Are you planning to embark on a sailing cruise this summer? Before any technical details (type of boat, equipment, etc.) you should carefully evaluate the crew. That is, your fellow adventurers. Be careful, because a heterogeneous and close-knit group will guarantee you an unforgettable vacation, vice versa it will end in a fight or, just like in the picture above, man overboard. We had fun compiling a list of five types of boat mates to absolutely avoid if you want to have a smooth cruise.
1. THE ORGANIZER
Usually it is a manager, engineer or accountant. Before he sets sail, he has already organized a proper calendar of all activities; he knows exactly what will be done, when and where. Assigns roles to each crew member, based on presumed (by him) predispositions. He could put your nine-year-old son in the kitchen and your pregnant wife at the tree if he sees fit. He takes unforeseen contingencies into account (from a broken lower mainsail batten to a dripping faucet in the forward bathroom) and already prepares alternatives, carrying a toolbox to make Leroy Merlin envious. An accountant Filini of navigation. A little planning goes a long way, but the unexpected is part of sailing, for crying out loud!
2. THE INFORMATOR.
This kind of navigation nerd, if not kept at bay, will turn your boat into a floating Silicon Valley: since “without wifi on board today, you can’t live” (in his words), he will wire up the un-wireable and your square will look more like Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. In theory, thanks to him you will be able to display navigation data on your smartphone with the NMEA interface, engine status, manage the course, and even force the rototiller to make you coffee. In theory, because punctually, once you set sail, the ingenious wireless network created by the computer scientist will implode because you do not have enough power to power it. Ours will thus spend the entire cruise smooching wiring, rewiring, and turning instruments off and on.
3. THE PIGER.
The lazy person is actually not so lazy. He spends more energy pretending to be busy than actually being busy. When you are about to moor and you need a man to take the tow or go ashore to throw you the lines, the lazy man will come down to the bathroom a victim of feigned colic; if you need a hand to give the reefs he will be below deck fumbling on the chart table. He is also a staunch follower of “While You’re There.” If someone re-emerges from below deck, the lazy person will send him or her below again with phrases-like, “While you’re there, could you pass me the water?” or “While you’re there, could you get me the sunscreen?” If you reprimand him, he will be offended, so the only technique is to ask him to do a different job than you actually need him to do. If you have to tidy up the lines in the cockpit, ask him to go below deck to get your oilskin: “Eh sorry, now I have to tidy up the lines in the cockpit.”
4. THE COUTTS DE NOANTRI
You catch him now, the Russell Coutts de Noantri. He shows up on the day of departure for a three-week cruise in a hypertechnical micro-bag, tight lycra pants and Olympic drift shoes. The latest America’s Cup goggles and ultra-breathable spray-top are a must. He climbs aboard with an athletic gesture (he rejects catwalks on principle, they weigh too much), places himself at the helm and starts giving orders to have a high-performance boat and crew because, according to him, “even in cruising you have to be able to go fast to save time.” Once the sails are pulled up, “chopstick” your electrician friend who is a first-time boater because the mainsail leech, at the top, refuses too much, forcing your wife to lie down on deck to ease the hydrodynamic profile of the boat. He will cast threatening glances at you if you relax for a moment. When he encounters another boat on his route, he becomes a beast, considering himself engaged even 15 miles away. It is usually unloaded at the first port of call or, at worst, abandoned in the middle of the sea on the life raft.
5. THE FISHERMAN.
Dangerously, he comes to the boat armed with sixteen different types of fishing rods, deep-sea big game seat and once out of the harbor will force you to maintain a motor speed of 2-3 knots despite a good wind at slack because “the noise of the motor attracts tuna and dolphinfish” and “at low speeds the rapalà, I read (but where??!), is more effective.” Moral of the story: it will take you 12 hours to travel the distance from Genoa to Portofino. Without, of course, catching a fish. And it may be your fault, because “you didn’t follow the course I told you perfectly and didn’t turn around when I saw that shoal of anchovies jump 2 miles away.”(E.R.)