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FAQ for First-Time Sailors on X Dimension

  1. What is "Bluewater" sailing?
  2. Can I go sailing on Mashnee?
  3. Do I have to know how to sail?
  4. How do I sign up?
  5. How many people can sail on Mashnee?
  6. Can I bring friends or family?
  7. How long are the trips?
  8. What should I wear?
  9. What should I bring?
  10. What about seasickness?
  11. How often can I sail on Mashnee?
  12. How can I become a skipper?


  1. Q: What is "Bluewater" sailing?
    A: We use the term "Bluewater" to describe sailing that is done in Boston Harbor and in the Atlantic Ocean where the water is blue (well... it's much bluer than the muddy Charles River!). MIT's current bluewater sailboat is Mashnee, a 47-foot wooden sloop.
    Last edit by: theodric
  2. Q: Can I go sailing on Mashnee?
    A: Yes! Sailing on Mashnee is open to all members of the MIT community and their guests, with priority going to persons with an active Sailing Card.
    Last edit by:
  3. Q: Do I have to know how to sail?
    A: You do not have to know how to sail to sign up for a trip on Mashnee. We welcome sailors of all skill levels and abilities. A boat the size of Mashnee needs a crew to sail her and we're always eager to teach new sailors the skills that they need to help keep her on a steady course.
    Last edit by: theodric
  4. Q: How do I sign up?
    A: Trips will be scheduled through the Sailing Calendar. Often, trips will be announced on the Bluewater mailing list. If you would like to sign up, go to the event page and click the "Registration" link.

    If you would like to schedule a trip yourself, send email to one or more of the captains to let them know what you would like to plan. How many days? What destination? Who will go? What stops will be made along the way? The captain on each voyage has the final say on who may sail on any given trip.
    Last edit by: theodric
  5. Q: How many people can sail on Mashnee?
    A: Mashnee needs at least two people to sail her, preferably three or four. Most trips have no more than eight or nine people aboard as it tends to start getting crowded with much more than that. The actual number of crew is up to the discretion of the captain on each trip. There are four berths on Mashnee, so most overnight trips are limited to four people, although, if the weather is nice, people could sleep out on deck with a sleeping bag.
    Last edit by: theodric
  6. Q: Can I bring friends or family?
    A: Yes, you may bring friends or family, but priority is given to sailors with a valid sailing card. The captain has final say on who may sail on each trip. All persons, including your guests, must sign up for a trip on the website and must be confirmed by the captain. Please keep in mind that the captain may prefer to have one or two experienced crew aboard to help sail the boat, so there may not be enough room for too many of your friends. To sign up a guest who is not affiliated with MIT, select 'Other Non-Student' as their MIT affiliation and 'Virtual (no card issued)' as their card type.
    Last edit by: theodric
  7. Q: How long are the trips?
    A: Most bluewater trips are short afternoon or evening sails, the shortest of which are usually about 3-4 hours long. Day-long, overnight and weekend sails are common. Usually once or twice each season, a captain will take her up to Maine, or down to Martha's Vineyard for a week or so. The length of each trip will be announced beforehand by the captain.
    Last edit by: theodric
  8. Q: What should I wear?
    A: Wear comfortable clothing that protects you from the sun. A hat and sunglasses are recommended. It can get chilly out on the water, especially after dark. Check the weather forecast for the day of your sail and assume that it will be 15-20 degrees colder than that out on the water. So bring a sweater and/or a light jacket even on hot summer days. Several layers of clothing work best because the temperature can change quite drastically. If the weather forecast calls for rain, you should bring a waterproof jacket or other foul-weather gear.

    While on board, wear comfortable shoes with non-marking soles. For multi-day trips or trips where you will go ashore, bring both boat shoes and shore shoes. Sandals and flip-flops are not recommended aboard the boat, especially for novice sailors, as there are many fittings on the deck on which one can easily stub toes. Do not wear black-soled shoes, even if they are touted as 'non-marking', as they will mar the white deck.
    Last edit by: theodric
  9. Q: What should I bring?
    A: As mentioned above, bring a sweater or jacket with you in case it gets cold. Bring footwear for both the boat and shore. For the boat wear shoes with non-marking soles and toe protection.

    You'll stay warmer, be more alert, be more resistant to seasickness and generally have a better time if you're well fed, so bring something to eat, even on short trips. There is usually plenty of drinking water aboard, but it is a good idea to bring some yourself. A good rule of thumb for hydration is one gallon of water per person per 24-hour period. For longer trips, check with your captain, as he or she may be planning to provision the boat for the whole crew. There is an icebox and cabinets for storing food.

    Feel free to bring a camera or binoculars. Reading material and playing cards or other games are good for multi-day trips.
    Last edit by: theodric
  10. Q: What about seasickness?
    A: Check the marine forecast before the trip. Most people don't get seasick in 1-2 foot waves, but 4 foot waves or more can make even our most experienced skippers queasy. If you know that you get seasick easily, let your captain know and he or she may choose a different course or destination to accommodate you with flatter seas.

    To prevent seasickness before the trip, avoid alcohol and get plenty to eat and plenty of sleep the day before the trip. On the day of the trip avoid caffeine and stay well hydrated. If you have seasickness medication, take it before you set sail. During the trip, drink plenty of water and eat frequent small snacks instead of a few big meals. Keep your eyes on the horizon and avoid going down below. If you start getting sick, let your captain know and move to the downwind side of the boat.

    More information about seasickness and its prevention can be found in the following articles:
    Last edit by: theodric
  11. Q: How often can I sail on Mashnee?
    A: You may sign up for trips as often as you like, but keep in mind that trips are usually over-subscribed.

    When selecting crew for a sailing trip, the captain usually likes to have one or two experienced sailors aboard. The captains will try to give everyone a chance to sail during the season, so if you weren't selected at first, please sign up for other trips. Please do not sign up unless you are sure you can make it. If you need to cancel, please do so as soon as possible, that way people who are on the waiting list can have the opportunity to take your place.

    People who sail often on Mashnee are expected help in the maintenance of the boat. A loose rule of thumb is that for every three trips that you sail, you should come to at least one work party. Work parties are often announced on the bluewater mailing list. Peruse the list of tasks, then talk to the captains about what you can do to help keep her shipshape and seaworthy.
    Last edit by: theodric
  12. Q: How can I become a skipper?
    A: We encourage anyone with a current MIT sailing card to get out and sail MIT's bluewater boat. However, only bluewater skippers can schedule trips. So if you would like to organize a trip, contact a bluewater skipper or become one yourself.

    The first step is to start sailing! Sign up for trips and let your captains know that you're interested in becoming a skipper. They may assign you various responsibilities on the trip. The next step is to start helping work on the boat. Get familiar with the systems on board and do your part to help keep her in good shape.

    Demonstrate your nautical knowledge by obtaining the Bluewater Crew rating.

    Please see the Bluewater Skipper Rating page for full details on what it takes to be rated as a bluewater skipper.
    Last edit by: theodric

Updated: 2014/05/05 10:25:25
Updated: 2014/05/05 10:25:25