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Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast

Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast

By Penny Caldwell

Hey sailor! My name is Penny and I have been a sailing coach with Sail Canada for over 25 years! I have helped thousands of sailors find their passion and love of all things sailing. I'm here to help you live your best sailing life. I provide gear reviews, sailing tips, habits to perfect and much more!

So, sit back and enjoy some informative, entertaining, unique sailing content! See you on the water ;-) Don't miss an episode!
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Currently playing episode

#59: Sails - Prevention & Basic Maintenance

Your Pocket Sailing Instructor PodcastSep 28, 2023

#61: Sails - Finding a Sailmaker

#61: Sails - Finding a Sailmaker

This week I am talking about my process to find a match made in heaven! Finding the right sailmaker can go a long way. I have seen many sailors spend a lot of money and end up with so-so sails. Not good!

Nov 02, 202325:60
#60: Sails - Maintenance and DIY Repairs

#60: Sails - Maintenance and DIY Repairs

coming soon!

Oct 05, 202332:24
#59: Sails - Prevention & Basic Maintenance

#59: Sails - Prevention & Basic Maintenance

This week I am diving into all things sails! I talk about:

- different foresails

- sail parts

- typical wear spots

- basic checks to perform regularly

- best practices to help keep your sails in good working order

Will continue with more info next week too! Enjoy!

Sep 28, 202334:09
#58: When things go wrong... my 5 step process to stepping back and getting $hit done!

#58: When things go wrong... my 5 step process to stepping back and getting $hit done!

I have been MIA for a little bit as Spindrift has been keeping me on my toes! I fix one thing, and 5 more break requiring my attention. I have not been following my own advice and I have been caught up in the weeds! No more I say!

So this week I sat down, wrote a list, and came up with my strategy. This is nothing new for me as I am a list queen. But thought I would share some of the thoughts around creating some resilience in the world of boat maintenance...

1. prioritize

2. brainstorm solutions

3. dooms day planning

4. adapt & fix

5. reflect, review and appreciate

See you next week!

Sep 21, 202316:59
#57: Chartering Step 3 - Trip planning, provisioning and check-out procedures

#57: Chartering Step 3 - Trip planning, provisioning and check-out procedures

Coming soon!

Aug 24, 202329:08
#56: Chartering Step 2 - Type of charter & collecting quotes

#56: Chartering Step 2 - Type of charter & collecting quotes

Coming soon

Aug 15, 202324:37
#55: Chartering Step 1 - Choosing a destination

#55: Chartering Step 1 - Choosing a destination

Coming soon

Jul 27, 202320:33
Technical Tuesday: Wind Indicator HACK!

Technical Tuesday: Wind Indicator HACK!

This week we are talking about wind indicators and some of my tips to help you make sure you don't have a bad neck by the end of your sail!

Sail Nelson:

Jul 25, 202307:43
#54: Recycling your Boat... what to do when it's time to say goodbye

#54: Recycling your Boat... what to do when it's time to say goodbye

It is the time of year when I see many boats not moving, some boats breaking free from their moorings, others being inhabited by wildlife... so many boats that are left unattended and languishing. So, I decided to put together some ideas and recommendations for what to do if it is time to decommission your boat.

  • Sails: these can be donated to another boat, repurposed as shade cloth, repurposed as tarps, upcycled into trendy bags (AfterSails, ReSails, etc.).
  • Hardware: remove your old hardware and either sell it, or donate it to other sailors. Many people are looking for spare parts which include cleats, pulleys, fairleads, etc. You'd be surprised what someone else might be needing!
  • Rope: remove all of your lines and repurpose them around the house, garden, cottage, etc. Worst case, put them out in a free bin for someone to pick up.
  • Engine & Fuel Tank: remove and donate or repurpose on another boat.
  • Electronics & VHF: remove and pass along or sell to another boater.
  • Propane Tank: remove and use elsewhere.
  • Interior Cushions: remove and cut down to fit outdoor lawn chairs, or anywhere else you would like some new cushions. Alternatively, there may be another boat owner looking for some cushions, so pass them along.
  • Other Interior Items: many items can be repurposed for other outdoor activities like hiking, biking or camping.
  • Mast: repurpose your mast as a unique flagpole.
  • Boom: repurpose the boom by mounting it in the garage and using it for hanging storage.
  • Standing Rigging Wire: can be repurposed as a clothesline or for hanging outdoor curtains off a deck.
  • Hull: here is an article I found with some fun things to do with smaller boat hulls.
  • Ports: remove old ports and use them as new windows for cold frames, garage, other small projects.
  • Galley Sink: repurpose as an outdoor garden sink.
  • Head: repurpose or pass along to another boater.

Check out for more info!


Jul 20, 202327:12
I'm back!!

I'm back!!

Sorry I have been MIA. Life happened ;-) Found a fuel leak on the boat, then had a bunch of courses to teach, and then a much-needed family vacation. I am back now though and looking forward to bringing you more episodes! All the best,


Jul 18, 202301:50
#53: Crew Overboard!

#53: Crew Overboard!

Coming soon!

Jun 01, 202331:48
Technical Tuesday: Flares!

Technical Tuesday: Flares!

Today we are looking at the 4 approved types of flares in Canada:

A) Parachute Flare

B) Multi-Star Flare

C) Hand-Held Flare

D) Smoke Flare

Remember that these are approved for 4 years from the manufacture date!

May 30, 202310:57
#52 Keels! Different types of keels and things to consider...

#52 Keels! Different types of keels and things to consider...

This week I am chatting about keel types:

- Full Keel

- Fin Keel -- bulb keel & wing keel

- Bilge Keel

Why would you select a certain keel, drawbacks and advantages of each, and maintenance...

Show notes available at!

May 19, 202331:02
Technical Tuesday: Boom Vangs
May 16, 202310:41
Technical Tuesday: Shackles
May 09, 202313:19
#51 Spring Maintenance!

#51 Spring Maintenance!

Today I am talking about spring maintenance! And yes, it is a LONG list! Here are some of the things I'll be sharing:

- engine checks

- standing rigging checks

- running rigging checks

- sail check

- safety gear checks

And much more! Head on over to to join my email list so you don't miss any freebies and the spring checklist!

May 04, 202330:18
Technical Tuesday: Cleats
May 02, 202314:59
Technical Tuesday: Blocks
Apr 25, 202317:26
#50 Renaming Ceremonies!

#50 Renaming Ceremonies!

Kinda appropriate that this is my 50th episode! Talking about when I brought Spindrift to Nelson and the ceremony I performed to greet her. Here are the specific descriptions you'll need:

- Boat Purging Ceremony: “Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, I implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name (mention the old boat name), which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name, to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea. In grateful acknowledgement of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court.” - Boat Renaming Ceremony:

Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, I implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as (your new boat name), guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.

In appreciation of your munificence, dispensation, and in honor of your greatness, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court.”

- Offering to the four winds:

Face north, throw some champagne out of your flute in that direction and say:

“Great Boreas, exalted ruler of the North Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your frigid breath.”

Face west, repeating the champagne pour and toss while saying:

“Great Zephyrus, exalted ruler of the West Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your wild breath.”

