20 episodes

Hey sailor! My name is Penny and I have been a sailing coach with Sail Canada for over 25 years! I have helped thousands of sailors find their passion and love of all things sailing. I'm here to help you live your best sailing life. I provide gear reviews, sailing tips, habits to perfect and much more!

So, sit back and enjoy some informative, entertaining, unique sailing content! See you on the water ;-) Don't miss an episode! https://pagessailnelson.com/podcast

Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast Penny Caldwell

    • Education
    • 4.8 • 9 Ratings

Hey sailor! My name is Penny and I have been a sailing coach with Sail Canada for over 25 years! I have helped thousands of sailors find their passion and love of all things sailing. I'm here to help you live your best sailing life. I provide gear reviews, sailing tips, habits to perfect and much more!

So, sit back and enjoy some informative, entertaining, unique sailing content! See you on the water ;-) Don't miss an episode! https://pagessailnelson.com/podcast

    #19: Which Sailing Course Do I Take?

    #19: Which Sailing Course Do I Take?

    So you have decided to take up sailing! Great! But where do you start?! There are a lot of options out there so this week I'm going to dive into figuring out which course is for you. Here are some of my insider opinions on what to think about when signing up for your sailing course.

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    What is my sailing background?

    Never sailed before: alright in this case you have never been on a sailboat and have no idea how to manage the sails, rigging, where the wind is coming from, etc. You see sailboats out on the water and think "I want to do that!". Don't worry, there is a course for you!
    Sailed dinghies as a kid: in this case you used to do summer camps or maybe had a dinghy at your cottage that you used to bomb around the lake on. You don't really have an idea of what the heck the boat was doing, but you knew when you capsized that something was off.
    Some keelboat sailing: you've probably hopped onto someone's boat and thought "this is great!" You may have picked up a few good (and bad) habits along the way, but don't have formal training.
    Multiple seasons of keelboating: in this case you have been sailing a pile of times, potentially have your own boat, and are really just looking to get that pesky piece of paper!

    What are my options?

    Intro to Sailing: an introductory course is usually a few hours and really geared towards someone who has never been on a sailboat and really doesn't know if it is for them. The Introduction to Boating Standard with Sail Canada is perfect for this level.
    Basic Day Sailing: this course is for someone who has been out on a boat and you are now looking to increase your knowledge and skills, but in a formal setting. Maybe you are thinking about certifications at this point and want to follow a curriculum. The Start Keelboat Sailing Standard with Sail Canada is the right fit for this level of sailor.
    Day Skipper Sailing: at this point you are looking to skipper your own vessel and potentially move up into liveaboard sailing. The Basic Cruising Standard with Sail Canada is the level that you want as it covers everything from boat parts, to emergency situations, anchoring, crew overboard and much more.
    Bareboat Sailing: Now you're seriously thinking about chartering and sailing off into the sunset. You're interested in bareboat chartering a vessel and being in charge. You should look at completing the Intermediate Cruising Standard with Sail Canada to receive an internationally recognized certification.

    See sailnelson.com/podcast for more show notes... 

    • 26 min
    #18: Seasickness!!

    #18: Seasickness!!

    This week I am diving into a much dreaded topic: seasickness! Arg. No one enjoys this one, but it must be discussed as it can GREATLY impact your boat! We will take a look at all facets of this lovely experience from definition, to prevention, to management!

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    Definition of Seasickness
    seasickness [ see-sik-nis ] - noun

    nausea and dizziness, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, resulting from the rocking or swaying motion of a vessel in which one is traveling at sea.

    Medical Explanation
    Motion sickness: A disorder of the sense of balance and equilibrium and, hence, the sense of spatial orientation that is caused by repeated motion such as from the swell of the sea, the movement of a car, or the motion of a plane in turbulent air. Motion sickness is due to irritation of a portion of the inner ear called the labyrinth.

    Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/motion_sickness/definition.htm

    The Role of the Ears
    Your inner ears, in particular, help control your sense of balance. They are part of a network called the vestibular system.

    This system includes three pairs of semicircular canals and two sacs, called the saccule and the utricle. They send information about what’s going on around you to the brain.

    The semicircular canals hold a fluid that moves with the turns of your head. The saccule and utricle are sensitive to gravity. They tell the brain whether you’re standing up or lying down.

    The Role of the Brain
    Your brain takes in all this data, and it usually comes together and makes sense. But sometimes your brain gets confusing signals.

    On a flying plane, for example, you feel like you’re moving, but your eyes tell your brain that you don’t appear to be going anywhere. The opposite is true as well. After a long sea voyage, you can stand still on dry land but still feel like you’re moving.

    The result is the same: motion sickness.

    Symptoms of Seasickness

    loss of balance
    increase saliva production
    loss of appetite
    pale skin
    shallow breathing

    Prevention - Pre-Trip

    Relax. Try to avoid thinking or speaking about seasickness.
    Stay organized. Know where the food is and know where your gear is.
    Avoid alcohol. Alcohol could create dehydration and confusion.
    Cut out stimulants like sugar & coffee.

