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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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#29: Sorry! I'm still alive!

Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast

#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!
August 18, 2022
#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: EP 3: Safety First! What Safety Gear do you Need? EP 7: Day Trip Planning: Things to Consider EP 8: Overcoming a #boatfail EP 14: Sailing Goals - Day Sailing 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 Penny
July 28, 2022
#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: EP 2: New Sailor Sailing Gear: Do I REALLY Need That?! EP 7: Day Trip Planning: Things to Consider EP 11: Base Layers! How to layer up for the occasion... EP 22: Top 5 Seamanship Skills to Master 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!  Penny
July 21, 2022
#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! 
July 07, 2022
#25: Purchasing & Owning a New 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,
June 30, 2022
#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! Penny
June 23, 2022
#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.
June 09, 2022
#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)
June 02, 2022
#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... Support me on Patreon! Sign Up for the Podcast Safety First! 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. Goals 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. Support 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! Language 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 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. Feedback 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, 2022
#20: How to prepare for your sailing course!
Alright, so you listened to my last episode and you have signed up for a course! Congrats! Now what? Hopefully the sailing school that you signed up with will be providing you with some pre-course learning materials. But if that is not the case, this week I provide you with some ideas. For this episode I will assume you are signed up for a day sailing course. I'll do a different episode for liveaboard sailing. What to Wear Ok, you are getting excited and figuring out what to pack for your course. If you are day sailing, you should check the weather each day and dress accordingly. What does that mean? If there's rain, invest in rain pants and a rain jacket. Bring extra layers, spare socks, hats, etc. Unless otherwise indicated by the sailing school, you should not need to bring any person safety items to a beginner course. Basically plan to wear active, or hiking, type of clothes. I find these work best and avoid jeans. Something comfortable, something that moves with you, something that dries quickly, etc. Footwear should be comfortable and with good tread. No flip-flops. Listen to Episode #2: New Sailor Sailing Gear for other ideas and tips. What to Bring Now I'm looking at extra items to bring to make your course fun and enjoyable. Here's a short list: sunglasses, hat sunscreen phone/camera for photo ops water, snacks, lunch (make it BIG, as fresh air will make you hungry!) notebook and pencil if you like to write things down (wet notes work great) binoculars if you'd like to look around during lunch, but they could be a bit much for this type of day sailing any course books that were mailed to you (ie Basic Cruising Skills textbook for example)
May 19, 2022
#19: Which Sailing Course Do I Take?
So you have decided to take up sailing! Great! But where do you start?! There are a lot of options out there so this week I'm going to dive into figuring out which course is for you. Here are some of my insider opinions on what to think about when signing up for your sailing course. Support me on Patreon! Sign Up for the Podcast Be sure to sign up for my Podcast on iTunes or Spotify or find it on any other podcast player! What is my sailing background? Never sailed before: alright in this case you have never been on a sailboat and have no idea how to manage the sails, rigging, where the wind is coming from, etc. You see sailboats out on the water and think "I want to do that!". Don't worry, there is a course for you! Sailed dinghies as a kid: in this case you used to do summer camps or maybe had a dinghy at your cottage that you used to bomb around the lake on. You don't really have an idea of what the heck the boat was doing, but you knew when you capsized that something was off. Some keelboat sailing: you've probably hopped onto someone's boat and thought "this is great!" You may have picked up a few good (and bad) habits along the way, but don't have formal training. Multiple seasons of keelboating: in this case you have been sailing a pile of times, potentially have your own boat, and are really just looking to get that pesky piece of paper! What are my options? Intro to Sailing: an introductory course is usually a few hours and really geared towards someone who has never been on a sailboat and really doesn't know if it is for them. The Introduction to Boating Standard with Sail Canada is perfect for this level. Basic Day Sailing: this course is for someone who has been out on a boat and you are now looking to increase your knowledge and skills, but in a formal setting. Maybe you are thinking about certifications at this point and want to follow a curriculum. The Start Keelboat Sailing Standard with Sail Canada is the right fit for this level of sailor. Day Skipper Sailing: at this point you are looking to skipper your own vessel and potentially move up into liveaboard sailing. The Basic Cruising Standard with Sail Canada is the level that you want as it covers everything from boat parts, to emergency situations, anchoring, crew overboard and much more. Bareboat Sailing: Now you're seriously thinking about chartering and sailing off into the sunset. You're interested in bareboat chartering a vessel and being in charge. You should look at completing the Intermediate Cruising Standard with Sail Canada to receive an internationally recognized certification. See for more show notes... 
