Almost 30 years of sailing mistakes makes me qualified to offer Bob's Tips. You name the mistake and I have made it myself or know of someone who has made that mistake. This is what old salts call wisdom. After all how many people do you know that their first boat was named KAMIKAZE.
If you think you need to reef always reef at the dock before heading out. It is much easier to shake a reef out on the water than to put one in.
Before leaving the dock check the local weather conditions including thunderstorms and predicted wind conditions.
When somebody new goes sailing with you. Ask them if they can swim and offer them a lifejacket. Bad situations on the water become worse in a hurry and finding lifejackets should not be one of the complications.
Don't take a boat anywhere before locating and checking major systems thoroughly.
There can be only one skipper. Democracy has no place on a sailboat.
Winterizing tips. outboard engines #1 stabilize fuel and run engine for 5 minutes then disconnect the fuel line, let engine run out of fuel . 2# drain remaining fuel in carb bowl. (there is always a little left in it) #3 change lower end fluid or check it and make sure it is clear not milky looking. (no water in it to freeze) . My experience is that fuel carburetor problems are the number one problem with outboard engines on sailboats..
Reference tip below. When was the last time you checked your electric or manual bilge pump? Electric ones are prone to freezing and debris clogging them. Manual ones the rubber billow goes bad over time.
Whenever you leave your boat for any length of time Remember close any thru-hull valves below the waterline. You will read a lot of stories about boats sinking and the thru hull valves were closed NOT NOT NOT
Advise for the smart people out there or you can remember this later with pain. Any time you are working with hose clamps use a socket style wrench not a flat screwdriver. You can get them much tighter and your knuckles will not be bleeding.
Did You know? Whenever possible, a horned cleat should be fastened at an angle of about 15 degrees to the direction of the line's pull and the cleat itself should be 12 times the diameter of the line being used.
LOOK UP Be careful launching sailboats electric wires pose one of the biggest risks to sailors. Always check the ramp area and the rigging area to make sure you are clear of electric lines.
Sailing in the early spring is for experienced sailors with the proper foul weather gear. Remember water temperatures rise slower than air temperatures. Do not turn your crew off from sailing by spending time upside down in cold water. I have done it don't repeat my mistake.