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Old 13-07-2022, 00:42   #1
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How can a singlehander become good crew?

Singlehanded sailing goes like this to me--

Warm up engine, make sure everything is stowed and all cabinets locked, bring up and hank on chosen jib, setup jib sheets, take off mainsail cover, take off compass cover, get out winch handles, make sure halyards run free, put GPS,if using, in cockpit along with sandwich or thermos, use the head, put on lifejacket, put on sunscreen, find sunglasses, plug in and attach tillerpilot, check engine temp and oil pressure, get rid of dock lines to either take or leave except for 1 long spring line, walk my boat out of slip in neutral, hop on board, toot along out of the harbor.
Once out away from traffic put tillerpilot on any clear course I choose, while I take off and stow fenders and springline, then attach main halyard, go back to cockpit, set tillerpilot into wind, hoist up main. Put engine in neutral, fall off and toot along seeing how it feels...will I needreef? Or if I have left a reef in, shake it out? Will I put up jib? Determine those things and take care of them, cut engine....have a lovely sail and, and reassess course, conditions, amount of sail out as needed throughout the day/night.
Doublehanded sailing- Begin to do all the above but crewmate has engine going and asks me to cast us off. Ok.
We cast off, nd crewmate wants one of us to hank on jib and set up the sheetswhile other takes off mainsail cover and stows away lines and fenders while we autopilot out extremely narrow channel with traffic. As soon as the channel opens wider crewmate is ready for full sails up. Both of them asap and...please get spinnaker ready just in case.
Within minutes all sails are up but I haven't enjoyed anything. I am thirsty, I have to pee. I had to run back and forth for winch handles that were still below, stubbed my toe, got shouted at for something, not that I could hear what was said,fumbled clumsily with blocks and bowlines and stopper knots at breakneck speed, avoid traffic in the channel under full sail,and where are my sunglasses? My lifejacket? I go below to take a breathe and next thing you know my crewmate insinuates I must not have as much sailing experience as he thought... Ihave no idea how to respond as I have sailed my own boats as an adult for decades and as a child with my family... and taught my kids too and they sailed collegiate for years and went to nationals.

Anyone else have singlehand versus doublehand woes? I want to be a good team member. And getting defensive won't help. Beginning to think I need actual time lines of who does what when in writing.
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Old 13-07-2022, 02:48   #2
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

Presumably by "creewmate" you mean the owner/skiiper?
If so, sail with someone else.
If not, sail with someone else
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Old 13-07-2022, 03:27   #3
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

If you have crew on your boat, I presume your approach is similar to single handing. Prepare, plan and execute. Avoid creating unnecessary urgency. I wouldn't go sailing again with the skipper you describe. Not even if it was a paying gig.
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Old 13-07-2022, 07:15   #4
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

I assume there is a reason you want to crew with this person and the obvious answer to stop going out with them isn't the answer you want.

First thing I'd do is take care of the things you list that maybe you forgot to do: drink, pee, put winch handles in cockpit, make sure you have sunglasses and PFD. We use a pre-departure checklist to get this stuff taken care of.

Do you need more protective footwear to prevent toe injuries - that may sound silly but each small thing can help. We wear shoes when sailing because of the stories we've heard about foot injuries. We also wear sailing gloves because one moment of inattention can get you a rope burn that messes up the whole trip.

Next suggestion is that this person seems to have a system that is not the one you like but is somewhat predictable. If you choose to sail as their crew, you have to adapt (unless they are willing to make changes and it doesn't sound like that is the case). Perhaps can think through the sequence of events you describe as you get ready for the next trip. If you can anticipate what their next instruction will be and be ready to get it done, maybe you'll enjoy things a bit more.
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Old 13-07-2022, 07:28   #5
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

I think that what you’re describing is more about getting used to someone else’s systems (and they yours) rather than single vs double handling.

If you want to keep sailing with this person, you need to spend some time working out how you will work together.

For some skippers, this is simply to do everything the way they have always done it.

For others, they’re happy to come to some mutually-agreed middle ground.

Some others are of a mindset to try doing things your way to see if they can learn something (these are very rare in my experience).

I had a similar experience when I raced on a different boat for a year.
I kept asking the skipper how he wanted to do things and, when it was different, mentioned that to him. Didn’t suggest that his way was wrong and mine was right - even though I knew mine was right .
Seemed to work okay.
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Old 13-07-2022, 07:46   #6
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

For double handling, generally it is harder and more work than single handing because there is someone to disagree with. For example, if it were me and you, I would be insisting on not using the engine. Someone else might insist on sleeping all night every night and not allow any music or noise during this time and so on.

Most (all) of the time, it is simple to sail off and its important to do this as much as possible for experience reasons, so it is wrong to list starting the engine as part of your general procedure. I entered/exited many slips and have never used an engine. This is also another reason electric motors are better: you can just use them in short a bursts to make a correction, but only if you miscalculate.

More people involved: more disagreements and conflict. It will take longer to do everything and generally be less fun with most crew. If they break something it is also your fault.
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Old 13-07-2022, 08:03   #7
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

After 60+ yrs as a "single Hander" my take on it is. We are mentally single Handers cause we WANT to be--by ourselves and/or a dog/cat.
Rather than humans.
I was married for 29 yrs. 3 kids. 11 grandkids and 3 Great granddaughters.
But always sailed by myself. B4 and after divorce. I gave her house. I kept boat.
Both paid for, both happy.
Basically we too set in our ways as a skipper. you will always conflict with others on whoever's boat it is.
Best of luck.
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Old 13-07-2022, 08:52   #8
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

I respectfully disagree with MrCarson. I've been singlehanding my various boats, currently a Jeanneau 57, for many years and have crossed seas.

