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Old 01-07-2009, 16:09   #46
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the other side of the coin

i was crewing from NYC to France. I knew the owner of this 37' sailboat for several years but not in depth. I also have a boat and had much more experience than the owner-captain.
soon after we left he exprssed he did not like the nights... i took over the watches from sun-down to sun-up. On three ocations he went fk crazy on me for small little things of no consequences. I just looked at him thinking one crazy is bad, but two can be very dangerous, so i took it three times. Another day, on day 16, he started another histerical attack. This time i took a winch handle (the heavy ones) and put it 1 inch from his forehead! (he was naked sunbathing in the aft, i was standing and on top), i told him, without much tact, how sick i was of taking his temper, i was going to kill him, and then sink the boat..."the sea roaches are going to eat you 12.000' down there" and how i was mascarading all these days how i was gong to kill him, sink his boat, enter the liferaft and pull on the EPIRB. (we were on Lat 41-42 in the shipping lanes). Then i downed for the rest of the trip this large sailors knife.
He NEVER raised his voice at me again. Not for the rest of the trip, another 20 days. (yes, we were becalmed and he refused to shake the reef off the main) but it was ok with me, just do not scream at me again!!
When we got the the Azores, i gave him two days to apollogize to me for all the name calling and berval abuse. He did not, so i took a plane back home. when i contacted the ex-wife she told me she ment to tell me how "difficult" his ex-husband was, like 2 times a day!!.

Crew... be carefull, owners can also become "difficult". I was so traumatized by being so close to become a murderer, i have refussed three other crossing opportunities. Do not go alone and try to check with past crew.
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Old 03-07-2009, 07:17   #47
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Josepsaavedra,
Your story sent chills down my spine, it is amazing how quickly people change when their offshore. I've crewed on at least two dozen boats and had two psycho experiences, one was another crew member, one was a captain. In both cases the history of the person was suspect. With the psycho crew, he was an anonymous person, basically right off the street. My psycho captain, I knew him for about a year but never saw or spoke to any of his friends. Captain psycho was fairly normal until we got out of sight of land then he began to express ideas/thoughts that scared me. I was able to convince him to turn around. Both of the psychos where during my first 2 years of crewing on boats (I crewed, on and off, for ten years). I found that if I talked to the faimly or friends, just casually, I could usually get a hint of what they are like offshore. I'd ask them how the captain handles stress, their answer said a lot, even if it was postive towards the captain. On one such interview, every time I asked the captains wife something, she would look to her husband before answering, that was a red flag for me, other hints suggested something was "off", I decided to turn down the job. Any bad vibes about captain, crew, or boat, I wouldn't take the job. A small bit of bad vibes in port make for major bad vibes offshore. Families, I think, are the best boats to crew on. Families tend to be more up to date on the maintenance and safety gear, and tend to have less risky behavior, though that is not a hard and fast rule.
Erika
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Old 04-07-2009, 21:26   #48
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All these stories are a word to the wise to me. I was a psych nurse in a maximum security unit as part of a prison....and your stories scare the heck out of me! I am very careful who comes on to crew. Mostly I sail alone or with just a few close friends. Am I a hermit? maybe...but I fear what is in the heart of man more than the sea.
BTW Erika- it sounds like this guy may have been looking for a large ship to run into. It sounds like he was definitely delusional. I would have turned back in a heartbeat. He needed evaluation stat!
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Old 04-07-2009, 21:42   #49
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There is another way

Too much trouble and time lost. Smack him in the back of the head with a club and toss him over the side, and go on your merry way. Sigh, I miss the good old days when flogging and keel hauling were standard disciplinary measures.
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Old 04-07-2009, 22:08   #50
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Newt- Land, or lack there of, changes some people. When I'm sailing, I can't really relax until I am completely away from land. The further I go, the more comfortable I feel.
BTW psycho captain ended up on a reef about two years later, the boat a complete loss. I hope he is better now.
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Old 04-07-2009, 22:18   #51
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Captain58sailin,
The thought crossed my mind that if capt psycho, who was a cop by the way, wouldn't turn around, I'd have to go to extremes. What those extremes were?? I have no idea. Once again, I was saved by my guardian angel, she worked overtime in my youth She is pretty much retired now, but is still on call
E
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Old 04-07-2009, 22:58   #52
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I always listen to the little voice in my head, every time I have ignored it, I have paid dearly. Don't analyze this Newt, it is like intuition, or 2nd sight, or just good sense.
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Old 05-07-2009, 00:57   #53
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I'm not sure if I'm capable of crewing offshore on another person's yacht. If it's a close friend, I don't want to risk losing their friendship if something bad happens. If it's not someone I know really well, I don't think I can trust my safety to them or their yacht.