May 12, 2022
#18: Seasickness!!
This week I am diving into a much dreaded topic: seasickness! Arg. No one enjoys this one, but it must be discussed as it can GREATLY impact your boat! We will take a look at all facets of this lovely experience from definition, to prevention, to management! Support me on Patreon! Sign Up for the Podcast Be sure to sign up for my Podcast on iTunes or Spotify or find it on any other podcast player! Definition of Seasickness seasickness [ see-sik-nis ] - noun nausea and dizziness, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, resulting from the rocking or swaying motion of a vessel in which one is traveling at sea. Medical Explanation Motion sickness: A disorder of the sense of balance and equilibrium and, hence, the sense of spatial orientation that is caused by repeated motion such as from the swell of the sea, the movement of a car, or the motion of a plane in turbulent air. Motion sickness is due to irritation of a portion of the inner ear called the labyrinth. Source: The Role of the Ears Your inner ears, in particular, help control your sense of balance. They are part of a network called the vestibular system. This system includes three pairs of semicircular canals and two sacs, called the saccule and the utricle. They send information about what’s going on around you to the brain. The semicircular canals hold a fluid that moves with the turns of your head. The saccule and utricle are sensitive to gravity. They tell the brain whether you’re standing up or lying down. The Role of the Brain Your brain takes in all this data, and it usually comes together and makes sense. But sometimes your brain gets confusing signals. On a flying plane, for example, you feel like you’re moving, but your eyes tell your brain that you don’t appear to be going anywhere. The opposite is true as well. After a long sea voyage, you can stand still on dry land but still feel like you’re moving. The result is the same: motion sickness. Symptoms of Seasickness nausea vomiting loss of balance increase saliva production loss of appetite pale skin sweating tired headaches shallow breathing Prevention - Pre-Trip Relax. Try to avoid thinking or speaking about seasickness. Stay organized. Know where the food is and know where your gear is. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol could create dehydration and confusion. Cut out stimulants like sugar & coffee. Prevention - During Trip Don't talk about it. I find when people start talking about seasickness, they start to feel seasick. Start trip in daylight. Getting everyone acclimatized to the boat prior to a night shift is ideal. Fresh air. Have meals and snacks prepared so you can be up on deck as mush as possible. Helm. Watch the horizon, take the helm or focus on a job. Penny
May 05, 2022
#17: Sailing Goals - Offshore Sailing
This episode is for those of you who are interested in offshore sailing. Unlike my other episodes in this Sailing Goals series, I am not going to focus so much on courses. Instead I'm going to focus on physical and mental preparation required for offshore sailing. In 2018 I participated in a boat delivery for the Vic-Maui International Yacht Race. What an adventure it was! Support me on Patreon! The Magic of Offshore Sailing I would be lying to you if I told you that offshore sailing is anything short of magical. Don't get me wrong, it can be very uncomfortable at times and is not for everyone! But if you are interested in offshore sailing it can be a life-changing experience. Mental Preparation Night Sailing When you decide to join an offshore sailing trip, make sure it is NOT your first time sailing at night! If you discover that you are prone to seasickness, cannot handle sleeping in shifts, or are just plain old grumpy when out of your comfort zone, offshore sailing may not be for you. The first thing I suggest you do is get a couple off night sails under your belt. I would also recommend that you try to do them during times when the weather may be challenging. This way you get some yucky weather sailing under your belt, and you'll start to see what you're made of. CONCLUSION: get out of your comfort zone. Hot Bunking Be prepared to share your bunk space with others. I learned early on that if you do not stow away your pillow and sleeping gear, it will most likely get used by someone else. Ewww. Be ready to share small spaces with smelly, snory, people who are just as uncomfortable and excited as you. It is a process. We all get to the point of exhaustion and laziness, so try to keep your space simple and clean. CONCLUSION: it's gonna get uncomfortable. Creating Routines This is an area where I failed miserably on my last trip. I kept saying that I would get myself into a good routine at the beginning and end of each shift. Instead I pulled myself out of bed and put on my gear in a zombie-like state! I wish I had spent more time giving myself a few minutes to get into a better state so I could at least try to enjoy the shift changes a bit more. It may be the only time you get to spend with the other half of the crew! I would suggest picking 2 or 3 simple things you can do to ground yourself before heading out of your cabin. Feet on the floor, change into clean clothes, brush your teeth. You'll start feeling human again at some point. CONCLUSION: remember to take care of yourself! What you will experience... billions of stars insane number of shooting stars no encounters with people for days, and then porpoises show up at the bow no wildlife to speak of other than Albatross, tuna and porpoises... then a random bird will land on your deck phosphorescence that are impossibly beautiful waves that are taller than your house