Face east, repeating the champagne toss while saying:

“Great Eurus, exalted ruler of the East Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your mighty breath.”

Face south, pouring the champagne and tossing it while reciting, you guessed it:

“Great Notus, exalted ruler of the South Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your scalding breath.”

Spindrift's Poem:

"Do not keep me tied to this mooring,

My lines strain to be free.

The water whispers at my hull,

I want to sail away with thee.

Let's cast off on a great adventure,

There is so much for us to see.

Let's feel the winds at our back and the sun in our faces.

Please cast my lines free.

Let's cast off and explore some place new,

I need to heel and sail away with you."

Happy renaming!!

Apr 20, 202324:46
Technical Tuesday: Winches
Apr 18, 202312:02
#49 Boating Superstitions!

#49 Boating Superstitions!

Alright so to prepare you for this episode you could also listen to:

Life has been throwing me some curveballs lately so I started to wondering if I had somehow broken some sacred oath or fallen on bad luck. I just can't seem to catch a break at the moment, which had me thinking about superstitions and where I may have gone wrong... should I have eaten that banana during that race? Did that black cat on the dock walk in front of me when I wasn't paying attention? I started to whistle along to that song the other day... did that do it?!

Boating Superstition Bananas: yup. We have a superstition about bananas onboard a sailboat. There are several origins to why bananas are believed to be bad luck on a boat. One involves the fact that they spoil quickly. Any ship carrying a cargo of bananas needed to deliver their and so the captain always had to get to his destination quickly to deliver his banana shipment and so

Put the right foot forward: it was thought that the left side of the body was a bad omen, or associated with evil. Therefore, all sailors stepped onto the vessel with their right foot! If you forgot and stepped on with the left, you'd be tossed overboard, or your shoes would be tossed overboard in an effort to please Poseidon ;-)

Renaming a vessel: I'm going to do an entire episode on this one, but it has been long thought that renaming a vessel is bad luck! Stay tuned for my episode about what you need to say, when and how to make sure you don't curse your boat!

No whistling: it was thought that whistling at sea was a way to taunt Poseidon and Aeolus.

Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.

Boats are a she... often boats were named by their Captains after their wives or mistresses. It was believed that if the boat was named after a woman the Captain loved, she would bring them home safely.

These are just a few examples! Listen to the entire episode for more! Penny

Apr 13, 202317:26
Technical Tuesday: Lines
Apr 11, 202309:53
#48: Mindset Shift - Docking Action Items...

#48: Mindset Shift - Docking Action Items...

Coming soon!

Mar 30, 202323:48
#47: Docking, the basics!

#47: Docking, the basics!

Alright, we have all been there! You're heading into the dock, speed is great, wind is great, crew are ready,... suddenly a boat starts leaving their slip right in front of you, your crew move aft to tell you only to drop the boat hook in the water, your other crew tries to grab the boat hook and drops the roving fender, and everyone on shore is watching. Yup. We have ALL been there! The lovely trials of docking...

Docking Equipment

The basic equipment that you need for docking is not complicated, however if you don't take care of it, or check on it regularly, you could find your boat trying to leave without you!

  • bow line
  • stern line
  • spring lines x 2
  • fenders x 3+
  • snubbers x 2
  • bow chocks
  • t-cleats

Checking Your Equipment

  • dock lines: checking for chaffing, wear, pulled strands, knots
  • fenders: checking for wear, holes, grime rubbing on paint, inflation
  • snubbers: checking for breakdown, check line for wear
  • chocks & cleats: checking to make sure nothing is rubbing on hull, through fiberglass, etc.
Types of Docks

There are many different types of docks and many different ways to dock a boat. I am going to discuss the basic principles that can be used for all types of docks to limit boat movement within the slip.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • check on your boat regularly as lines may freeze, loosen, wear down, etc.
  • do not tie your dock lines too tight. It is important to let the boat move around a bit in the slip as the wind and water move. This will make sure that the weight load remains on your dock lines and not your cleats.
  • readjust your fenders as needed. Sometimes they end up on top of the dock and really don't do much for your hull. Usually they are places at the beam of the boat (widest part).

The key to successful docking is... 

head over to to find out!

Mar 16, 202329:33
#46: Anchoring 2.0 Continued!

#46: Anchoring 2.0 Continued!

A few more notes about anchoring... show notes coming soon! 

Mar 02, 202322:22
#45: How-to anchor like a boss!

#45: How-to anchor like a boss!

There is something magical about spending a nice, quiet, night at anchor! When we were in Croatia, it was a blessing to be able to get away from all of the other tourists for some quiet R&R! Anchoring is a pretty simple thing once you master some basic steps. Here I will break it all down for you and provide you with some of my pro tips! Enjoy! Don't forget to send me any questions!

Other episodes to check out:

Support me on Patreon!

Technical Anchoring Terms

  • Ground & Tackle: includes the anchors, cables, and other tackle used to secure a ship at anchor.
  • Rode: is the connection system between the anchor and the boat. Traditionally it is a combination of rope and chain, or all chain.
  • Scope: is defined as a ratio of the length of an anchor rode and the depth of the water under the the bow of the boat measured from deck height.
  • Snubber: is a bridle used to take the strain of the chain rode. This reduces wear on your boat from the chain and also acts as a shock absorber and silences the chain. Usually made of nylon rope or tough rubber.
  • Windlass: is a machine that restrains and manipulates the anchor chain on a boat, allowing the anchor to be raised and lowered by means of mechanical aid.
  • Anchor Roller: is a device situated at the bow that consists of a wheel within a framework that is designed to guide an anchor when it is lowered or raised.
Types of Anchors

There are several types of anchors on the market now. The classic anchors include the Bruce, Danforth, and Plough. Newer anchors such as the Mantus and Rocna are gaining a lot of popularity though. Personally I upgraded my small Bruce to a Rocna and absolutely LOVE IT.


Alright, hopefully you have done your pre-trip planning and you have an anchorage (or two) selected for your lovely night! What are some of the things you are looking for in a good anchorage? Here are the key things:

  • Shelter: you should have shelter from wind, waves and traffic
  • Depth: you need adequate depth for your draft
  • Bottom Type: make sure your anchor will hold in the type of bottom you'll have
  • Swing Room: goes along with depth. You need to be able to swing 360 around without hitting anything.

Check out for more information...

Feb 23, 202345:12
#44: Don't be a jerk - Boating Etiquette

#44: Don't be a jerk - Boating Etiquette

This week I am talking all about being a good boating neighbour! How to be a safe, and non-jerky, boater! There are a few unwritten rules to keep in mind about boating and how others expect you to conduct yourself while on the water.

At the marina

  • be aware of any marina rules around parking, washroom/shower use, boat launch access, etc.
  • return any carts to their location after use
  • take all garbage and recycling with you when you leave
  • make sure you are using the right slip
  • keep shore power cables and dock lines organized
  • no swimming! it is very dangerous to swim in marinas, not to mention pretty gross

At the dock

  • be organized and ready at the fuel dock
  • be aware of others at the boat launch
  • be aware of families and others in the area if smoking, drinking, listening to music, etc.
  • be a good neighbour and keep garbage, spills, dinghies, on your side of the slip
  • clean up after yourself

At anchor

  • be mindful of neighbours and being loud
  • remember that noise and music travel FAR on water
  • slow down when approaching anchorage or when boating around anchorage
  • watch others rode and anchor placement
  • watch others swing room - first come first served
  • make sure you have your anchor light on as required to assist those entering the anchorage in the dark

On someone else's boat...

