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Old 03-08-2008, 04:40   #1
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Skipper's responsibility

This weekend, I had the opportunity to have a few first-time sailors out. I invited them for the weekend, but as it turned out the weather here on the Chessie was just a bit iffy. Yesterday, the Sunday forecast looked OK, but by this morning, the NWS had issued a SCA. Mind you, gusts up to 20 knots are not a big deal for my boat, but I decided to call off the outing to be safe. Now I am having second thoughts.

It was difficult working around these guys' schedules and hard to know if I will get them together again for another attempt on a better day.

Did I do the right thing or am I a wimp? How do folks in bigger, heavier boats feel about going out under an SCA? I have been caught out in MUCH worse, so it doesn't personally bother me, but I also feel like I should be a responsible (though not strictly fair-weather) skipper.

Thoughts?
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Old 03-08-2008, 04:51   #2
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You did the right thing.

If you were looking to provide your friends (and you know them best) with a good time, rather than a nervous experience, calling off the sail was the way to go.

When I was chartering, our policy was to stay in port when a SCA was up, even though the boat could handle it.

You don't want your guests to feel like those cruise ship guest do when they come back with bumps and bruises from rough conditions.

That's the thing with boats - they aren't on land schedules. All the guests either have to be on the schedule of the sea, or be very lucky to have their schedules work with the sea's schedule.



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Originally Posted by sneuman View Post
This weekend, I had the opportunity to have a few first-time sailors out. I invited them for the weekend, but as it turned out the weather her on the Chessie was just a bit iffy. Yesterday, the Sunday forecast looked OK, but by this morning, the NWS had issued a SCA. Mind you, gusts up to 20 knots are not a big deal for my boat, but I decided to call off the outing to be safe. Now I am having second thoughts.

It was difficult working around these guys' schedules and hard to know if I will get them together again for another attempt on a better day.

Did I do the right thing or am I a wimp? How do folks in bigger, heavier boats feel about going out under an SCA? I have been caught out in MUCH worse, so it doesn't personally bother me, but I also feel like I should be a responsible (though not strictly fair-weather) skipper.

Thoughts?
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Old 03-08-2008, 05:51   #3
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Old 03-08-2008, 06:32   #4
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"Small Craft Advisory" = good sailing. However, I guess it depends on the people you are taking out. Will they get seasick? Will you just have to turn back around to return to the dock?
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Old 03-08-2008, 06:38   #5
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I think you did the right thing in not taking them.

Nothing to do with "safety" - just that they are unlikely to have found the trip pleasant, and if the idea was to have 1 or more of them on future trips then the first 1 (or few) trips will make or break their desire to repeat the experiance.
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Old 03-08-2008, 08:08   #6
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You made the right call because it is the skipper's call.

I may have further evaluated the weather myself to see if I could verify the conditions driving a SCA. Sometimes the NWS can be over conservative.

If, after further evaluation, I thought it was sailable, I would have gone, perhaps with the sails pre-reefed. I may have modified my sail plan to stay close in as well.

Many other factors to consider as well. If it was going to be I high wind, how would I handle docking a 37 foot boat. Is this crew able to help or is it single handed docking in 40Kts of wind.

Once again, you did the right thing based on your evaluation. No one ever got in trouble by not sailing.
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Old 03-08-2008, 12:18   #7
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On the San Francisco Bay, 20 knots is when things are just starting to get good. If they are newbie sailors, it was probably the best thing not to take them out. Most people who are new to sailing are a little freaked out by higher winds, even when you know it is safe. Hollywood has seen to it that high winds means that some sort of life threatening disaster is imminent.

Keeping people dry and warm for their first outing is probably a good thing because you know they will want to go sailing again, as unrealistic as assuming it is always going to be calm might be. You never want someones first sailing experience to be frightening or cold....unless its someone you dislike.
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Old 03-08-2008, 13:36   #8
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SCA conditions probably don't bother your boat--but unless the newbs are real "Whee HA!" rollercoaster fans, probably safer to let their first trip be a gentler one.

Isn't part of seamanship defined as "err on the side of caution" ?
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Old 03-08-2008, 14:10   #9
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I piloted planes a number of years ago and we had an old Chinese proverb; much rather be on the ground wishing you were in the air then in the air wishing you were on the ground! I believe the same statement applies to sailing.
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Old 03-08-2008, 16:23   #10
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Twenty knots is much for a well found sail boat, but it depends on where you are sailing, current, fetch and time of the blow. I think of an SCA as applicable to smaller open boats not ocean going yachts. Some boats don't even move well in light air so 20 is not a lot. And some boats are wet and tender and 20 is a rather thrilling ride. Some people get seasick just being on a boat and others never do. SCA does not mean NOT to go out and don't forget the point of sail matters to. If you are going to a destination and can do a broad reach the apparent wind will be in the low teens with following seas. That sounds pretty fine to me.

Now if they say SCA with steady 25 gusting to 35 I would think twice about taking some newbies out, but I was alone and had to get somewhere I would set a deep reef and go for it.
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Old 03-08-2008, 16:39   #11
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IMHO calling it off was definitely the right thing to do. First timers could easily get fingers caught in sheets etc, and with 20 knots wind......

Better to wait.
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Old 03-08-2008, 19:57   #12
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ironically, it turned into an excellent sailing day, which i was able to take advantage of with a regular sailing buddy. It would have been just fine for the newbies too, but guess it's better to be conservative on a first outing.
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Old 03-08-2008, 21:11   #13
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There are old Captains and Bold Captains

but not many Old AND Bold Captains

Keep in mind....one's first experience on a sailboat should be a pleasant one.....

we do want them to come back don't we?
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Old 11-08-2008, 11:35   #14
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I agree with the others that you did the right thing. I had a first timer out in 22 kts with no SCA, but a 6-8 foot swell. He fed the fish and I don't think he'll be back, which is too bad. That was not a day where I had even considered not going. It was a pretty wild sail for Dana Point standards and the "old salts" on my crew loved it. It was too much for a newbie, though.
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Old 14-08-2008, 06:10   #15
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Ah well... I have seen far too many people turned off of sailing for life because someone said oh we will go anyway this boat is meant for this kind of weather. We all know,the boats are "tuff" and the people are not.
If I want to share my love of sailing with someone new, I certainly do my best not to scare them, on the first few outings, and to include them in the boat handling chores.
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