April 28, 2022
#16: Sailing Goals - Liveaboard Sailing
This week we are talking about my favourite kind of sailing! Bareboat cruising or living on the boat for a few days, weeks, months or years! I really enjoy the pace and lifestyle of being on a boat. Don't get me wrong, a garden and yard for the kids to play in is also great, but I do love spending extended days on a boat. This episode is geared to those sailors who are thinking about spending more and more time living on a boat. Perhaps you're looking to do some bareboat chartering in the Caribbean, or maybe you're wanting to venture off for a week or two to explore your surroundings. This is the episode for you! Support me on Patreon! Sign Up for the Podcast Be sure to sign up for my Podcast on iTunes or Spotify or find it on any other podcast player! Who is the Liveaboard Sailor? The liveaboard sailor is someone who is wanting to spend more and more time on a boat. It could be for a long weekend of boat camping, or, more likely, for a week or two of chartering. Which courses will help you to prepare? What are some sailing aspects you should focus on? What are some extra skills you should consider acquiring? These are some of the things I am going to touch on in this episode. Which key courses should you take? Liveaboard sailing is all about planning, adapting and managing changes that come your way. Prepare your trip plan (see Episode 7: Day Trip Planning for some advice), prepare your crew (check out Bonus Episode 12: Crew Selection), and get ready to enjoy everything sailing has to offer! This is one of my favourite ways to spend time on the boat. So, here is a short list of key courses I think you should take to step into liveaboard/bareboat cruising: Intermediate Cruising: for Sail Canada our bareboat cruising course is called Intermediate Cruising. This course teaches you the fundamentals of living on a boat. Provisioning, boat systems, passage planning, etc. Intermediate Coastal Navigation: I would highly recommend that you have the Intermediate Coastal Navigation course under your belt and you have practiced plotting on your charts. When you are out sailing you will want to be able to take your bearings, plot them and move on to the next item on your list quickly. What have you been practicing & learning? For this level of sailing I am not going to focus on certifications you should have, but more so on things you should have knowledge about. These include: boat systems: head & black water, fresh water, grey water, basic engine maintenance, galley cooking systems, and electronics on the boat. provisioning: ice box, refrigeration, cooler, fresh water capacity, and desalinator troubleshooting. sailing maneuvers: crew overboard, reefing, heaving-to, docking, anchoring --> should all be easy-peasy by this stage. Top 3 Habits to Perfect Weather Anchoring Planning
April 21, 2022
#15 Sailing Goals - Racing
This is episode #2 in a four-part series I am doing on sailing goals. These episodes are aimed at helping you to figure out which courses to take, habits to form, and areas to focus on depending on where you want to end up! This second episode is geared to the race sailor who wants to move into the world of racing. Whether you are looking for weekend races, or offshore races, I'll talk about how you can create a plan to get there! Support me on Patreon! Who is the Race Sailor? The race sailor is an experienced day sailor looking to take their sailing to the next level. They have probably already completed several introduction or basic sailing courses. They may own their own boat, or they may be crewing regularly for someone else. Perhaps you have already dabbled in the world of beer can racing and now you are curious about larger, or maybe even offshore, races. Which key courses should you take? There are a few different ways that you can expand your sail racing knowledge. Here are some of my thoughts: Introduction to Racing Course: there are several courses that help you understand the foundations of sailboat racing. These courses also should dive into the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) which are updated every 4 years. There are also many courses and seminars that focus on specific aspects of the race and the rules pertaining to those aspects, such as race starts. Spinnaker Course: Being able to fly a spinnaker is a beautiful thing, but there are some key elements and safety components that you should be familiar with. I highly recommend a spinnaker course to help you become familiar with the rigging and handling of this large sail. Race Officer Course: Becoming a race official, or just taking the courses to understand how they evaluate and manage a race, is a great way to increase your racing knowledge. Also, many clubs are always looking for race officials, so why not!
