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Old 28-08-2008, 06:43   #31
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I think Sully's approach is very similar to what we do in the airliner's cockpits:

Crew Resource Management - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

and also Situational Awareness Training:

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Old 29-08-2008, 12:10   #32
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My husband and I have the same sailing experience and we have found it natural from the beginning that the person on the helm is the captain. Whatever works best for those involved. I don't think there is a wrong way if both are comfortable with it.

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Old 05-09-2008, 12:52   #33
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Thank you all for your thoughtful and measured responses. We've found the variety of opinions to be super-helpful!
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:10   #34
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If co-captaining works for you make it happen.

Sometimes decisions need to be made quickly, and the idea of having to come to an agreement before them all is kind of quirky. To some extent there's always one captain; I doubt you guys time your tacks and jibes down to the second of an agreed upon schedule.

The long history of ocean going vessels doesn't default to a single captain just because; it's a very good idea that has lasted thousands of years.

But hell, if you can make it work, break the mold.
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Old 08-09-2008, 09:18   #35
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My wife and I both run the boat. We are both very experienced so it makes no difference who is in charge. If you race distance you know that boats have watch captains. You gotta sleep, the watch changes.
No biggee...........

That said, I am better at some tasks, she is better at others, such is the way of life.
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Old 19-10-2008, 10:49   #36
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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
You guys are all way too touchy feelie. I think I am going to barf.

I am the man, I am smarter, I am the Skipper. No dabate.

(right honey?........)

Sounds like something I'd say
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Old 19-10-2008, 11:01   #37
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Not being a sailor (yet - and soon I hope to change this 'yet' part right out of my initial disclaimer... and just say, "Being a sailor..." anyway) - neither my wife or I have sailed. We've been on boats, power and larger, and we've taken them in to dock them or moved them from place to place. Neither of us have "Captain" experience but we've both been "skipper" on smaller boats.

At home - neither of us are "in charge" and yet both are in charge.

We've discussed this aspect of how things will work on the boat and up until the time we're actually sailing we're not positive who will be skipper. However, we both agree there can be only one person directing the operations of a sailing vessel.

Part of this comes from both of us having been around the military - me serving in it and her being a military wife.

At home she was skipper with the kids and the household. At work, I was the skipper.

When it came to decisions (in particular some life and death decisions we've made) we discussed things before making any decision. In a "right now, real-time, real-world life and death decision" it's going to be whomever is in the position to make that decision and then live with it later.

I expect never to have to be in such a position... but in general the safety of our boat, crew, each other and those around us we might affect come first and foremost before anything else. And she and I will certainly do our best in whatever position we're in at the moment.
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Old 19-10-2008, 11:50   #38
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If you both share the premise that you are truly equal in every aspect of your lives and both agree that you share lifes duties equitably, then there shouldn't be strife when faced with a decision. You should each be able to suggest a course of action then mutually agree on which is best under the circumstances. And then, you should both act in support of the mutual decision.

On boats it is never that easy.

In any aspect of your life do you have disagreements?

If you have ever disagreed on anything then pretending to be co-captains will most likely work in only the most benign situations. Add weather or failing gear in weather, then make it dark. Now throw in the fact that you are "Co-Captains". Disagreements between spouses afloat in these conditions lead to divorce court.

My wife is an extremely accomplished sailor. She and I are equally capable of handling most tactical decisions on the water. Meaning those that don't require anything more than recognizing action must be taken for a given situation. If the course of action requires anything more than turning the wheel and adjusting course then who ever isn't on watch usually handles the labor. As is the case on most boats we have strategically placed self tailing winches to help with every line hauling duty. Great physical strength isn't a requirement to sail our boat so we don't have to trade places at the helm every time a sail has to be moved.
For a nice daysail or even a short cruise in relatively calm weather this works for us. She gets to be the captain when she is "on watch" and I am captain 24/7.

Sailing in anything but the best weather occasionally requires physical strength and some endurance.

We have no strife onboard. When trouble arises, if there is time, we always identify what we each think we are faced with we mutually decide what we'll do next.

We never play the who is the "captain" game. We just share responsibilities.

If your wife has every quality you possess including physical strength then I would stop worrying about being a co-captain. Giver her the title and enjoy the pleasures of less responsibility.
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Old 19-10-2008, 15:28   #39
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I don't care who the Captain is, so long as I'm the Admiral!

The term captain on leisure yachts is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion.

With reference to the current titles used in naval situations, I don't know, but in commercial shipping, when talking to the master, the person is simply addressed "captain". When referring to the master it is either "the captain" or "the old man".

In the situation of a leisure yacht, I would consider the roll of captain to be more that of manager, ie generally managing the paperwork, supplies, maintenance, travel destination decisions etc. In that case there is no reason not to share equally in that responsibility.

I think that the question being asked about whether or not it is okay to have co-captains is in times of sailing and seamanship practices. In that situation the more appropriate term, if one is required, would be coxswain.