A couple of weeks ago I crewed, with 9 others, on the Newport-Bermuda race. While it wasn't easy to shift from single-handing mode and to delegate tasks, it was a great learning experience for me! I can only recommend it.
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Old 13-07-2022, 09:13   #9
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

With single handing, all this is simplified as there is default assumptions regarding who will be Captain and who will decide on the process. Once you involve more people, there needs to be communication.

There is a chain of command with one person in charge (aka: the Captain).
- Determine who is in charge before anything else (usually the owner of the boat but an inexperienced owner may defer to an experienced crew member).
- The Captain should determine what tasks need to be done and how they will be done before starting.
- If you see a task that needs to be done but hasn't been covered or you disagree with the process, bring it up before starting and sort it out. Don't assume or you may mess up the Captain's process.
- If you are unsure of your duties, ask beforehand what exactly is expected.
- If you have to pee, let the Captain know that you need to handle this before casting off starts.

This may be tedious the first time thru but if you will sail regularly, really helps avoid things getting mucked up. After a few sails, you will only need to discuss unusual conditions (maybe the wind has you pinned to the dock or something that hasn't happened before).

If it's a one-off day sail and you don't want to go thru the process, tell the Captain that you are standing by for orders and won't be taking action unless ordered to do so.

Doing things willy-nilly is a great way to miss something or do it wrong.
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Old 13-07-2022, 12:16   #10
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

Thank you all for these prompt responses. I am taking it all in. To clarify I am in a boat partnership now where we both own the boat. As to someone's comment about sailing into slip and not using the engine to get out of a marina, I would like to say that this boat is very new, very expensive, sails in waters where every afternoon is spitting between20 and 30 knots for the spring and summer and is surrounded by many new sailboats. We will use the engine in marinas on this boat. Sailing my 25 foot or 30 foot plastic fantastics over the years in or out of slip in mild conditions without too much tidal cuuent was fine...but a quarter of a million dollars and near double the size and surrounded by luxury yachts in a tight harbor--- not risking it unless its an outside end tie.
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Old 13-07-2022, 12:44   #11
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heydeedee View Post
Thank you all for these prompt responses. I am taking it all in. To clarify I am in a boat partnership now where we both own the boat. As to someone's comment about sailing into slip and not using the engine to get out of a marina, I would like to say that this boat is very new, very expensive, sails in waters where every afternoon is spitting between20 and 30 knots for the spring and summer and is surrounded by many new sailboats. We will use the engine in marinas on this boat. Sailing my 25 foot or 30 foot plastic fantastics over the years in or out of slip in mild conditions without too much tidal cuuent was fine...but a quarter of a million dollars and near double the size and surrounded by luxury yachts in a tight harbor--- not risking it unless its an outside end tie.
Ignore the comment about refusing to use an engine. A certain poster has fairly extreme views on any engine usage.

Since it sounds like a regular sailing partner, all the more reason to define a process and who's in charge. If you want to change who's in charge from day to day, that's OK but make sure before you start casting off that it's defined for the day.
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Old 13-07-2022, 12:47   #12
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

I've learned over the years that I am much happier being skipper than crew. In fact I am not so good at being crew. It is natural that the skipper is going to be giving orders. Orders to me! They might (usually) be to do things that I don't think need doing at that time, but as crew, you do what you're told.

But being crew, not skipper, from time to time is good for me: I learn how other skippers do things and I realize again how miserable I am being ordered around, so it renews in me some compassion for my crew.

And I am happy when I am back in charge.
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Old 13-07-2022, 13:57   #13
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

I have found on my boat it is almost always easier to single hand, unless it's one of the guys from the club that I have sailed with before. They know that when it's their boat during a race I defer to them as captain and do it their way. On my boat they reciprocate and seem to enjoy the break.

If it's friends that don't know how to sail it is very difficult to get the guys to not try to show they know everything already. "I know how to cast off, you don't have to tell me" Well that's funny because the wind is coming from a different direction than it normally does and I wasn't sure if I was going to use a spring line or not. Some people can't get past their egos.

Both of their wives are amazing help because they just want to be helpful.
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Old 13-07-2022, 14:38   #14
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

Who's boat is it

Your boat, your rules..... unless you have awarded captain duties to the crew.

Their boat their rules.

If you don't like it, communicate, if that doesn't work to your satisfaction, stay or go.
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Old 13-07-2022, 14:48   #15
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Re: How can a singlehander become good crew?

As others have said, determine who is Captain, and who is crew. The Captain not only needs to be good at sailing, but also good at delegating, and being clear with instructions. An experienced sailor who isn't experienced or good at being a Captain will lead to chaos.

Crew needs to do as instructed. Crew can and should speak of if there is a safety issue with how the Captain is doing something, but otherwise, do as told.

I don't know if it's part of the normal syllabus, but years ago when I took ASA103, this was a part of that course. "So you charter a boat and bring friends aboard. What do you tell them to do, and how to you tell them clearly, so that as inexperienced sailors they will enjoy their time?"

Being a good Captain is a skill that needs to be learned if you are to have crew.
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