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Old 15-09-2008, 02:51   #106
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Communication breakdowns while underway are often (at least for us) further exhaserbated by underlying relatioships issues that failed communicaiton brings to the surface, even for land couples.
At the risk of being a busyboady I would say that the issue is not a boat issue but as you point out a relationship issue.

I would further add that as you correctly identified, living in a confined space will only highlight issues and exacerbate them.

I am very normally not a touchy-feely guy. I avoid the squishy stuff when I can. And counseling and psychology and stuff gives me the heeby jeebies.

Anyway - I just picked up a book by Laura Schlessinger called "10 Things Men Do to Mess up Their Lives."

It might be "oppcorn" psychology but man - she nails the things that I do...

She wrote the first book, "10 Things Women Do to Mess up Their Lives."

It won't fix your issues but you may identify things that you and your SO are doing and raise your understanding...
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Old 16-09-2008, 18:44   #107
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Mark J,
From what I have gathered this thread is about "yelling". I don't believe what you called "task oriented" manner is the equivalent of yelling and I think any first mate can tell the difference. Should the first mate abandon the boat even if the captain is yelling? The answer is a resounding "NO" but believe me there have been times I have been tempted. What you, as the first mate, have to take in to account is if you are in an uncomfortable situation so is the captain and when us humans are uncomfortable we react in uncomfortable ways. I don't know if you ever overcome it. Most the time when you see yelling on a boat it is when the boat is docking, anchoring, or picking up a mooring. After 10+ years on a boat, I still hate docking. I know this is because the captain hates docking, too. If he were comfortable, I would be too. Come on, we worked side by side in an operating room for 20 years and I never saw us as panicked as we are as we are coming in to dock. Sad,huh? And the thing is we've never had a bad docking. It's just that we don't do it enough to be comfortable with it. So I guess my advice is to repeat anything you're uncomfortable with over and over again until you are comfortable. I think the women sailing lessons are great because it evens out the playing field and gives you confidence. I'd take one of those but I think they make you climb the mast. The thing is, if the captain is behind the wheel, you are his working parts and he is just thinking of more things and more opposing things that he thinks need to be done and you're the only one to do them. So this is when you get to use your judgment and figure out the priorities. Do not run back and forth, stern to bow, starboard to port on the rapid fire captain's orders. Instead look at the situation, which sometimes he can't discern from behind the helm, and accomplish one task at a time. Because really that's all you can do. Listen to the dockhands, if you are lucky enough to have them, because they are the experts.
I actually know a fellow first mate who says she doesn't do a thing. She just stays below while he docks the boat. Sorry girls, I'm next in line for him. By the way, how do all the single-handers do it? Docking, that is.
Disclaimer: This does not excuse outright verbal abuse on the cap'n's part.

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Old 17-09-2008, 12:18   #108
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It's just that we don't do it enough to be comfortable with it. So I guess my advice is to repeat anything you're uncomfortable with over and over again until you are comfortable
You hit the nail on the head with that one

I grew up with Boats - so was crew / deck hand from an early age.....so learnt on the job, the old man (skipper of course) used to be a yeller, but during my teens we kinda had words, where I pointed out that:-

a) I always knew what I was doing (even when he didn't!)
b) I was always trying my best (and this meant if it was physically possible to (safely) stop a "bog up" resulting in damage then I would)
c) That he should not get so paranoid about the odd knock from a hard landing (that one took a bit of convincing!) - in practice it still only rarely happened and never anything more than the odd scuff.

No reason why you both can't practice docking - as usual skipper and crew or with roles reversed! - may want to practice boat handling in open water, Crew to get an understanding of the skippers / boats limitations (i.e. it doesn't have Vertical take off! or a stop button!) and also to understand how intimidating (and confusing?) it can feel behind the wheel - on unfamiliar boats I use a mooring bouy as a fixed point of reference and just see how the boat can be made to move without the worry of hitting anything! - you are often surprised what a boat can be made to do with the right power and juggling of rudder and forward / reverse.

As Deckcrew I found that getting mentally prepared beforehand (by agreeing a plan A with the skipper and having a good idea what Plan B would be), getting physically prepared well in advance, fenders over, boathook on deck and lines in place (and if a tricky one - a roving fender ready to deploy), then standing near the Skipper during the approach so you can see and understand the world from his point of view and can communicate easily (IMO no point being on the bow 10 minutes beforehand), having said that - I usually do wander to the bow and around the deck just to "get a feel" for how the world looks from forward before returning to stand near the skipper (it also keeps his view clear)....from your walkaround on the deck (or just by looking around) sometimes you can spot (or judge better) things that the skipper can't, including tidal runs. and also provide some encouragement "looks ok" etc does help....plus he can verbalise his concerns easily (both to releive stress! and to help you on deck).

