learning to sail catamaran

Sailing Schooled Ep. 4 – Roving Fender & Bob Overboard

Repetition and routine can be a good thing.  Especially when it comes to learning.  It’s day four of catamaran sailing school and the daily tasks are getting easier.  I am even starting to understand the digital computer sound that is the NOAA weather voice.

sailing a catamaran

Each day we’re taking on new skills and cramming more information into our heads.  Today we’re diving deeper into navigation, heading over to a national park lighthouse for docking and we’re learning what to do when someone goes overboard. Oh yea, and we’re taking another test and sailing nearly 30 nautical miles to Miami too, it’s gonna be a long one!

It’s another day of making mistakes, getting a few things right and celebrating us surviving and thriving.  It’s our current version of repetition turned routine.

What We learned On Day Four – Practice makes perfect

Learning Our Catamaran:  One big bonus to our sailing class is we’re learning on our sailboat.  Not only are we learning how to sail, we’re learning how to best sail our boat.  Today Capt. Jen showed us the steps built into our mast, she told us how we can remove the compass discrepancy between our autopilot and GPS,  and she (sadly) noticed our anchor is bent and a few of our chain links are at the end of their life.  Dang it!  At least we know and we can do something about it before it becomes a real problem.  She also explained and demonstrated what prop walk is and how it affects our boat.

Docking:  Learning to navigate and handle the boat in tight quarters is important and something that will become more natural with repetition.  I like knowing that if things get tense (another boater is out of control or we get hit with a big gust of wind) I will respond with the right reaction.  Which means once class is over we will have to be daring and experimental when conditions are ideal until one day we feel so comfortable we can simply react (and not think) when situations go south.  Oh, that and I will never again not have a roving fender in my hands!  It was my first time to NOT be at the helm and wholly mother of Mary, that was a close one!  I’m surprised our capt. didn’t send me up with one, or maybe she was that confident Jason would dock like a (slow) pro.

sailing life

Man Overboard:  This isn’t some super tricky sailing maneuver but it is one we will, of course, practice.  However, I feel like this is a good time to point out a couple of things on safety and the advantages of our catamaran.

  • We have sugar scoops and a swim ladder at water lever. We don’t have to hoist someone up several feet over the side of the boat.  Every article I have found about man overboard statistics and saftey, talks about how hard it is to get the person back on the boat.  We have a major advantage with the design of our boat in that way.  Also, over 60% of MOB’s reported last year by Boat US didn’t know how to swim…which also says a lot.  If you’re on our boat and you don’t know how to swim you better beleive we’re going to make you wear a PFD (and teach you how to swim).
  • We have two engines. We practiced our MOB drills in very light winds using only the sails (as we should).  But you better believe that if that MOB alarm goes off (we wear a lifetag that sounds an alarm and drops a pin on our GPS if one of us or the cats goes overboard) we will not only use the sails but crank on those engines for extra control and speed.

Navigation:  As I assumed, Jason is the shining star here.  He has always been good with maps and math.  Which is excellent, because if it were up to me to navigate by compass and map…well, we would get there, but it might not be the fastest or most direct route, or even the “there” we were planning on.

learning to navigate our sailboat


The Crew, Sailing Courses and Certifications

If you want to know more about why we’re taking sailing classes or get to know Captain Jen or Volunteer Cameraman Terry a little more, check out: Sailing Schooled Ep. 1

We’re taking the A+ Cat Course: Bareboat Catamaran Skipper through Blue Water Sailing School.  (Side note, after our second video, BWSS offered all of our readers a 10% discount!  Just use the code word Curiosity when booking to get the discount. I guess they liked our videos!)

If we pass all the tests, at the end of the week we will be certified for bareboat chartering and big boat sailing. It’s a short, intensive, live-aboard cruising course that combines the Basic Sailing (ASA 101), Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103), Bareboat Chartering (ASA 104), and Cruising Catamaran (ASA 114) curriculum.

