Life On Board

Every trip is different, not least because of the weather and tides, and every group is unique. Consequently, there is a lot of flexibility in what we do and how we do it. Nevertheless, there are some general points that can be made:


  • We try to create an atmosphere where people feel at home on board.
  • For many, the experience of being with others is as important as the activity itself.
  • There have to be rules and boundaries – the reasons for them are explained and in return we ask for a responsible attitude.
  • Voices should not be raised except where safety is at stake.
  • We ask leaders to help in their preparation of the group to stress that listening is essential for safety in a strange environment.


  • Life on board a vessel is very different from routine life on dry land.
  • The pace of life varies from extreme activity and involvement to periods of quiet watch keeping. Accepting this variety can take time.
  • Keeping groups occupied is important to make the most of the trip.
  • There are a variety of roles available on board to occupy groups and individuals.
  • With a flexible outlook on what might happen, the experience will be one to enjoy and remember.

Ship’s needs

  • If a member of your group is given a task by the crew, they must do it – it may be of vital importance!
  • An explanation will be given if possible, but for safety reasons there may not be time for talk first.
  • Always complete the tasks as instructed and ask questions afterwards.

Leaders’ role – a challenge

  • Compared to working with a group ashore, the commitment is much greater, more demanding and more tiring but it is worth it.
  • You are there 24 hours a day, everyday.
  • This is why the right ratio of leaders to suit the demands of the group is essential.
  • Leaders need to be ready to accompany and work with their team whenever they are on deck, ashore or engaged in activities below.
  • You should have group activities prepared for the evenings, in case of bad weather and for going ashore. For example; treasure hunts, competitions etc.


Swimming from the vessel may be possible at certain times of the year under the strict control and permission of the Skipper, who must be satisfied with the sea conditions and life saving resources available.

We recommend that the Group Leader should have written consent from a parent or guardian for each young person intending to swim, together with assurance that they are competent in deep water.

Swimming from the shore is the responsibility of the Group Leader. However, the onus is on the Skipper to advise of any known dangers.


  • With a large group of people living in the confines of a boat, domestic chores are essential to maintain a pleasant and healthy environment.
  • Time must be taken each day to clean the boat to maintain standards.
  • Cleaning should take the form of a rota to include cleaning the toilets and wash basins, floors, galley and fridge, as well as swabbing the decks.
  • At the end of the trip a full clean up is carried out by the group under the direction of the Cirdan sea staff and with the cooperation of the group leaders to ensure the vessel is left in the condition you would wish to find it. This is done most successfully when approached positively and as a challenge.


In our experience, it is important to structure a voyage to include time together on board, around the table, perhaps after supper in a port of call. This does not have to involve anything to do with sailing the boat directly. For many of the young people, spending time enjoying the company of others (especially mixed ages and gender) is a new experience and can be an essential part of their development.

  • Evenings spent singing and playing parlour games can be fun.
  • If you or the young people play musical instruments, suitable to be brought on board, please bring them. Form your own band and practise for a last night concert – work to your own standards!
  • Talent shows can put together or fashion shows staged showing outfits made from items on board eg bin liners and newspapers. 
  • Time ashore is also important for young people but, from a safety point of view, it is important that no one returns to the vessel on their own. They could fall over board without anyone’s knowledge.
  • The vessel may lie alongside a quay or be anchored in sheltered water overnight. This may mean a trip ashore using the tender (this can be fun, but a responsible attitude to safety is necessary in the smaller boat).

Watch keeping

  • Sometimes it is necessary to sail at night.
  • Once on board, the group become active members of the crew. The crew are divided into teams called watches.
  • The watch system is designed to allow the activities on board to continue right throughout the day and night (if this is part of the sailing plan) in a way that is fair to everyone.
  • The Skipper will decide exactly how the watches are organised, taking into account weather conditions, the destination and the needs of the group on board. The group leader’s co-operation may be needed to encourage successful operation of the watch system.


  • You may berth overnight in a marina where you will be able to make use of the toilet and shower facilities. A responsible leader must accompany the young people when using the facilities if there is any chance they will misuse them. Damage to the marina facilities may be changed to the group.   
  • It is important to respect the property and privacy of the berth holders and use the facilities appropriately. 
  • Marina facilities are a privilege and misuse of them may jeopardise the Trust’s welcome.