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Old 22-03-2015, 08:54   #1
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How do you deal with a bad captain?

I have been reluctant to share this story on this board, because I don't want it to reflect on my partner and I as workers, but I would like to know what others would do in the same situation...

We were living aboard at our marina in the Chesapeake Bay and a guy came through solo heading to FL from NY. He seemed like a nice guy, we exchanged contact information, and once he was done in FL he wanted crew to help him back up north. He helped us get from VA to FL, and we crewed on his 30 footer for about two months until we got to Beaufort, SC. We had an amazing experience. It was our first time crewing, our first time on the ICW... there were a lot of firsts for us on this trip. We tried to stay positive, but the captain had been being pretty rude and demeaning to us. As a female, I felt like he gave more of the "manly" jobs to my partner, and I was just there to help the men.

The whole trip was pretty much like this. I don't think we ever pumped the head out, which was a big environmental strike in our minds. He would also empty the bilge out into the water, which I understand to get water out of your bilge that's fine, but I also thought that you are not supposed to dump any oil into the water. I understand some is bound to come out and it's inevitable sometimes, but you would at least try to stop it as soon as you could before oil starting dumping out, right?

What really got us was the night coming into Beaufort. It was our first time offshore, and our first time night sailing. The captain had made us some Ramen Noodles and gave it to us without any utensils. When I asked him for a fork, he got pretty upset with me. We went up the Port Royal sound in the dark, with no spotlight and unmarked channel markers, and we jumped ship the next day.

I know that "jumping ship" is bound to give you a bad reputation in the sailing community, but we had fought with ourselves a lot to try to talk ourselves into holding out. We learned a lot, experienced a lot, and met a lot of great people. I would never say it was a wasted trip, and we 110% appreciate that he gave us the chance to do a trip like that. But I am the type of woman who believes I can do anything a man can do, if not a little better. So to be treated like the housewife in a field that I want to know everything about was pretty disrespectful to me.

I apologize if I ranted on a bit. What would you do in this situation?
Thanks everyone.

EDIT- I also forgot to mention that there were times he would yell at us to "Pull that string" in regards to pulling in the jib sheet. That was something that was frustrating to us as new sailors, because he claimed to have over 30 years sailing experience.
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:13   #2
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

I'll admit my interest in your story was focused less on the details and more on the 'feel'.

Overall the crew had a positive experience.

People who own boats are people too, warts and all.

The captain managed his boat the way he saw fit and arrived at his destination safely.

It's possible the vibes you sent out, gestures, body language, facial expressions and words were in part responsible for his demeanor.

There's always the other side to a story.

"Strings", rope, line, thingamijigger and whachacallit are frequently used on my boat. Doesn't matter as long as what I mean is understood. But then, I usually sail alone too.

Your thread is a pretty good hint as to why.
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:30   #3
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

We are a young couple, but we didn't disrespect him in any way. We followed his orders, even if we thought them to be inaccurate. There was a HUGE shipping vessel coming towards us, and we were in the middle of the channel. My partner was at the helm and asked "should I move over for him?" Captain told him to stay on his course, and the shipping boat had to move out of OUR way. Once it passed they radioed to us saying that we should have moved, not rudely, but he wasn't happy.

I see things as treat others the way you want to be treated, and I certainly don't treat women any less than men, and vice-versa.

I am curious though about what "feel" you got and what "hint"? That we deserved to be treated poorly? No, we didn't get his side of the story, but he did wish death upon us when we jumped ship.
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:44   #4
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

I feel like there's a stereotype among younger sailors that they are hot headed and try to take on the water like they were born doing it. We are not these types of people. We are as open as we can be to learning everything there is to learn from more experienced sailors. We did all that we could to help him out. I don't see why we were treated poorly, because again, we were positive to him, and happy about the experience. I just was wondering what someone else would do in a situation that they felt they were being extremely disrespected?
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:45   #5
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoQuarter79 View Post
We are a young couple, but we didn't disrespect him in any way. We followed his orders, even if we thought them to be inaccurate. There was a HUGE shipping vessel coming towards us, and we were in the middle of the channel. My partner was at the helm and asked "should I move over for him?" Captain told him to stay on his course, and the shipping boat had to move out of OUR way. Once it passed they radioed to us saying that we should have moved, not rudely, but he wasn't happy.

I see things as treat others the way you want to be treated, and I certainly don't treat women any less than men, and vice-versa.

I am curious though about what "feel" you got and what "hint"? That we deserved to be treated poorly? No, we didn't get his side of the story, but he did wish death upon us when we jumped ship.
What is a "shipping boat"?

I don't know that you were "...treated poorly".

And while I've never wished harm to befall people who've accompanied me on the boat, I can say unequivocally I was ecstatic when they got off.

Usually backpackers down to their last nickle..

