of us in the cockpit during the storm. Without hesitation we dismantled the lunch, the children and my parents went inside the sailboat secure on their cabins and we closed all the windows. I grabbed our weather clothes while Tiago took the boat away from the beach and any obstacles. It was so synchronized that the moment I closed the boat's door, the rain, the wind and the sea came rushing in. The lessons we learned that day were: all perceptions count and being clear about the roles of each one avoids unnecessary questioning, so we gain precious time to take action.

It is worth remembering that all the boat's hardware exert a lot of force and you must be very carefully while operating anything. Familiarize yourself with each tool, understand how to hold cables, refrigerator lids and lockers securely can save a finger or an entire hand, be aware of everyone's circulation and when in doubt, ask the captain how and what to do.

Oh, lifejackets always!!

3. Curiosities

Enjoining the trip, sailing up on a river

In life plans are meant to be changed, but at sea this happens all too often. Your departure to the next anchorage will depend on the weather and the provisions you have such as water and food for example. The weather needs to be checked more than once a day to know if the path to be taken is favorable, if the place where you will anchor is safe and if the decision of not to leave and stay wherever you are will represent the best in terms of weather. Weather check is a must, all the time.

Another thing that is more evident in the sea is that you don't have to get anywhere. The way is already the destination! And this can happen in several ways: a sail close by and return to the same anchorage; it could be a 6-hour crossing that turned into ten because the place you thought is not as good as you imagined and you kept going to the next bay; and it can be a 4-hour sailing that became one as a paradisiacal and safe place appeared very close by.

Here the calendar works differently, the days are marked by sailing days and stops. There are no working days and weekends, there is what you need to do to sail and what you do only when you are stationary. We re-learned to respect the signs of tiredness and disposition of our body, connecting to the rhythm of nature without rushing to arrive. We learn to contemplate the details around us and to respect our body perceptions.

If you want to know this sensation up close, contact us!

A big hug,


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