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From helping guests choose the right experience to keeping them safe, we partnered with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to provide safety recommendations and best practices to help you host a keelboat or dinghy sailing experience.

Set the right expectations

If there are health, fitness, or other requirements needed to safely enjoy the experience, make this clear in your experience’s description. This includes providing details about the length of time, exertion and fitness required, and skill levels needed. If your sailing experience requires the active participation of the guest, make that clear. 

Here’s a guide from the ATTA to help you communicate to guests what skill level is needed for your sailing experience: 

Keelboat / Cruising

  • Beginner: Day sailing; a short outing (up to half-day) in mild conditions. Guests can join without any experience.
  • Intermediate: Sailing in light to moderate conditions. The experience might be a multi-day sail in which you make daily passages and anchor overnight. If overnight, expect living conditions to be reasonably tight. Guests may be expected to assist with crewing. If sailing on open waters, some people experience sea sickness.
  • Advanced: Some sailing skills will be helpful, as guests may be asked to help sail the boat.  The route may venture to more exposed water or even make an overnight passage. Guests may be expected to assist with crewing. If sailing on open waters, some people experience sea sickness.

Dinghy

  • Beginner: Small-boat sailing on protected water.  A dinghy sail boat is light and fast, and guests may get wet. No skills required.
  • Intermediate: Sailing a light, fast boat in moderate conditions. Guests will likely get wet from spray or waves.  These conditions may capsize small boats.  Recovery is easy and you’ll be sailing again quickly. Guests may have some previous experience. 
  • Advanced: Fast sailing in a light boat. Guests may participate in operating the boat and will need to be nimble to shift weight to keep the boat upright. Guests should be ready to assist in the recovery of a capsize. Basic sailing skills required to participate.

Communicate with guests often 

Once someone books, you can use Airbnb’s messaging system to introduce yourself and help your guests feel welcome and prepared. Check in with them to find out if they have any health concerns that may affect their participation. This may be anything from a food allergy to a heart condition. Make sure you’re clear on what modifications you’re able or willing to make to accommodate them. Let guests know that you’re available to answer any questions. 

You should create an experience where your guests feel comfortable asking questions at any point. Try to anticipate common points of concern (such as how to use the bathroom on your experience, expectations for interaction with others, etc.). Address any concerns outright–and make yourself available to attend to these and any others questions throughout your experience. 

Listen with patience and authentic concern, and try to put yourself in your guests shoes. This could include practical matters like if there will be food, snacks, or water provided, if they should bring their own water bottle, and what bathroom facilities are available. Try to address these concerns before guests have to ask. What may seem normal to you may be difficult or fear-inspiring for your guests, so your communication is key to a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Follow local regulations & check forecasts

You should have the local knowledge to know if and when it’s acceptable to take out a guest and what rules or regulations apply to areas in which you may sail. You should know the weather forecast, and the state of the tides.

Set expectations with a pre-trip briefing

Before you head into the water, take the time to teach or review skills with beginners before casting off if they are expected to help operate the boat. To make sure guests of any level are comfortable before you sail out, talk objectively about conditions first, and any tasks the guests will be expected to perform on board (working sails, helming, etc).

As a host, assess your guests’ skills continuously (i.e. while talking on the dock, getting ready to go out, and on the water). Once you’re on the water, keep checking in: ask guests how they’re feeling and observe them to see if they’re comfortable and their skills match the conditions and your expectations. 

Provide the right gear

Prepare and organize your boat for guests. Make sure the deck, cockpit and living areas are relatively free of tripping obstructions, no damages, frayed ropes or ripped fabric in the sails. Make sure all required safety gear and legal carriage requirements are in good condition and available. 

Personal flotation devices should be made available to all guests. The need to wear personal flotation devices while on the water may be dictated by local regulations, the intensity of the experience, the skill and the comfort of the guest. 

If harnesses will be used, they should be sized and fitted to each guest. Tethers must allow quick-release operation from the harness end. 

If you’re sailing in a dinghy, the boat should float if capsized or swamped.  

Choose the proper conditions

Before launching, talk to guests about conditions they may encounter, so they are not surprised. Consider briefing them on wind, current, waves, any sea life, boat traffic and how these conditions might affect their comfort or safety. You may specifically speak to the risk of sea-sickness. 

Keep an eye on conditions throughout the experience in case they change and you need to head in. You should be able to tell when conditions are too dangerous for your guest’s sailing level. Don’t go out if there is an unreasonable or unexpected risk to your guests.

Always choose safety

As a host, you should have rescue skills: water lifesaving competence, and an up-to-date First Aid and CPR certification. Always have a comprehensive first aid kit easily accessible.

You should also have an emergency action plan and share it with your guests. Let them know what they should do in case of emergency, which could include injury, unexpected weather, currents, or sea life, or a sudden increase in conditions. Find out more about making an emergency plan.

Partner disclaimers

Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA): Courtesy of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. ©2021 Adventure Travel Trade Association. All rights reserved.

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) name and logo are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement or vetting of, express or implied, of any product, service, person, company, opinion or political position. The ATTA does not select or approve, and is not involved in the selection or approval of, Airbnb Experiences or Hosts. For more information about the Adventure Travel Trade Association, visit adventuretravel.biz.