April 14, 2022
#14: Sailing Goals - Day Sailing
This is episode #1 in a four-part series I am doing on sailing goals. These episodes are aimed at helping you to figure out which courses to take, habits to form, and places to go with your sailing depending on where you want to end up! This first episode is geared to the new sailor who wants to become the most proficient and able day sailor there is. Explore your own backyard with knowledge and head home at the end of your day feeling invigorated by your sailing adventure! Support me on Patreon! Who is the Day Sailor? The day sailor is probably someone who is just starting out to explore the amazing world of sailing! Alternatively, you've been a sailor for awhile, and are continuing to sail while dabbling in other hobbies as well. Either way, you love to get out for a day of sailing with family and friends and may participate in occasional beer can races put on by your local sailing club. Which key courses should you take? Here is my short list of courses to help you achieve day sailor perfection: Basic day sailing course: you should take an introduction or basic skipper course such as the Start Keelboat Sailing course or the Basic Cruising course Introduction to weather: this could be an online course or in-person course. MetEd has a lot of great free weather courses. VHF Marine Radio course: get your license so you can hail others as needed and use this handy marine communication tool First Aid: get a basic first aid course under your belt. That way if there are any minor injuries on board you are prepared to help. Knowledge of charts or GPS: you should be familiar with your surroundings. Get copies of the local chart, Chart No 1, and familiarize yourself with local knowledge Top 4 Habits to Perfect HABIT 1  Pre-departure Check: As a day sailor this should become second nature for you and something that you automatically do prior to every departure. Don't assume that the boat is as you left it! Download my boat checklist or create your own and make it automatic. HABIT 2 Safety Gear Check: I have decided to break out safety gear and boat check as I think they both warrant a good once over. For your safety gear you are checking the required gear, as well as recommended gear. Is your ladder still securely fixed to the transom? Does your boat hook still telescope properly? Are your flares dry and readily available? HABIT 3 Include Your Guests: get into the habit of coaching others and including them in your boat prep. This will help them feel involved, and will help you feel a little less stressed about potentially having non-sailors onboard. Ask Uncle Rob to read the flare instructions. Teach Aunt Helen how to tie eight knots at the ends of the sheets. Teach neighbour Bob how to start and turn off the engine. These are all relatively small tasks, but if you need help from someone at some point while day sailing, you now have someone who has already been exposed to the information and your specific boat. HABIT 4 Practice Your Crew Overboard: Regardless of whichever COB recovery method you use, you should know it inside and out as a day sailor. Especially if you often have non-sailors out with you on the boat. The last thing you want to be doing while Sally is in the water is trying to remember where to put the boat while 3 other people are asking you what to do. Make it automatic.
April 07, 2022
#13: I Need New Sailing Boots!
Alright, so my boots are not as bad as the photo above, but I have had my sailing boots way too long! I need new ones. They have no tread, and have never fit properly. I bought them on sale, and thought what the heck? So, this week I am going to take you along on a gear shopping trip. Support me on Patreon! What do I need? First off I need to figure out what I need. I currently have Keen sandals for summer, Salomon runners for summer, and then Helly winter boots, so I am doing pretty good. What I really need are summer/off-season sailing boots to keep my feet dry and warm-ish. So I need basic cruising boots. My wishlist includes: comfortable good grip non-marking waterproof easy to put on and take off works with foul weather gear Which brands should I check out? Now that I have figured out basically what I am looking for, time to start pricing things out! Here are the brands I am looking into (I have left out Gill and Helly as I already have boots/shoes from them and want to test something new!): Musto Zhik Muck Boots Dubarry How did I narrow down my list you ask? Well I did a quick Google search and then I canvassed some of my Facebook sailing groups.  Check out for the rest of this article!
