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Old 04-01-2019, 09:49   #16
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

I am confused (happens a lot). Are you saying you were in port the entire time? If so, this is an entirely different dynamic. Were you acting as a bed and breakfast or were they supposed to be working for room and board? If you did go to sea eventually, you had 7 weeks to figure out there might be a problem?
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:07   #17
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

I think it depends in part on the relationship you have with the crew (e.g., close friend vs. somebody scooped out of a website crew list) and the nature of the outing (e.g., two-hour around-the-buoys regatta vs. week-long cruising package). In certain cases, compromise is possible/advisable, in others is out of the question.

In my case, I do expect that the crew obeys the "rules of the boat", no exceptions ever. I only have one "rule of the boat", life jackets on while on deck at all times when the boat is moving. I do enforce that in all circumstances, it is just a matter of safety, peace of mind, and liability. This past season, a crew for a short race refused to wear a life jacket (I only had a conventional type available, I had run out of inflatables) because it did not match her image of "very experienced crew". After a tense discussion, I left her at the dock, despite she was a close friend. I looked like an ass, and I missed her experienced help during the race, but I felt that the "rules of the boat" have to be absolute laws if you want to have them.

For the rest, I often list additional rules during the briefing before the outing, but from experience, I must say crew tend to "forget" them, so those rules cannot be a deal breaker. For longer passages, the emphasis is on compromise, since enjoyment of a cruise is dependent on everyone aboard having a good time and on smoothing the inevitable clashes among people constrained in close quarters for long periods of time.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:07   #18
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

I have booked about 20k NM of skippering/crewing in blue water voyaging situations during the last 5 years.

Fully "knowing" your crew, as well as their limitations/skill sets, in advance of leaving the dock, is critical. It is undeniable that as the voyaging days go by, vessels get smaller. Even where everyone on board is familiar with one another, on long voyages the likelihood of a tantrum or argument is not uncommon. And without any place to retreat from one another, resentments become hardened and extended. The problem with a "list" or written agreement is having to enforce the same when far from land. More often than not, this will just perpetuate a difficult situation.

At minimum I would advise making referrals from prior skippers and a "try-out," so to speak - - - a day sail or 2 - - a requirement for any potential crew you are unfamiliar with.

Keep in mind that as Skipper, the ability to be a "Den Mother" to the crew is a fundamental skill. The better the crew (i.e. knowing them well enough in advance to bring aboard) will lessen the distraction of this additional responsibility.

Dan T.
S/V Rhapsody
Greenport, NY
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:12   #19
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

You are the skipper, the Captain in charge of the vessel. A very simple way to communicate this to crew, even on a daysail, is to point out that the Coast Guard on boarding a vessel will always have one first question: who is the Captain (or skipper)? Not: How many of you are decision-makers I will need to consult regarding any problems with the safety of crew, the condition of the vessel and hazardous sea conditions? If you can't get the full agreement of your crew on this, find other crew.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:16   #20
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

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Originally Posted by FabioC View Post
In my case, I do expect that the crew obeys the "rules of the boat", no exceptions ever. I only have one "rule of the boat", life jackets on while on deck at all times when the boat is moving. I do enforce that in all circumstances, it is just a matter of safety, peace of mind, and liability. This past season, a crew for a short race refused to wear a life jacket (I only had a conventional type available, I had run out of inflatables) because it did not match her image of "very experienced crew". After a tense discussion, I left her at the dock, despite she was a close friend. I looked like an ass, and I missed her experienced help during the race, but I felt that the "rules of the boat" have to be absolute laws if you want to have them.
Its much easier here in Northern California. Life jackets are required for the entire crew while racing. This rule was instituted after some 'VERY experienced crew were lost on SF Bay. OTOH, I almost never wear a life jacket when I'm not racing, but I will if it's the rules of the boat.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:20   #21
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

As a professional Captain I had to work on new to me boats with whatever crew was already there. Every Captain does things a bit differently so at 1st I'd always here " this is the way we do it on this ship". meaning, this is what the last Captain had us to to which I'd reply "I understand Captain so and so did it that way. This is the way I want it done going forward". With professional crew it went pretty easy usually and it never got to the point where I needed to replace a crew member for that.

Dealing with non-professional crew when I deliver yachts is a different matter. Usually I take known people, former crew, friends etc. People with long sailing resumes don't always know what they are doing.

