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Old 02-07-2016, 12:19   #16
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

I captain my boat and I have crewed on many. I have encountered what I would consider a few "very good" captains (they are a minority!) while crewing, captains who would actively involve, and listen to, the crew while making plans and decisions - but reserving the right to make the final call when appropriate or necessary - and making the right one.

Interestingly these are the people who get the best response from their crew when the urgency of the situation allows no discussion and you just have to get on with it and do as you are told - and if you are an experienced sailor you know when that is the case. NOBODY argues in an emergency!

To those who say "know your crew (or your captain)" before you embark on a voyage it seems to me you speak from the depths of naivete. People are usually on their best behaviour when you first meet them and during the initial period of the relationship. And they can be very different (captain or crew) ashore and at sea. TRUE character usually only shows itself during challenging times or long, boring, night watches.

Deciding whether or not to go with a particular captain or crew is a tough decision. I suppose Briggs-Meyer is one approach. Another is to get drunk together before leaving.

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Old 02-07-2016, 12:38   #17
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

In theory-a good manager doesn't NEED to perform the actual tasks.
He is comfortable with RESPONSIBLY delegating the tasks to properly vetted (by him) crew & encourages participation by the crew in performing tasks.
His responsibility is to ensure the crew are competent & trustworthy in their assigned tasks & to ensure they are performing tasks correctly,by checking & correcting their performance in a non-confrontational manner.

Some people are never able to comfortably handle this method of management & they will never have a long term,"finely tuned & well performing" crew.

Those managers that can handle it get as much satisfaction from a "well oiled crew" as they do from a finely tuned ship.

It is definitely a personality trait-some have it,some can learn it & some never do. If you have ever worked under such a person,you will recognize it & would go to the wall for them.Click image for larger version

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Old 02-07-2016, 16:17   #18
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

Thank you msponer for raising a delightfully sensitive topic which has as many answers as there are management theories. I too skipper and crew occasionally and years ago researched a marketing plan for an Oxford University Crediting Competence in Management course and found that only18 percent of managers in the workplace had received any management training. This put together with a belief that 20% of the population is naturally any good at managing doesn't give us much chance to find a good manager as a skipper. We could move on to leadership qualities but might leave it there and just hope skippers don't go to sea to escape fallout from bad managent on land .
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Old 02-07-2016, 17:06   #19
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

Just on the navigation aspect. No matter who is navigating on my boat, I always 'always' keep an eye on it myself.

The other thing I always take charge of, mainly because my eldest son declines, is that I always berth my boat myself.

When I have a crew on over nighters, I don't sleep soundly. I'm always ready to jump up and help or to jump up and check what is going on. Part of that is nerves I think.

Other than that, we have a brief meeting / chat each morning on what we are going to do during the day and roles.
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Old 02-07-2016, 17:49   #20
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Unhappy Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

You could gauge you effectiveness as a capt say after a long voyage you make landfall and after a few days shore leave you return to the boat to sail away and you find that you are the only one onboard!
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Old 02-07-2016, 18:04   #21
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

I don't agree with the comparison between managing a business and being captain of a boat. In business I have been way more democratic with the focus being team building, one of the most important lessons was learning to lose. On my boat it's not a democracy. Crew mostly arent experienced enough to be involved in the decision making, also their emotions can interfere with your decision making. If they want to learn that's great but they need to understand there's one captain. I had one lady argue with me regarding where I choose to argue, her intuition told her we should be closer in, I told her my chart and depth sounder suggest you are wrong.

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Old 02-07-2016, 18:22   #22
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

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Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
I don't agree with the comparison between managing a business and being captain of a boat. In business I have been way more democratic with the focus being team building, one of the most important lessons was learning to lose. On my boat it's not a democracy. Crew mostly arent experienced enough to be involved in the decision making, also their emotions can interfere with your decision making. If they want to learn that's great but they need to understand there's one captain. I had one lady argue with me regarding where I choose to argue, her intuition told her we should be closer in, I told her my chart and depth sounder suggest you are wrong.

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I totally get it and I would never presume to know more than the captain of his ship. Playing devils advocate, what if the situation were reversed? What if you are a sail by the seat of your pants sort and your crew has no confidence in you and your gut feeling?
Where does the crew come in with a sense of self preservation?
Oh aye, mutiny laddie! What say you captain?
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Old 02-07-2016, 18:34   #23
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

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Originally Posted by phalo View Post
We could move on to leadership qualities but might leave it there and just hope skippers don't go to sea to escape fallout from bad managent on land .
I met one of those, but not before flying from the Pacific Northwest all the way to Malaysia.

It wasn't until another good sailor and I got there with our personal night watch snacks (pepperoni, beef jerky and other stuff) that we found out he was a VEGAN and would not allow any of it on the boat.
He also went nuclear about lots of stuff and couldn't believe we wanted to actually FIX a lot of stuff before we set sail from Lankawi.
He had purchased a Roberts 49 without a survey because the previous owner assured him that,
"Everything works perfectly and no amount of money has been spared in making the boat perfect."
In other words, it was a big piece of crap, and poorly built by an amateur who wanted to bail out of his major failure.

I finally (thankfully !) got kicked off the delivery before it left the dock with half pay and a free flight home.
He said, "sailing should be fun and you're not making it fun."
That was after I showed him his alternator not only didn't work but the mount was cracked.
You should have seen the look on the other crewmember's face.
He looked like he had just been kicked in the nether regions as he knew he and I were the only ones aboard who had a clue.

