Expert yachtsmaster Bill Johnson outlines his five golden rules for manoeuvring

Take it calmly, don’t panic, and don’t try to show off

I know this is completely against some skippers’ natures, but it goes with the ‘take it slowly’ rule. It is particularly important if you ever want your crew to sail with you again. If they’re your family, for instance.

We’ve probably all seen examples yachts in marinas, roaring their engines as they accelerate forward, forced to use equal power to stop the yacht in its tracks before it collides with something else. The crew are rushing around with fenders in their hands and worried looks on their faces.

The panic, by the way, is signified by the skipper’s shouting. However imperious it sounds, it is a sure sign of naked fear.

And the showing off? Try flying a spinnaker up a crowded Hamble river and dropping it at the first bend. Then when the halyard jams and everyone rushes forward to sort it out, the guy at the helm starts the engine without noticing the sheets and guys trailing in the water…

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Go slowly
  3. 3. Take it calmly, don't panic, and don't try to show off
  4. 4. Not everything is possible
  5. 5. Try to do what the yacht 'wants' to do
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