I don't leave it quite to the last minute to move forward (no point in rushing for the sake of it), but usually once the plan A is well in play (and by then you may both have a good idea whether plan A is likely to turn into plan B!)......clear decks make walking back to the skipper easy, so once you are on deck if you need to communicate something important (like fooken 'ell! - you need to abort! and try again) you do not need to shout - otherwise the usual (and clear and over emphasised) hand and arm signals of left and right, slow and forward, stop and OK should be more than OK - in close quarter docking (esp below the bow / out of skippers sight) the Skipper has to listen to the deckhand, even if still retaining the final judgement to abort (of course the deckhand needs to know what they are doing, what the boat is doing and what the boat / skipper is capable of.......the good news is that the deckhand has the best seat in the house for the Skippers bog ups - so will sooner or later learn what works - or at least be able to spot a bog up developing early!).

As soon as the deckhand is committed with a line (and the boat is essentially "Not going anywhere" - even if not exactly "moored" ) then no reason why the skipper needs to stay behind the wheel, (unless still using the power) and can come and give a hand - and this does not mean "taking over".

Skipper and crew is a trust thing (the Operating theatre analogy is IMO a good one) - Crew has to Trust the skipper not to ask them to do something impossible (or unsafe) and Skipper has to trust the crew to direct him close quarters AND to say when to abort.

Also good to debrief (in a no blame manner!) both good and not so good dockings - folk need to know what worked well and didn't.

And finally, remember: "fook ups happen" (especially when docking!).....in the grand scheme of things............so what?
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Old 17-09-2008, 12:28   #109
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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
You hit the nail on the head with that one

I grew up with Boats - so was crew / deck hand from an early age.....so learnt on the job, the old man (skipper of course) used to be a yeller, but during my teens we kinda had words, where I pointed out that:-

a) I always knew what I was doing (even when he didn't!)
b) I was always trying my best (and this meant if it was physically possible to (safely) stop a "bog up" resulting in damage then I would)
c) That he should not get so paranoid about the odd knock from a hard landing (that one took a bit of convincing!) - in practice it still only rarely happened and never anything more than the odd scuff.


LOL.

Sounds like a teenager.

Great you worked it out.
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Old 17-09-2008, 12:41   #110
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LOL.

Sounds like a teenager.

Great you worked it out.
Yeah, Teenagers

I kinda also pointed out that many of the happy landings were in spite of the skipper's efforts, not because of them
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Old 17-09-2008, 12:53   #111
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When I first bought Frolic. I had my wife do the jumping, and sometimes stepping to the dock. As soon as I figured it out. Then on calm days we would practice with her at the helm. She didn't like the idea, but after a while she got the hang of it.

I figured on blustery days it was easier for me to handle the boat from the dock instead of her. Wasn't long before she needed very little coaching, and docking became much easier.

My current wife drives Imagine up onto our desired anchoring spot, and I drop the hook. We bought radios with clip on mics. We soon realized that didn't work, because I never wore a shirt in the Bahamas. We soon reverted back to hand signal. I got a lot of middle digit pointed up into the air......LOLOLOLOLOL......possibly my I.Q.?
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Old 17-09-2008, 13:19   #112
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Relinda and I discovered a set of Radio Shack voice activated headsets on the first boat we bought about 20 years ago. Took us a couple years of yelling over the outboad and storms to figure out when she was on the bow and me sitting in the cockpit "raising" our voice to be heard caused a lot of stress. One of us, probably her, rediscovered the headsets one day and said let's try these. It saved our sailing. Now 3 boats and a couple headsets later, we don't have to yell to be heard. It also makes us look so good now to go in where we have never been before, her standing at the bow and just point, never be heard by other boats around and everything work so good. Little do they know the chatter going back and forth, but calm and quiet. They have also worked well for us in stormy situations or up the mast (which is a biggy thing).
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Old 03-12-2008, 11:46   #113
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I feel good that there is rarely any yelling on my boat, but I certaily have seen some boats where yelling seems to be the standard form of communication.

When I've come across situations where there is a lot of yelling, it usually is due to one of three things:

1. The person in charge is in over their head and is reliant on less experienced crew.

2. The yeller's primarily experience has been on race boats and/or watching old military nautical movies. It simply hasn't occured to them, that one can communicate on a boat without yelling.

3. They yell to be heard - Anchoring being a prime example and by far my worst offense, even though I'm generally very comfortale with anchoring.


A few things I've found that help keep the volume down:

1. I try to never be reliant on less experienced crew for critical boat operations: My first trip to the Bahamas was a solo trip. I didn't want anyone else to suffer the consequences of any unforseen boat issues and after that trip, I knew I could do everything myself. When I had a female crew join me on my next trip, there was never a need to yell to get necessary tasks accomplished. Instead, I welcomed the help and could easily focus on teaching instead of surviving.