Long story short, involving armed guards, lawsuits etc, the boat got sailed to Hawaii by a totally different crew, paid a lot more than us and then sold for a loss.
The other initial crewmember sailed away with the idiot owner, but lived to tell about it, and got at least halfway paid.
Both of us responded to the owner's Craiglist ad, and got fooled big time.
Oh, and the owner who posted the ad was a psychologist. Now we know how we got fooled.
To tell the whole story would take PAGES !

Sorry if this is thread drift.

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Old 02-07-2016, 18:35   #24
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

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Originally Posted by Sea Dreaming View Post
I totally get it and I would never presume to know more than the captain of his ship. Playing devils advocate, what if the situation were reversed? What if you are a sail by the seat of your pants sort and your crew has no confidence in you and your gut feeling?
Where does the crew come in with a sense of self preservation?
Oh aye, mutiny laddie! What say you captain?
It's important that the skipper acts in a way that builds confidence. When I'm scared I don't show it, when things go wrong I always do my best to look calm, I never yell etc. It takes time. Luckily most crew don't realize how many things can potentially go wrong.

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Old 02-07-2016, 18:36   #25
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

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I often make mistakes caused by dysfunctional relationships...


and I sail solo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



See Mark your just smarter than me, I'm still not sailing alone..lol.

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Old 02-07-2016, 18:57   #26
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

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Originally Posted by phalo View Post

just hope skippers don't go to sea to escape fallout from bad managent on land .
Phalo,

Is 'let's hope' in Australia an equivalent to 'unfortunately the case is that' elsewhere? ;-)

Where I live your hope is vain, and your observation keen.

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Old 04-07-2016, 20:35   #27
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

I remember in 1974 I crewed a 55' sailboat off California for several days. I hadnt met the captain or his wife before the trip.

Everyone knew I was the greenest member but nobody put me down for it. It was their chance to delegate everything and over the next week I learned a few things.

One night I had helm duty--and just compass, no GPS that time. They had set the sails and the Captain told me to steer on course 280 (or something) while they made dinner below. Every 10 minutes he'd come up and see im embarrassingly off course. He'd say, ok youre off a few degrees, come back on this course, and he go below again. Few minutes later, Ok you overcorrected, come back to this exact point. He'd draw a piece of pie on a paper and show how my course was resulting in a ever-widening angle and he didnt want to add tacking to lessons tonite. He calmly explained about effect of drift and the need for gentle and small steering inputs to get large results. Third, fourth, fifth time, up the stairs he came. But by the end of the trip I could steer that boat to any course, even a perfect circle if thats what you want.

That time, though so interested in sailing, I didnt have it in me to absorb every lesson perfectly the first time and maybe I still dont. But that man, and his wife too, were so calm and solid and patient, you simply trusted them and felt they were at no time not in complete control of all aspects of the boat. So you didnt challenge or argue, you obeyed and willingly so. They could laugh, delegate, trust, they could repeat orders and explain why, they could teach, they invited any question and never make you feel like the idiot they knew you were. Result? They were raising a sailor, not a disgruntled mutineer who would also come to hate sailing. They invited me many times and at the end of the first trip they gave me a great book on sailing that still have and use.

I think.....some people (captains, leaders) have it in them to size up a person and regardless of background or experience of a crew, keep working to bring out the best in them. They can peer through and see the character, interest and ability and set crew on tasks suitable to them and then pull everything out of them they have to give. When you show confidence, consistency and trustworthiness to crew, you get respect in return and no mutiny either. For a captain, thats going to come in handy when the chips are down in a storm.

In the movie, A Perfect Storm, the crew were dysfunctional as individuals but they had trust in the captain. And still they argued, and still they knew in the end they have to trust. The fact they all died doesnt make the premise wrong. But for that you need the right captain...and then to shuttup, do your job and never stop believing.
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Old 05-07-2016, 17:00   #28
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

Daysailing with a dysfunctional crew will ruin your day. Passagemaking with a dysfunctional crew could jeopardize your life and your future. If you don't have a competent, dependable partner(s), sail solo. And, in today's litigious world, the wrong choice of crew could have serious consequences-- both civil and criminal. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 05-07-2016, 18:07   #29
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

I recommend the book "Extreme Ownership". It is written by a former Navy Seal Commander. Its a book about applying leadership skills used by the Seals to the business world. But those same skills are probably even more appropriate in captaining a boat.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:08   #30
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Re: Accidents caused by dysfunctional relationships

I just finished reading a book that made me very sad. It was about the US and British generals who "led" the North African WWII campaign against the Germans and Italians. The Germans had much more competent leaders but even they made some truly boneheaded decisions that killed hundreds and hundreds of men.

What struck me is that many of the US and UK officers were narcisstic bullies who said do it my way even though they were (finally) told they were doing stupid things. Over and over and over again. And Eisenhower left some of them in place even though it was obvious how bad they were.

I have seen skippers like this, not very many, but some, who get defensive about being "criticized" by the crew. Sometimes just because they don't want to seem like they don't know it all, and sometimes because they think they know it all.

The skipper ultimately has to make a decision but it should be made with input from the crew if they can give good input. I have seen some crew who clearly don't know what they are talking about but can't help themselves, and sometimes it is because they are scared and think they will be safer if only the skipper does what they want.

I don't like crew myself, except with my Admiral as I trust her. There is often several different good and safe ways to do some things and it gets really old when someone insists that their way is the only "good" or "safe" way. I don't hesitate to ask for input though when available but in the end I have to make a decision and live with it. Boats can't be run like a democracy. There are a couple of skippers I would never sail with again for any reason, even if a good friend. I have crewed with some very good skippers though and would have no issues going out with them again.

What the OP describes in his intro is way over the top though. I was confused about the introduction of another skipper being the idiot and then the questions led me to believe it might be about the OP. Just call me confused and dazed. It was just the way it was worded I think.
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