    Prevention - During Trip

    Don't talk about it. I find when people start talking about seasickness, they start to feel seasick.
    Start trip in daylight. Getting everyone acclimatized to the boat prior to a night shift is ideal.
    Fresh air. Have meals and snacks prepared so you can be up on deck as mush as possible.
    Helm. Watch the horizon, take the helm or focus on a job.


    • 28 min
    #17: Sailing Goals - Offshore Sailing

    #17: Sailing Goals - Offshore Sailing

    This episode is for those of you who are interested in offshore sailing. Unlike my other episodes in this Sailing Goals series, I am not going to focus so much on courses. Instead I'm going to focus on physical and mental preparation required for offshore sailing. In 2018 I participated in a boat delivery for the Vic-Maui International Yacht Race. What an adventure it was!

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    The Magic of Offshore Sailing
    I would be lying to you if I told you that offshore sailing is anything short of magical. Don't get me wrong, it can be very uncomfortable at times and is not for everyone! But if you are interested in offshore sailing it can be a life-changing experience.

    Mental Preparation
    Night Sailing
    When you decide to join an offshore sailing trip, make sure it is NOT your first time sailing at night! If you discover that you are prone to seasickness, cannot handle sleeping in shifts, or are just plain old grumpy when out of your comfort zone, offshore sailing may not be for you. The first thing I suggest you do is get a couple off night sails under your belt. I would also recommend that you try to do them during times when the weather may be challenging. This way you get some yucky weather sailing under your belt, and you'll start to see what you're made of. CONCLUSION: get out of your comfort zone.

    Hot Bunking
    Be prepared to share your bunk space with others. I learned early on that if you do not stow away your pillow and sleeping gear, it will most likely get used by someone else. Ewww. Be ready to share small spaces with smelly, snory, people who are just as uncomfortable and excited as you. It is a process. We all get to the point of exhaustion and laziness, so try to keep your space simple and clean. CONCLUSION: it's gonna get uncomfortable.

    Creating Routines
    This is an area where I failed miserably on my last trip. I kept saying that I would get myself into a good routine at the beginning and end of each shift. Instead I pulled myself out of bed and put on my gear in a zombie-like state! I wish I had spent more time giving myself a few minutes to get into a better state so I could at least try to enjoy the shift changes a bit more. It may be the only time you get to spend with the other half of the crew! I would suggest picking 2 or 3 simple things you can do to ground yourself before heading out of your cabin. Feet on the floor, change into clean clothes, brush your teeth. You'll start feeling human again at some point. CONCLUSION: remember to take care of yourself!

    What you will experience...

    billions of stars
    insane number of shooting stars
    no encounters with people for days, and then porpoises show up at the bow
    no wildlife to speak of other than Albatross, tuna and porpoises... then a random bird will land on your deck
    phosphorescence that are impossibly beautiful
    waves that are taller than your house

    • 34 min
    #16: Sailing Goals - Liveaboard Sailing

    #16: Sailing Goals - Liveaboard Sailing

    This week we are talking about my favourite kind of sailing! Bareboat cruising or living on the boat for a few days, weeks, months or years! I really enjoy the pace and lifestyle of being on a boat. Don't get me wrong, a garden and yard for the kids to play in is also great, but I do love spending extended days on a boat. This episode is geared to those sailors who are thinking about spending more and more time living on a boat. Perhaps you're looking to do some bareboat chartering in the Caribbean, or maybe you're wanting to venture off for a week or two to explore your surroundings. This is the episode for you!
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    Who is the Liveaboard Sailor?
    The liveaboard sailor is someone who is wanting to spend more and more time on a boat. It could be for a long weekend of boat camping, or, more likely, for a week or two of chartering. Which courses will help you to prepare? What are some sailing aspects you should focus on? What are some extra skills you should consider acquiring? These are some of the things I am going to touch on in this episode.
    Which key courses should you take?
    Liveaboard sailing is all about planning, adapting and managing changes that come your way. Prepare your trip plan (see Episode 7: Day Trip Planning for some advice), prepare your crew (check out Bonus Episode 12: Crew Selection), and get ready to enjoy everything sailing has to offer! This is one of my favourite ways to spend time on the boat. So, here is a short list of key courses I think you should take to step into liveaboard/bareboat cruising:
    Intermediate Cruising: for Sail Canada our bareboat cruising course is called Intermediate Cruising. This course teaches you the fundamentals of living on a boat. Provisioning, boat systems, passage planning, etc.
    Intermediate Coastal Navigation: I would highly recommend that you have the Intermediate Coastal Navigation course under your belt and you have practiced plotting on your charts. When you are out sailing you will want to be able to take your bearings, plot them and move on to the next item on your list quickly.
    What have you been practicing & learning?
    For this level of sailing I am not going to focus on certifications you should have, but more so on things you should have knowledge about. These include:

    boat systems: head & black water, fresh water, grey water, basic engine maintenance, galley cooking systems, and electronics on the boat.
    provisioning: ice box, refrigeration, cooler, fresh water capacity, and desalinator troubleshooting.
    sailing maneuvers: crew overboard, reefing, heaving-to, docking, anchoring --> should all be easy-peasy by this stage.