2. I try to go through tasks with crew prior to the first real run, so hand signals, and basic operations are already figured out. I shut off any music prior to entering a harbour.

I'm very tempted to get the headsets that Ted and Relinda mentioned above. I remember being at anchor one evening, when a 40+ foot boat glided silently in and dropped the hook without making a sound. At first, I just thought they had everthing down pat, not even using hand signals. Finally I noticed the headsets which allowed them to just talk quietly without even having to look away from the task at hand.
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Old 04-12-2008, 20:46   #114
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From what I have noticed, the least competent skippers are the ones who yell the most.
You've hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head.

Incompetent skippers are unsure of themselves, they panic and try to blame their crew for whatever goes wrong or in case "it" goes wrong.

This is the usual male side of the equation.

Of course incompetent female skippers are just as bad if not a notch worse (their voices are shriller).

On the other side there are genuinely incompetent sailors too. They pick up the challenge from Captain Blythe, with insubordination and/or carrying out the neccessary tasks with bad grace.

There we have a recipe for disaster in human relations and often a marine disaster too.
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Old 18-12-2008, 05:30   #115
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I am not sure if this is even the correct forum to be posting this in, but anyways...
...snip
The point is: Think before you yell & scream. Look for the blame in yourself before you look to blame others.
the happiest years of my life were spent as a single parent raising my 2yr old daughter to maturity, she will be 21 in 3 weeks. we've dragged each other around the planet, she speaks several languages has been to school in a few countries and now holds down a couple of jobs and even takes her old man out for dinner occasionally. She doesnt really like boats but i guess she's just happy to be with someone who loves and cares for her, irrespective of whether we are in some totally dodgey country like Samoa or snuggled up in a nice hotel in Zurich or more importantly for her a comfortable hotel in Kauai where she could have a mars bar and watch her favourite tv show at 0200. The memory of her at 16yrs old sitting in a resort, off the Queensland coast, which was apparently reserved for 18-35 yr olds and telling the audience our little yacht had just sailed across the Tasman will always bring a smile to my damn ugly old face...

Nothing could be closer to the truth than think before you yell and scream, it disappoints me incredibly that i have occasionally yelled and screamed with or at her over the years but gee i'm so happy when i look at her interacting with other people lately that she always smiles and gets a smile in return. Yell and scream all you like but have a serious cuddle afterwards.....


thanks for the thread, you've made me think a lot about how lucky i am...
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Old 18-12-2008, 12:04   #116
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I yelled once. My wife was motoring slowly into the wind while I dealt with the mainsail. I looked up and there was a giant green can about a boat length dead ahead that she hadnt seen because she was watching me wrestle with the sail. "Turn left turn left!!!!" I yelled in a panic. She did. We missed the can and then fell all over ourselves laughing at our close call. It is still a story she tells as "the only time he raised his voice on the boat".

Sometimes panic just makes you do it. I suppose if I yelled at her all the time she could have taken offense and we would have hit the buoy. But coming from somebody who rarely yells, it communicated a sense of panic that was, under the circumstances, entirely appropriate. I dont think a conversational tone would have gotten that wheel hard over quite as fast!
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Old 18-12-2008, 19:22   #117
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Nothing could be closer to the truth than think before you yell and scream, it disappoints me incredibly that i have occasionally yelled and screamed with or at her over the years but gee i'm so happy when i look at her interacting with other people lately that she always smiles and gets a smile in return. Yell and scream all you like but have a serious cuddle afterwards.....

Great post. We all yell at our kids from time to time and every parent has that voice, usually used when danger is near, that gets an instant reaction.

You gotta have that voice to protect your young.

But I am convinced during the times that I have to discipline or yell that the things remembered will be those good times you described.

For my boy it will be dirt bikes and camping, jumping off the dock at low tide, soloing the optimist and graduating to teaching his friends pico sailing, making a jump-off swing from the main halyard, jumping into the boomed-out cargo net while under way, "hustling" the old guys at pool at the sailing club, BBQs on the beach, catching fish, crabs and lizards while beachcombing, sharing the v-berth while watching a video at anchor.

"Did your dad ever yell at you?"
"I think he must have, I was always getting into stuff as a kid. But I don't remember ay specific times..."
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Old 18-12-2008, 20:55   #118
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Yelling and screaming at a crew member is an admittance of ones own incompetence and immaturity.
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Old 19-12-2008, 01:04   #119
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But can the crew...

But can the crew yell at the skipper?

I'm not saying it's happened, but would it be considered mutiny?
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Old 19-12-2008, 08:32   #120
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Could ANYTHING my wife says ever be described by me as yelling? It would probably not be the best move I could make to attach that description to her .....
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