Top Ten Good Captaining Skills

Captaining a bareboat yacht on a sailing vacation is an acquired skill.

All of a sudden you’re transformed from friend, co-worker, family and sometimes complete stranger into the authoritative figure with ultimate power. That’s not an easy formula so I’ve put together the top ten tips on how to be a great captain.

When people are led by good captains they do not even remember that they were lead. That means they just remember that the vacation went off with out a hitch and the boat seemed to work itself, yet somehow, every one contributed and a great time was had by all.

Good leaders make people feel comfortable in any environment. Your confidence and promotion of a good time for everyone will help people feel comfortable through out the trip.

Obviously as every one will tell you, your job #1 is to ensure the safety of the ship and crew, however following closely behind that comes the job to ensure that every one onboard is feeling comfortable with you and the vessel. So let me shout this out load and clear. NO SHOUTING OR YELLING. The bareboat charter sailing vacation is not time to prove how much you know or to be Captain Blye. It’s time to prove your quiet confidence and steady character amonst your friends and family. After all I’m sure you’ll want them to come back with you and one wrong snarl and you’re off the christmas card list.


  • Give up the helm time to others when practical and safe.
  • Don’t be the supreme commander, you can do that with a rubber ducky in the bathtub at home by your self.
  • Involve everyone in the sailing process (if they want)
  • Don’t always be teaching and preaching but offer to show, help, teach.
  • You’re not their to impress everyone that you can sail, instead impress people with these leadership skills instead. You’ll be liked better.
  • Make the dinners and do the dishes more than every one else.
  • Let others participate in the navigating.
  • There is no need to stay on schedule. If the others are having fun shopping in a cute little port or laying on the beach let them stay. It’s their vacation.
  • Read up on the local area with a travel book like Frommers and discuss the area and highlights of things to do with everyone.
  • Plan the trip so there is only 3-4 hours of sailing everyday. And plan to stay in a port or two for a full day.
  • Keep the boat tidy and clean. Every morning do a wash down of the boat, start the process yourself and I bet others will just join in. After a few days they will self start the wash down.
  • Every day, give yourself a reality check and ask yourself this: “Am I doing all these things above?”

Ok that was 12 but the extra two were worth it :). I didn’t make this stuff up though. The theory of it came mostly from a book I read called Lincoln on Leadership. His phylosophy was to always roll up the sleeves and get into the trenches. People follow more what you do rather than say especially when you’re in a new leadership role.

I’ve applied this phylosophy on the dozens or charter trips I’ve lead all over the world and I can assure you that if you pour the drinks, cook breakfasts and dinners, swab the decks, speak calmly and confidently, tell the jokes, go ashore to buy supplies before everyone gets up, give up the helm, be knowledgeable about the area and make good suggestions and just relax on the schedule, then everyone will remember you as being the BEST CAPTAIN EVER.

The top ten (12) tips on great captaining was extracted from the NauticEd Bareboat Yacht Charter Sailing Clinic which is packed full of real practical bareboat chartering tips guaranteed to enrich your charter sailing vacation and make you look like a star and it’s a requirement for your Bareboat Charter Master Sailing Certification. Take the Bareboat Charter Sailing Class online. And now available in a downloadable PDF. Did we mention our money back guarantee?

Bareboat Charter Sailing Course

Bareboat Charter Sailing Course


Have fun promote fun

The Grinch

The Grinch in Iles des Saints (actually just me having a lot of fun with a Christmas surprise for the crew)




My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
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Last updated on August 30th, 2022