  • ask about boat rules - shoes, wet clothing, etc.
  • when rafted to another boat, make sure everyone has figure out how to move between the boats (some people use the cockpit, others go from shrouds to bow to shrouds...
  • find out what the duties or expectations are (cooking, cleaning, drinking, smoking onboard, etc)
  • help out wherever you can!

In the end, take the high road! Not everyone knows or bothers to follow these simple rules on boating etiquette. We haven't even touched on the Collision Regulations and who has right of way over who. That's a whole other kettle of fish! For today, just work on being a good neighbour!

Feb 16, 202326:17
#43: Beating the Winter Blues - how I stay engaged in my sailing over the winter!

#43: Beating the Winter Blues - how I stay engaged in my sailing over the winter!

Alright winter sucks for us northern sailors! True, I am lucky that my boat is in the water, but it's cold! I haven't sailed in months and I'm going through withdrawal! So, I thought I would let you in on my "happy list". The list of things that I do throughout the winter to keep me looking forward to next season and making sure I'm ready to make the most of it! Enjoy!

Other episodes you may enjoy:

A list of things to do...

As always I have a variety of ideas for you to keep the sailing love alive during the winter. Hopefully you find a couple ideas that work for you!

  • Read a good sailing book!
  • Learn a new knot! Animated Knots is great for this...
  • Gear checks - pull off your sails, check for wear and tear.
  • Canvass replacement - do you need to fix or replace anything for your dodger/bimini?
  • Take measurements for new sails if you have access to your boat
  • Chart review & checking out some new sailing destinations!
  • Draw or sketch out some new anchorages... great way to get to know the specific area
  • Take a course! Lots of online courses are available... Google it!
  • Inventory: spare parts, engine parts, tools, first aid kits, electrical parts, etc.
  • YouTube: enjoy someone else's journey... Erik Aaderaa, Sailing Project Atticus, SV Delos
  • Go through personal sailing gear: base layers, shorts, pants, shoes, etc., see what needs to be updated/replaced
  • Make a birthday list! What are some of things you'd LOVE to have on your boat?
  • Winter boat sleepover! Climb up in there, grab a heater, a sleeping bag and have some slumber fun!
  • Create your diagrams! Create diagram of safety gear, spare tools/parts, thru hulls, electrical diagrams, etc.
  • Update your boat binder! Keep you manuals up to date...
  • Create a Pinterest board about reorganizing your boat...
  • Boat meal plan! Pull together some of your favourite recipes
  • Sew some boat sheets for your v-berth and bunks
  • Learn a new skill! Fiber glassing, engine maintenance, splicing, navigation, etc.
Feb 09, 202322:19
#42: PFDs, life jackets & tethers... what you need to know!
Jan 28, 202331:43
#41: My 2023 training plan!

#41: My 2023 training plan!

This week I am giving you a sneak peak into some of the things I do during the off-season to keep my skills sharp and to get ready for next season. There is personal growth, professional growth, reviewing, renewing, and lots going on! This is pretty typical for me as a "what to do this year" plan.

Other podcast episode you may like:

Why do I have a yearly training plan?

Every year I have several areas of my sailing growth that I look at: personal growth, professional growth and ongoing maintenance. These probably aren't the best names for these, but that's what I've come up with for now!

So, what does these mean to me? For personal growth, I like to take a look at new things that I can learn as a sailor. What new skills do I want to develop? What areas have I felt have been lacking? Which areas have I not spent a lot of time focusing on?

For professional growth, I take a look at new areas where I want to grow as a coach. Which courses could I take to be a better coach for my sailors?

For ongoing maintenance, I like to review materials from previous courses to make sure I'm still on track. I re-read the Basic Cruising Skills textbook every season, for example.

What is my training plan this year? Personal Growth
  • Celestial Navigation,
  • upgrade first aid certification
  • complete an online course creation certificate

Other ideas: increase physical fitness, rehab an injury, spend time reading, upgrade person sailing gear items, set small weekly goals around learning a new knot, take new people sailing more often

Professional Growth

  • organize 2 Basic Cruising Instructor Clinics
  • complete my navigation instructor certification
  • create 2 or 3 online coaching programs for my sailors

Other ideas: don't fear failure, stop procrastinating, be diligent with time, monthly budget updates, update business paperwork

Ongoing Growth

  • review Intermediate Cruising Student Notes
  • rewrite my Spinnaker Course lesson plans
  • re-organize my coaching binders

Other ideas: read through owners manuals, review charts of your area

At the end of the day it's all about where you want to go and how you plan to get there. Have fun planning it all out and think outside the box! 


Jan 19, 202334:01
#40: Boat Show Season! How to make the most of your boat show visit!

#40: Boat Show Season! How to make the most of your boat show visit!

Well it is boat show season! This means freebies, great deals, new products, drool-worthy boats, and so much more! This week I'm providing you with my tips on how to make the most of your visit!

Other episodes you may be interested in:

Top Tips for Boat Shows

  1. 1. Dress appropriately: comfortable shoes, not too many layers, are backpacks allowed?
  2. Research: figure out where different things are such as food courts, washrooms, vendors, boats, vehicle parking, security measures, etc.
  3. Online purchases: buy tickets ahead of time, check out the speaker list and educational seminars.
  4. Wish list: based on  your research, put together a list of vendors or items you'd like to purchase. Bring paper/pen with you along with any dimensions for items you are looking to purchase.
  5. Deals & freebies: many deals to be had at the actual show, however a lot of websites put up deals online during this time. Also there are many freebies that you will get at the show that are always fun to use on your boat too!
In the end, plan for your boat show visit!

As usual I think that planning your trip out will help you get the most out of your boat show time. Plan out who you want to go see for any free educational seminars, figure out which vendors are interesting for you, and see if there are any great deals to be had for any upgrades you are looking to do. Most of all, have fun dreaming about your future boating adventures!


Jan 12, 202316:21
#39: Top 10 things I wish I knew before getting my own boat...

#39: Top 10 things I wish I knew before getting my own boat...

This week we are talking about boat ownership! My Spindrift was an unexpected "gift" from my grandfather. I was not boat shopping and was not planning to have a large boat out here in Nelson. However, when he decided he wanted to pass the boat along, I could not pass it up! In the end, there are things I wish I had known before getting Spindrift and I may have done a few things differently...

Other episodes related to this one:

Top 10 things I wish I knew before getting my boat Projects

Every project will take three times longer than you think. You need to be a jack/jill of all trades, or have very deep pockets.


Prepare to order several sizes for all spare parts. You will likely never find the one you need the first time around, so save yourself some trouble and order several sizes from the get-go.


You think you will get out sailing more. You won't. You'll get sucked into boat projects that never end. LOL. But seriously, get a good crew bank going as it always seems to be difficult to get people out!