Also, for those that have asked you can find our sailing school books here:  and the flashcards we used to study here:

learning to sail


Equipment used to film this video:

See all of our camera/editing equipment and how we use it here:

Coffee making gadgets and other extras you may have noticed can be found here: 

Also, if you want to begin the education you can find our sailing school books here:  and the flashcards we used to study here:


Sailing Report

Date: 6/22/2016
Weather: Minimal clouds and lots of sunshine
Wind:  East 5-10 knots
Seas:  Smooth with only a light chop
Route:  Sailed northbound from North Key Largo to Boca Chita and onto Miami
Anchor Spot:  Outside of No Name Harbor in Biscayne Bay GPS: 25.677015, -80.165950

learning to sail catamaran

learning to sail

A big, giant thanks to all our Patreons, this post is made possible because of your support.

Thanks for watching, reading and laughing with us, not at us.  If any of you are salty sailors and you’ve got some tips about docking, MOB drills or navigation let us know.  We are but grasshoppers.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (50)

  • Chip

    Shout out from your fans at the Leo Robbins Sailing School in Ventura California. You guys are sometimes bought up at the dock before lessons start.

  • Hi Jason & Nikki

    We love your videos and the thing your doing, we are on our way to do the same.
    Not in the same order just. Me and my wife did the RYA Dayskipper tidal education in September 2016.
    In two month we will rent a Leopard 39′ and sail around Sardinia, Italy.
    This as a fresh up our education plus to be used to sail catamarans. As well to see if Leopard catamarans is our cup of tea. As seen live before it’s absolutely our favourite CAT but who knows after sailing one.

    Anyhow when we did our RYA Dayskipper education.
    Our sailing instructor told ut to skip the 8 you did when you had your M.O.B. manoeuvre education.
    This after he learned that, most of the times it will be just the two of us onboard.
    It’s hard to do the 8 with all the sail handling plus have control of where the M.O.B. is. Specially when your alone onboard ans quite stressed.
    If it’s just two onboard and you have a M.O.B. situation. One of you must be the one fallen overboard (logic we thought as well).
    So instead he told us to use the manoeuvre, called “heave-to” (or “stop-tack” in our instructors words when it comes to this use of a heave-to).

    That means stopping the boat – under sail – at once as you know.
    I have seen that you know this manoeuvre but I will do a quick explanation anyway in case someone els don’t.

    How does it work? Here comes an understandable explanation I hope:

    “Bring the sails into a close-hauled point of sail with both the mainsail and jib trimmed in tight.
    Turn the rudder so that the boat tack, without releasing the jib sheet (unlike in normal tacking).
    Once on the new tack, the wind will blow on the wrong side of the jib. The wind in the backed jib will attempt to blow the bow further away from the wind.
    Turn the rudder to the other direction and lock it. This to keep the boat toward the wind on your new tack. The force of the mainsail will try to move the boat toward the wind just as the force in the jib tries to push it away.” Now one starts the engine and begins rescuing the person in the water.

    With this maneuver the boat will not move anymore, it’s like a full brake with a car. Have a look at the speed indicator, it will amazingly show “zero” at once!
    Especially helpful he told us, if there are just two people as you are, sailing and one falls over board.
    You always stay close to the M.O.B., since he/she and the boat are only floating after the stop and you are able to rescue him/her without being more stressed out, than you surely already are in such a situation!

    I hope this is a good advice for you and all your other follower.

    Wish you all the best in the future and may you have good winds.