In this case I think the logical person to be coxswain, is the person at the helm, at the time. The behavior and requirements of the boat are going to depend on the actions of the person at the helm, so the helmsman is best placed to make the decisions. If the person at the helm feels that they don't have enough experience to deal with the situation at hand and the other person does, then it would be sensible to hand over both the helm and decision making responsibility to the other person.
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Old 16-11-2008, 06:28   #40
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I disagree about needing one final word. I have been sailing a long time and captain and crew on various boats. Recently I purchased my own boat to live and sail on. Benji, my partner, and I sail it together frequently, even though he has his own boat. Our sailing experience is equal, although different.

I don't ever remember either one of us giving orders to the other, so it hasn't become an issue. No need for a final say when we both work well together. However, having said that, I have worked with others where my final say is important, and when I am crew I bite my tongue and comply with orders.

The key is to not be to directive ever, you don't want a mutiny especially if your co-captian is also your partner in life. And no one likes to take orders when they feel fully capable of running the boat themselves. Like learning to read the wind and waves and move harmoniously with the weather, we need to the same with our partners.

I also disagree with dividing the work based on strengths. Our weaknesses are our opportunities to improve and be challenged. Thats the fun part. If Benji and I divided the work, I would always be navigating and he would always be at the helm. But then what would happen if one of us made a mistake. Its best to know every role on the boat. I also find that generally the women fall into the roles such as cooking, cleaning, etc and men do the heavy work. Although this is a generalizaion, I personally don't know of any couples that have the opposite roles. These gender roles make absolutely no sense to me.

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Old 21-11-2008, 17:12   #41
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I passed my 100 ton ocean master aux sail in 1984, whoppee do. I don't care when someone sez left or port, I listen to all concerns, I really don't want to care who's in charge... I am not sure that I really want to be "In charge"...people's lives and the safety of the vessel are at stake, but "I WILL BE"!. Coming out of Slaughter Harbor, Berrys, Bahamas I said "Turn Right" my "crewmember" asked "why" and did not turn the wheel. We thankfully missed the huge rock by less than half an inch...almost sinking my boat by ripping out her side. It can not be done by committee, it must be done by orders, regardless who the captain is, and someone has the ultimate responsibility, no matter how pretty you put it, if someone gets hurt, dies or the vessel lost , that responsibility is not shared.
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Old 21-11-2008, 18:18   #42
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Originally Posted by captjcook View Post
..... someone has the ultimate responsibility, no matter how pretty you put it, if someone gets hurt, dies or the vessel lost , that responsibility is not shared.
That pretty much defines this discussion and it is up to each boat “team” to decide which individual has that ultimate burden and you should in good faith, commit to them your support, when a disagreement on how to proceed could cost a life.

On large ships and yachts, failure to follow an order, or as is more often the case, failure to “belay” that order, can cost a limb or a life.

On smaller yacht’s not so often... but therein lies the danger in creating a touchy feely democracy…..people can still get hurt.

This has nothing to do with who gets the crappy jobs or who does the dishes…that is not what being a master is all about

As a master, you train your crew to follow your orders and you earn their trust by watching their backs like a hawk and do your own share of the work.

I rarely need to raise my voice, but when I do….all crew know that I sense danger and they depend on my experience and overall perspective to keep them safe.

If they don’t trust me, then I want them off my ship asap!

There are no half measures when it comes to responsibility and those who still believe that..... are usually the first to call CG when things get a bit uncomfortable.
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Old 21-11-2008, 20:52   #43
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Being technical right might be morally wrong!!

SoftAir CRM requires all to have completed the course & refreshers!! When you sail with your wife you are the Captain but she is the Admiral or apply CRM like your co-pilot is the CEO!! The buck still stops with the Captain.

It sometimes becomes necessary to do something you may not want to keep the other person happy so long as it is safe. Males learn form mistakes but females regress.

Standard phrases to be used should be in the line of "would you mind holding this rope dear" not "hold that rope" etc.

That's how I have to apply SOPS on my-- sorry our boat.
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Old 24-02-2009, 14:55   #44
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Like others here, we trade being the "whatever you want to call the person where the buck stops" - there is always one person who is ultimately responsible and knows it, which seems safer - but who that person is changes depending on who needs to go to the bathroom or get some juice

If the person on watch needs to make a fast decision and direct the other person, they do. Whenever that happens, we talk about it afterwards (when the urgency is gone) and check in to see how our team did.

Although I've seen alternate-captaining in couples of many ages, I wonder how much of this is generational. Even in the below 40yo couples I know where the woman is much less experienced, the expectation is that they are working toward alternate-captaining and as the experience equals out over their cruise, they'll get there.
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Old 24-02-2009, 16:10   #45
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Our ships registration papers both of us are registered as Master. The reason we did this is if I get taken off the boat at any time (say medical) no one can try to say she can't operate it. That may be importnat with some bolshi nations where women are not held in esteem or the coast guard has too much power.


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