Team-Building On a Sailing Yacht: 9 Teamwork Activities You Can Easily Organize Under the Sails


Ivan S.

If you work in the HR department, you’ve seen enough team-building events—and probably organized a fair share of them—to know that most are just a waste of time and money.

But team-building activities on the open water? On a sailing yacht? And the whole thing blissfully devoid of trust falls, compliment circles, and the dreaded brainstorming session?

Now there’s a team-building event every employee & team member can get behind.


Because it puts people and fun before ticking off a corporate HR checklist. To make sure you maximize that fun factor – which will also help you tick those HR metrics boxes in a meaningful way – here are 9 activities you can weave into your corporate sailing itinerary.

9 Activities for Your Team’s Sailing Adventure

There are a lot of activities your team can do while sailing that are perfectly tailored to enhancing communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills. Some of those, you and your team can organize independently. For others, you’ll need the skills and some guidance from an experienced sailor. Don’t worry – when booking your charter boat with Yachtaris, you’ll have the option to hire a professional skipper who can help you with setting up the challenges.

Now, let’s dive into the most popular activities you can organize on a boat; those that will help your colleagues grow and sharpen their communication, leadership, and teamwork skills.

1. Navigation Challenge

  • Setup: Each team gets a nautical chart, compass, and basic navigation tools. They are then assigned a destination or a series of waypoints to reach. You can use your actual itinerary here, and have the teams guide you to your planned snorkeling spot in the Adriatic Sea, for example.
  • Goal: Teams must navigate to the destination(s) using their knowledge of charts, compass bearings, and visual landmarks.
  • Teamwork Elements: Collaboration in interpreting charts and readings, communication for decision-making, trust in each other’s skills, adaptability to changing conditions.

2. The Great Sail Swap

  • Setup: The team divides into two groups across different parts of the boat, responsible for specific sails (mainsail, jib, etc.).
  • Goal: After a set time, groups must quickly and precisely swap sail responsibilities.
  • Teamwork Elements: Coordination, task hand-off, understanding how each part contributes to the whole, agility under pressure.

3. Emergency Drill

  • Setup: The skipper designates a realistic sailing emergency (e.g., “person overboard" or sudden equipment failure).
  • Goal: Respond to the problem as a team, following safety procedures, distributing tasks efficiently, and solving the crisis.
  • Teamwork Elements: Rapid decision-making, clear roles, staying calm under pressure, recognizing strengths within the team.

4. Rigging Relay Race

  • Setup: Create 2 smaller groups, each with a captain. Each group has a set of tasks related to rigging the boat (raising/lowering sails, adjusting lines, etc.).
  • Goal: Teams race to complete the rigging tasks correctly and efficiently, with the fastest and most accurate team winning.
  • Teamwork Elements: Understanding the interconnectedness of the rigging system, clear communication, coordinated actions, efficient problem-solving.

5. The “Lost at Sea" Survival Scenario

  • Setup: Create and present a hypothetical scenario where the team is “lost at sea" with limited resources.
  • Goal: The team must work together to prioritize tasks (e.g., finding food/water, signaling for help, navigating), ration resources, and maintain morale.
  • Teamwork Elements: Resource management, decision-making under pressure, conflict resolution, maintaining a positive attitude in a challenging situation.

6. Sailboat Repair Challenge

  • Setup: In collaboration with your skipper, create a few “problems" with the sailboat, like a loose line, a jammed winch, or something similar. Provide basic repair tools and materials.
  • Goal: Teams must identify the issues, troubleshoot solutions, and make the necessary repairs.
  • Teamwork Elements: Problem-solving, resourcefulness, utilizing different skill sets, learning new skills under pressure.

7. Knot Tying Relay Race

  • Setup: Your employees divide into groups. Each group has a set of ropes and a list of knots to tie (bowline, clove hitch, figure eight, etc.).
  • Goal: Teams race to tie all the knots correctly, with the fastest and most accurate team winning.
  • Teamwork Elements: Division of labor, quick learning and teaching, precision under pressure, celebrating each member’s contribution.

8. Blindfolded Navigation

  • Setup: One team member is blindfolded, another has a simple map with a route marked, and others are “assistants".
  • Goal: Using only clear verbal directions (no pointing!), the “navigator" guides the blindfolded “helmsman" along the route. Assistants spot obstacles, track time, etc.
  • Teamwork Elements: Clear communication, precise language, trust, adapting instructions on the fly.

9. Weather Forecasting Challenge:

  • Setup: Provide teams with weather forecasting resources (e.g., weather apps, barometer, observation tools).
  • Goal: Teams must analyze available data and make predictions about upcoming weather conditions (wind speed and direction, cloud cover, precipitation, etc.).
  • Teamwork Elements: Data analysis, critical thinking, communication of findings, decision-making based on information from various sources.

Recommended reading: Weather Forecast Resources for Sailing the Adriatic Sea

Sailing Is a Perfect Team Building Activity – Here’s Why

Try as I might, I can’t imagine a more perfect methaphor for the workplace than… sailing! A sailing trip is about adventure. But it’s also about strategy. About planning. About communication. Collaboration. Anticipation. Like I said, the perfect methaphor.

A single sailing team-building event makes your team stronger, more connected, and more in sync than a thousand trust falls ever could. Plenty of reasons for that, too:

  • Sailing is fun. I don’t know how or when, but companies have succeeded – thoroughly – in sucking the fun out of team building activities. But sailing injects pure FUN into working together. The result? Sky-high morale, creativity that actually flows, and a team truly invested in making the company rock.
  • Builds communication skills. Think of sailing like a communication crash course for your team. Out on the water, you can’t just ignore each other – it’s one of those rare occasions where you HAVE to communicate, and it HAS to be substantial. It’s all about stepping up as leaders, respecting everyone’s role, and working together to reach your destination.
  • No cringe-worthy problem-solving exercises. Sailing throws you real-world challenges you have to tackle together. This translates to a team that doesn’t just talk about results, they get them. And you have to be a tight-knit crew to get there… which you learn to be, fast.

In my experience, just spending a few days away from the desk and focusing on the interpersonal stuff benefits almost every team.

And when you add some light soft skills honing to that, you get a team-building retreat that delivers some actual, tangible performance improvements in the long run.

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Ivan S.

Ivan cooks, walks his dog Loko, and writes for the Yachtaris blog. When he writes, it's about sailing, hospitality, and event organizing (putting that BS degree in hospitality management to work). He's a good D&D player and a bad miniature painter. Which is why he spends most of his time walking the dog.

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