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Old 25-07-2016, 06:45   #1
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Crew responsibilities

Hi I am preparing myself for yacht ownership and eventually sailing then live aboard / cruising life.
I find myself trying to imagine the differing roles of the crew. Has anyone made up a list of "job descriptions" for each of the crew members? If so are you willing to share?

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Old 25-07-2016, 09:39   #2
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Re: Crew responsibilities

Originally Posted by ghendoaus View Post
Hi I am preparing myself for yacht ownership and eventually sailing then live aboard / cruising life.
I find myself trying to imagine the differing roles of the crew. Has anyone made up a list of "job descriptions" for each of the crew members? If so are you willing to share?
Different boats need a crew member, or crew members, to do different things. If you are considering a boat needing more than one crew member you may want to consider one of the additional crew members being a captain who's job description would include answering questions like you asked.

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Old 25-07-2016, 09:42   #3
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Re: Crew responsibilities

each passage and each crew is different.
what tomfl said.
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Old 25-07-2016, 09:56   #4
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Re: Crew responsibilities

I don't think you'll find too many crews if the expectation is that they adhere to a job description like they're petty officers in the navy. I think the key is learning to accommodate each others' quirks, use their strengths and understand their weaknesses.

About two decades ago I sailed with a couple - the husband was a petty officer and had retired after a career in the boiler room, the wife had never sailed and had raised three daughters ashore pretty much by herself. Initially the wife never took watches by herself, and she used her life experience and skillset of cooking, laundry, organizing very well (cleanest and neatest boat in passage I've ever been on).

By week 3, she was comfortably solo watch in evenings when the weather forecast was favorable. About a month in, Chief Ransom was branching out and learning how to make bread - this was after all retirement and you basically witnessed him let himself relax at sea and make the transition from being a petty officer to civilian life (it was also good for his wife to become more hands on as we learned later that he had developed some heart conditions, most likely due to sustained chronic dehydration/heat in the engine room).
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Old 25-07-2016, 10:51   #5
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Re: Crew responsibilities

The Captain has signed up for ultimate responsibility and decision making. When authorities show up and make demands, the Captain complies. The Admiral has signed up contingently for a pleasant experience but must be prepared for hardship and danger. Other necessary functions including engineering (mechanical, electrical, chemical, software), watches, navigation, weather analysis, helm control, sail control, and galley operations.
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Old 25-07-2016, 14:00   #6
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Re: Crew responsibilities

Thanks for all the prompt responses, maybe I was wording the question too legalistically. I was more looking for a division of labour type of listing rather than a hard and fast job description for each crew member, something along the lines of ded reckoner.
Maybe I have been too long in corporate life!

It's more to help me conceptualise life aboard and to help convey that to those that will be sailing with me rather than force each of us into some kind of false role playing mode.
I appreciate all the responses it will help me avoid some of the pitfalls mentioned!
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Old 25-07-2016, 15:49   #7
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Re: Crew responsibilities

It all depends on the skill sets of the people involved.

But basically one person will have primary responsibility for planning navigation/weather watching etc (usually the skipper but not always).

Whoever is the watchkeeper at the time is responsible for sail trim, keeping the boat on course, monitoring the radio etc.

All other duties tend to be shared according to interest/skill.
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Old 26-07-2016, 08:07   #8
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Re: Crew responsibilities

Tough crowd ghendoaus. Yachting Monthly have done a number of articles in the last 12 months on this subject - sailing with friends, being a good skipper, taking on crew, the difference between men and women on board, as well as their reviews of the ARC and how the crews organise themselves. I would start there. Some skippers have published their rules. Some of the themes are; play to each individuals strengths, let everyone have a go at everything to gain confidence, practise things before letting people choose roles, be flexible, be calm and clear, don't let frustrations or resentment fester, make sure everyone has personal space at some point, allow people to have some personal provisions, minimise boredom.
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Old 26-07-2016, 08:23   #9
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Re: Crew responsibilities

What StuM said. And also keep in mind that each persons; energy level, skill levels, knowledge base, learning rate, etc. can & will vary greatly. Particularly as folks have to adapt to a lot of things when going to sea. From close quarters, to boat type & motion, odd sleep cycles, new watch skeds, interacting with others, & so on.

Probably the first thing to do is to get everyone familiar with the boat, & with each other, including skills. Long before you go out for your first sail.
And then get everyone on the same page about safety issues & drills. By which time it'll start to become clear who may best be suited for specialty X, or Y. And you as the Skipper will then have to do the juggling act of handing out tasks, & adapting skeds to match the circumstances of the now. AKA leadership. With which you'll also get help from stronger crew. And also those with good people skills, who may or may not be sharp sailors.

The simple way to handle things is to think of yourself, the Skipper, as a single-hander. But that you have folks to delegate tasks to, so that you can get more shut eye than a solo sailor.

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Old 26-07-2016, 13:45   #10
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Re: Crew responsibilities

There is no such thing unless you are in a professional environment: you pay trained people do specific things and these are their duties. Should always be stipulated in the contract, without any vague clauses like 'and any other tasks as requested by the skipper'.

In the leisure context, the duties are what you agree upon with the people that are sailing with you. These too should be communicated to every one early on, clearly and honestly. One can be the master chef (often the one that cooks best food), one can be the diver (preferably the one that can swim) and someone else can be the lover. The roles should be clear cut, especially so when they may overlap. If there is any bum aboard, tell this to the crew too, so that the bum is allowed to do nothing while others work so hard.

Always tell people what you want from them and never demand anything as if you were in the navy. Or else they will not come back to sail with you next season.


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