Learning goals for becoming a bareboat charter skipper

In this post we will be outlining primary areas of focus in an easy to reference structure as a baseline of standards for Bareboat Charter Master Students to work toward. These specific learning goals are presented here for you as a student to use in both guiding your study and as a map of clear bench marks that we encourage you to use for self assessment in your progress throughout your learning process.

The areas of focus are structured so as to ensure this baseline knowledge is attained to ensure your success in becoming a bare boat skipper yourself. They are as follows:

  1. Boat Systems and Inventory
  2. Preperation, Crew Briefing, and Leaving the Dock
  3. Maneuvering and Sailing the Vessel Safely
  4. Anchoring, Mooring, and Returning to the Slip
  5. Life Aboard, Knots, and Distress
  6. Navigation and Pilotage
  7. Dinghy operations

Please note that some of the links are courtesy of NauticEd that I am sharing with you as students and adventure charter guests of mine. For those of you interested in learning as much as you can I highly recommend checking out the excellent curriculum and signing up if you haven’t done so already.

The goal of this is to help guide you in your studies and preparations and to ensure a thorough and efficient process for your learning. By providing a this framework for you to follow our goal is to help ensure you achieve a very thorough level of competency as you get ready to head out and skipper your first trip… perhaps that may be taking a 40′ to 50′ catamaran out in the Caribbean with family and friends on your own soon! (For those of you sailing with me for Agwe’ Sailing’s Sail Guadeloupe 2017 trips I recommend exporting these outlines as a pdf and printing them out to have with your other study materials to use once we are underway.)

Section 1

Boat Systems and Inventory

  1. Safety gear: identify and discuss the use of –
    1. floatiation – all types
    2. fire extinguishers (including suppression systems if equipped)
    3. visual distress signals
    4. sound producing devices
    5. VHF radio(s)
    6. first aid kit(s)
      1. Additional desired safety gear:
        1. handheld VHF(s)
        2. Tool kit / weatherman type tools / proper deck knife
        3. binoculars
        4. basic nav tools and local charts
        5. boat hook
        6. boat manuals
        7. extra lines (good number of mooring lines and potential tow lines)
        8. flashlights
  2. Electrical systems and panel: (Learn more with NauticEd)
    1. Identify and discuss all switches (example below is from a standard Helia 44 catamaran)
      1. nav lights
      2. steaming lights
      3. masthead light
      4. deck flood light
      5. nav instruments
      6. hull light (salon and cabin)
      7. Fridge (generally left on)
      8. fresh water pump (always off when not in use)
      9. port bilge pump
      10. starboard bilge pump
      11. port engine room bilge pump
      12. starboard engine room bilge pump
      13. courtesy lights
      14. freezer (if – generally always on)
      15. underwater lights
    2. Identify DC voltage monitoring and charging plans
    3. identify DC battery shut off switch(s) and discuss safety
    4. identify anchor windlass breaker (reset) and discuss use
    5. identify and discuss AC systems
    6. discuss proper AC – shore power disconnect process
    7. identify AC breakers and locations
  3. VHF protocols and emergency distress calls:
    1. identify equipment aboard used for issuing a distress call
    2. discuss and demonstrate proper May Day calling procedures
    3. discuss DSC system and use
    4. identify and discuss EPRIRB use if equipped
  4. Heads and pollution avoidance (Learn more with NautiEd)
    1. discuss black water / waste system management
    2. identify all Y valves
    3. discuss when not to discharge overboard
    4. describe plastic and dunnage and oil management
  5. Engine: (on the Helia 44 we will have two Volvo Penta D 40’s)
    1. identify fuel fill ports and guages
    2. identify fuel filters / water separators and discuss:
      1. how to inspect
      2. how to drain
      3. how to replace filters
    3. inspect oil and coolant
    4. inpspect belts
    5. identify raw water intake through hulls or valves (for sail drive)
    6. indentify impeller(s) and discuss replacement
    7. identify raw water strainer(s) and discuss cleaning
    8. identify transmission and discuss inspection
    9. identify and discuss stuffing box (for a non-sail drive shaft driven vessel)
    10. discuss engine start and stop procedures
  6. Galley operations: (Learn more with NautiEd)
    1. describe safe stove operations and identify all parts
    2. identify fresh water fill ports and gauges and discuss usage, conservation, and monitoring
    3. identify multiple fresh water tank selection valves
    4. discuss use of pressure water system and pumps
  7. Above decks:
    1. describe windlass hazards and demonstrate control
    2. descrie and perform inspection of both standing and running rigging
    3. describe and discuss proper fender management and placement
    4. discuss proper mooring line rigging and use for various scenarios
  8. Navigation instruments (Learn more with NauticEd) – describe and discuss use of:
    1. depth sounder
    2. wind indicator
      1. true or
      2. apparant
    3. GPS
    4. AIS
    5. auto pilot