March 24, 2022
#12: Crew Dynamics: Who do you recruit?
This week I am bringing you a shorty episode about crew dynamics and how I go about selecting a crew for offshore, or longer distance sails. I will also be moving to by-weekly episodes while I get a few things sorted out for this upcoming season! Hope you enjoy and let me know how you go about selecting your crew or how you interview your skipper!  Penny
March 03, 2022
#11: Base Layers! How to layer up for the occasion...
Following along on last week's episode about foul weather gear, this week I am diving into base layers! These layers complement your external gear. Their job is to help manage your body heat and keep sweating to a minimum. Nice and dry = warmth! Support me on Patreon! What are the typical types of base layer fabrics? Synthetic Fabrics One of the most common synthetic fabrics used for base layers is polyester. However, you may also find a combination of nylon, rayon or polypropelene. Synthetics have a bit of a spandex feel which give you a nice snug fit. Super dry: Synthetics excel at wicking and dissipating sweat, so they give you the driest feel of any type of fabric. Durable: No base layer is invincible; if you’re looking for your most durable option, though, then synthetics are your best bet. Odor retention: Some synthetics add a finish that inhibits the buildup of odor-causing bacteria, which helps. If you’ll be going multiple days between washes, it helps to have some tolerance for stinkiness. 5/5 wicking             4/5 durability            3/5 odor- resistant Merino Wool Merino wool is soft and has ultrafine fibers and is nothing like older wool clothing and blankets. Wool can also be blended with other fabrics, like spandex to enhance fit and flexibility. Merino wool has the following characteristics: Wicks well: Some moisture in wool is retained in its core, which won’t chill you, but wool will not feel quite as dry as a synthetic fabric. It will also take longer to dry when it gets wet. Breathable: That moisture in the core of its fibers releases when temps heat up, which can offer a little bit of cooling in warm weather. Moderately durable: Wear it under other layers and enjoy a long and happy life together; as a standalone top under heavy pack straps, it won’t last as long because the constant rubbing can wear through the fabric. You can also opt for a base layer that blends synthetic and wool for increased durability. Odor free: Even if you don’t believe wool fanatics who report endless days of sweaty wear without a discouraging whiff, it’s absolutely true that wool is highly resistant (and naturally resistant) to odor-causing bacteria. 4/5 wicking            3/5 durability             5/5 odor-resistant Silk Silk is an ideal fabric for low-key activities like an easygoing fall hike or an evening concert outdoors. It has the following characteristics:
February 17, 2022
#10: Foul Weather Gear Selection: My Top Tips!
Foul weather gear is a large investment in your sailing gear, however if you select the appropriate gear for the kind of sailing you are planning to do, it can be invaluable. Today I will bring you through my Foul Weather Gear Checklist. It is my fail safe shopping list to make sure you get the gear you need. Support me on Patreon! There are several things to consider when you are purchasing foul weather gear. These are the ones at the top of my list: quality, versatility, budget and durability. Do you see my Scottish side bleeding through? LOL. I want good bang for my bucks! However, price aside, I know that investing in good gear is a very wise choice. Not worrying about how wet and cold you are and being able to focus on your sailing adventure is SO key. So don't let the price tag sway you... maybe you just need to up your budget and save up for a little bit longer. Performance Needs What type of sailing and you doing and when? This will really decide what you need in the end, but for your gear you are looking for: windproof, waterproof, breathable, lightweight and durable. This applies to the pants and jacket. Fit Tests Accessory Lists A few years back I signed up to deliver a boat from Hawaii to Victoria. I was in the market for new gear so I wrote up a blog post about some of the things I looked into when I was shopping for my new gear. You may find some useful tips in there! Penny
February 10, 2022
#9: My Top 8 Sailing Books
I am a real bookworm, and so this week I am going to share some of my favourite sailing books. These are novels and not related to coaching, educating or learning anything new. They are just for me and just for fun! The descriptions I have provided are from The Nautical Mind or Support me on Patreon! And so, here is a short list of the sailing books that have really stuck with me after reading them. Surprisingly, I actually do not read a lot of sailing books. My library mainly consists of maintenance and how-to books that I use for coaching and teaching others. Maybe I'll do another podcast about those sometime! What are some of your favourite nautical reads? I'd love to know! North Into the Night: A Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic ~ Simon Alvah The Curve of Time ~ M. Wylie Blanchet Fastnet, Force 10 ~ John Rousmaniere Red Sky in Mourning ~ Tami Ashcraft The Voyage of the Northern Magic: A Family Odyssey ~ Diane Stuemer Sea of Dreams ~ Adam Mayers 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival At Sea ~ Jonathan Franklin Be sure to check out my show notes for more info! 