    Kind regards Patrik & Diana

  • Richard Smith

    Hello Jason & Nikki,
    I enjoy watching your videos which I have been doing since your motor home days.
    I am a retired 72 year old commercial hard hat diver (copper hat & breastplate) that I have been doing for 45 years. I am also a USCG 100 ton Near Coastal Licensed captain running commercial power boats since I was in my teens. Because you requested some tips I though I would offer some. I am a big user of spring lines when docking. Your instructor can probably show you how to use them. You will find that you will have very good control when docking in tight spots between other vessels. With an after spring line running from your forward side cleats leading aft to a cleat, bit or bollard on a dock you can power ahead easy with a slight rudder into the dock to keep your vessel and stern alongside the dock. This technique will allow you to make up your bow and stern breasting lines and forward spring line to the dock cleats, bits or bollards while you are still in forward gear. After all your lines are made up ( remember to compensate for the tide) you can take your engines out of gear and your vessel will be fixed into position. The spring lines stop forward and aft movement and the bow and stern breasting lines will keep the vessel against the dock. When leaving the dock do the reverse, put your engines in forward gear and remove all the lines except the after spring line ( first on last off). Remember you boat steers like a fork lift from the stern. To leave the dock in tight situations with other vessels fore and aft of you, steer into the dock using your portable fender to kick your stern out, as you back away slack and free up your after spring line and have a dock person cast the line off to you. With practice you will become proficient at using this technique. The best captain in the world is no good without a good deck hand to make him or her look good when docking especially in a windy condition.
    While I am giving advice if you will allow me two more tips. Always try to attach your lines on the dock with say a 3′ diameter eye for example on the cleat, bit, bollard or pile, adjusting the lines should always be done from the vessel where you have full control. Do not rely on the dock person to tie the lines just give then the lines eye and tell them where to put it or use a boat hook to drape the eye over the dock cleat, etc.. Remember the first line is your spring line so have the dock person put it where your stern will be located when docked so that you can spring in alongside the dock as mentioned earlier. If there is a strong wind off the dock and other boats on either side just bow up to the spot you want your line fall back and then steer into the dock slacking the spring line to stop your forward movement and spring in alongside the dock. With your twin screws if you are docking with your starboard side to the dock for example use your starboard engine in forward and port engine in reverse, with practice you will find how nice this technique works. One last tip, do not back or under hitch the line on a cleat, it seems that the whole world does this. Believe me if that line becomes real tight you will not get it off without cutting it. Just do a few figure eights over the cleat and finish with a round turn around the cleat. In spite you might think the line will not become undone. Commercial vessel operators in the know never back hitch lines.
    I hope that these tips might help you in your ocean going adventures. Keep the good videos coming.
    Sincerely, Capt. Richard

    • Curt Grina

      Capt. Richard,
      This a really nice essay. I’m saving it for later re-read.

      Thank you

  • Daniel Tamayo

    So I love your videos…my fiancé and I are actually enrolling in Blue Water to take classes in preparation for buying a boat and taking it on a sabattical next year.
    We have cats.
    My main worry is about having them aboard and the dangers to them. I would never leave my kitties behind, so when I saw your videos with your kitties, I thought, “wow…these folks must have it figured out!”
    I’m guessing you have some cat rules to keep them safe…and you mentioned “life tags” in this post, which I couldn’t find much out on because raymarine’s website seems to be down.
    Thank you, again, for such wonderfully inspiring and amazingly honest videos.
    I’m going over to make a patreon donation now…even if you don’t have the time to answer my question, I appreciate it.

  • Diane Murphy

    Hi Wynns!!! I’m just wondering why you don’t wear lines attached to the boat when you are on the decks,. Surely you will secure yourselves to the boat because it won’t always be such beautiful weather and calm seas.
    This is from a landlocked Iowa girl who has never sailed in her life. I am so enjoying your new adventure!

  • Dennis C

    Watched your video this morning. Made a run to the grocery store and saw not one but two Bobs on the freeway on ramp. Almost had an accident (in more ways than one) I was laughing so hard.

  • Bastien

    Hi Nikki,

    I’m not surprised Bob quit. Your treatment of him was callous at best, multiple throws overboard, running him over. Jeez, that’s hard to go through.

    Best of luck! I’m enjoying the series.