Do your research and figure out what type of insurance you need. Surveys are pretty much a must now, so find a good local surveyor as well.


Make specific checklists for your annual maintenance specific for your boat. Include the little odds and ends that are specific to your boat.


Research which boating services are available in your area. Marinas, moorings, divers, surveyors, marine mechanics, diesel technician, sail maker, canvass repair, etc.


As noted above, projects take three times longer than you expect. If you are not handy, do not buy a fixer-upper. You will be working on it far too long and will probably begin to resent the boat.

Weather & Surroundings

Look over weather patterns and find out about local hazards. Get your hands on charts and talk to local boaters about where you are thinking of keeping your boat.


Many used boats come with an extensive sail inventory. They are often garbage and should be replaced. Be prepared to invest in new sails. They will make a big difference.

Keeping up with the Jones'

Don't change things on your boat because another boat in your marina has something fancy that you think you should have. Take a couple of seasons to get to know your boat before you make upgrades and changes. Often you will find that you don't need the extras that you thought you might!

Jan 05, 202332:20
#38: What is my sailing journey? How did I get here?

#38: What is my sailing journey? How did I get here?

This week I am talking about how to become Penny! LOL. I get asked this question A LOT. As in, how did I become an instructor, how do I get to sail offshore, how do I get people to pay me to teach them, etc. So many questions about my sailing path, so here it is!

Where it all started...

I am one of the lucky ones. I started my sailing journey (apparently) at about a year old when I was tucked under my grandfather's arm and shot off into the St Lawrence River on our laser. There are variations of this story including me being tied off to the mast, but I doubt that! Anyway, I was baptized by the salt water at an early age and moved up the ranks bailing the bilges of the boats I was sailing on. I spent my summers sailing in the Gaspe with our neighbour, Betty Cornell. She had two beautiful wooden boats that needed A LOT of bailing between tides. I soaked up every bit of knowledge from her and my grandfather and eventually began formal sailing lessons with the Canadian Yachting Association at the ripe old age of 5.

I absolutely loved dinghy sailing and I worked my way up to Silver Sail V before switching over to coaching. At first my interest in earning money outweighed my interest in actually coaching, but eventually I discovered a love for teaching others. I loved the challenge of trying to explain something to someone in different ways. It kept my skills as a sailor growing.

The path to success

At the age of 15 I volunteered to coach for a summer because I was too young to officially be hired. I also started exploring keelboat sailing at this age and realized I enjoyed going home dry and unbruised. So, by 17 I completed my Bareboat Skipper certification (Intermediate Cruising), and by 21 I was an Advanced Cruising Instructor living on a 40' CS Merlin (Great Habit) up in Georgian Bay. My summers were spent cruising around Beckwith Island, Giants Tomb Island, Beausoleil Island(s), and so many other beautiful places. I was teaching for Harbour West Sailing Adventures, and in order to get our boats from Hamilton up to Georgian Bay each season, we would offer an Advanced Cruising boat delivery course.

We would start off in Hamilton, head out to Lake Ontario, then south through the Welland Canal and down to Lake Erie. Lake Erie was always fun with the shipping. fishing, UXOs and shipwrecks, nevermind if the winds picked up. We would head West along the length of Lake Erie then head north to the Lake St Clair and through the St Clair River. Navigating up that river at night will cause seizures! So many navigational aids all blinking at different intervals. Then we would arrive in Lake Huron and make our way North-East to Georgian Bay. Our home base in Georgian Bay was the Midland City Harbour, so we would go past Tobermory and Flowerpot Island, and we'd give the inmates at the Penetanguishene Correctional Facility.

All the extras...

I am a lifelong learner. I have always really enjoyed learning new things, so when I jumped into the world of keel boating, naturally I also jumped into navigation. When I was 17 I completed my Coastal Navigation course and 20 when I took Celestial Navigation. Now Coastal Navigation has continued to be used over the years, however Celestial has not, so I'll be redoing that course this winter with a colleague Lars.

As I've always been around water, swimming is also a big part of my life. I completed all of my swimming levels and became a swim coach and lifeguard when I was 16. For some of the youth sailing camps I would coach sailing in the morning and then coach swimming in the afternoon! It was a great program to get kids comfortable on the water. I also take a first aid course every two years and I was a ski patroller for a few winters (to help get through the cold months!)

Dec 22, 202231:07
#37: Boating with kids!

#37: Boating with kids!

Boating with kids is so rewarding and fun! Here are some things to think about...

Safety first!

Not only should you have all of the required and recommended Transport Canada safety gear on your boat, but everyone on board should know how to use it! If you are incapacitated somehow it is important for others on the boat to know what to do and where to locate things. Make a list and diagram of the safety gear on your boat and put it up for all to see. Better yet, have your kids do a scavenger hunt and create the diagram for you! Crafting at its best. That way while you are preparing the boat (doing your pre-departure checklist of course) they can hunt around the boat for safety items and fill in the diagram. Then, assign a couple of items to each person so they can help out in the unlikely event of an emergency. My kids know where the flares are located, how to use the fire extinguishers, how to put on (and fit test) a personal flotation device (PFD), where to find flashlights, paddles, anchor, … you get the idea. Just because you may have “non-boaters” out with you does not mean they cannot be involved. And that definitely applies to kids! Kids love being part of the adventure, so think of ways to include them and this will also take some of the pressure off of you.

Rules, rules, rules

Make sure you go over any boat rules with the kids. When do they have to wear their PFD (aka lifejacket)? Where do they sit while you are underway? How do they walk around the boat while you are underway (if they are allowed)? How can they help when you are anchoring? What is their role is someone falls off the boat? What do they do if THEY fall off the boat? There are many different things to discuss, but remember to try and keep it light and fun! Discussing, brainstorming and practicing different scenarios helps to prepare everyone for a great day out on the water. Before I sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii I played a “Name a disaster!” game with my daughters. Sounds daunting, but in the end we all learned a few things and exchanged ideas. More importantly, it helped them to feel connected and confident in what I was doing.

Dec 15, 202232:01
#36: So yeah, all my docklines snapped during this storm... WTF

#36: So yeah, all my docklines snapped during this storm... WTF

Episode notes coming soon!
Dec 01, 202231:43
#35: Top 10 Gifts for Sailors!

#35: Top 10 Gifts for Sailors!

Time for another top 10 list! With Christmas around the corner, here is my Top 10 Gifts for sailors! I also have a couple of other episodes that may help you find some goodies for your sailor (or yourself!) including: EP 1: Top 10 Comfort Items for Sailors, EP 9: My Top 8 Sailing Books, and EP 3: Safety First! What Safety Gear do you Need? Check out my FREE TOP 10 Comfort Items for Sailors Shopping List! The usual things to keep in mind... Is this item multipurpose? Is this item easy to use? Is this item durable and not breakable? Is this item easy to store? Is this item practical? Here are this year's goods! Alright, top 10 lists are one of my favourite things to come up with! Here we go! Gloves, gloves, gloves: your sailor will go through at least one set of gloves every season. So gloves are always welcome, especially if they are for different types of weather or season. There are MANY to chose from. Here are a couple styles/makes that I have had luck with: Gill Championship Sailing Glove Long Finger,  Amara & Spandex Short Fingers Gloves, and generic Helly Hansen work gloves for cold-weather sails or boat work. Handheld compass: I absolutely LOVE my handheld compass! I specifically like to use the Plastimo Iris 50 Hand Held Compass. Base layers: so this is probably the least sexy thing you can buy your sailor (LOL), but being warm out there is SO nice. And there are so many fun options and weights. Check out my episode all about base layers EP 11: Base Layers! How to layer up for the occasion..
Nov 24, 202232:07
#34: Winterizing!