February 03, 2022
#8: Overcoming a #boatfail!
There's nothing more humbling than having things not go as planned! We have all been there. You prepare, you're ready to go, and then wham! Not what you intended to have happen! What the heck? It happens to us all, and there are several things you can do to get your confidence back after a #boatfail. Support me on Patreon! Common #boatfails Docking: hitting dock, hitting another boat, not ending up in your slip, too slow, too fast Running aground: submerged object, sandbar, didn't know depth, not paying attention Running out of gas: lack of prep, bad weather, unexpected weather Forgetting drain plug: happens A LOT Overloading the boat: capacity plate, too many passengers, cutting down on trips Skying your halyard: didn't hold on to the end, didn't attach shackle properly The stages of #boatfail grief: Don't Worry Take Stock Get Angry Write it Down Take Responsibility Check Your Habits Move On Experiencing a #boatfail says NOTHING about you as a successful boater. We all make mistakes. We all fall, then we get back up. Learn from it. Embrace it. Talk about it. And most important of all.... Don't forget about it. Happy boating! Penny
January 27, 2022
#7: Day Trip Planning: Things to Consider
This week I am giving you the foundation of a successful day trip plan. There are key pieces of information that you should include, and I’m going to provide you with my pro tips and tricks! Support me on Patreon! Sections of Your Trip Plan Document Boat – key information and unique features Crew – who and emergency contact info Itinerary – destinations and locations (GPS coordinates) Emergency Procedures – what do to if you don’t check in Examples of Trip Planning Documents BoatSmart Safeboater AceBoater Trip Planning Apps Weather to Boat Navionics Boating AdventureSmart Trip Plan Things you need to consider to prepare your trip plan The first part of your trip plan is determining when you’re going to head out. Depending on your area this could depend on winds, tides, currents, or crew schedules. Regardless, your planning should start several days before your intended departure. The types of things you should be researching include: weather patterns: anything odd brewing in the area wind patterns: forecasted wind directions and strengths crew health: everyone in good health and physically ready for the trip boat readiness: safety gear checks, fuel topped up, water topped up, maintenance complete Who should you file your plan with? The purpose of the trip plan is to have someone follow it. This could be a spouse, family member, friend or even just a vigilant neighbour! Either way, try to find someone who will keep track of where you should be and when, and they should notice when you do not check in. Pro Tip I suggest creating your own trip plan document that contains your boat specific information and emergency contact information populated that you can just re-use each time you want to head out. Then you only need to fill in the crew section, destinations and check in times! Happy Planning! Penny
January 20, 2022
#6: 10 Ways to Meet Other Sailors
This week I’m all about helping you meet other like-minded sailors! And they DO exist. I promise. So whether you’ve had a hard time getting into the “boys club” or you don’t know where to start to look for sailing friends, here are some of my suggestions! Support me on Patreon! Off-Season Training: Boating Skills Here is a list of things you can work on in the off-season that will increase your  1. Join a Club This is a great way to meet other sailors! The setbacks would include financial commitments. Some clubs can be a bit pricy, but most places offer social memberships if you are not looking for boat mooring. Have a clubhouse, or a place to gather, is a great way to meet others. Grab a pint, break bread, and soak up the local sailing banter! 2. Go to a Boat Show Boat shows are not only visually pleasing, but you can meet so many people from many different areas. Sailors tend to flock to these shows from great distances sometimes, so if you can get to a boat show I highly recommend it. Also, many boat shows have excellent guest speakers and training sessions that you can join to add to your credentials. Be sure to include them in your sailor resume! 3. Sign up for a Crew Bank There are many different crew banks available online where you can highlight your experience and publish your interests. This is a great way to meet other sailors. Don’t assume that skippers already have their crew and don’t look at these crew banks! They do! 4. Facebook Group Facebook has many different engaging boating groups. If you are looking for some humour, join the Boat Fails group, or if you’re looking for something more serious, search for some cruising groups. They could include groups in your area, or maybe an area that you would like to sail to one day. These groups are also a great place to get added value and information (such as “WTF is this thing on my boat?!” or “Sewing on Boats”). 5. Create a Local Event This one sounds a little daunting from the title, but even creating a pub night for local boaters is a great idea to get people out! Just create a FB event with a date, time and place and note that it is for boaters. I did a paint night once where we learned how to paint sailboats! It was fantastic and I met all kinds of new sailors. 6. Take a Course Well clearly I think this is a great idea as I run a sailing school, but you would not believe how many of my students get together and sail together after their courses! It makes sense as they have now trained together for several days, and some of them even go into boat ownership together. Taking a course not only improves your skills, but helps to increase your social circle. This is how I ended up doing a Maui to Victoria boat delivery in 2018. 7. Meetup Group There are some cities that have very active meetup groups. These groups do all kinds of outdoor activities together. I would say that you could even join in on other outdoor enthusiast activities and you’ll probably find other sailors in the group. I have found that many sailors are also skiers, climbers, and scuba divers.
