From The White-Knucklers File
Your first bareboat charter is a rite of passage to lifelong sailing adventures. So what are you waiting for?
Bob and Elizabeth Sweet of Brookfield, Wisconsin. Meg and Jim Atkins of Fort Myers, Florida. Christine and Tim Keiper of Bellingham,
Washington. David Lang of Los Angeles. These people, and scores of others, have an important message for you: They did it, and so can you—really.
What they’re talking about, of course, is your very first bareboat charter. It’s the sailing adventure that delivers you to the far side of that vast, murky psychological canyon—the one full of wants, wishes, and fears of the unknown—where you can bask in the crisp emerald waters and sunny skies of self-confidence, teamwork, and accomplishment. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the supersized jumbo serving of fun and adventure that you get to enjoy along the way.
“I grew up in the Midwest and knew nothing about sailing,” says David Lang, who took lessons from O.C.S.C. Sailing in San Francisco Bay, then organized a group of friends to join him aboard a Beneteau 44.4 as part of a 12-boat flotilla in Turkey in September 2010.
“I was a skipper,” he says. “The closer I got to the trip, the more the anxiety set in. The extent of my sailing was on the bay and daysails. I’d only practiced Med mooring a couple of times. And the prospect of maintaining a happy, engaged crew of uneven skill levels for two weeks was daunting.
“I think I was successful because it was a flotilla, the administrative details were handled, and I could focus on planning the route and anchorages. Had it been something I had to totally plan on my own, I’m sure I would’ve been even more nervous. I felt like I had a support network. I feel confident now that I can set one of these up on my own.”
Meg and Jim Atkins of Fort Myers, Florida, set their sights on buying and moving aboard a 50-foot cat, so they went beyond the basics. They took coastal navigation and passagemaking courses with Doris and Steve Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School. Then, in July 2010, they invited along another couple whose background was in power, not sail, and took their very first bareboat charter aboard a Moorings 4600 catamaran in the British Virgin Islands.
“On your first cruise alone, you will make mistakes,” says Meg. “You will run over your dinghy line. But these aren’t life or death situations. It’s more that you’re mortified that people know how many times you screw up. You can look back on it and be scared, or you can grab every opportunity to learn, keep safety uppermost in your mind, then look back and say ‘Wasn’t that silly?’ The last night of our trip, we had a decadent buffet dinner. It’s the experience of a lifetime.”
Bob Sweet grew up sailing. With a busy career and a family to raise, he crews aboard a C&C 110 out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “Some of the guys I race with had chartered,” he says. “At dinner one night, one of the couples who’d bareboated before said they were eager to do it again. We talked about it, looked around, debated it. At the end of the day, anywhere you go is fun.”