So - you have arrived at the base. You have your first view of the yacht, and she is beautiful. The base staff have done a great job of setting her up for you and your crew and everything looks great! You want to get started, and quickly. Of course you do! You have been looking forward to this trip for ages. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing in the channel outside the marina just right and everything seems ideal to just get going…
However, you need to to slow down. You are on island time now… relax, take a breath, and start to take stock of your surroundings. You are about to take over responsibility for several hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment. You are about to take ‘at sea’ responsibility for the safety of your crew. Sure - you have done this several times before, but every yacht is slightly different - as you well know. Also, how many times a year do you actually do this? 2 or 3? Great - but it’s still worth spending some time figuring out the specifics of the yacht systems and rig.
Right now, your best friend is the boat briefer. The TMM briefer is a very thorough guy. Take the time to go over how everything works, and don't do it alone - you and the mate should be there together. Ask lots of questions! Start with the electrical panel, and follow the systems from there. Understand the electrics, the fresh water systems, and how to isolate if necessary. Check the bilges - are they dry? They should be… but ask if they weren't where would the water most likely be coming from? It could be from internal tanks just as easily as from the outside. Look at the engines - all of them. Most big cats will have 3 - including the generator. How do you start and stop them remotely, and, if necessary locally as well. What are the engine checks that are needed? Where is the propane, and how does it isolate? What’s to know about the rigging? Is there something unique about the reefing system and should you give it a go in the safety of the marina? How about the headsail - is the furling simple? Ask away - now’s the time.
If you are not known to the base team you will likely need to do a test sail - this is your time to show off your skills! But remember - take it easy, take it slow. You probably just got there, and the cobwebs will take a day or 2 to shake off. Carry out the drills of the test sail, and keep asking questions to clarify things as you go - again, the briefer is there to help; he or she will know from how you handle yourself, and the yacht, if you are confident with what you are doing. How does the yacht behave at the various points of sail? Does she heave-to well? Maybe practice a man overboard drill. It’s a good exercise for the first day.
Back to the base, to drop the briefer. All provisions aboard? All crew aboard? Got ice, water, and other important liquid supplies? Got a plan in mind for the first destination sail? Thats it then - you are ready to go!! Good luck, and have a fabulous week!