#34: Winterizing!

This week I am back to regular episodes and focusing on boat winterizing! Boo!! This means I'm putting my Spindrift away for a few months, but such is life. I do LOVE having seasons and the shifting weather though, just not the fact that I won't be sailing for a few months ;-).

Some episodes to catch up on:

FREEBIE alert! Downloadable checklist available at

Key Tips With Boat Winterizing

  • Sails & Canvas - remove, clean, repair as needed
  • Electronics - remove, update, clean
  • Safety Gear - remove, clean, repair, replace as needed
  • Water Systems - empty, clean, pump through antifreeze
  • Fuel Systems - fill tank, add stabilizer, empty any water, change filters
I have created a FREE checklist for you to download! Take the guesswork out of winterizing with my thorough, organized, checklist!

Overall, winterizing your boat properly and thoroughly will help you make sure that you can kick off next season quickly, and with fewer headaches! Put in the work now, and reap the rewards next season.

Nov 17, 202223:04
#33: Croatia - Provisioning & Other Boat Stuff

#33: Croatia - Provisioning & Other Boat Stuff

For my last podcast in this series on our trip to Croatia, I am going to talk about our boat provisioning. I'll also talk about some of the boat things that were included, and some things that were not. I've got a pretty good idea now of what the essentials would be for you to purchase when you arrive in Croatia!

So just a quick note about the types of things you may, or matoiletpaper

  • biodegradable cleaning supplies
  • dishsoap
  • dishcloths
  • papertowely not, have on the boat when you arrive

Most charter companies will have different packages that you can add on. We included the "comfort package" which included bathroom towels, bedding, pillows, blanket, cockpit cushions and wi-fi. The wi-fi was awesome to have.

Boat Provisioning 1-0-1

Alright, to start off this process you need to know what kind of refrigeration options you have available to you on the boat. For us, while chartering in Croatia we had a fridge and freezer. Pretty straightforward. Next, you need to consult your crew for food allergies, dislikes and must-haves. It is important to know what your crew cannot live without! If someone is used to having a piece of chocolate every afternoon as a snack, you'll want them to continue that during your trip. There is nothing worse than being out of your own environment and routine, and then having cravings for something you regularly have on top of it. Recipe for disaster! You'll also want to figure out where you are stopping and when, to see which fresh produce is available to you and plan your meals accordingly.

Packaging Tips

Saving space is essential on a boat and so choosing packaging that doesn't take up much space is key. Select

  • avoid glass
  • wine & juice in bags instead of bottles
  • cardboard is tricky, put into plastic stackable bins
  • dry goods in bins
The Basics

Make sure you stock up on a few basics:

  • herbs & spices
  • oils & vinegar: for cooking, making dressings, etc.
  • Salt & pepper
  • Butter
  • Tea & coffee
  • Condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, any other staples


Once you have established the basics, start to prepare a meal plan. Keep breakfasts simple unless you want to spend time doing a lot of galley clean up in the am. I tend to do cereal with mild, or granola with yogurt, and then some fruit, coffee and juice. I'm not a big breakfast person at home, so making pancakes, French toast, eggs Bennie, etc., is not something I do on the boat. However, make sure this is good with your crew!

Breakfast Ideas: muffins, cereal w/ milk, granola w/ yogurt, toast w/ PB&J

My Pinterest board for make boat meals.


I like to keep lunches pretty straightforward as well and am a fan of anything that can be premade. This way you do not have someone down below trying to make food, and also, as soon as you get hungry it is available. I often get so busy on the boat that I don't realize I am famished, until it is too late! HAHA. So I try to keep a schedule and keep meals at the ready.

Lunch Ideas: wraps, sandwiches, soup (depending on sea state), charcuterie board, veggies and dip, salads


Many charter boats do not have BBQs, so don't plan on having one, or ask the charter company about it first. For dinners I love one pot meals, salads, charcuterie, and I don't tend to do many oven meals. Depends on the time of year and what the weather is like, but sometimes you do not want to be down below cooking away in a hot galley after a long day out in the sun. So try to have some uncooked meal ideas.

Nov 10, 202232:04
#32: Adventuring in Croatia - Itinerary & Highlights

#32: Adventuring in Croatia - Itinerary & Highlights

Ah! So this week I am digging into where we went and what we did. SO FUN!! I have really had a hard time getting back to reality. I want boat life back :-( So simple and satisfying. Forget this school and work rubbish! Next week I will talk about provisioning and overall boat living systems.

Some episodes to catch up on:

Kastela Marina, Mainland

We started off our journey at Kastela Marina on the mainland. This is where we picked up Luna from Croatia Yachting, got checked out, and hit the high seas! We also did most of our provisioning here, but I'll chat about that next week.

Stari Grad, Hvar Island

I absolutely LOVED Stari Grad and could definitely had done another day there. Unfortunately Mother Nature kept us a bit busy and we moved on. This is also where I realized I had caught COVID. Darn.

Palmizana, Pakleni Islands

This was a cute little stop and very well sheltered. There was a nice swimming beach and anchorage on the other side of the island. Most of the crew went off for a day trip to explore Hvar, while I slept off my COVID.

ACI Marina Korcula, Korcula Island

This was a beautiful marina with excellent facilities and accessibility to the town, shops, restaurants, tours, etc. The crew spent one day going to Dubrovnik and there was also a wine tour. We spend two days here doing some swimming, laundry, shopping and relaxing.

Tri Luka, Korcula Island

This was our first anchorage and a much needed break for doing all the touristy things. We swam, ate, played cards, visited, star gazed, and had a great anchorage sleep :-)

Vis, Island of Vis

This is a MUST SEE if you are going to Croatia! We loved Vis. It was a beautiful place to anchor, and we also did a military tour (must do) and we rented scooters so we could head over to Komiza and explore where Mama Mia was filed (the famous restaurant scene). Scootering around was lots of fun!

Maslinica - Martinis Marchi Marina, Island of Solta

This was a nice, small, stop. Beautiful marina facilities and cute town with shops. Not too much to explore, but there was a fun tiki bar and beach area that we frequented a couple of times ;-)

Uvala Tiha, Island of Solta

Here is anchored for another night and had fun watching boats drag anchor and then had a thunderstorm roll through. Was a nice quiet anchorage sleep after the storms were done!

Nov 03, 202242:33
#31: Chartering in Croatia - Packing, Food & Boat Woes

#31: Chartering in Croatia - Packing, Food & Boat Woes

Alright so I made it to Croatia in one piece and now the adventure begins!! But how did the trip go compared to what I was expecting? Let's just say, I was kept on my toes!

