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According to Richard Van Der Veen

Seamanship: According to Richard

The definition of seamanship is:  the art and skill of handling, working, and navigating a ship.


The skills are straightforward: being able to handle the boat, establish where you are and where to go, while keeping clear of danger.


The syllabi of all sail-training programs are based around these skills and the required knowledge. Whether it is at Dayskipper or at Yachtmaster level, the list of skills is almost similar, only the standards go up.

So what is the "art" aspect of seamanship?

It is the difference between solid and mediocre skippers, it draws a line between those who get themselves, their crew and/or their vessel in messy situations, and those who see and can anticipate potential obstacles/challenges from miles away and are able to stay clear from them.


For example, the sailor who leaves the dock, perhaps hampered by a cold, while the forecast is unfavorable and having just discovered defects on the boat which have remained unsolved, might have all the skills, but lacks this critical part of seamanship.


The art of seamanship is about:


Knowing your circumstances:

  • awareness and anticipation, know what's happening and what might happen, have a 360o view

  • evaluation,  how far along will this effect crew/skipper/vessel

  • judgement, does it require immediate action?

  • action, what calls need to be made

Choosing the best option:

The art of seamanship defines the ability to choose the best option, for yourself as skipper, for the safety of your crew and the safety for your vessel.


Almost everything done on board can be done in more than one way. While working on the foredeck you have the choice to leave the hatch opened or not. While coming down on the companionway you can choose to face aft or forward. You can start rigging your fenders and mooring lines in the open sea or in the sheltered waters of the port and so on, the list is endless.



Planning, project management, anticipating your next step, where and how to execute.

Take pre-emptive action.

Learning Knots
Safe winching techniques
Helming in all conditions
Chart work and passage planning
Sweating the halyard
Having fun
Lets hoist the main!
Keep a proper lookout
Taking a bearing
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