Good Cruising Captains are Made *
“Good Cruising Captains are Made” According to Captain Jack Klang Being a good captain requires knowledge, skill, experience, and personality. To become a great captain you must have good judgement, courage, patience, and compassion. Too many new boat owners consider themselves to be good captains simply because their names appear on the title and the ignition key is in their hand. It takes a lot more!
To be a leader you need followers and, to be a good captain of a cruising sailboat you need a happy, enthusiastic family that enjoys boating as much as you. Without them, your boat will become “your play toy,” and the time you spend aboard may be spent alone. If everyone in the family enjoys sailing, you will enjoy many happy years on the water. Accomplishing this is not easy.
Sailing friends of ours took their two children (ages 7 and 9) along on several summer cruises to the North Channel of Lake Huron. Each was like a long camping trip, but on the water. However, the captain was the only one who was involved in the sailing activities. He handled all of the sails, he steered the boat, he did the navigation, and he made all of the decisions.
The annual summer cruises visited only locations chosen by the captain. He often teased his crew, calling them “land lubbers” if they turned green on rough crossings. He avoided stopping at ports where shore activities might interest the crew by saying, “sailing is why we came here. Playgrounds, other children, movies, shopping, museums, and antique galleries are available at home.” He didn’t allow the crew to waste valuable sailing time.
Soon the children became bored with their coloring books and toys. They missed playing with their friends their own age. The first mate quickly found that shopping for provisions, packing them, preparing three meals each day, and cleaning up afterward was not a vacation for her. Meanwhile, the captain “did his thing.” He sailed, with the rail in the water, never allowing anyone to adjust sails, make log entries, steer his boat, or participate in the sailing of “his boat.” There were no family activities.
The captain was having a the time of his life, so he thought. His self centered view excluded other family members from joining in the fun or feeling they were part of the team. He became a Captain Bly and treated family members like crew. It wasn’t long before he was presented with a choice, his boat or his family.
By making all decisions for the family, the captain thought others would soon love sailing as much as he did. If he had only taken a more open-minded approach and included the family in the fun, not only would he still be boating, but also he would have introduced his wife and family to sailing in a positive way. From the first suggestion of going sailing, every family member should be allowed input in the planning and decision making process. Decision should be make as a group. From spending money to the length and destination of the sailing vacation, all decisions should be made jointly.
Children and wives without boating backgrounds can learn to love and enjoy sailing. An early scare or harrowing experience can easily discourage a new boater. Be careful, go slowly. Prepare yourself with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide safety and comfort for your family.
Provide them with opportunities to participate in the fun.Begin when your children are young. Cruise with other families having children of simIlar ages, and with adults with similar economics, hobbies and interests. Visit interesting ports where members of your family will find shore time enjoyable. Do the tough boat jobs yourself, without complaining. Remember, you are introducing your family to the fun of boating. And most of all, NEVER, NEVER, YELL!
Adults who love sailing today were probably introduced to it in some form while they were children. It may have been a summer at the lake, a week at a summer camp, or sailing with a relative or friend. Provide positive experiences for your first mate, your children, and your invited guests.
Make boating fun for our spouse. Help her shop for provisions. Keep the boat neat and clean, and assist with galley chores. Play with your children. Allow them person to steer the boat, but keep an eye on them if they are inexperienced. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do is to give your first mate a break and watch your children while she works on her suntan.
Yes, captains need to do many things. Most important if you want to become a great captain , make boating fun for the whole family. If you don’t, you may be boating alone - that is if you can afford both, a boat and a divorce.
Captain Jack Klang