Why did I pack that and not this?!

Alright so like I mentioned last week, I packed for carryon only and packed light. In the end I think I did a pretty good job. The weather was much cooler than expected so another sweatshirt would have been nice. I somehow lost half of my underwear when we did our laundry so that was an adventure, but otherwise I did pretty well with the packing.

As for boat gear, I would have liked to have had my binoculars and inflatable PFD. Only because the weather turned out to be a little sporty a couple of times. The charter company PFDs were purchased from a Titanic auction I think. I would have also liked to have had a set of flippers, goggles and a snorkel. They could have been purchased, but I'm a cheap Scot and have about 5 sets for 4 of us at home.

It was challenging to find some medications, so bringing more would have been beneficial (allergy relief, polysporin, etc.). It was also really difficult to find decent sunscreen! The highest we were able to find at UV protection 30, and it was called sun milk. It definitely went on like milk.

I'm sorry, that costs how much!!?

Overall things were very affordable. You could buy towels, beer, food, clothes, etc., for very reasonable prices (bought a ball cap for $4 CND). The food was unbelievable! I was not expecting to have so many amazing meals. Again, at a very reasonable price. The octopus is a must try, especially when cooked traditionally by peka (try Rokis restaurant on the Island of Vis!). I think it will take years for that craving to go away... unbelievable. The other favourite thing we ate: PIZZA!! Wow they make amazing pizzas there! Loved the food scene...

Beer and wines were also very affordable. I did find it hard to find a red wine that I really liked. I tend to prefer dark, leathery, smoky, red wines, and the Croatian reds were a bit lighter for me. But I kept trying ;-)

The marinas also had great facilities and were quite reasonable in my opinion. Our 42' boat would be about $50/night which included fresh water and hydro, along with shower and washroom facilities. Now it was VERY busy when we were there, so the hot water in the marina showers was pretty much non-existent. But with water and power at your slip, a hot shower on the boat was a breeze. Marina staff were pleasant overall and Mediterranean mooring is much easier than most people think.

Apparently in January 2023 Croatia will be adopting the Euro, so I anticipate that between the new currency, and the increase in tourism to the area, things are going to go up in price quite a bit.

Oct 27, 202231:22
#30: Sailing in Croatia! Getting Organized for our Charter

#30: Sailing in Croatia! Getting Organized for our Charter

I'm back! Sorry I have been MIA. Had a few things to deal with that had me traveling and such. Anyway, back at it and I just got back from 2 wonderful weeks sailing in Croatia! For this episode I'm going to talk about chartering, how I got involved in this flotilla, what are my qualifications, what did I research prior to going, what did I pack... and more!

How did I get involved in a flotilla?

So to start off, my friend Bob approached me a few years back to see if I would be interested in skippering a boat for a flotilla. At the time I was still really busy with work, kids, etc., and the timing just wasn't there. Then COVID hit and then it was definitely not happening!

Fast-forward two years and the flotilla to Croatia is back on! I have now met the driving force behind these trips, Marla, and I'm eager to join!

Who organized what?

Marla is the driving force behind these flotillas, however Bob also helps her out a lot. She has actually now organized 12 sailing flotillas over the years! There is a lot of work involved which includes matching crews to boats/skippers, securing boats through the charter company, coordinating dates, ... lots of moving pieces. I was very thankful that Marla (and others) had so much experience doing this and I was looking forward to diving into the world of chartering with support.

The itinerary for the flotilla had been drafted up by Marla and Bob, so I had a rough idea of where we were going, now I just needed to fill my boat!

What are my qualifications?

I get asked this question a lot as people are wondering what they need to charter a sailboat. It is good to call up the charter company you are planning to sail with, but for the most part you need:

  • a basic or intermediate sailing course
  • your VHF radio certification
  • if in Europe, the International Certificate of Competency (ICC) or equivalent cert
  • a sailor resume

So for me for the purposes of sailing in Croatia and what our charter company needed, I am an Advanced Cruising Instructor with my VHF certification and ICC. I also keep track every year of the courses I teach (# courses + # students) as well as any pleasure sailing I do. Then I throw that into my resume to update it. Again, your best bet is to contact the charter company directly to see which certificates they want to see.

What did I research prior to the trip?

This is always my favourite part!! I totally geeked out and I purchased the chart for Croatia, a cruising guide as well as the newest edition of Lonely Planet. As always, I used my favourite nautical book store, The Nautical Mind, and started reading up! I also found a few great blog sites including The Blonde Abroad.

Basically for me I am researching all of the water aspects that I need to think about as a skipper while sailing in Croatia. Secure and safe anchorages for various wind directions. Fuel and marina services. Docking and facilities for crew and available boat maintenance. I'm also checking tide and current tables (negligible in the area) as well as any navigational hazards along our planned route. I will make notes and marks on the chart to make sure I'm keeping everything together.

Oct 20, 202228:45
#29: Sorry! I'm still alive!

#29: Sorry! I'm still alive!

Hey guys! Sorry I have been MIA for last few weeks. Some family health emergencies have me busy, off work, traveling and my head is a big preoccupied. I will bring you more amazing sailing content ASAP!! Thanks for staying in touch!
Aug 18, 202201:22
#28: How to be a prepared skipper

#28: How to be a prepared skipper

So last week I introduced you to some ideas on how to be a prepared sailing crew. Well, this week we are going to look at the other side and talk about how to be a prepared skipper! First though, I want to acknowledge that I have hit 12,000 downloads!! What?! This is amazing. I'm so glad people are enjoying the podcast and taking it all in!

Ok, back to business. So this week I'm looking at ways for a skipper to be prepared to have new people out on the boat with them. What should you bring? What will they most likely forget and need? What to do if things just aren't working? So many questions...

Support me on Patreon! Sign Up for the Podcast!

To get yourself ready for this episode, you may want to head back and listen to a couple previous episodes:

Do your research!

So who have you invited on your boat? Is it a friend of a friend? A neighbour? Random person who said "hey I used to sail can I come with you sometime?" Regardless, you should ask your new crew some basic questions:

  • have you sailed before?
  • why are you interested in sailing with me?
  • what are your other skills or hobbies?
  • do you have any medical conditions that I should know about?
  • do you have your own pfd?
What to Expect

New sailor - you will need to spend time introducing them to your boat. Take the time to show them the ropes (lol) and even label things for them if you think that will help. Be sure to state the obvious things and to lay out your safety gear and its location. Teach them how to move safely on the boat and help them with a short packing list (hat, sunglasses, layers, water, snacks, garden gloves, good shoes).

What do you need? Patience!

Regular sailor - introduce them to the boat and any specific quirks your boat has. Ask them what safety gear or personal gear they will bring with them. Ask them which position they like to do on the boat and if there's anything that they want to work on or learn more about. The down side with a regular sailor is that you may have some bad habits or they may have a chip on their shoulder to work out.

What do you need? Patience!

How to Plan

Have a think about how to use this person on your boat. Generally sail trim is more of an art than helming (in my opinion). You can tell someone to point at a stationary object on land, and they should be able to do that. However, reading the ticklers, and creases on a sail, are not as obvious to a newer person.