Much prefer sailing alone.
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:51   #6
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

What's an "unmarked channel marker"?

By the way, shipping vessels and shipping boats are called, simply, "ships"
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:52   #7
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?


Well I first said vessel. I was just trying to make use of my vocabulary, but that was obviously the wrong word. I see being disrespected as being treated poorly. We weren't enslaved or denied food, but there was still no reason for him to be disrespectful to us.

I just felt that a 60 something year old man would be more mature than to tell someone that he wished they would die.
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:54   #8
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

And by unmarked I meant unlit. It was nearly impossible to see the markers coming in the channel in the dark. There were times where we were way too close to them, but we got lucky. Even on our own boat we have a spotlight, and we've never even taken it out night sailing.
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:56   #9
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

'How do you deal with a bad captain'? You stay off his boat.. Ha ha Or you Pull a Fletcher Christian !!
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:56   #10
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

Sounds like a bad fit. Nothing evil, but some things don't sound to good. A boat where people "yell" is not a good sign. It takes patience to teach a younger couple like yourself, and that might not have been the skipper's strength. But did you also talk it out with the skipper? You all share that responcibility. It sounds wierd to hear that the skipper "wished you death". That's very odd. Still, sometimes things just don't work out. Sounds best that you went your seperate ways.
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Old 22-03-2015, 09:59   #11
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

Most of the issues that develop between skipper and crew are based on conflicting expectations (rightly or wrongly - it doesn't matter).

Skippers who have sailed alone or withthe same crew for many years can find it very difficult to have new crew. Especially new crew that either thinks or even actually does know something about sailing.

New crew needs to be brought into the boat and learn the ropes. this can, as I noted be dificult for a skipper to do, if they are not used to having crew changes.

New crew on the other hand, frequently come along with expectations of the sail being a sailing school. The skipper spending a lot of time teaching etc and are disappointed.

Experienced crew sometimes disagree with the skipper and voice their disagreement vehemently.

I don't take many crew (my wife is an avid sailor and we sail the boat easily alone), but when we do, I actually prefer to take the inexperienced. They may not know what to do, but in general they are eager to learn and will follow instructions

Experienced crew can be difficult. I don't mind discussing our decisions (note I wrote our - my wife is co-skipper) but athte end of the day, it is our boat and we make the decisions. Including my wife and to be brutally honest - many experienced crew have a hard time taking orders from a woman (this kind get put off our boat in a hurry).

If you're having a hard time with a bad captain - get off the boat. Especially if you've tried to talk it through with him and not gotten anywhere.
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Old 22-03-2015, 10:07   #12
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

Thanks Scotty. At first he seemed like a decent guy. Based on everyone else we've met in the boating community, he really seemed like a needle in a haystack. If we would have known how it was going to play out, I don't know that we would have done it. But on the other hand, we may well have, just to get the experience.

We talked about how we were going to work this out before we jumped, and I know we should have talked to him about it, but we were scared. I know that doesn't make it okay that we didn't talk to him about it, and it would have ended with the same conclusion, most likely, but we were legitimately scared to talk to him about it.
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Old 22-03-2015, 10:10   #13
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

First, I think you just got your panties in a bunch, only because it means enough that you posted it here on CF.
You are going to find a thousand different attitudes amoung people on boats, just as you are on land, and the only difference is you have to live with them in a closer area and are subjected to their every odd and strange behavior on the boat.
And looking at it from my side, I often give a job to a guy instead of a lady, not in disreguard but in respect.. I dont treat a guy the same as I would a lady even if they are dressed alike in weather gear">foul weather gear.. But I'm Old School.....
To be honest, If it wern't for my wife keeping me in line, I doubt if Id ever take a shower, I'd eat from the packaging of noodles, rarely cook a meal, and crap off the rail of the boat.. I'd never wear shoes, I'd chew tabaco, fart and spit to my hearts content, and have beer on my corn flakes for dinner..
So in a way, I'm saying to excuse this Old Salt as he knows No Better......
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Old 22-03-2015, 10:12   #14
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

Carsten, I respect that you and your wife take equal responsibility for the boat that you share. That is how my partner and I see things. I haven't pulled up the anchor on our boat yet (and wasn't given the chance on the boat we crewed on) but I want to.
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Old 22-03-2015, 10:12   #15
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Re: How do you deal with a bad captain?

Well, obviously problems don't get solved unless they are talked about. So that would be my first suggestion if a crew is having problems with a skipper.

Don't forget - it can be quite simple. My wife an I have sailed for many years - we don't need to communicate terribly much about most things on the boat.

When there is someone new on baord- we have to make a conscious effort to remember to tell them what and when they need to do something.

And sometimes we forget. Not because we're nasty but simply because we have gotten used to (complacency) each other being a very competent sailor that handles issues alone or asks for help if needed.
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