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Old 05-09-2010, 12:49   #1
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Vetting Crew or Captain

I am looking at taking on crew that I don't know. I have never done this before. It is for an Atlantic Crossing. In order to do this I was wondering if anyone could tell me of their experiences with taking on crew, good or bad. I know enough to say that it is important to be very clear ahead of time on what is expected from a crew both in terms of work and costs. I also know to be very clear in terms of no drugs etc. Do any of you have any tricks that you use to vett a crew or captain.
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Old 05-09-2010, 13:30   #2
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Charlie, I have never vetted a crew but I have had a bad experience with a crew member. The captain was recommended to me and I to him and he was great, but he picked up another crew member who was into raging, if you know what I mean. Very uncomfortable to be around.

I would recommend that you ask around your marina/yacht club for recommendations. I think it is also important to get to know someone at least a little before they sign on as crew. References and experience for a trip like yours is imperative, IMO. Ask around different mailing lists and hopefully someone will contact you with a reference to someone who has worked well on one of their trips.

Good luck. It is a very difficult process.
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Old 05-09-2010, 14:02   #3
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I learn a lot about crew by sailing with them. I recommend at least overnight. And hopefully in foul weather
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Old 05-09-2010, 14:42   #4
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no way I would be setting off on a passage without at least a few days of getting to know them underway with a short hop first.
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Old 05-09-2010, 14:52   #5
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I wouldn't sail with crew that I did not know. There are too many challenges and problems that can occur offshore, and I need to know that I can count on someone before I set sail. I would singlehand before I would take crew that I did not know.
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Old 05-09-2010, 15:40   #6
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I am looking at taking on crew that I don't know. I have never done this before. ....Do any of you have any tricks that you use to vett a crew or captain.
Read this

A Rant . . . OK, a Moan
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Old 05-09-2010, 15:41   #7
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And for the crew.....dont forget that they should also vet you.....T
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Old 05-09-2010, 15:49   #8
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I did two different passages with people I KNEW for years and they were both disasters. I would have been better off sailing alone whichis what I do now.
You can never predict how people are going to act. Good luck.
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Old 05-09-2010, 16:11   #9
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There are no guarantees, even with those whom you know well. I preference doing something with folks that puts em outside their comfort zone to see how they react and adapt to it. Here in the Pac Northwest, it's pretty easy to choose from a number of things like a group white water rafting trip (which I guide during summers) or my favourite is to take them to a hot springs (where the majority of folks are likely to be nude). Both activities gives me an opportunity to see how folks react to new and potentially uncomfortable experiences and their adaptability to the unknown. Even then, it's still a crapshoot, but you normally can see who the "troopers" are and who the "lazy" or "moody" folks are.
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Old 05-09-2010, 16:19   #10
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Its funny after reading all th comments that have been made I remembered something I told myself after having a crew problem a few years ago -- don't take anyone sailing that you haven't sailed with before. I broke that rule on a short trip from Cabo to La Paz and I had a heck of a time. He was a nice enough guy but just inept to the point where I had to give him pointless jobs far away from anything mission critical. I'll have to ponder this one some more and figure out I can get this to work. I do not want to sail solo across the Atlantic but I don't want to do it with untested crew either. I think what I'll have to do is set a series of vetting questions. If anyone has some of those I'd be great to see them. I'll have to make sure their is time to do a couple of days test sail beforehand as well.
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Old 05-09-2010, 17:28   #11
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And for the crew.....dont forget that they should also vet you.....T
As a delivery skipper myself I whole heartedly agree with what’s been posted. What is utmost besides getting into someone’s head and knowing at 0: dark thirty I can count on them is quality communication. I just gave up on a trip that was a free-be when the “Skipper” was pretty much AWOL on that part.
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Old 05-09-2010, 18:06   #12
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If anyone comes up with a good solution to this conundrum, I'd love to hear it. There is a method that I think may work for me, curtesy of some good advice I received on here. Test you crew with baby steps, a few day sails, an over night passage and then a three or four day passage, perhaps even a week. Someone I hold in great respect pointed out that good crew that do things your way are developed and are not readily available at the drop of a hat. Occasionally there will be someone who fits all your needs but they are involved with their own world and have time tables that don't fit with the idea of dropping everything and taking off. I know a few people like that The downside of this is of course, it takes time and planning. It's put back my plans for long range cruising by a year.

P.
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Old 05-09-2010, 18:43   #13
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Hi Charlie,

I totally agree with all of the previous comments about doing some test sails with any potential crew & make sure that a short passage is included & make sure some night sailing is included. I have had experience with some people who are fine by day but as soon as it gets dark they get disorientated and then get seasick and are useless. As you are planning an Atlantic crossing you need to be totally confident in the ability of your crew. This is a situation where your crew needs to have experience as you need to have confidence that they could take control of your vessel should you become ill or get injured in some way as you may not be in a position to provide "on the job" training in this situation.

I would suggest that you should assess potential crew through an interview process just like you would for any other job applicant which would be supplemented with references. Make up a checklist of things that you want to find out and skills that you want to assess as well and make a written record as you go through the interview process. Dont forget things like are they on any medications at all - are they asthmatic or diabetic for instance, any other health problems that you need to be aware of? Are they colour blind - very important for night time running & interpretation of vessel navigation lights and markers. Sea sickness is also a big one if the chips are down in the middle of the Atlantic if your crew are confined to their bunk and are useless.

By going through such a checklist the potentail crew member would also be impressed at how thorough you are and gain confidence in you as the skipper.

I use such a checklist for any boat that I join as skipper or crew so that I obtain a good overall knowledge of the vessel & it's operation and where everything is stowed on board BEFORE DEPARTURE and can refer back to my written notes if required. I would recommend that you make up a list to give to the crewmembers that you select to inform them of all these things and ensure that they go through it and are familiar with it.

Hope this helps,
Regards,

Steve
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Old 05-09-2010, 18:48   #14
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checklists and questions are fine but I went with my crew on a four day nonstop sail to make sure that not only were we all competent to handle the boat alone if need be, but that all of us actually get along with each other. Nothing is as poisonous to safety as a crew that doesnt like each other and so dont communicate. Besides, even if you put somebody on the other watch a sailboat is pretty tight quarters to spend a few weeks with somebody you dont get along with
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:09   #15
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checklists and questions are fine but I went with my crew on a four day nonstop sail to make sure that not only were we all competent to handle the boat alone if need be, but that all of us actually get along with each other. Nothing is as poisonous to safety as a crew that doesnt like each other and so dont communicate. Besides, even if you put somebody on the other watch a sailboat is pretty tight quarters to spend a few weeks with somebody you dont get along with
Of course someone's "quiet and thoughtful" is another's "dull and slow". and the "good company and keen" can also be an "annoying chatterbox who doesn't think before acting".

Applies to both crew and skipper


One consistent theme that comes accross on threads like this (albeit more so elsewhere - CF full of more thoughtful souls ) is that Skipper always starts off with the position that he is a good skipper and doesn't need to earn the respect of the crew (IMO simply having a boat and then being able to find somewhere safely doesn't get you above adequate).

Onboard (as Crew) I don't mind jumping when told to (it's part of the job description - and after a while I may even throw in some anticipation ) - but until I have got an understanding of how good (adequate ) the Skipper is their will be some thinking involved from me. and maybe even some questionning (nicely, but important to know WTF Skipper wants / is thinking - not just assume).........and some might interpret that as less than helpful. But that comes from actually knowing WTF is possible onboard. Even if Skipper doesn't .............trust / repsect is a 2 way street, and needs to be earned both ways. And doesn't automatically follow the bank balance............or the hat you wear.
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