10 Useful Tips for First-Timer Sailors

Choose the destination first, then the boat according to the cruising area selected and the crew’s needs, agree on a budget that fits anyone, on the dates… we can say that organizing a holiday, it’s not easy, at all! Sometimes planning a sailing journey can take even months! Moreover, after all the “hard work” for booking the right boat, the planning process has not come to an end yet! Especially if you’ve never sailed before, you necessarily need some tips for first-timer sailors to know how it works.

Now that you’re on the way of your first sailing experience don’t forget that there are still important details to consider in order to avoid unwelcome surprises. We’ve created this list of some crucial tips for first-timer sailors to keep in mind after booking a boat.

1. Don’t leave without your Nautical Guide

If you’re the skipper purchase a nautical guide that provides detailed information about the ports and the marinas of the selected cruising area, with phone numbers and the description of each service. The more complete is the guide, the easier and faster it will be to follow your itinerary. It has to show advice on the destination, weather information, and maps of the winds to draw the best sailing route and choose the safest anchorages to overnight. Bluewaterweb has some of the best nautical books, paper and charts in which you can find this kind of information.

2. Travel and Charter Insurance

All the boats on our website are fully insured; however, you can ensure the whole trip: cancellations, changes, lost luggage, etc. These travel insurances are usually not so expensive and can save you from lots of setbacks! Regarding the charter insurance, the most common are the deposit and the skipper liability insurance for damages that aren’t covered by the comprehensive coverage. Check our partner Pantaenius to know the various fees and more packages.

3. Safety Equipment

Group of friends sitting on a deck of a sailboat at dawn - tips first-timer sailors

Check the equipment and the safety items on board during the check-in, thus before leaving the base. Make sure that the boat has rescue material, fire protection, navigation and prevention of spills, the first aid kit, and all that is required by the law. We suggest to check the fire extinguishers and check their expiration date. If you don’t know where to find the items and how the equipment works, ask the skipper or the base manager to show and explain their functions.

4. Communication at sea

You should know and control the system of communication at sea. For your peace of mind during the navigation, it is good to know which authorities and relevant channels you need to contact if you suffer a mishap. Mobile phones work aboard as long as you are not out of range of a shoreside tower. Thus, check the Marine VHF Radio, used for bidirectional voice communication from ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore.

The VHF is arguably the most valuable piece of safety gear aboard, delivering any call for assistance to dozens or hundreds of nearby listening ears. Based on FM channels, it is the only communication device many pleasure boats are equipped with, and it is required by law. Get this information at the port won’t cost you more than 30 seconds.

5. Seasickness

What if I get seasick? This question is frequent and it is a typical concern if you’ve never sailed before. Well, there are lots of ways to deal with seasickness, the important thing is to leave prepared. It is recommended to avoid sailing on an empty stomach or with a too-full belly. Thus stock up on some over-the-counter medication as well as dry bread or salty foods such as crackers that also give immediate relief in case of nausea.

6. What to pack and how to choose the right luggage

girl walking on a dock with her luggage with a sailboat on the background - tips first-timer sailors

Depending on the destination, you have to select the proper clothing. But remember, cabins have limited space, so it’s better not to bring a huge suitcase. You should only bring the appropriate clothes, foresee also colder weather or rain, but keep in mind that you should share a restricted place even with the other passengers.

7. Documents and Currency

Make sure to know the visa requirements of the destination and don’t forget that it can vary according to the nationality of the guests. Also, check that your passport or ID is still valid and bring a photocopy just in case you lose them, or something happens. Regarding the currency, if it differs from your local one, verify that you have enough cash to pay the extras at the base.

8. Electric energy consumption

Yachts typically operate on 12 volt DC systems. Depending on the boat you will only count with conventional plugs or 12V (such as car cigarette lighter). It is advisable to have more than one of these connectors, but apart from mobiles and others, it is not possible to charge onboard devices such as lap-top, phons, hair irons etc.

Some boats, especially the bigger ones, have inverters from 120v to 240v or a generator, but the smaller ones don’t, so you should wait to arrive at the port to power the boat by the port’s electrical grid. Even if they have these kinds of apparatus, they are very energy-consuming, and the most important thing is to check not to waste all the power and so run out of electricity.

9. Provisioning

group of friends making a toast with glasses of champagne - tips first-timer sailors

If you hire a skipper or a crew, be aware that you should provide them with enough food and beverage. But where can I go shopping, there will be any store in the marina? Of course, you can go to the store at the nearest town if you want something bigger and stocked. However, mainly all the marinas have supermarkets, sometimes very small, for buying some supplies, although they tend to be more expensive than usual.

Also, some charter companies provide a provisioning list to fill with food and drink to stock. They will go to do grocery shopping for you, and you will find the boat stocked at your arrival at the base. Usually, this service has an extra cost. If you don’t want to think about your meals, but relaxing and sunbathing you can always hire a hostess or a chef that will be in charge of shopping and cooking.

10. What else should I consider as extra expenses?

Please note that the charter fee doesn’t include that as the meals, the fuel, and the mooring fees. The yacht will have a full tank arrival, and you fill it up at the end of the charter, so you only have to pay for what you use. The mooring fees can refer to a town quay or on a mooring buoy. The cost of mooring fees varies considerably from destination to destination, thus ask your charter broker to contact the boat providers for more information.

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