A huge amount of time and effort has to go into getting a boat, planning the finances, and preparing to set sail. But there’s also the issue of fitting in as a new cruiser within the cruiser community. Are there rules? How about things that happen that are different from land life? Are there do’s and do not’s to being a cruiser?
Yes, yes, and yes.
Let me get right down to it…here’s just a sprinkling of the things you’ll want to know about fitting in as a new cruiser.
A New Cruiser At Sea
Always wave to people you pass no matter if they’re on a monohaul, catamaran, or even a motor boater. It’s just a nice thing to do!
Know the rules of the road. Understand who has right away but always assume the other boater doesn’t know the rules, or worse, isn’t at the helm of the boat!
Give other boats a wide berth. If you see a boat that’s on a possible collision course with you, make a large correction so they can easily see that you see them (and know that, indeed, you are at the helm!).
A New Cruiser While Anchoring
When anchoring it’s fine to yell over to another boat and ask where his/her anchor is and how much scope has been let out. This will provide you with valuable information on where you can drop your anchor; especially in busy anchorages.
Once you anchor and the boat has settled, yell over to your closest neighbor (if you have one) and ask if they’re happy with your anchoring spot. Just say, ‘are you okay with our distance?’ Even if you know the distance is fine it’s just a common courtesy. It also instantly connects you with your neighbor.
A New Cruiser While At Anchor Or On A Mooring Ball
When invited to another boat for sundowners (drinks at dusk), always bring your own drinks. Always. It’s best to have a little soft travel cooler so you can bring your drinks, glasses and a wine and bottle opener. Bring your empties home with you.
And a sure fire way to get invited again is to also bring a snack to share. Snacks include chips and dip, popcorn, crackers and cheese, veggies and dip and nuts, pretzels or other easy to open and eat snack. If possible, also bring the bowl or dish to serve your snacks but remember to take the bowl home with you.
For Pot Luck dinners don’t experiment with something new – save that for your partner or family. Bring a tried and tested dish. Bring utensils with the dish to serve. And a good tip is to write the name of your boat on the bowl, plate, utensils so that in the event you forget to take them with you, the host can return them. Also, avoid making things with nuts or any high allergy item (especially when kids are around).
A New Cruiser At Beach BBQ’s Or Pot Lucks
Bring your own drinks in addition to a dish or dishes to pass. And you may need to bring your own meat. Many cruiser beach BBQ’s are set up where one boat will set up the fire pit but all the cruisers come with their own meat to BBQ and only the sides and salads are offered to share. Also, bring your own plates, bowls, utensils, napkins and garbage bag.
To be a hit at the BBQ or beach Pot Luck, also bring a Bluetooth speaker or music player. You can also bring beach towels, chairs, insect repellant and sunscreen. If you’d like a full list of things to bring when you go to shore, grab a copy of my best selling guide, Checklists for Sailors.
Always consider the amount of food available in addition to the amount of people attending and don’t be a hog (not that I’ve ever seen any cruise go crazy on the food consumption).
A New Cruiser With Kids
The key thing with kids is to get them out and playing! When there are only a few kid boats in an anchorage, some or all of the parents will tend to arrange times to meet at the beach, go for a hike, head out on an excursion or go for a snorkeling trip. Make sure you do your fair share of organizing and volunteering. But also realize it’s okay to take a break.
Do not consistently drop your kids off for other cruisers to look after.
But don’t volunteer to watch the kids all the time either – it’s important for you to have a balance. Furthermore, if you have young toddlers I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to leave it up to others to supervise unless a very explicit arrangement has been made.
Don’t allow children to leave out other children. If there’s only three kid boats and one is inviting the other kids over to watch a movie, it’s common curtesy to invite both boats. If you don’t want that many children on your boat, just don’t do a movie. Do something on shore. If there are loads of kid boats and you want to organize something between a few boats, make use of the VHF DSC direct calling system. By doing so the whole anchorage will most likely not hear your plans.
A New Cruiser In General
Don’t gossip. Don’t say bad things about other cruisers. There are enough cruisers around that you can hang out with those you resonate with and the others will just melt into the background. Cruisers, by nature, are very similar so most of the people you meet will be just like you. That being said, no one wants to get rolled into a negative conversation about other people.
The whole reason we’re cruisers is to escape the office politics and rumor mill. Instead, talk about the weather, the latest sailing app you’ve test out or ask how to fix whatever it is that recently broke on your boat!
If you see someone struggling, don’t wait around.
Get in your dinghy and go help. Recently a boat near us had their head sail unfurl, in a wind storm, while on a mooring ball. It took four people, my husband included, twenty minutes to drop the sail. As soon as my husband saw the boat struggling, he swam over, got on board and helped out.
If you’re in a dinghy and a boat is struggling to get a mooring ball, go over and lift the painter up for them. If you see a boat coming in under tow, offer to run over in your dinghy and help out. Always be on the lookout for ways you can help the community. Not only will it be repaid to you but it’s a great way to meet new cruisers. Make sure to tweet this article to your friends!Here are some interesting tips on how to fit in as a newbie cruiser.Click To Tweet