Be prepared to work at their pace. It will be stressful for everyone involved if you try to push the boat or the crew beyond their comfort zone. As a coach I often have students who have had bad experiences out on the boat. Whether it's getting stuck in a storm, or being out with a skipper who like to yell, that's really not fun for anyone!

Extra items to have on hand
  • sunscreen
  • sailing gloves
  • water
  • hats
  • snacks
  • socks
  • sweaters
  • foul weather gear


Jul 28, 202231:12
#27: How to be a prepared sailing crew

#27: How to be a prepared sailing crew

This week I am talking all about how to be a prepared crew. You have been invited out on a boat. Maybe you are racing, day sailing, or spending the weekend. What should you bring? How should you prepare? Which items are essential? I'll help you sort through the ins and outs of heading out sailing with someone else to make sure you make a great first impression and are invited back!

To get yourself ready for this episode, you may want to head back and listen to a couple previous episodes:

Personal Items

Alright time to get organized to hop on someone else's boat! Yay! But what is essential for you to bring to be a prepared sailing crew?

  • Sun Protection: this one is at the top of my list because if you become dehydrated or end up with heat stroke, you will not be much help on the boat. KEY ITEMS: hat, sunglasses & sunscreen.
  • Hydration: goes along with above. Make sure you are well hydrated and fed while out on the boat. KEY ITEMS: water, electrolytes (I use Cliff Cubes) & granola bars.
  • Personal Gear: there are a few key things you should bring with you when out on someone else's boat. Find out if you need your own PFD, or any other safety gear. KEY ITEMS: PFD,  whistle & sailing gloves.
  • Extra Geeky Stuff: if you are a gadget geek like me you may have a few extra things you decide to bring along. KEY ITEMS: handheld compass, knife, personal binoculars, wet notes & pen, paracord bracelet.
Personal Preparation

So you have the gear organized and ready, but are YOU ready? What have you done to prepare yourself? Here are some ideas:

  • Get a good night's rest
  • Eat well before you get on the boat
  • Check the weather & check any web cams to see if the clouds match the forecast
  • Make sure someone knows where you are going and whom you are with
  • Review your gear and make sure you know where it is and how to use it
  • Discuss with your friend/skipper what your role will be on the boat
  • Try to ask any questions beforehand, otherwise bring a list if you have any burning questions
Post Sail Follow-up

Once you have had your great day out on the water, don't forget to follow up with your skipper and say  thank you! Let them know how much fun you had crewing for them and if you're available again. Who knows where this could lead? If you dare, ask them which skills they think you could improve on and which things you did well. It's always nice to get some feedback. But remember, opinions can vary greatly so take it with a grain of salt!

As for your own reflection, how did the sail go? How did it feel to be out on that particular boat with that crew? Did you feel like a prepared sailing crew? Do you think you'd join them again? How was your gear and were you missing anything? Is there anything else you'd add to your kit for next time?

Overall, if you show up with some food/water, proper attire and a big smile, you should have a great time and be most welcome on any sailboat! I would say you are a prepared sailing crew! Go out there and have fun! 


Jul 21, 202230:22
#26: Sailing with your spouse...

#26: Sailing with your spouse...

Sailing with your spouse can be a challenge and also a great adventure! This week I chat about why I think it is important for you both to take lessons and learn everything you can together. I also talk about what to do if your spouse is not into sailing... *gasp*

More show notes coming soon! 

Jul 07, 202219:49
#25: Purchasing & owning a boat! Now what?

#25: Purchasing & owning a boat! Now what?

What an exciting adventure you are embarking on! Boat ownership! I hope you have deep pockets ;-) lol. Kidding. Owning a boat can be a very satisfying and rewarding thing, especially if you enjoy putting in some elbow grease and getting to know your new vessel. But, before you jump in with both feet, what should you do?

Support me on 
Patreon! Should you get a survey?

This is a loaded question and can be a very personal question for some. I, personally, think you should invest in a boat survey. A lot of insurance providers will require one as well. I will discuss that more below.

What is the value of a boat survey? Well, a surveyor will have tools and information that are unique to the industry and your type of boat. If you are buying a boat in the $10k range I would get a survey. If you are looking for a fixer-upper around $2k-$3k, then you may forgo the survey knowing that you are buying the boat as is...

What about insurance?

Some boat owners will decide to add the boat to their home insurance, while others will get a boat-specific insurance. Overall I find that the insurance landscape for boaters is changing and more often than not you are required to provide photos and an up-to-date survey for your boat. Some home insurance companies in Canada will no longer let you add your boat to your home policy. A couple boat specific companies in Canada include Skippers Plan and Navis.

What amenities do I have available to me?

Depending on what amenities are available in your area, you may need to purchase extra things with your boat such as a trailer. Spindrift came with a boat cradle which is typical for the East Coast where there are lifts at every marina. Unfortunately out here in Nelson, there are no lifts, so the cradle has been repurposed as a fancy wood pile frame.

What type of maintenance should I do?

Yearly - bottom coat, standing rigging, keel bolts, thru-hulls & soft wood plugs, lifelines, stanchions, all hardware bedding for leaks, propeller, handrails, engine (spark plugs, wiring & hoses)

Seasonally Spring/Fall - pre-departure checklist --> engine maintenance, plumbing flush and check for leaks, wiring, brightwork (wood restoration), running rigging,

Jun 30, 202229:46
#24: So you want to buy a boat!

#24: So you want to buy a boat!

So you are looking at boats! This week on  Your Pocket Sailing Instructor podcast I am going to share with you some key information and questions that you should ask yourself and consider when purchasing your first boat.

Support me on Patreon! What type of sailing do you want to do?

So a big part of your boat shopping will revolve around the type of sailing you want to do. Are you looking to race? Are you looking to cruise? Are you looking for a boat camper? Do you want a chameleon that gives you a bit of everything? These are all important and equally valuable questions to ask yourself!

What kind of sailing is available in your area?

This may seem like an odd question, but some inland lakes and waterways will limit the type of sailing you can do. For instance, if your lake is very deep, it may be difficult to do boat camping as there will be few anchorages available.

What amenities are available to you?

Do you have marinas available to you? Or will you be putting your boat out on a pin? If you are on a pin, how will you get back and forth? Where will you store your dinghy? What type of dinghy should you get? Where will you put it when you're not sailing? So many considerations!

What kinds of conditions will you be sailing in?

This goes along with the point above, but knowing about the local hazards in the area will also help to shape the type of boat you purchase. We are in the mountains out here so the water is deep and the winds are wild! We tend to not have much current, however the lake has a dam system which can cause the lake to fluctuate significantly depending on how much snow we get in the winter.

Do you have regular crew?

This is a very important question when you are deciding to become a boat owner. Are you prepared to be out by yourself, or will you always require crew? I have seen many enthusiastic sailors have their dreams snuffed out because they cannot find crew and they do not feel confident enough to sail on their own.

How will you meet other sailors?

Do you have sailing clubs in the area? Will you be able to find other like-minded sailors to head out with? Will there be regular social events that you can attend? Check out EP 6: 10 Ways to Meet Other Sailors for some other ideas too...

