Over the years, we've had our share of guests aboard. Sometimes it's easy; sometimes it's a trial.
Land folk don't realize that leaving on lights or fans when they're not being used is a waste of power. Leaving a fridge or freezer locker door open is a major issue. Leaving the fresh water running while you brush your teeth or are waiting for the water to turn hot is a no-no. Just living in close quarters and sharing space with other people when you're used to your own space can be a challenge.
After several guests arrived with big, hard-sided suitcases and shoes that left marks on our white decks, we decided the best idea was to send a checklist in advance with our suggestions as to what to bring and what not to bring. This included clothing (but not too much) appropriate for the climate, non-marking white-soled shoes, lots of sunscreen and a good hat, all packed neatly in a soft-sided, small suitcase or daypack. We have lots of sweatshirts and extra rain gear aboard and we preferred to share rather than have no place to stow extra stuff.
Once folks arrived and moved aboard, we also provided a Welcome Aboard “memo”. I know it sounds anal, but it really saved us all a lot of headaches. It was just a reminder to guests about key things to remember while living aboard Nine of Cups with us. A list of “Don'ts” (Don't leave lights on. Don't leave the water running. No smoking. Don't play with the electronics.) topped the list, but we also included a lot of “Do's” encouraging our guests to learn more about sailing, more about the boat or more about marine life if they chose or simply relaxing and reading a book and enjoying their time away from the rat race. Some folks came for the sailing adventure and some came to explore some new exotic place. We planned inland trips or sailing trips accordingly.
For people who were new to our boat, we decided it was prudent to provide a safety spiel. Here's your PFD. Here's where the fire extinguishers are. Here's how you turn on and off the propane stove and why it's important to make sure you shut it off properly. If we were heading out for a sail, here's our Man Overboard routine. And if we were out for overnight sail, here are the watch rules and here's how to tether yourself in the cockpit.
Even using the head is a new experience for most visitors and since we were keen to avoid clogs, we made sure we reviewed the minimal toilet paper rule and stress that nothing except human refuse went in the head. All heads seem to be a bit different so even other cruisers needed reminding of this, especially if they'd been on land for too long. (We'll need to take a refresher course, I'm afraid).
One issue with guests arriving at a specific day and time is that unless we're already at the rendezvous point, you can bet we're rushing at the end to get there no matter how much time we plan for in advance. Unless people have sailed before and understand the vagaries of the wind and weather, they don't realize just how difficult it is to predict how long it will take to get from Point A to Point B. Nothing worse than arriving in port the same day your guests do. Well, maybe arriving the day after they arrive would be worse.
The best two aspects of having guests, I guess, is when they arrive and when they leave. We do lots of fun things in between, and really enjoy the visits. Like all company, however, it's fun to have them with you, but it's an upset to the usual routine. Getting back to the normality of just us two is always a welcome pleasure.