I trust myself, my yacht, and my crew (family). We all understand the rules of engagement that make an offshore voyage into a viable adventure. I am willing to cut slack to members of my own family because I know them and can trust them implicitly. I know and trust them, and they know and trust me.

I wouldn't have a problem daysailing with captain Bligh, but once I head offshore, the rules of engagement change. Trust and knowledge reign supreme.

I've seen too many things go wrong, and I've known too many crazy people on and off the seven seas. A yacht is too small and there's no way to escape a crazy person offshore.

I think the best I can do offshore is sail in the company of another yacht.
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:14   #54
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I can relate to the irrational anger involving psycho crew....I just had the "HELL" experience coming from Panama to Galapagos to Tahiti...it was a mess....
I took on a couple along with another guy so there were 4 of us on board. The single guy while very inexperienced was a good guy and did his work/watches well.
The couple on the other hand....good grief.....she was cool....she listened and because she did so she learned...and she also knew her limits and woke me when she reached them. I would have had her back any day.
Her partner on the other hand was bad news....very bad news....as well as being an alcoholic...couldn't go from the cockpit to the windlass without nursing his beer......he was one of those people...you know....the ones that have done a day skipper course for a week and read a few pages of a few books anf the thinks they know it all...think they know MORE than the owner/skipper who has more than 8000 successful miles on his own boat....this guy took it upon himself to "fix" everything on the boat...and broke or damaged a lot more than he fixed....he also felt the need to point out EVERYTHING that was "wrong" with the boat in a condescending and belittling way that let you know that he thought he was WAY better at this than you ever were....and found something everyday for almost 10 weeks.....to the point he was telling that I "have to buy spare parts" for stuff that was just fine....
The kicker to all of this is that Mr KnowEverything was on watch late at night as we arrived in the Marquesas and we had 5kts of wind and 6 hours to daylight before entering harbor and I had the boat nicely shut down doing about 1.5 kts with the boom centered and a preventer on to stop the noise so we could all sleep (except the watch) when we got hity by a squall...a 40kt blast only for a few seconds......and it ripped 18" of toerail up because Mr KNowEverthing made a "judgement call" and cranked down tight on the mainsheet AND THE PREVENTER. He then proceeded to dodge all and any responsibility for his mistake in handling the boat and lost it with me because I had the temerity to call him on his bullshit. I mean...ANY 8yo in a sailing dinghy KNOWS that you dump the mainsheet to spill air when hit by a big blast of wind....but Mr KnowEverything made a "judgement call " that damaged my boat.....it was the last straw....of course he was nowhere to be seen when we repaired the toerail....
As well as that crap we had to put up with him being a complete ******* to his girl the whole trip....that really sours the atmosphere too.....

The irony is that it wasn't me that kicked them off the boat,....it was her...she couldn't stand him either in the end and she got off in the Tuomotus and I kicked him off the same day...
Of course they left owing me over $500US for food and expenses......

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Old 05-07-2009, 01:22   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
I always listen to the little voice in my head, every time I have ignored it, I have paid dearly. Don't analyze this Newt, it is like intuition, or 2nd sight, or just good sense.
I always listen to the little voices in my head too, the problem is when they argue, it's difficult to know which one to trust! Sometimes there's just too many of them in there!
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:32   #56
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I always try to listen to the good angel, but sometimes the devil wins! =:-)
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:43   #57
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the voices

I love this thread. The bottom line as I see it is, we are all vulnerable in many ways. Life is risky and the best we can do is to try to minimize the risk. There are many ways that we "crew" up with other people during our lifetimes. Crewing on a boat is just the amplified version of it in that you can't get away from the crazy so easily after you leave shore.