How much elbow grease are you willing to put in?

If you are interested in projects, a boat is good for you! LOL. Kidding. There are also lots of boats available to those of you who are not interested in rolling up your sleeves. The pool of boats will be smaller and more expensive, but a plug and sail boat is definitely worth it!


Jun 23, 202227:25
#23: Top 10 Sailing Knots

#23: Top 10 Sailing Knots

This week on Your Pocket Sailing Instructor podcast we are digging into knots! This is a list of the top 10 knots I use when sailing. I think that they are valuable and you should learn them as well. Being able to tie quick, efficient and reliable knots is key for your sailing toolbox.

Support me on Patreon! Top 10 Sailing Knots

#1 Bowline

  • Description: the bowline creates a non-slip loop.
  • Examples: use for jib sheets, dock lines, crew overboard recovery

#2 Rolling Hitch

  • Description: attach a rope to another rope whereby you can apply tension to the rope and the knot will not slip
  • Examples: use for winch overrides, anytime you need to remove load from a rope

#3 Round Turn & Two Half Hitches

  • Description: attach a rope to a ring, bar, pole or dock post.
  • Examples: use for docklines on a dock ring; use for fenders on toerail or handrail.

#4 Eight Knot

  • Description: simple, but effective, stopper knot.
  • Examples: use at ends of halyards and sheets (except spinnaker sheets)

#5 Reef Knot

  • Description: tie two lines of equal thickness together.
  • Examples: tying your sail tie ends together.

#6 Double Sheet Bend

  • Description: tie two lines of unequal thickness together.
  • Examples: tying your dinghy painter to a sternline.

#7 Cleat Hitch

  • Description: secure a line to a horn cleat.
  • Examples: dockline to dock cleat; halyard to horn cleat; sheets to horn cleat

#8 Highwayman's Hitch

  • Description: quick release knot for temporarily securing a line.
  • Examples: quick tie down for tarp.

#9 Alpine Butterfly Loop

  • Description: creating a secure loop in the middle of a rope.
  • Examples: used when there is damage on a line; tarp tie down.

#10 Clove Hitch

  • Description: simple, quick and temporary hitch to fasten a rope to a post.
  • Examples: used for initial fender set up when docking; securing tiller.
Jun 09, 202226:06
#22: Top 5 Seamanship Skills to Master

#22: Top 5 Seamanship Skills to Master

This week on Your Pocket Sailing Instructor podcast we are digging into your seamanship toolbox! What should you focus on? What is seamanship anyway? Below I will explain my top 5 seamanship skills that I think you should master to make sure your trip is an uneventful success! :-) Support me on Patreon! Top 5 Seamanship Skills to Master #1 Helming The art of helming is the art of controlling your boat. It is much more than holding a steady course. It involves reading the wind, adjusting the sails, watching for hazards, awareness of crew movements, etc., all while adjusting your course to safely manage these external elements. #2 Safety If you've been following along you already know that I am a big proponent of safety! Safety First! Seriously though, having a safe boat will really increase your comfort and fun out on the water. What I mean by safety includes: safety equipment checks, having a safe culture on the boat, employing safe habits, awareness of others being unsafe, managing weather changes, local hazards, etc... there are many facets to a "safe boat". And by a safe culture on the boat, I mean making sure your crew feel comfortable enough to wear a PFD the entire time should they chose. #3 Crew Management Now the fun part. Managing the crew! What do I mean by that? Well, really it comes down to having an awareness for your crew and their strengths/weaknesses. Watching how your crew are reacting to situations on the boat. Does Paul always get stressed when the boat heels? Is Debbie always walking on the leeward side of the boat? These are all hints and indications that you have some work to do to help your crew feel comfortable and safe on the boat. Teach them how to move safely around the boat. Teach them how to flatten the boat by heading up or luffing the main. Being able to recognize and anticipate how your crew will react to situations will help you run a smoother ship overall. #4 Equipment Knowledge This is a broad category, but it comes down to how well do you know your boat? Do you know where all the thru-hulls are? Are your spark plugs clean and firing? Is your bowline going to keep your jib sheets attached to the jib? Have you serviced your winches within the last decade? Having intimate knowledge of your boat and its equipment will ensure that you can manage any situation that arises. Under this category of expertise I would also include your knot tying abilities and your ability to repurpose gear on the boat for other needs (ie using main sheet for crew overboard recovery). #5 Navigation & Weather Your ability to find, interpret and react to a weather forecast is very important. Especially if you boat in an area like me where you are surrounded by mountains and the weather changes often! Mother Nature will keep you on your toes if you are not paying attention. Also, being aware and informed about local navigation hazards is also important. Where do you find this information? Where can you access local knowledge? Top 10 Skills to Master Knot tying Weather forecasting Tacking & controlled gybing Reefing & furling Crew overboard procedures + recovery Rigging checks - Standing & Running Sail trim Crew management Reading wind patterns Boat speed management (under sail & power)
Jun 02, 202226:25
#21: What to expect from your sailing coach

#21: What to expect from your sailing coach

So your sailing school has told you what to expect from your course, but what should you expect from your sailing coach? There are many different teaching styles and several different learning types. Depending on how you like to learn, your sailing coach might have to get creative. However, there are some key things that you should expect from them. Here are my thoughts...

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Your coach should ALWAYS have your safety in mind. What does that look like? It means that they are teaching you how to safely get on or off of the boat. They are teaching you how to safely move around the boat; explaining why you should not be walking around on the leeward side of the boat; and should be educating you as you move through the course about safety on the vessel.


Your coach should ask you what your goals are and have an idea about why you are taking this sailing course. Did you sail as a youth? Are you brand new to sailing? Do you want to sail around the world one day? All of these things are important to be aware of so the coaching can be tailored to your goals.


The ultimate responsibility of your coach other than safety, is support. They are there to guide you through this sailing journey and to, hopefully, provide you with an amazing experience that has you wanting more! It can be really tricky being a coach as you have a lot of material to cover, but you also want to work at a pace that is comfortable for the students. Sometimes you need to push them out of their comfort zone to keep the course moving. Hopefully you can do it in a way that keeps everyone happy!


Sailing is a whole new language! I often congratulate my students at the beginning of a course, as they will leave the course bilingual! There are a lot of unique and odd terms used on a sailboat. Your coach should teach you the common and appropriate terms for everything so that when you take your sailing education on another boat, you can speak the language with the rest of the crew. Calling things "doohikeys" and "thingamabobbers" won't do the trick ;-)


Seamanship is the art of sailing without incident. What does this mean? This means that you have the knowledge and skills to work through whatever tasks or issues arise on the boat. You know your knots, you can helm precisely, you trim the sails well, etc. Seamanship is your overall knowledge. It allows you to safely and efficiently work the vessel, and your coach should be teaching you proper skills and habits from day one.


This is a tricky one and can be quite an art! Providing clear, relevant, feedback to your students is not always easy. However, it is essential to be a great coach. You need to be able to correct or redirect behaviours that are not ideal or not safe.  Your coach should be able to provide you with feedback without making you feel belittled or discouraged. Not always easy, but it is necessary for your growth as a sailor!

May 26, 202218:33