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Old 26-11-2009, 12:26   #1
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Three's a Crowd - Safety in Numbers?

My husband and I will be embarking on a cruise of the Pacific that we have been dreaming of for the last 25 years. We are leaving kids, jobs, home, etc to begin this adventure in April, and we are so excited!

We invited a friend to join us, primarily for watch/safety reasons, and now I am having second thoughts. He is a great guy, but has never been water sailing">blue water sailing, and I am concerned about two things: this will obviously change the dynamic for my husband and I, and is it actually safer or a liability to bring someone along who is so inexperienced?

Add to this that he has advocated to bring a girlfriend along for the entire trip (also inexperienced) that we have never met. Already said no to that one.

I can see how 3 could add to the enjoyment and safety, but am also concerned about the aforementioned issues. I would appreciate any comments experienced folks would like to give me. Couples out there, how safe do you feel it is for just the two of you? Our boat is a 42' cruiser, and we can handle it fine but in rough weather we think a third hand might be an asset.
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Old 26-11-2009, 12:42   #2
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Minimal Crew...

I hunted round a while ago looking for crew. While most were good I found myself tending to go with the crews schedule, not my own, and any training left with them.

Now I've resolved that it just going to be my wife and myself. If good experienced crew are available when we need them (mostly long passages) that'll be great but I'm not planning on it.

What I am planning is to have really good self steering, AIS, radar and weather forcasting capability and to travel much more conservatively in regard to weather windows.

Now my wife gets all the training and experience...
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Old 26-11-2009, 12:45   #3
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I would go with just the two of you. Are you comfortable with just the two of you aboard? I can tell you, no matter how good a friend he is, or how well the three of you get along on shore, cooped up on a boat on a relatively long voyage will take a toll on the friendship. It is amazing how little things can grow into big irritants on a small boat and although your boat is 42 feet, it still is a small area for three.
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Old 26-11-2009, 12:46   #4
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My $.02...skip the crew. In our experience, it creates more complication than it relieves.
If you and your husband are capable, and can accomplish those tasks that need to be done in adverse conditions, you don't need additional help.
A 3rd body will: eat your food (and dispose of it), be in the way sometimes, get in a pissy mood occasionally, have some kind of agenda, sometime, that will interfere with yours (girlfriend, etc)...AND, it may be difficult for you to treat him as an "equal", IE crew, and not as a "guest".
If its for a week or so, fine. Any longer, and I'd skip it. The trip will provide enough complications by itself, that you don't need to go around borrowing trouble beforehand.
Enjoy,
John
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Old 26-11-2009, 13:14   #5
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Thank you Boracay, Vasco and Meridian for your helpful comments. It is helpful to hear from others who have gone before us. Could you please elaborate on your experiences with more people aboard, how long they were with you, what was positive and what was negative? I would appreciate hearing from as many of you cruisers as feel like taking the time to advise me.

By the way, it is Turkey Day here in Seattle, and I want to wish all you cruisiers a wonderful holiday !
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Old 26-11-2009, 14:43   #6
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We had a friend join us for two months while cruising from the Marquesas to Tahiti. Couldn't have been a nicer guy and easier to get along with. We were ready to drop him over the side by the end. He didn't want to do anything but sit in the boat and write letters to his girl friend. The only time we had alone was when we left the boat for a hike or whatever. After two months we were getting really really cranky and had to bite our tongue to not start arguments or downright fights. Made a firm commitment to never have anyone except my wife onboard for longer than a week. FWIW, the passages weren't bad as we set up a watch standing schedule which kept him on deck 1/2 the time. My wife was the cook and didn't stand watches.
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Old 26-11-2009, 15:28   #7
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Could you please elaborate on your experiences with more people aboard, what is positive and what was negative?
The one big positive with crew is a much easier and less fatiguing watch schedule at night on passage. 3 or 4 people can keep make a huge difference in this.

The second major positive is when something goes wrong it's usually a ton easier to fix with 3 or 4 than just 2.