On these trips I start out with a discussion that clearly spells out who is the boss and if I'm incapacitated who is next in line. (even with just 2 crew this is done) Then I go into safety, rules for watch standing and finally my expectations of behavior etc. I find that being clear about the expectations prevents a lot issues down the road. When crew members fail to follow the rules/expectations depending on the situation is how it is handled. A lot of times it's simply "we talked about this?" and that's enough. Sometimes a sterner talk is in order.

I don't have a lot of rules to keep things simple and usually don't have problems but I have had to dismiss crew on the trip because it just wasn't working out. Not fun but better to get rid of them then have to deal with the escalating issues.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:30   #22
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

" People with long sailing resumes don't always know what they are doing."


The same can be said about boat owners...
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:39   #23
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

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Originally Posted by Souzag818 View Post
" People with long sailing resumes don't always know what they are doing."


The same can be said about boat owners...
Most definitely! And then there are the "skippers" who own the boat and think because of that they are qualified to make all the decisions even with other highly experienced crew on board. Again, setting expectations in advance really helps out.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:42   #24
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

I can recommend to set stuff up in a way that you make a "trial run" for a couple of days, if you don't know the folks. That goes for skippers as well as crew. I recently walked away from a crewing opportunity because I didn't trust the skipper's abilities and the boat had a couple of severe issues he wasn't aware of.

This also was the first time I actually gave on order to a skipper, pretty weird thing to do. But then again, he did pretty weird stuff to cause that situation.

Also, it helps if skipper & crew attended the same kind of "school". As crew I can easily adjust to coiling ropes differently, life-vest policies, which seacock is closed in which situation, ... But it really helps if docking, maneuvering, reefing, ... is done in an organised and professional manner instead of stupid maneuvers and lots of yelling.
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Old 04-01-2019, 13:03   #25
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

I've never had a owner/skipper review any rules when I've joined a boat but, I've always assumed that the skipper is the boss, after all, he/she should know more than the crew that has been brought aboard. I do feel it is essential that there be rules that should be reviewed before departing, along with covering safety, MOB, fire, and responsibility. It's almost impossible to cover all the bases but a well compiled list of rules and procedures, that work for you, is a good place to start when dealing with a new crewmember.
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Old 04-01-2019, 13:28   #26
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

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I've never had a owner/skipper review any rules when I've joined a boat but
A friend of mine actually emails folks a complete "safety briefing cheat sheet / what to bring" before he even meets them.

Mixed success, funniest thing so far was somebody bringing sun milk when asked to bring oilskins/foulies. More funny in german though, "ölzeug" translated word by word is "oil stuff".
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Old 04-01-2019, 13:32   #27
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

I was going to write a longer post but deleted it as there are too many variables, most of them not known. The problem presented by the OP is not an issue of what rules, but style of leadership including communications. And leadership is more motivational rather than getting the rules right.

Authoritarian leadership - my way or the doorway - is not the best way to develop teamwork but is effective in emergency conditions where quick action is necessary for safety and medical response.

I'm not saying rules aren't important and who makes the decisions, but how the rules are presented and consultation goes a long way to a more effective team.
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Old 04-01-2019, 15:05   #28
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

Great thread,

I used to skipper for a large sailing club and "beginners day/weekend" was often, well, interesting.

We did use a contract attached to the membership application. It included the usual liability waivers. We were volunteer skippers and did not have the large liability of licensed captains, or so we thought. Any admiralty lawyers out there?

Anyhow, we all learned it was much easier to humor and gently persuade problem crew that make them walk the plank. One fast rule I recall is no liquor/drugs on board, which can cause problems even at anchor. Crew who got drunk at a port-of-call were not allowed back on-board, easy to do for you had the local police for backup.

All in all, we had very few problems, other than seasickness and the lack of interest by some crew who just weren't cut out to be sailors.

Cheers!

Jenn and Terry
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Old 04-01-2019, 19:38   #29
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

Everything is the responsibility of the captain, that's why you get the four stripes and the big bucks.
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Old 04-01-2019, 20:22   #30
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Re: The rules of Crewing and Skippering

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I was going to write a longer post but deleted it as there are too many variables, most of them not known. The problem presented by the OP is not an issue of what rules, but style of leadership including communications. And leadership is more motivational rather than getting the rules right.

Totally agree with all you wrote but only included a bit of your part.

I’d like to drag up the seized engine back up to the foreground. I would be grateful if the original poster would elaborate on the details.

Seems there are a few skippers who could use a slice of humble pie.

“Do as I say. Not as I do” seriously?

I have had problem crew in the past but I don’t think it was rule breaking or the lack of rules that was to blame.
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