    • We are searching out a replacement for Bob, if you’re interested we are taking applications 🙂

  • Lucille Hjort

    I am so surprised how far Bob drifts away from the boat and so fast. You sure do have to react quickly to a man overboard. You are so brave. I do not have your awesome courage and not being able to swim cannot be a major part of it, since, you cannot swim to shore when you are out at sea anyways. I just have an overwhelming fear of water and of heights and I am claustrophobic, too. I am quite a mess. haha

  • Rodney

    Great video
    Jason, you mentioned in the video that Nikki couldn’t multi-task in the Motorhome.
    I thought, she probably could study and drive at the same time, while blasting along at a blistering 4.1 miles per hour, (boat speed 3.6 knots converted)

    Ha ha,
    Only problem is the Cruise control won’t work that slow.
    Well there is also the problem of all that honking and shouting noise that is very distracting when you’re trying to study.

    Rodney ?

  • Really enjoying the day to day of learning. It is a bit daunting. But you guys are doing awesome. Thank you for sharing. We’re learning too!

  • tami

    Interested in more deets about “….we wear a lifetag that sounds an alarm and drops a pin on our GPS if one of us or the cats goes overboard…” Please elaborate? Thanks!

  • cindy

    Aced it!!! Congrats!!! Nice docking. Looked like a beautiful day for it!

  • Derek

    How do you concentrate for tests ? all that blue sky and sunshine combined with having fun. Great videos and I agree with others would make great TV. BBC where are you !!

  • Sandra & the 2 Spaniels

    So love that your kitty cat supports all of your work on your Cat. I’m sure the other one said the hell with it, and took a nap! These sailing videos are so fun-always look forward to them. And who knew that there was so much to learn about sailing??

  • Deborah Kerr

    Hello!! Love your videos and visiting you all on your cat…. Your meals look healthy & delicious!! 🙂

  • Pat Griffin

    Excellent video. It must be exciting learning a new skill that relies on both of you to trust one another to successfully pilot your boat and home to new and exciting locations. I fully enjoy watching you two go though this next challenge in your lives. Keep up the good work.


  • Tom

    Where is your other cat? I only see one in your video. You can’t sail with just One(1) cat, you have to have both of them, Ha, Ha!

  • Great videos, nice to see you progressing! Last week I sent an email to your media address, just wondering if you got it and if so have given it any thought, thanks.


  • mderick

    Hey Nikki:

    Not to be mean, but at 6:58 in the video you do a bit of math 36+7 and you say that it equals 44 oops that’s actually 43.

  • MAN !!! I never knew there was so much to learn about sailing.

    • Scooter trash

      Barracuda….. Barely a cuda!!!! Called slime sticks by fishermen.. totally edible if quickly cleaned and oil gland removed. To release simply hold the hook with pliers and let him jump off hook. Bringing on boat and touching him will kill the fish….. that little dude you released was dead within an hour. Cannot break that slime coating.

  • Dennis

    You are learning a whole new vocabulary…. LOL. Maybe by next summer you will be able to take on a weekend sail customer out of FLL… Now that would be cool and worth the price of admission. My one tip from years of flying and navigating (I am a very good DR navigator on any chart or transportation source) find a pilot shop or just go online and invest in a WHIZ wheel, learn it and your navigation for plotting, distance, time, and even wind drift will be much faster than that clunky calculator. Good luck and fair weather to you both.

  • Walker Matthews

    On the subject of “How are y’all handling X at sea?”—what’s the situation with the cats and their bodily functions? Do y’all have a litter box on board, or are you handling it some other way? How’s that working out?

    I also haven’t seen much of the cats out in the cockpit… Do they pretty much stay inside, or is their apparent absence just circumstantial?

  • Rhonda

    Jason and Nikki,
    Thank you for the posts! I literally check email each day in anticipation of another great adventure from you two!
    I have a question about your water source. Do you carry fresh water or do you have a purifying system to convert the salt water into fresh for washing dishes and showering?

  • Love the videos. I’ve watched them all and always anxiously awaiting the next. You two look like you’re having a great time.

  • Enjoy following your posts. Keep up the good work.