Now for what I really wanted to share.

A line I remember from the movie "Parenthood".
"Life is messy"

And my all time favorite from the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy".
"Do the voices in my head bother you?"
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:36   #58
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I was on a delivery bringing 60 ft sailboat from Mexico to California. I had sailed with most of the crew before, we had a 'incident' off shore when the skipper woke everyone up and the power was out. Getting out of your bunk and stepping into seawater is a rude awakening at 0100 AM in the morning. Water was flooding the boat but no one could find the leak. It was finally found - the forward head discharge fitting had broken off at the thruhull. Got a plug in it and then started pumping water out. The electric bilge pumps were swirling water but not pumping overboard - two of us were on a manual gusher pump. The crew from hell freaked out and was told to go upstairs and steer the boat (get the "F" out of the way) while we pumped and bucket brigaded water out of the boat in the dark until the sun came up.

Screen your crew well folks............
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Old 05-07-2009, 11:19   #59
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Having used Internet Crew on five passages, maybe I'm just lucky. As a minimum, I try to have at least a 10 minute chat on the phone with the prospective crew--emails aren't as spontaneous. Trust your instincts, and don't just take the first person--there are plenty of prospective crew members.

I do prefer using crew from Offshore Passage Opportunities (sailopo.com), because Hank Schmidt will pass on feedback on both crew and boats, and his crew are motivated enough to pay him to get the opportunities.

Its not always possible, but you should plan on a 2 day coastal passage to shake down both the crew and boat before you head offshore. You should try to take a minimum of 3 able crew to avoid sleep deprivation and its consequences. If someone has uncontrollable seasickness or goes weird during the shakedown, its time to replace them while you can or rethink the passage (sometimes its your partner/spouse).

Incidents at 0300 are going to happen, and how you respond to them as captain is going to make a big difference on whether your crew goes off the deep end. Be very sensitive to crew interactions, and try to discourage 'us vs them' games and/or isolation of a crew member. If someone gets unhappy, its going to be a long trip.

Having done numerous Transpac races, its easy to spot cases of crew problems--I saw a boat come in with a guy on each corner facing outwards with arms folded, and they couldn't wait to tell me why they hated each other. There is already one dropout in this year's race--motoring back to LA after 4 days of light air. I doubt that they broke the boat, and will try to get the inside story from on of the crew that I know.
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Old 05-07-2009, 11:52   #60
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How to identify psycho crew before they get on your boat?!

As a psychologist, I'm finding this discussion of crew selection and interactions quite interesting. Like Dave, I've been fortunate in never having to have a stranger as crew (other than for day sails, and that really doesn't count). That is obviously not the case for lots of people and I could see a circumstance arise where I might have to personally consider it. If I were looking at having someone aboard for an extended period, I'd have no hesitation at using all the tools at my disposal to help me in picking someone. Those tools are considerable and include the availability of things like criminal background checks as well as psychological testing and many years of experience in clinical interviewing. However, short of sending prospective crew for psych evals, does anyone know of such a service for crew selection generally available? I've not seen one, but then again, I haven't looked, either.

I do think that a screening tool could be developed. It would take awhile and would require lots of help from the consumers (captains and crew). The CF group would be a great group to work with to develop it. We're really talking about developing a psychological test and that involves a number of steps. The constructs of interest must be identified (that can be done with a survey of captains and crew). Items are then written to try and capture those constructs. The alpha version is then administered to a development sample (which would really need to be at least 100 people, assuming a test that wasn't real long). The results from that are analyzed to weed out items that don't work and improve items that do. You give the beta to another sample and obtain reliability numbers. Then, the hard part comes: You have the data from the sample crew, but then you need to get ratings from the captains about how the sample crew actually performed. That is essential to determine the validity of the scale (does it actually measure what it is intended to measure).

Obviously, this is a fairly ambitious undertaking. Would there actually be serious interest among sailors to actually use it? There would have to be some sort of cost associated with it and since sailors are notoriously cheap, would they actually pay it? What sort of cost would be reasonable such people would use it?

What do you think?

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