January 06, 2022
#5: Maritime Mysteries & Mishaps: Old Presque Isle Lighthouse
The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse has been out of service for over a century now. However, that does not stop one of it's recently deceased keepers from lighting it up from time to time to safely lead ships into harbour.  With no lens, and no electricity leading to the lamp room, it is unknown how the lighthouse glows time and time again. Ghost hunters, historians and locals are mystified by this lighthouse and its secret keeper.  Support me on Patreon and find show notes at Sail Nelson. 
December 30, 2021
#4: Off-Season Training: What can I do during the off-season?
This episode will focus on helping you figure out how to improve your knowledge and skill in the off-season! So if you winterize your boat, or just take a break for a few months, here are some ideas on where you can focus your energy! Support me on Patreon! Off-Season Training: Boating Skills Here is a list of things you can work on in the off-season that will increase your seamanship skills: Knots ColRegs & Race Rules Sail & Rig-Tuning Certifications Off-Season Training: Boating Projects Winter is an excellent time to complete some boating projects that will make your vessel top-notch! Some of these include: Owner Manuals: I am a big fan or downloading and/or printing your owner manuals. It is great to have copies of these accessible when you are out on the boat. If something goes wrong with your head, you can refer to owner manuals and diagrams. If your GPS is acting up, you can look up troubleshooting tips. There is great value in making sure you have these handy! Wiring Diagram: do you know how your boat is wired up? This is a bit time-consuming, but can be very satisfying to dig into your wiring and chase everything down. It is also helpful if a pesky cabin light is not working and you need to check it out. Just pull out your diagram and Bob’s your uncle  Plumbing Diagram: same applies to your plumbing and thru-hulls. Map them out and be sure you know where they are and how to access them. I attach softwood tapered plugs to every thru-hull hose in case of malfunction or damage. It is there, ready, and the right size. Safety Gear Grab Bag: Episode #003 of Your Pocket Sailing Instructor talks all about safety gear. Consider setting up a kit, or a grab bag to be used in case of emergency. First Aid Kit & Tool Kit Top Up: off-season is the perfect time to dig into these kits to make sure they are fully stoked and ready to go. Are you needle nose pliers getting a bit tired and need replacing? Screw driver left out on deck and rusted up? Tap into those holiday sales! Off-Season Training: Personal Growth Finally, this is a great time to brush up on person skills and plan for your future sailing adventures. Personal Growth Courses & Activities: there are several non-boating related courses and activities that I would recommend. These include: a first aid course, try conditioning workouts, and online weather courses. Making Plans: start researching some destinations you’d like to sail to. Make a passage plan, watch YouTube videos, purchase some charts, read some online forums, and start dreaming about your future destinations! PRO-TIP: Plan, plan, & succeed! The off-season is a great time to look ahead to where you want to be next year with your sailing journey. Knock off some projects, get more familiar with your boat, and learn a few new tricks! Most importantly, have fun! Penny
December 23, 2021
#3: Safety First! What Safety Gear do you Need?