Section 2

Preperation, Crew Briefing, and Leaving  the Dock

  1. Weather knowledge:
    1. Describe local overall weather patterns for the area you are planning to sail in
    2. Describe appropriate sources of weather information including:
      1. VHF radio
      2. Am / Fm radio
      3. Apps
      4. Single Side Band (if)
      5. Satellite systems (if)
    3. Describe “local area forecasting” and “keeping a weather eye out”
      1. demonstrate ability to predict coming conditions and relate to specific sailing area
      2. Fronts
      3. Types of squalls, storms, or systems possible for area and season
      4. Discuss localized daily, system, and seasonal driven winds
      5. Describe the nature of shifting wind directions in relationship to localized weather systems and patterns and potential changes in conditions
  2. Tide height and tidal stream knowledge: (Note: tides are nominal at best, localized currents based upon Island points and headlands are to be noted however)
    1. List sources of tide tables both paper and electronic
    2. Demonstrate basic understanding of data from tables and curves as well as from apps used
    3. Discuss the “rule of twelves”
    4. Determine tide height and stream rate and direction at specific times and places
  3. Pre-departure crew briefing:
    1. Demonstrate a strong, confident, complete, and effective crew briefing
  4. Develop and communicate departure plan (learn more with NauticEd)
    1. Describe specific sensible departure plans
      1. for various wind / dock scenarios
      2. describe appropriate use of spring lines
      3. describe and demonstrate basic proper mooring line handling
      4. communicate, assign, and prepare crew for various positions and tasks
      5. describe use of fenders for various situations

Section 3

Maneuvering and Sailing the Vessel Safely
(Here is an excellent set of videos I recommend everyone watch)

  1. Exhibit competence and ability to maneuver the vessel:
    1. In forward
    2. In reverse
    3. In pivoting and turning circles –
      1. in both forward and reverse
      2. with in two boat lengths of a marker buoy
      3. in a tight figure eight
    4. In stopping the boat from moving forward as quickly as possible
    5. In stopping the boat from moving astern as quickly as possible
    6. In holding position in various conditions and tight quarters
    7. In steering a straight and controlled line will moving astern
    8. In stopping effectively while moving astern into a simulated slip
  2. Handling, setting, trimming, and dousing sails:
    1. Describe all running rigging
    2. Perform raising and lowering, furling and dousing with appropriate techniques and wind directions while maintaining control of lines and halyards
    3. Set all sails to appropriate leech and foot tensions
    4. Demonstrate appropriate trim at various points of sail
    5. Discuss and demonstrate powering up and depowering various sails on various rigs with use of travelers and fairleads
    6. Explain and demonstrate safe winch techniques and safety with line clutches and heavy loads
  3. Boat handling under sail: Demonstrate competance
    1.  sailing a triangular course with
      1. one leg directly into the wind
      2. and requiring multiple tacks
    2. turning the boat while under sail in a full 360° turn while maintaining sail control
    3. sailing down wind with no accidental gybes while maintaining a steady course
    4. maintaing total control over the boat and sails while gybing safely
  4. Steering:
    1. Steer and hold a course sailing by compass on various points of sail
    2. Demonstrate controlled tacks and gybes and maneuvers with no over steering or over turning
  5. Rules and safety – describe and discuss and demonstrate knowledge of the Rules of The Road
    1. Maintaining a proper look out 
    2. The narrow channel rule and operating in narrow channels
    3. Identification of traffic quickly
    4. Determining if risk of collision exists (discuss methods, tools, and techniques)
    5. Clear understanding and determination of the give way and stand on vessels in all situations
    6. determining correct actions needed to avoid collision in a timely manner for these and other traffic situations not listed here:
      1. same tacks
      2. opposite tacks
      3. sail meeting power
      4. power meeting power
      5. overtaking situations
    7. understanding of and negotiating traffic in: channels, traffic lanes, and vessel traffic separation lanes
  6. Heaving to and reefing: describe and demonstrate:
    1. heaving to and getting back under way effectively
    2. using appropriate procedures to reef main and head sails
    3. understanding the difference between roller reefing furling sails as opposed to lowering sails
  7. Crew overboard:     (crew overboard syllabus outline)
    1. Must effectively perform the tasks necessary to recover a crew member overboard by at minimum:
      1. describing and executing various return methods
      2. assigning and or maintaining a lookout
      3. approaching with appropriate speed and direction
      4. preparing throw lines and possible rigging for recovery
      5. describe possible ways of bringing or assisting a crew member back aboard if conscious or unconscious
      6. describe first aid measures for various stages of hypothermia

