Bareboat……Club Nautique

If you’ve come this far, and taken it seriously, than you’ve made a lot of progress towards learning to sail. Bareboat classes are something different altogether when compared to the two basic classes. Get your rest. You’ll be tired when this course is over. Trust me.

This course prepares you to charter a boat in the United States and in several popular sailing destinations around the world. So, take it seriously. You are getting your “pass.“ Learn as much as you can so that you can be safe and take care of whatever vessel you will charter in the future and whomever is along for the sailing adventure.

Obtain and read the course book at least twice prior to showing up for class. You will be expected to know the information in advance.

As you might’ve guessed, the boats are bigger, averaging 37 to 40 feet in length, and the systems are even more complex. Most of these vessels have two helms.

This class typically runs Friday through Monday. Friday and Saturday all day are spent in the classroom and on the water. You’ll get on the boat on Sunday morning, spend the night at anchor, and you won’t get off the boat until late Monday afternoon or early evening. Each student will be assigned and expected to prepare at least one meal during the time you are on the boat.

There are a lot of really useful things that you will be taught and then you’ll be asked to demonstrate proficiency. If you have done the preparatory work for bareboat class this shouldn’t be a problem. You will be expected to demonstrate that you can maneuver the sailboat in the harbor, used advanced docking techniques including the use of spring lines, and to steer and back into a slip in reverse. You must demonstrate proficiency in sailing all of the points of sail, illustrate that you can skipper a crew, set an anchor like a pro, and learn to set two anchors. Make sure that you have studied the relevant sections regarding anchoring in the textbook. You will learn and apply basic navigation skills while on the water. The course also involves sailing at night. Hopefully, you’ve had an opportunity to participate in one or more of the Wednesday night sails to get an idea of what this is all about. If not, I highly recommend that you do so in advance of your Bareboat class. At some point, you will anchor or tie up to mooring balls for dinner followed by an overnight stay. For many, this is their first opportunity to sleep on a sailboat. The next day, after breakfast, you will set sail and continue practicing and demonstrating proficiency in sailing, advanced techniques of crew overboard recovery, and whatever else the instructor decides might be useful. I recommend suggesting that you ask to be taught how to pull up to the fuel dock and pump fuel and also how to pump out the waste tank. I believe it is standard to tow a dinghy along for the overnight adventure. You will need to learn to tow and also to side tie it on the stern quarter. At the same time, you’re supposed to be learning a lot more about the different systems on the boat including the head, propane stove, electronics, engine systems, etc. Don’t forget your knots!

My favorite part of the class was in sailing at night. We were buoy hopping. Basically, picking out the buoys in the Bay according to their flashing patterns and light colors and motorsailing from one to the next along the course that we had charted in advance. We worked in teams of two. One team was on deck in the cockpit looking out for traffic, spotting the boys by their flashing patterns, and sharing the helm steering along the course that was prescribed by the other team that was down in the cabin with maps and protractors. The team in the cabin was required to do the basic navigation and provide an estimated time of arrival at the next buoy while the team on deck was responsible for the actual delivery of the vessel from one waypoint to the next….. the waypoints being the buoys. Of course, the teams rotated about halfway through our planned excursion. We started at Fisherman’s Wharf and went well beyond the Brothers Islands north of the Richmond Bridge then trekked to Ayala Cove at Angel Island for our overnight adventure. I’m sure the instructor found this part of the course to be the most amusing. I was rather delighted to have this opportunity to learn to navigate at night. When it was all said and done I felt that I had learned a lot. It was perhaps the first time that I had recognized the effect of tide current flows on the course of a sailboat. At the helm, I did a fairly good job of maintaining a prescribed course. It didn’t take long to realize that doing so was not necessarily going to keep the bow of the boat on the target buoy. The course sailed was necessarily different from the prescribed course in order to achieve the destination.

Once you have met the requirements on the water, and passed the written examination, you will receive your bareboat certification. Congratulations! As mentioned, this is your “license” to charter in the United States and many places around the world. At Club Nautique, it enables you to charter boats up to about 41 feet in length if I recall correctly. Also, you are now eligible to skipper the Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon club sailing events. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to skipper on these occasions. I learned a tremendous amount of new knowledge doing so and I can say that, without a doubt, the occasions were excellent preparation for the experiences to come in Coastal Passage Making. Ensure that you have worked as crew during these events before you take on the job of skippering a vessel on behalf of the club.

By now, you’ve certainly learned a lot, but, if you plan to continue through the training and have your sights set on Coastal Passage Making then, truthfully, you have only really laid down the foundation of becoming a sailor. I cannot over emphasize the importance of continuing one’s training beyond Bareboat classes. Of course, there is no substitute to getting on the water as often as you can, changing up your crew on occasion to find out who you work well with, to meet additional people, and to learn new things from others. Have fun sailing!! But….a great deal of things are still unlearned. Continue with the program. You won’t regret the continued exposure to instructors, other sailors, excellent classes at Club Nautique, and you’ll become much more capable at sailing and being safe on the water.

Alcatraz from just south of the Bay Bridge. Night arrival in Sausalito.

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