    Top 3 Habits to Perfect


    • 32 min
    #15 Sailing Goals - Racing

    #15 Sailing Goals - Racing

    This is episode #2 in a four-part series I am doing on sailing goals. These episodes are aimed at helping you to figure out which courses to take, habits to form, and areas to focus on depending on where you want to end up! This second episode is geared to the race sailor who wants to move into the world of racing. Whether you are looking for weekend races, or offshore races, I'll talk about how you can create a plan to get there!

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    Who is the Race Sailor?
    The race sailor is an experienced day sailor looking to take their sailing to the next level. They have probably already completed several introduction or basic sailing courses. They may own their own boat, or they may be crewing regularly for someone else. Perhaps you have already dabbled in the world of beer can racing and now you are curious about larger, or maybe even offshore, races.

    Which key courses should you take?
    There are a few different ways that you can expand your sail racing knowledge. Here are some of my thoughts:

    Introduction to Racing Course: there are several courses that help you understand the foundations of sailboat racing. These courses also should dive into the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) which are updated every 4 years. There are also many courses and seminars that focus on specific aspects of the race and the rules pertaining to those aspects, such as race starts.
    Spinnaker Course: Being able to fly a spinnaker is a beautiful thing, but there are some key elements and safety components that you should be familiar with. I highly recommend a spinnaker course to help you become familiar with the rigging and handling of this large sail.
    Race Officer Course: Becoming a race official, or just taking the courses to understand how they evaluate and manage a race, is a great way to increase your racing knowledge. Also, many clubs are always looking for race officials, so why not!

    • 26 min
    #14: Sailing Goals - Day Sailing

    #14: Sailing Goals - Day Sailing

    This is episode #1 in a four-part series I am doing on sailing goals. These episodes are aimed at helping you to figure out which courses to take, habits to form, and places to go with your sailing depending on where you want to end up! This first episode is geared to the new sailor who wants to become the most proficient and able day sailor there is. Explore your own backyard with knowledge and head home at the end of your day feeling invigorated by your sailing adventure!

    Support me on Patreon!
    Who is the Day Sailor?
    The day sailor is probably someone who is just starting out to explore the amazing world of sailing! Alternatively, you've been a sailor for awhile, and are continuing to sail while dabbling in other hobbies as well. Either way, you love to get out for a day of sailing with family and friends and may participate in occasional beer can races put on by your local sailing club.

    Which key courses should you take?
    Here is my short list of courses to help you achieve day sailor perfection:

    Basic day sailing course: you should take an introduction or basic skipper course such as the Start Keelboat Sailing course or the Basic Cruising course
    Introduction to weather: this could be an online course or in-person course. MetEd has a lot of great free weather courses.
    VHF Marine Radio course: get your license so you can hail others as needed and use this handy marine communication tool
    First Aid: get a basic first aid course under your belt. That way if there are any minor injuries on board you are prepared to help.
    Knowledge of charts or GPS: you should be familiar with your surroundings. Get copies of the local chart, Chart No 1, and familiarize yourself with local knowledge

    Top 4 Habits to Perfect
    HABIT 1  Pre-departure Check: As a day sailor this should become second nature for you and something that you automatically do prior to every departure. Don't assume that the boat is as you left it! Download my boat checklist or create your own and make it automatic.

    HABIT 2 Safety Gear Check: I have decided to break out safety gear and boat check as I think they both warrant a good once over. For your safety gear you are checking the required gear, as well as recommended gear. Is your ladder still securely fixed to the transom? Does your boat hook still telescope properly? Are your flares dry and readily available?

    HABIT 3 Include Your Guests: get into the habit of coaching others and including them in your boat prep. This will help them feel involved, and will help you feel a little less stressed about potentially having non-sailors onboard. Ask Uncle Rob to read the flare instructions. Teach Aunt Helen how to tie eight knots at the ends of the sheets. Teach neighbour Bob how to start and turn off the engine. These are all relatively small tasks, but if you need help from someone at some point while day sailing, you now have someone who has already been exposed to the information and your specific boat.

    HABIT 4 Practice Your Crew Overboard: Regardless of whichever COB recovery method you use, you should know it inside and out as a day sailor. Especially if you often have non-sailors out with you on the boat. The last thing you want to be doing while Sally is in the water is trying to remember where to put the boat while 3 other people are asking you what to do. Make it automatic.

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

phinehas j ,

Thanks Penny!!!

My grandfather passed away unexpectedly a few years ago when I was 14 and I was given books of his and among them was the Annapolis book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere. I was instantly hooked on sailing and now I’m in the process of saving to build a curragh.

ConstableParks ,

Excellent Info

This is just what I was looking for - a podcast for new sailors (like myself) that gives good information without the lame jokes and talking like a pirate. Penny presents the information without getting off-topic and rambling on. She is prepared with the information that she wants to share and is easy to listen to. Well done! Looking forward to more podcasts.

winmeback ,

Good start to the podcast.

Host has a tonne of knowledge and passion about sailing. She does a great job speaking at a level for beginners to sailing like myself.

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