Section 4

Anchoring, Mooring, and Returning to the Slip

  1. Anchoring: while anchoring properly the skipper must: (Check out this video)
    1. properly brief the crew in preparation including hand signals
    2. properly set up the vessel for anchoring
    3. consider all relavent factors for choosing locations such as:
      1. tide
      2. local weather conditions, patterns, and forecasts
      3. proximity to shore
      4. surrounding depth
      5. obstacles, hazards, other vessels, and obstructions
    4. demonstrate proper anchoring procedures in:
      1. setting and weighing anchor
      2. using appropriate scope in various situations
  2. Mooring:
    1. properly brief the crew in preparation including hand signals and appoint a bow crew
    2. properly set up the vessel for taking a mooring
    3. identify appropriate mooring ball color designations
    4. bring the vessel effectively to a stop at the mooring ball
    5. tying off using appropriate warp and technique
  3. Mediterranean Mooring: (Check out this video from NauticEd)
    1. complete a med moor with anchor
    2. back the vessel in at safe speed and stop at appropriate point
    3. effectively secure aft lines and tension the anchor rode
    4. describe non-anchoring methods with use of mooring blocks or slime lines
  4. Returning to the Slip – demonstrate competence:
    1. briefing and setting up crew
    2. communicating the plan
    3. setting fender
    4. setting spring lines and bow and stern lines
    5. checking for and watching marina traffic, objects, and people in the water
    6. springing the vessel into the dock against the wind
    7. choosing the right angle of approach depending on wind and current
  5. Securing the vessel – in stowing and securing the vessel the skipper ensures:
    1. all lines are properly coiled and stowed
    2. all sails are properly stowed
    3. spring lines and dock lines are set properly for tide and conditions
    4. fenders are all set well
    5. electrical hook up is safe and secure
    6. vessel is secure to be left alone

Section 5

Life Aboard, Knots, and Distress

  1. Knots – Demonstrate the ability to teach as well as discussing the proper applications of the following knots:
    1. bowline
    2. figure 8
    3. cleat hitch
    4. clove hitch
    5. round turn and two half hitches
    6. reef knot
    7. sheet bend
  2. Life aboard – describe and discuss:
    1. measures to prevent water pollution
    2. laws on dumping of plastics
    3. law and appropriateness of discharging black water overboard
    4. medical safety awareness of what to watch out for with crew
  3. Galley – describe and discuss:
    1. procedures and precautions for using a galley stove
    2. gas management systems and safety
    3. C02 risks
    4. use of stove when heeling or in heavy seas
  4. Distress calls – skipper must:
    1. make an effective simulated VHF distress call
    2. describe EPIRB workings and use
    3. identify any and all visual distress signals
    4. describe use of various types of flares and safety in handling
    5. know which flares not to use in event of a helicopter rescue
  5. Fire – skipper must:
    1. demonstrate simulated use of a fire extinguisher and suppression blanket
    2. describe procedures in the event of an electrical fire
  6. Collision – skipper must:
    1. describe actions to be taken in case of collision and the need for sealing leaks

Section 6

Navigation and Pilotage (Navigation syllabus available here)

