7. Can I bring a non-participating partner on a Barefoot Offshore Sailing School course?

Barefoot Offshore Sailing School welcomes couples to join our courses.  For couples who plan to cruise together, it is important that both partners are confident sailing the boat.

I frequently invite sailing couples to consider the question:  which partner is more likely to fall off the boat? Contrary to what some people think initially, the answer is, the most experienced sailor is more likely to fall overboard, because if something needs to be fixed on the boat, that person will be likely to expose him or herself to higher risks to try to fix the problem.  (I’m been personally guilty of that.) So couples sailing together need to ensure that even the less-experienced sailor has sufficient skill to be able to recover the partner that has fallen overboard.  You only have to put yourself mentally into that situation to realize how important this is.

We are often asked about bringing a partner along on a course. There are two situations.

The first is where one of the partners wants to participate in the instruction process, but is not interested in passing the exams or being certified. This is no problem: you can acquire the important knowledge and skills without writing the exams or being formally evaluated.

The second situation is where a student asks to bring a partner along as a guest who doesn’t plan to participate in the instruction process.

Speaking as an instructor, this is not an ideal situation, either for the couple or the other students in the course. There is a significant risk that having someone on board who isn’t participating will be a distraction for everyone. Watching students practice manoeuvres without being part of the process will inevitably be boring for the non-participant.  A camaraderie always builds when a crew is working together on a boat: the non-participant will find it increasingly hard to fit in.

There can be exceptions to the general discouragement of non-participants: I led a school once where one of the participants informed me in advance that she had significant health issues that would prevent her from participating fully, but that this was an important opportunity for she and her partner to sail together.  In this circumstance, everyone on the boat completely understood the situation and was fine with it.

A better option in case a student wishes to bring along non-participating friends and family is a Barefoot Offshore Sailing School “private course”: click here for details.

Rob McLean is an ASA and Sail Canada Advanced and Offshore Instructor, an ASA and Sail Canada Instructor Evaluator, and Barefoot Offshore Sailing School Lead Instructor and Coordinator