Pelagic - well said, I can see that there are three levels here. The professional mariner who "signs on" to a naval vessel or maritime shipping
vessel. Then the professional delivery
or charter Captain
or very experienced owner/Captain who needs competent and "cool under fire", or willing to learn crew, either paid or volunteer. Hot-heads and know-it-alls are very dangerous especially when weather
or other things go south. And finally, the owner/captain caught in a short-handed position who needs a little help for watch keeping, helmsman and maybe just pleasant company.
- - What I posted was written for the third group as an aid for the owner/captain and the potential volunteer crew to get a better understanding of what is involved in "signing on" to a voyage. The other two categories are well experienced in the necessities and legalities of maritime service
. But the new owner/captain and un-experienced volunteer crew can learn what some of the "restrictions" imposed by the being at sea are and then be better prepared to evaluate whether they really want to get "involved" with certain types of people. There is a steep learning
curve between being an "armchair/landlubber" captain/crew and actually being out there in a gale with a good or bad crew situation. I have "been there, done that," and was lucky enough to save my ship from the incompetence of a supposedly "experienced" crewperson. They could "talk the talk" but when it came time to perform were a disaster and nearly cost me my ship. Interestingly enough, a second volunteer crewperson onboard was a retired naval officer and former "round the world cruiser" who knew command structure and how to provide assistance when needed with a cool, calm and competent demeanor.
- - Helping to weed out the former from the latter is what the crew agreement example is designed to do. Those who get their "hackles" up about signing or discussing the responsibilities and hazards involved should be eliminated from consideraton. You can die out there all to easily at worst and do serious damage to the vessel and other crew in the least. That needs to be understood and acknowledged formally before departure on an ocean voyage of significant duration.
- - In the past, retention of passports was common custom both for safe keeping and ease of formalities. But in these days any movement outside your home country or even re-entry to your home country is impossible without possession of your passport. Changing money
in a bank requires the passport. I changed the original version to exclude the possibility of a physical altercation with an incompetent captain or "Bligh" situation (which a friend got into a few short weeks ago) when it is necessary to "jump ship" for your own personal safety
. Reasonal honorable men
act reasonably honorable, but there is a growing percentage of hot-head, incompetent and downright dangerous owner/captains out there advertising for crew and the crew person needs the option of being able to jump ship the same as the competent, owner/captain needs to be able to get rid of dangerous crewperson. In the non-professional arena, there should be a clearly understood and acknowledged agreement about the duties and environment
to help minimize "bad" or downright dangerous situations. This especially applies to females who are wanting to enjoy the opportunites to sail and explore with the same expectations and courtesies a male crew person would enjoy.
- - Written signed agreement or not, when out at sea in a dangerous situation obviously there are no lawyers or Admiralty courts to enforce or interpert a written agreement. And even afterwards, who has the money
or time to hassle it out in court? The purpose of the crew agreement example is to set a climate of confidence that each party understands before hand the dangers and responsibilities inherent in a owner/captain and crew relationship at sea. It is the dishonorable/incompetent that either party needs protection from.