  1. The Chart – the skipper should:
    1. find and point out dangers and hazards
    2. identify and show navigation aids
    3. identify and discuss associated dangers of commercial shipping lanes
    4. be competent in measuring distances
  2. Aids to navigation by day and night and channels – the skipper must:
    1. identify and describe navigation marks and aids under IALA – A and IALA – B
    2. identify and explain cardinal marks by day and by night
    3. identify isolated danger marks by day and by night
    4. Identify and explain various channels and risks associated
  3. Vessel lights, shapes, and sounds – the skipper should be able to identify:
    1. vessels by light exhibited and,
    2. by required fog signals for:
      1. a power driven vessel
      2. a sailing vessel
      3. a vessel at anchor
      4. a tug and tow
      5. a fishing vessel trawling or otherwise
      6. a vessel engaged in dredging
    3. “pecking order” of the seven classes of vessels
    4. use and meaning of maneuvering sounds of vessels insight of each other for:
      1. one blast
      2. two blasts
      3. three blasts
      4. five blasts
    5. the “occupation” of a vessel by status of day shapes exhibited
  4. Navigation skills – the skipper should ensure they can:
    1. effectively work with Distance, speed, and time calculations to determine ETA’s whether sailing or motoring
    2. effectively us proper navigation terminology, symbols, and plotting techniques
    3. determine true, magnetic, and compass (pac – per ship’s compass) by factoring in variation and deviation
    4. perform all basic chart working including
      1. measuring distances 
      2. taking and plotting bearings and positions and determine latitude and longitude
      3. determine EP’s (estimated position)
      4. perform dead reckoning
      5. perform basic running fixes
      6. determine set and drift with dead reckoning and a known fix
      7. determine course to steer with known current direction and velocity
      8. determine magnetic course to steer making allowances for tidal current and leeway
      9. determine SOG and COG given –
        1. vessel speed through water,  
        2. tidal current rate and direction,
        3. and making allowances for appropriate leeway
      10. set and use a danger bearing
    5. effectively use a GPS chart plotter and phone / tablet app(s) to determine distance and direction to destination
    6. be able to calculate fuel usage for longer trips under power
  5. Pilotage – a skipper should:
    1. understand maximum loading capacity of the vessel
    2. know sources of information on ports
    3. know general references for navigation information and determine what references are desired aboard for a given trip
    4. know local rules and channels for VHF use
    5. understand international customs clearance procedures for arriving and departing
    6. be able to plan an entrance into an unfamiliar port taking into account
      1. large traffic
      2. local hazards
      3. marinas

Section 7

Dinghy Operations

  1. Safety
    1. Kill cord
    2. Elbow awareness when starting
    3. Prop safety especially around swimmers
    4. Keeping crew from falling out
    5. Prepared with a light for night time
  2. Engine operation
    1. Starting and stopping effectively (elbows)
    2. Understanding choke use
    3. Fuel connections and system
    4. 2 stroke vrs 4 stroke fuel and oil considerations
    5. Safe refueling practices and simple fuel consumption estimates
      1. Assume runtime for a 5 gal fuel tank at speed
        1. 4 stroke
          1. 5hp = 0.5gal/h = 10hrs
          2. 8hp = 0.9gal/h = 5.5hrs
        2. 2 stroke
          1. 5hp = 1.0gal/h = 5hrs
          2. 8hp = 1.8gal/hr = 3hrs
    6. Good handling of throttle and tiller
  3. Inventory
    1. Light or flashlight
    2. Ground tackle
    3. Fuel
    4. Pump
    5. Patches
  4. Safe Boarding
    1. Describe using three points of contact
    2. Use of painter to transfer to boat
  5. Maneuvering
    1. Use of forward and reverse
    2. Understand and manage reverse tilt lock problems
    3. Good maneuvering skills; straight, good turns; appropriate stops; good reverse control
    4. Turns a good safe 360 both forward and reverse
    5. Understand trim and getting on step
    6. Understand ease of flipping when operating zodiac style alone
    7. Maintains slow speeds in anchorages
    8. Managing the dingy at high speeds
  6. Beaching
    1. Look out for divers; snorkelers; and swimmers
    2. Never beach on or near or hit coral
    3. Understand the basics for choosing a good landing and when to not attempt or get close
    4. Techniques for getting on and off the beach
    5. Understand danger of letting the dingy get sideways to the beach waves
  7. Mooring balls
    1. Identify appropriate dingy mooring balls
  8. Towing and hoisting
    1. Describe how to adjust to proper tow line length
    2. Safely and effectively managing davits and hoisting lines for launching and retrieving

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