You have to trade those two points off against the enormous aggravation crew can add. Even very small foibles can turn into murderous faults on a long cruise.

If you were thinking of crew: #1 an inexperienced person would not be my choice because as above I think the primary benefit is from someone who can keep a night watch or help sort out problems and they need some experience to do that, #2 Ashore some people seem to fill a room with their presence and some people fade out of sight in a crowded room and take up no ego/emotional space at all - you definately want the latter.

If you happen to find someone you can get along with, crew can be wonderful. BUT there seems almost no way to know ahead of time whether they will work or not, the odds are they will not work and if they don't work they can completely ruin a voyage.

Net net I ocasionally help crew on other people's boats when they need an experienced hand, but we essentually never take crew on our own boat.
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Old 26-11-2009, 16:05   #8
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Toughest part of any offshore leg for me is the 1st 36 hrs. I just get to darn excited and can't sleep. When I finally hit the wall and get a good 6 , that is a long watch for my admiral, then I am in the groove for 4 on 4 off. Longest passage 72 hr from bahamas to charleston. Not like days of ocean crossing but the eat,sleep,watch schedule is easy to get into and we arrived alert and rested. I would not want someone onboard who I did not have complete confidence in. I trust my wife to make command decisions while I am asleep as she does me. Would not want to worry about crew ability as this would interfere with off watch tasks (sound sleeping). As far as guests , we enjoy having couples who are knowlegable boaters and don't require us to entertain them. When we are moving we enjoy handing the handling of the boat over to our guests. Most men (and some women)will agree that on a long trip whether by car or boat for one person to "hog the wheel" is a source of aggrivation. So we encourage everyone to particapate. With this attitude we have friends that visit every winter, 1 couple for a month others for a week . In conclusion, I think it is human nature when beginning something "new" whether it is a business or a long journey (think wagon trains) to try to surround yourself with fortification (bodies) to ward off pitfalls and attacks. We need to learn (as in know everything your partner knows about the boat ) and trust each other as equal partners. Then we will be one with the boat.
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Old 26-11-2009, 17:12   #9
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A No/Yes/still No from me (circumnavigated, two onboard all time).

In my eyes an inexperienced crew is a liability. Safety decreases, because he/she has to be watched over. There are enough things to be watched over anyway, each next one is a burden.

An inexperienced crew will not take over in those moments when the 3rd crew is needed most - bad weather, a tense moment, a kite drop.

An inexperienced crew will break many things, unless you tie them down. It is not so easy to replace things mid ocean or in a remote Pacific location.

It is also less than perfect in case of any difference of opinions, they will (may) line with one side and may make the other side feel overpowered.

I love the idea of a crew of (3 or more) because of shorter or fewer watches and the ability to give one crew rest in critical situations - like an injury, tiredness or seasickness. BUT it has to be an experienced sailor - an equal that will drive you safely thru the worst while you can sleep up, eat up and relax.

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Old 26-11-2009, 18:57   #10
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If he is inexperienced he's a guest not crew, and guests are like fish - they start to smell after three days.

If you feel you would like some experience get one experienced person along for the first leg, even if you have to pay. Then make the decision about going it alone.
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Old 26-11-2009, 20:32   #11
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Be up front with the guy and tell him that you're not sure if you'd rather just do it as a couple, without anyone else. And plan a one or two week shake-down cruise to see how he takes to blue water, and how you take to having him around full time, so you can make an informed choice. His gf makes for more complications, more dynamics between them as well as more questions about how she'll take to offshore.

The problem with going as just a couple is that if one of you is disabled, the other is now sailing solo and will be exhausted AND unable to care for the injured or disabled one, perhaps for a week or two. How easy is it to be disabled? Well, one unexpected wave throws you against the cabin table and breaks a couple of your ribs, or your wrist, and you're down for the count, aren't you?

