Discover the Skills for a Happy Crew

Discover the Skills for a Happy Crew

Our aim is always to give you the very best experience possible – in every way!

With a new season about to start our boats are ready to go! They look great, polished and shiny, with everything serviced and checked, ready for the first students to arrive on Sunday.

Now that winter maintenance is complete, we’ve turned our thoughts to how we can improve what we offer. George and Mark (typical males) are always on the lookout for new pieces of equipment. During 2013 we put Navtex on our yachts and soon we’ll be replacing our current GPS plotters with state-of-the-art touchscreen ones. We’re also looking into the pros and cons of installing on-board WiFi.

While the guys are primarily interested in physical things, as an ex-teacher I’m equally concerned with developing our syllabuses and instructional methods.

I recently came across an article about what makes a successful team or group. Team-work is very important on a yacht. Good teamwork not only enables everything to be done smoothly; it also determines how much you’ll enjoy your sailing experience. This is especially true if you’re joining one of our group courses, where you’ll be sailing with people you haven’t met before.

This article identified four specific skills that contribute to how well a team functions. Our instructors already put a lot of effort into developing team spirit in the crew but I’ll be passing this information onto them to see what else they might do.

If you want to be part of a happy crew, this is what it takes.

Skills for a Happy Crew

To work together successfully, it’s important to develop a sense of cohesion, which means a sense of being united / sticking together. This feeling of unity usually emerges after a day or two sailing together and can become amazingly strong over the course of a week’s sailing.

There are four key skills that help to develop the right atmosphere on board. These are inter-personal skills, not related to how much you know about sailing.

  1. Openness: You should be willing to get to know the other crew members, particularly those with different interests and backgrounds. You should try to be open to new ideas, diverse viewpoints, and the variety of individuals present within the crew. You can develop openess by listening to others and asking their ideas.
  2. Trust and self-disclosure: In a happy crew, people learn to trust one another enough to share their ideas and feelings. You can help develop this sense of mutual trust by being willing to self-disclose, being honest, yet respectful. Often it’s surprising how much of your self you feel comfortable revealing to those you share the boat with. Trust also grows if you demonstrate personal accountability for tasks you have been assigned – admitting if you messed up, for instance, rather than making excuses or passing the blame onto someone else!
  3. Support: A happy crew is supportive of one another, and will help each other to accomplish their assigned tasks. A sense of team loyalty usually builds during the course (especially if there is a little informal racing with the other yachts…). You should cheer on the crew as a whole and help individual members who are experiencing difficulties. You should never view one another as competitors but as collaborators, working together.
  4. Respect: You should always communicate your opinions in a way that respects others, focusing on “What can we learn?” rather than “Who is to blame?” .

Reading through that I thought, “Yes, that’s the sort of person that we like to sail with us”. I was reminded of several lovely students we’ve had over the years who always made for the best crew members you could want.

We incorporate activities into our courses that are designed to develop those skills and to ensure you’ll have a great time, whatever your level of sailing ability.

If you’re at the stage of sailing with your own family or friends as crew, maybe you want to think about how you can introduce opportunites to develop the skills in your own crew?

Or maybe you should let them be a guide as to who you choose to sail with?

Get in touch and share your memories of really good crew-mates.

Best wishes


PS: I have two opportunities to join very special crews for you. Firstly, there are a few places left on our Highland Adventure, sailing on the West Coast of Scotland for a tidal milebuilder, in early June. Contact me for more details. Remember you can take a tidal upgrade to your Day Skipper certificate on this trip.

The second opportunity is to learn how to sail a catamaran. Nik Brooks has chartered a lovely big Broadblue 385 with one of our instructors for a week from 10 May He’s looking for either one or two couples to join them, as the friends they planned to sail with are unable to come. He’s prepared to take a slightly larger share of the costs so this is a great opportunity to try cat sailing. It’s especially good if you have a partner who is a bit concerned with the way a yacht heels over, or if you want plenty of space to relax in. May is a lovely time of year with the spring flowers in bloom.

Please get in touch if you are interested and i can give you more information.


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