Setting Sail (For First Timers)

A great man is the man who does something for the first time.

Alexander Smith

It’s easy to have more than a few expectations about your charter when you first arrive at its dock.  For a first-timer, the call of the sea can be daunting as you watch it bob your vessel and wonder how well your lunch is going to stay down over the next week or so. Your mental preparedness might have you eager to launch yourself out into the open water before any more doubts enter your mind. You are willing after you you had to do to get to this point (Remember that inconsolable baby on the plane?). You fling yourself on board (don’t worry, you’ll get better at it) and begin stowing your things.  A boat isn’t as forgiving as a resort when it comes to space.  It forces you to rethink your idea of essentials, especially when there is no place to shave that doesn’t move. Razors and and boat movement … hmmm.  So, you’ll be a pirate for a few days (That was the idea anyway, right?).  You have to get used to the cabin situation fast and count your blessings quick.  The SeaSea is better equipped than most.  She’ll treat you right once you get to know her. 

Whenever you think you’re ready, you usually aren’t.  Don’t let the excitement distract you from the little things.  Little things tend to become big things once they are forgotten.  Get your checklist, locate everything, and make sure it works.  You might find yourself out there packed with provisions without any way to use them if your heating elements don’t work. (Actually not a real worry as CYOA has already done this, but no harm being a little OCD) Provisions?  That’s just the nautical term for food.  Did you remember you need that too? GrubHub won’t find you out on the water, so you’re kind of on your own if you aren’t moored or anchored somewhere with restaurants or shops.  Lucky you, St. Thomas has some places to stock up.  Take a cab and your wallet (you’re gonna need it).  Sticker shock is becoming pretty standard in the states these days.  When comparing that to the prices on the Virgin Islands, there probably needs to be a new term coined.  Maybe something akin to “price tag concussion.”  You’ll have to get over it quickly because there’s not much you can do about it, except maybe grab an extra bottle of rum to help lessen the blow. Rum is cheap in the islands.

Back at the dock, the provisions are stowed.  You’ve finally had enough time to think about having no idea what you are actually doing.  Fear not.  As the saying goes, “We’re all on the same boat.” Just be sure that the boat has a capable Captain, which basically means anyone but you (for now). Depending on your charter’s scheduled departure, you may be spending the night docked.  If so, you’ll have even more time to familiarize yourself with the boat and get your head wrapped around things. Another suggestion is to take advantage of walking on some stable ground.  CYOA has a few restaurants within walking distance.  The French Quarter Bistro is highly recommended.  There are no promises on how stable the ground will be on the walk back to the dock after a couple of Painkillers though. 

The morning just before you start out goes quick.  You double-check.  Then triple-check. Then you are forced to resolve to the idea that if you forgot about anything, you probably didn’t really need it anyway.  The CYOA crew will skillfully get you off the dock (think maneuvering a house in a tight parking lot), but from that point on, you and your crew are on your own and finally sailing SeaSea.   Eric.


We have a new contributor, who is in the process of writing a series of posts from the prospective of the brand new sailor. His dad is noticing for the first time that the OCD trait appears to have been passed to the next generation . Bill

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