Boat Guests Living Aboard a Boat

G is for Guests Aboard

Friday, April 08, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA


During the month of April, we're participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge where every day (excluding Sundays) we'll be posting to the blog . . . alphabetically. The overall theme we've chosen to tie all the entries together is living aboard a boat and cruising – things we've learned along the way: our thoughts, reflections, and tips for those just starting out or who are interested in this lifestyle.




When I asked David if he had any advice about having guests aboard, his recommendation was “don’t.” Which is exactly what I thought he would say. Whether on land or on the water, guests can be stressful. Part of this, of course, is simply because they don’t know your rhythms and routines . . . or what drives you crazy. But whether you have a “good” guest or a "bad" one aboard, there are some things you can do to make the experience enjoyable for everyone:

Choose Wisely  
There are exceptions to every rule but, in our experience, friends and family with some boating experience make the best guests: They understand that there’s an ebb and a flow to this lifestyle. Landlubbers . . . not so much. 

Flexibility is Key 
This is the one that seems to get in the way most often. Plans change.  Things happen. Weather interferes. And boat equipment fails. We don’t sail to a schedule and can’t say with any level of certainty where we’ll be at any given time – we live in generalities, which is perfectly fine with us.  But try to add a third party into the mix and it becomes complicated. So, unless we’re tied up for the winter, flexibility is key for anybody who’d like to come for a visit. 

Communication
It’s your job to educate your guests on everything and anything they may need to know while aboard – from the general “boat rules” to knowing where everything is and how to use it (this goes double for the head – a mistake I made once and will never make again!). 


We All Need Our Space 
Make sure your guests have space of their own, or they’ll always be in yours. This goes for their things as well. Cambria has a great layout for guests with a private v-berth and ensuite, but lacks when it comes to common areas. The salon is “cozy” and the cockpit is built with ocean passages in mind, not entertaining. So it’s important to keep these areas clear of “stuff” to make room for people.

Plan, Plan and Plan Some More 
And when you’re finished with that, make back-up plans. Keeping your guests busy is key. While we’re happy to spend lazy days aboard doing next to nothing, guests who just spent a lot of money to see us are not.  Visit anchorages with plenty to do and rediscover some of your favourite places through the eyes of your guests. The days will pass much faster and, before you know it, your boat will be yours again.


Galleys Weren’t Built For Two 
They really weren’t, so share the responsibilities. There’s nothing wrong with allowing your guests to help prepare some of the meals (three times a day adds up to A LOT of extra work) or to help out with the dishes.

Be Realistic 
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If guests aren’t your thing, so be it. Know yourself and how long you can share your space – if at all. 

See the Light at the End of the Tunnel 
Nothing lasts forever, even boat guests, and it’s important recognize that they will be leaving sooner or later and mentally mark the days off the calendar.


And remember, having a guest aboard is an opportunity to spend quality time with people you love, so let go of your routine, relax and enjoy!


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20 comments

  1. Our v-berth is crammed full of stuff. I can't quite imagine having guests on board and where they would sleep. We never had guests on our last boat either - way too small at 26'. It will be interesting to see if we do have guests on our current boat and how it would work out.

    Cheers - Ellen| http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/g-is-for-grounding-nancy-drew.html

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    1. I think our v-berth sounds an awful lot like yours . . . as does our aft head, pilot berth and cockpit. I've been trying to pack and unpack since we got back to the boat and feel like I haven't made any headway at all.

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  2. My family often quotes a saying that guests are like fish, they start to stink after three days. XD I imagine that is even more true on a boat where space is limited. Good post for people to make them appreciate if they get invited :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

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    1. That's a favourite saying around here as well!

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    2. And is attributed to that wise man, Ben Franklin!

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  3. It's the bathroom situation that always causes our guests stress and anxiety. I really thought we would have more people wanting to join us, but we have not had that many. - Lucy

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    1. We haven't had many either, Lucy. We thought people would be knocking down the doors to get aboard, but nobody seemed to be that interested. We have an open companionway policy, anyone's welcome anytime, but gave up on asking a long time ago. Honestly, it's been one of the biggest disappointments of cruising for both David and me.

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  4. We, too, have a v-berth with its own head. We're hoping the kids will take advantage of our big boat since that's why we have her. But if not, then we will use the v berth as our 'rumpus' room for watching videos. I have mixed feelings about having guests who are not family aboard. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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    1. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to interest our families in a visit (none of them have much experience on boats) but have found that our sailing friends make pretty good guests. We just try to keep things short and sweet.

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  5. Most of our guests are sailors themselves, which eliminates 99% of the stress involved. As you say, the key element is flexibility; we may or may not pick you up in such-n-such port on such-n-such date, or we may ask you to take the bus to meet us somewhere else. Ditto for the return. This works well for retirees, but working folks don't have this much flexibility for time. Maybe this is why the sailing population is getting older !

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    1. Exactly! The best guests are sailors because they understand how difficult it can be to hook up and know how to settle into the flow of a boat.

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  6. Some great advice that can be applied to many situations!

    We have a larger small camper, so there's plenty of space to entertain compared to most smaller campers, however we find when camping with friends who have tents (or smaller campers) we sometimes end up with our "guests" for longer periods than we're comfortable with inside.

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

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    1. Thanks! I tried to make our tips universal for that reason.

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  7. "Make sure your guests have space of their own, or they’ll always be in yours" Brilliant. Simple yet so on target.

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  8. "Houseguests are like fish, etc" is our motto as well, via my mother's best friend. And we do our best to hold ourselves to that rule also. But equally true is how much value you get from being forced to see your familiar life through your guests' new eyes. Great post! (Jaye from Life Afloat)

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    1. Thanks, Jaye! Having a guest aboard really does get our juices flowing again for things that we've done or seen already -- even sailing can be more fun!

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  9. You tips for guests on board are spot-on, Stephanie! Spread the word... :-) Flexibility is, indeed, key and there will always be more stress when you have guests, because you want to provide them with a great time, while still needing to take care of everything else the boat life requires. We have been very lucky with our (repeat) guests and are happy to have given them memories for a lifetime, despite our higher and noticeable stress level (we were also running a business while sailing and entertaining). A good rule is: let the guests pick the time and you pick the place they should join you, or, let them pick a place on your route and you pick the time. I always found it easier to have guests visit in an area we were already familiar with, so we knew the sights and possible activities (and easiness of anchoring).

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

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    1. Familiar cruising grounds really do make the best destinations when you have guests (I should add that). Cheers!

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