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How to Create a ‘Cruise Preparation List’ for Onboard Guests

Fishing with FriendsOne of the great things about boating is that it’s inherently social. Whether you’re out for the day or out for a week, sharing time with family and friends is all part of the fun. But for guests who aren’t familiar with boats, the “shared responsibilities” can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and confusion. That’s why it’s important to let them know ahead of time what’s expected of them.
 
Every boat is different and no doubt your “Cruise Preparation List” will change depending on the duration of the planned outing, the weather, and they type of boat you have. It’s worth spending some time to prepare a form email or letter you can send so your guests can start planning well in advance of your trip. Some captains may prefer a formal declaration, but most boaters will keep it direct, but light, with humor reflective of their personalities. Here are some tips to get you started.
 
• Storage is one of those things land-lubbers just don’t seem to comprehend. There is less space aboard a boat (perhaps even less than in their SUV), and it’s one of the most valuable commodities. This means they need to pack light. For day trips, a change of clothes is certainly appropriate, particularly if you’re going to be doing any side trips or having a meal at a restaurant. But one pair of good boat shoes should suffice. And let them know if they should bring towels and how many.
 
• As captains, we have our routine, and we like it that way. Our guests have no way of knowing what’s expected unless we tell them. If there is a certain way you want them to handle the dock lines, or help scrub the boat at the end of the day, or help prepare food in the galley, send them a link to a YouTube.com instructional video or make one yourself.
 
• Be specific if you ask them to bring food. Galley space is limited and the ability to refrigerate is always a challenge. The last thing you want is to have them double-up on the one thing you’re already bringing. Make sure you’re clear on drinks as well. Coolers can eat up deck space in a hurry, and you want to make sure you have everything covered…especially water! This is a good time to break out the soft-sided coolers, so you can collapse them as they are emptied.
 
• Be clear about when you need to depart. If you’re time-dependent on tides to safely navigate an inlet or if your favorite cove or sandbar gets crowded after a certain time of day, make sure you let your guests know that in advance. It will help them feel like an “insider” if they know the reasons behind your particular schedules.
 
• Don’t assume your guests will know about your pet peeves. If you have “house rules,” spell them out beforehand. If smoking on board is a no-no, gently alert them. That will give smokers time to plan for alternatives such as nicotine gum or patches. The same goes for alcohol consumption. If you have strong opinions about what goes on while you’re at the helm, don’t keep it a secret.
 
• If you’re cruising over multiple days, let everyone know about the itinerary. This gives everyone a chance to understand and prepare for early-morning getaways and when they can sleep in. Just like with the issue of storage, water consumption and marine toilet usage should be outlined in advance.
 
• Go over safety equipment, emergency procedures and basic boat-handling before you get underway. This includes proper radio operation and instructions on how to summon help. Here’s a helpful boating safety checklist.
 
A Cruise Preparation List can help you can your guests have an enjoyable time together by taking the guesswork out of what’s expected. A little information and planning goes a long way!