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First check, then take off

Arrive, unpack, enjoy, leave – nice! If only it could be like this at the beginning of a charter trip! But before you can relax into your holiday, it’s important to check the boat thoroughly and instruct the crew. Gunnar Brock from Pantaenius explains why this procedure is more than just an annoying compulsory programme, and what you can do to make it as organised and efficient as possible.

Eight people, six plates - it is often only in the first anchorage that it becomes apparent that something is missing or not working on the charter boat. If it's just plates and cutlery, you can improvise. If, however, something bigger is amiss, the recreation factor drops rapidly.

"A careful handover can save a lot of hassle and time spent waiting", confirms Brock from the legal department of Pantaenius. As an enthusiastic sailor and long-time charter skipper, he speaks from experience. "I go through the inventory list meticulously, open every locker," says Brock - not alone, but together with the co-skipper, because four eyes can see more than two. Such a thorough takeover takes their time, which is why experienced charter skippers "forewarn" their crew of this practice, so that there are no long faces at the charter base. "If the tasks are well distributed, for example, a crewmember stows provisions and luggage while the take-over team goes through the boat, the time is also used efficiently," says Brock.


Even after ticking off all items on the inventory list and handover protocol, the lines still remain tight. Because at least as important as the careful inspection of the yacht, is the instruction of the crew. "Legally, the skipper is obliged to carry out a safety briefing, especially for inexperienced crews," says Brock. But apart from any obligation it is in the interest of every skipper to sail with a competent crew.

Sea valves, gas cock, engine, radio - from bow to stern all safety relevant points should be explained, and the best way to learn is to try what you have learned for yourself. Each crewmember on the charter should therefore start and stop the engine, move the valves to the "open" and "close" positions and so on. In the technical literature there are helpful lists, on which a skipper can orient himself during the execution of the safety briefing. The more experienced the crew (and the more frequently they have sailed with one another in the group), the more compact the briefing can be, but a thorough familiarisation session with an untrained crew can take up to an hour and a half. This also includes the rough definition and allocation of emergency roles, for example in the event of a fire or MOB.


Finally - the trip can start! A compact safety check is carried out before each trip: Are all valves closed, are the gas taps tight, are the hatches closed? Ideally, a crewmember should take responsibility for this routine check as a "safety officer".

“This includes stopping the boat, driving full circles, testing the manoeuvring characteristics forwards and backwards," explains Brock. Mainsails and foresails are also rolled out and hoisted for testing purposes.

Often omitted, but important, is the practice of the MOB manoeuvre under engine and sails with the help of a fender. The crew may not have mastered the manoeuvre perfectly after this first "dry run", but everyone knows roughly and that’s what matters.

With the right number of dinner plates in the locker, a technically flawless yacht and a competent crew, the charter holiday will be a great and relaxed experience for everyone. Have fun!

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