As the saying goes, **** happens. One slip, one bump, one whatever, and a couple becomes a skeleton crew. I'd much rather have 3 or 4 onboard, which gives you the option of at least rotating so that each crew can have one "long sleep" of 6 hours every day, which is necessary for peak performance, while not requiring the other crew to stay on watch solo for that long--it is simply too long.

Not that that applies to everyone, but it is the common stat produced by the last forty or forty years of all the fatigue and sleep and labor studies from every source. If you're going to do it just as a couple, make sure you are up to the fatigue challenges. If you are going to take extra crew...make sure everyone is aware that the crew may get sent home if it doesn't work out. (And all the complications that can make for.)

In the end it all has to be what works for you, so take your time on this decision and take the most shake-down time you can.
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Old 27-11-2009, 05:52   #12
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My husband and I will be embarking on a cruise of the Pacific that we have been dreaming of for the last 25 years. We are leaving kids, jobs, home, etc to begin this adventure in April, and we are so excited!

We invited a friend to join us, .
The only reason why you invited him is that you are scared stupid of your own inabilities. Get over yourself, get rid of you 'crew', and go pluck your own dream down yourselves.


Sorry that I sound harsh but someone has to tell you.



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Old 27-11-2009, 06:16   #13
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We invited a friend to join us, primarily for watch/safety reasons
Enough said. Ease and safety are marginal either way in this case. You have clearly already made up you mind you are not enthusiastic about it, and it sounds like you invited him along for the wrong reasons (hint: "we have a dear friend we would love to share this experience with" is the right reason.)

It seems clear from the tone of your message you already know this and just want us to justify it for you. Trust your instinct.
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Old 27-11-2009, 07:39   #14
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The only reason why you invited him is that you are scared stupid of your own inabilities. Get over yourself, get rid of you 'crew', and go pluck your own dream down yourselves.


Sorry that I sound harsh but someone has to tell you.



Mark
No they didn't. What a dumb comment to a good question. It must feel good to work so hard at making people feel welcome.

IMHO the question is valid and possibly lots of others would like to get some balanced views.

For me - it would seriously depend on how well you know the guy - and how truly useful he could be if it all hits the fan.

Sue and I go most places two up and it's really never an issue. But more than five days and pressing along at a pace does get tiring.

We knew our single Atlantic crossing with the ARC was going to be a bit of a race for us, and we had a pal who might not have had a decade of sailing experience but was strong as an ox both in body and mind, plus he has always said this kind of journey was a lifelong ambition.

Did not take us long to decide it would be more fun with him than without. Pleased to report he is still a best pal despite a huge 3 sided row at the end of it (all due to me pressing us all far too hard over last three days).

But it worked for us and I can now say he is welcome to jump on board anywhere anytime - helped make it a super trip and even the row taught me something. Slooooooooooow doooooooooooown.

So think about the benefits and drawbacks. If you took your pal and got it wrong, then what? Suddenly you are not pals??? Is that tuly such a loss?

If you did not take him and (God forbid) found you needed his added strengths, then what do you risk then?

IMHO ask away, but whatever decision YOU GUYS make is the right one FOR YOU. So go sail safe, go enjoy.

Cheers

JOHN
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Old 27-11-2009, 09:08   #15
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The only reason why you invited him is that you are scared stupid of your own inabilities. Get over yourself, get rid of you 'crew', and go pluck your own dream down yourselves.

Sorry that I sound harsh but someone has to tell you.



Mark
MarkJ I don't think Asia becomes you, I miss the ray of sunshine.

Seattle Sailor,
It sounds like you'd like an extra hand but doubt the help that this friend can contribute. Trust me on this - If in doubt don't do it!!
When it comes to sailing offshore, I have found that if I dislike something even a little in shore, I will hate it offshore. The ocean amplifies the good and the bad, I cannot say this strongly enough, trust your instincts.
My advice is to tell your friend that you have changed your mind and he cannot go. Then look for an experienced crew to help you on your first passage. Crewfinder or the likes is a good place to find crew but be sure to check the references. A good crew member is worth their weight in gold. Have fun on your adventure, keep us in the loop
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