What you should you know before your first time crewing

Here's the scenario:
You were out last night, a couple of drinks down, chatting with a group of friends.  One of them announces that he enjoys catamaran sailing and is thinking of going out in the next days. He says would anyone fancy coming along as crew.
You raise your hand and tell him that you're keen but you have no experience.
You could just turn up and go for it. That is quite likely to be fine and you'll have a lovely time. If you want to.
And here we are. What we're going to look at here is what you can expect on your first time out as crew on a small catamaran.
The first thing that might come as a small surprise is that the boat is not a 50 foot luxury cruising catamaran, built for sunbathing, lounging and long drinks. Instead it's a 16 foot Hobie, or similar. Built for fast and wet beach based sailing.
Here are the names of the personnel who will be involved:
  • the boat owner/person in charge = skipper/helmsman/helm
  • you = the crew
Small catamarans are mostly sailed with 2 people occasionally 3 and if it's a bigger boat sometimes 4
Things to find out after signing up:
-
  • What type of boat is it
  • Where you will be sailing (not essential but nice to know)
  • How much wind there is likely to be - the description would probably be something like:
- Light wind, this means that you'll be going pretty slowly, a great chance to have a good chat, enjoy the view and maybe even have a go at steering
- Breezy/pretty windy/a bit up and down. You'll almost certainly be getting wet - spray in the face at times, quite exciting. You might even be using the trapeze.
- Windy/full power/full on. Definitely trapezing, possibility of a capsize, a very wet experience, some high speed thrills and spills.
  • What will be the nature of the outing? Could be just going for a cruise from a beach or boat club, going up a river to a pub (nice) maybe even going racing.
  • What gear do you need? you will be getting wet, even if it's just for launching the boat - you might have to be waist deep in the water during the launching. If it's not likely to be hot or at least warm weather with light wind you'll need some kind of wetsuit that should be supplied by the skipper.  Keep in mind wind chill. They should also supply a buoyancy aid. 
  • Do ask also about footwear. If you're sailing from a sandy beach, you may not need any but if it's from a stoney beach or if it's going to be cold you will need something.
  • What is the chance of capsizing? (it's always nice to know)
  • How long have they had the boat (that's a polite way of finding out how experienced they are)
  • What will be the duration of the sailing trip - the wind can change if you're staying out for more than a few hours.
Action time:
If you're going to be using the trapeze, ask if you can try on land before going out.
You'll probably have to help rigging
Put the trolley under the boat.
Hold the boat while they get on.
Get on
Where to sit
Controlling the jib
You don't need to know any of this, it's just nice to be slightly prepared.
A good skipper will give you clear instructions in plenty of time.
Or, you could just turn up. It'll be fun, the skipper should be taking care of everything

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