  • Mark

    Your sailing life videos are so much more engaging than your great RV videos were. There is more at stake, we are more invested in your success. You may want to pitch to a network or at least pick up some grant money…

    Fun Facts about monitizing your Videos:

    When I come here to view them, there are no ads. When I view them by going directly to, there are unskippable 2 minute ads!!! I used to use the refresh trick – just refresh the browser window a couple of times to brush ads aside, but that no longer works. Not cool.

    • Mark

      Follow up to my post:

      First of all, thank you for your quick and well thought out response. However, my original post and this thread, don’t belong here. My bad. Move it as you see fit, perhaps to your “how we make money” page.

      However, I stumbled on the answer…

      Google is (inadvertently?) punishing those using AdBlockers by removing the skip option and feeding long (2 minute+) commercials to those users. (Adblockers like adblock allow you to enjoy the internet without all those useless annoying ads.) I call the ads useless and annoying because I will never patronize an advertiser so why should I be forced to watch something I don’t want, will never use, acquire or recommend? I know my habits, get your white noise out of my face Google!

      Here’s what I found…

      Search geek dot com for “Google starts punishing AdBlock users”

      Google doesn’t care about the ad’s value to me. They are happy to scam advertisers into believing that their ads have more value than they actually do by force-feeding ads to those of us who object so they can pad their artificially inflated (read false) numbers.

      Advertisers should want people who don’t want to see ads to use adblockers so that people who still choose to view ads will produce honest ( and likely valuable ) results for advertisers.

      Jason & Nikki, maybe consider moving your videos to Vimeo. You can charge viewers directly for certain videos. I would pay for in-depth knowledge on a subject like sailing. Others would remain free. Video quality and compatibility go up, the ads go away (or are under your control) and you stop feeding the monopolistic google beast. Win, win, win. (Or is that Wynn, Wynn, Wynn? 😉

  • Nikki and Jason…You Both are am Inspiration!!
    Quite the difference from the RV to the Patreon!
    We are up on the Maine Coast. You’d Love it in the Summer!!
    Awesome Videos!
    ~Jeff and Emily 🙂

  • Nancy Fernandez

    Another great video.. Congrats on acing the test. Poor Bob. Loving the adventures.

  • John S.

    Great the way you keep smiling when doing all that learning. At the very least you keep all of US smiling!

    Also good to see Capt. Jen being repetitive on the MOB drills.

      • John S.

        Sorry to hear Bob quit. BUT: Reading below it sounds to me like John has offered Peter for the next MOB practice.

        And if John can gat a drone video of it then, wow, THAT would be a classic!

  • John Caron

    Good job! You have a great instructor and cameraman too! Now get busy and get up to date with the rest of the videos because I have a feeling there is a lot more adventure ahead.

  • Sharon Glett

    I never miss an episode! What fun to feel like I’m sailing too! Thanks for the armchair adventures! 🙂

  • Brian

    As always, a great video, thanks for sharing, I really enjoy your adventures.

  • Jim and Jon Hamilton

    We’re SO loving these videos. While I never lived aboard my boat and sold it 8 years ago, I’m reliving my time on it with these videos!

    Plus, while this video was playing in one window, I’m plotting our cross-country trip next month to bring our ‘new’ (to us anyway) RV home to San Diego from Ohio in another. We’re looking forward to our new adventures in the RV, but thankfully there will be no testing involved!! 😉

    As always, beautiful scenery and expert editing/sound/etc. You two deserve your next cocktail! (but seriously, HOW does Nikki stay so happy and positive with a broken finger while bleeding?!?! (from the WX video) Must be lots of footage on the cutting room floor!! You guys are some serious troopers!!)

    Much love!!!


  • That “rescue” operation turned into a “recovery” operation in a flash. Just like in Mutiny on the Bounty, Bob got keel-hauled! We might have to start calling Nikki “Captain Bligh” if this keeps up. 😛 Congrats on acing your test. We knew you would. 🙂

      • 1) Run over the victim… uh, I mean MOB. 2) Put us in the water. Okay Captain. We’re in your hands! 🙂

  • William

    As I predicted, you guys are already showing so much improvement. Love the videos!


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