What's new

Sailing with a passenger


New Member
I’m new to sailing and recently bought a new to me 1976 Sunfish and trailer. The Sunfish and sail is yellow and orange. We call her Marigold. We have a lake house at a smallish lake in East Texas. Our first couple of weekends have had light winds but that has given me a chance to experiment and learn how the boat reacts. I’ve read a lot of posts on this forum and watched a bunch of YouTubes. I don’t see much if anything written about tips for sailing with a passenger and I’m hoping you can enlighten me. My wife and I hope to sail together. We went out the first time together today and made it back alive so maybe we have it figured out but somehow I figure I have much to learn. Where does the passenger and “driver” sit? How do we coordinate movements during tack? Your tips are greatly appreciated.


Well-Known Member
Basically with another adult you coordinate where to sit and tack, so your weight doesn't cause the boat to flip over. Different wind strengths will greatly vary the approach, since weight placement is fairly important in a Sunfish. Emulate what you see on YouTube

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
I frequently sailed with a passenger aboard my Laser and my Minifish, you'll definitely do better with a good steady breeze to keep the boat moving and make your live ballast positioning an easier task. Light and variable winds make for tedious and constant repositioning of live ballast... by live ballast, I mean you the skipper and your crew. While beating to windward and heeling slightly in a 12-to-15-knot breeze, both of you will be able to comfortably sit up on the weather rail, or high enough on deck to have plenty of leg room. :D

When sailing off the wind, your crew member will most likely be sitting farther inboard, somewhere forward of the cockpit. On a downwind run, your crew may sit down to leeward a bit while you sit on the weather quarter... ideally, you position your crew so that they help keep the boat in trim, but YOU shift slightly to accommodate minor changes in wind strength, same way YOU might use slight tiller movements to accommodate minor shifts in wind direction. :cool:

BOTH of you should understand the need and be prepared to shift position in gusty weather, particularly while beating to windward... I include simply leaning outboard (hiking) or back inboard pronto. Try and make your live ballast shifts smooth, keeping 'em low by sliding or scuttling like a crab, rather than rising in any way and lurching to either side---that's a recipe for nautical disaster, especially with two people on board. When it comes to tacking & gybing, you'll soon learn not to knock heads while ducking under the boom, LOL. :confused:

All of this knowledge doesn't come immediately, it's a learning process with multiple variables in terms of body weights, getting used to the deck plan & performance of your boat, dialing in equipment so it doesn't hinder you while sailing or maneuvering, etc., etc. Remember, if you don't like how something is rigged or some event repeatedly occurs to hinder you or your boat's performance, MAKE CHANGES WHICH IMPROVE PERFORMANCE... IT'S YOUR BOAT, RIGHT??? ;)

Start thinking and acting like a skipper, even if that means drinking rum, bellowing profanities, and cursing your crew & craft in fine seafaring tradition... true skippers are decisive and observant, continually monitoring factors of weather, tide & current (if applicable), time as it relates to one's voyage, disposition of crew, etc., etc. Ya never heard of any weak, indecisive namby-pamby PIRATES, did ya??? So there ya go... let those old seafaring devils be your inspiration, LOL. :eek:

Last edited:


New Member
Aye aye Captain and Argh matey. Thanks for the humorous and very practical advice. Thanks to you also mixmkr