This episode is all about the required safety gear. We start off talking about the various acts, rules and regulations that make up the framework for safe boating in Canada and then expand from there. Support me on Patreon! The Acts & Regulations Here is the list of acts and regulations that I touched on include: Canada Shipping Act Small Vessel Regulations Collision Regulations Boating Restriction Regulations Charts & Nautical Publications Regulations Criminal Code Contraventions Act Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide is your reference for all safety gear mentioned. Non-Motorized Vessels 6 m or less What items do you require for your SUP, kayak or canoe? Here’s the list: Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or Lifejacket Sound Signaling Device Buoyant Heaving Line Watertight Flashlight Personal Watercraft In this case we need to add a few things: 5BC fire extinguisher Anchor or paddle with 15 m of rode NOTE: You cannot wear an inflatable PFD/Lifejacket on a personal watercraft. Sailboat or Powerboat 6 to 9 m There are a few things that need to be added when we move up to this size vessel: Manual bailer Fire extinguisher 5BC + additional fire extinguisher for additional sources of fire 6 flares type A, B or C Navigation Lights* Ladder: if your freeboard (distance from waterline to deck) is more than 0.5 m, you require a ladder PRO-TIP: Create a grab bag for emergencies. Storing your gear together in a dry location will help to make sure it can be quickly accessed and is ready to be used when you need it. Another idea is to create a diagram of the location of safety gear on your vessel. When you have guests on your boat they can refer to the diagram to learn about the boat. Then you have more people who can help if you have an emergency onboard. Happy grab bag planning! Penny
December 16, 2021
#2: New Sailor Sailing Gear - Do I REALLY need that?!
People are always asking me “what do I need to start sailing?”. Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t need much! Your sense of adventure and your desire to get out sailing are your biggest assets! As for sailing gear, that can all be added and upgraded later! Just get out there as much as possible! Support me on Patreon! I’ve put together some thoughts and ideas on what type of gear you need to get out sailing. You’ll see that it is pretty basic and probably all things that you own already. The Basics To start off there are only a few things that you will need, and I don’t think you’ll need to run out shopping just yet. There are two different scenarios we will look at: You are heading out on someone else’s boat. You have your own boat. Gear you will Need Personal Gear: hat, sunglasses, shorts, pants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, shoes, gloves. Layers, layers, layers Questions to ask yourself Will I be comfortable? Do the items that you are wearing make you comfortable? Can you sit for long periods of time, or standup and sit down easily? Do you have any issues walking around in what you’re wearing? Will I stay warm? Do you have a few different layers to add, or take away? Are they easy to put on or take off? Do they fit in your backpack and will they be kept dry? Will I be dry? Do you have the right outer shell to keep the wind and rain out? Some layers will keep the wind out, but the rain just soaks right in. I find that staying dry on the water is key to a happy sail. Am I protected by the sun? The sun is getting stronger and stronger. It is becoming more and more important to cover up and keep the UV off your skin. I have purchased several UV sun shirts that I wear regularly all summer long. 3 Places You Should Invest Your Money: FOOTWEAR: shoes should be non-marking, non-slip and comfortable. I wear trail runners or 3-strap sandals. No flip-flops. SUNGLASSES: make sure your sunglasses have good glare and UV protection. Make sure they are durable, comfortable, and have a good fit. Investing in a good pair of sunglasses is a very wise decision. PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE: invest in a PFD that fits you properly and that you are comfortable wearing. It should be bright, Transport Canada approved and easy to move around in. You should be able to put it on quickly, with little effort. In the end, clothing can easily be upgraded and changed as you go. Try out different materials, styles and brands to see what works for you. Try to wear quick-dry, light fabrics in the summer, and warm, comfortable fabrics in the winter. Clothing that you use for other outdoor activities work well too. I wear my ski pants in the winter if it is cold enough! Just get out there and enjoy yourself. Sail on my friend! Penny
December 09, 2021
#1: Top 10 Comfort Items for Sailors!
This is my Top 10 list of some of my favourite comfort items that I have on my sailboat! They make my time on the boat more comfortable, easier, and some are just fun to have! Hope you enjoy this first episode!  Support me on Patreon!
December 02, 2021
November 22, 2021
November 22, 2021