climenuts

Dealing with uncooperative crew

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New thread relating to FishFood's post.

If you were sailing along, perfectly under control, but the conditions are a bit fresh for a guest and they start losing their minds what's your course of action?

What would you do if they go down below and call the CG on their cellphone for a rescue? What if they start becoming unsafe and sabotaging halyards/sheets or something in their hysteria?

At what point can you tie them up for the safety of the boat and other crew? Can you call the CG off on the radio or are they going to come anyway?

Obviously a lot of variables but looking for a hypothetical discussion. Maybe some charter captains have dealt with something like this?

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Good questions.

I suppose if some deranged private party calls for an airlift I might slow the boat while they do the jump. Hopefully they take an old PFD. I'm serious. I wouldn't think I have any right to hold them in that case. Calling off the CG sounds inappropriate. Discussion maybe. It would seem a negotiation between the hysterical party and the CG..

For a moderate case of hysteria, which is what FishFood undoubtedly had, I would give stern instructions that the person shall take a bucket below, sit on the cabin sole, and be quiet. Command of the boat in a seaman like manner would be the first priority as all else is affected by that. Lack of an autopilot, capable relief crew, and sailing skills are serious deficiencies that are greatly amplified when events become unplanned.

I would never ever strike the mainsail while at sea, by the way. Big error of FF part. Only God takes it down unless entering port. Sailboat becomes flotsam without a sail up. Even if requested by CG. Lack of "motor function" (or whatever FF claimed) is a non-issue.

If crew sabotage the boat? Physical restraint if possible. Is CG or police "suicide prevention" help available by cellphone? Failing that I would fall back to "Us, ours, you, yours" as I was taught by the CG. Crew accidentally falls overboard I suppose, becomes Fish Food.

Otherwise, whether to call the CG for assistance is entirely up to the captain.

Luckily I have never been even close to an interpersonal relationship or personality problem as bad as FishFood created or foolishly found himself in.

I think I would have let the hysterical person exhaust themselves. Wake them up in Monterey. Say "Goodbye!" Hose out the boat

Abandon the boat? Only when either I or the boat becomes an unbearable danger to my own survival. I would hope.

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9 minutes ago, El Boracho said:

Abandon the boat? 

never step DOWN into the raft .

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4 minutes ago, Mid said:

never step DOWN into the raft .

Correct. And don't strike the mains'l. Here is an authoritative and instructional video:

 

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I had one that was 'interesting'. I am far from a violent person but wanted to pitch her over the side. We picked up a crew person in Cape Town for the passage to the Caribbean with stops in Namibia, St Helena, and Ascension. The only reason we wanted crew was to get a bit of extra sleep on this long leg. My wife and I were perfectly happy to sail by ourselves but also like our sleep. This woman had previously sailed from SA to Brazil so she considerable experience. No problem until after Ascension for the passage of more than 3000 nm. Her complaints took two forms - she decided she could not sit a night watch by herself, which of course is why she was there. There were no challenging conditions in the whole trip. Standing a watch basically meant looking around every ten minutes and not falling asleep. She also complained that we were going too fast. This was on a Bristol 45.5 and I am a conservative skipper. Most days, other than the ITCZ, we did 120 to 150 miles, decent but not fast. She said on her previous passage their best day was 98 nm and she felt uncomfortable going 6 or 7 knots. She became a passenger. basically. and just occupied space. Nothing we could do. When we got to Grenada she was off the boat in less than 10 minutes which was about 9 minutes too long. Oh, I forgot, she also did not have very nice things to say about SA's majority population and several times mentioned how much better things were in the old days.

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Must be a Cape Town thing. Picked up a sailor girl for fast trip to Antigua, claimed she had done Brazil and back. Needed to have three on board for insurance. Bloody useless bitch. Should have dropped her at St Helena.

As for OP. Hard to know fine details of everyone you have on board all the time. Sometimes shit happens. However, if the weather is dodgy or a long trip you should know lots about them and have total trust in their abilities. If not, like my experience above, you should be able to deal with whatever happens without their help. Full on panic attack, who knows until it happens, but one person should be able to handle the reefed down boat while the other deals with the shit. Better I take the helm in this case or I may take a winch handle down below to help out. :ph34r:

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I had a couple crew that the boat owner had already made arrangements for an Atlantic crossing. He had found them on that crew hosting service that used to run the NARC rally down to the Caribbean. Pretty sure most of you will know of that story. I was hired by the owner because I had done a previous delivery for him on which he and his brother and an engineer who worked for him crewed. The brother was somewhere on the Asperger scale but the owner had fully disclosed that and he gave me the final call on that on the first trip. The guy turned out to be better crew than most but could become easily distracted but the owner/brother was great in dealing with that and we all had a great trip on the first deliver. I was glad to hear the brother was wanting to do the Trans-At passage but it was once again my decision. I was fine with him having done the earlier trip but wanted to bring my own mate with whom I had done several deliveries on big catamarans.  The owner said that the two guys who Offshore Passage dating service had arranged had already been sent tickets and he didn't want to upset that apple cart. Supposedly they had taken offshore courses and taken tests and done previous trips with/for OP but it didn't take long after seeing them in action on the boat that was pure BS. I didn't get to bring my right hand man (even for air fare and $75 per day!) and I should have vetted the two pier head jumpers myself. 

    Long story short, I told one of the guys that if there had been an island within 500 miles mid Atlantic I would sail out of my way to put his sorry ass off! We had a chalk board in the galley with a rotating watch schedule and after saying so I walked over and erase his name off the duty roster and turned an asked if he would like me to pour him a cocktail...

   He looked at me in puzzlement and I just told him he was now just a passenger and my offer of a drink was just to be sure he was enjoying himself. It took less than two days until he came crying to me to put him back on the duty list and he actually pulled his head out of his ass enough to learn a thing or two about ocean passenging on the rest of the trip!

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A few points to consider:

1. Unless the crew has signed articles and is getting paid, the distinction between crew and guest is very fuzzy. Crew can mutiny, but guests can only interfere with captain and crew. Not a whole lot you can do if they just go on strike, they would have to actively be causing issues to be breaking any law.

2. Seeing #1, there is a lot of grey area at best as to what kinds of punishment, force, and/or restraint will be looked upon kindly by the law.

3. If any crew member or guest in any way contacts the USCG or anyone else for help, you need to ASAP inform them said crew member is psychotic and you are NOT in distress. Once the wheels of SAR get going, calling it off may not be easy. See the SV Satori, a WestSail 32 caught in the Perfect Storm along with the Andrea Gail. The skipper was not worried, but the two inexperienced women aboard were and starting calling for help. They probably didn't know a WetSnail 32 takes in the first reef at 120 knots :rolleyes: So the CG shows up and despite the captain's pleas, forced them all to get off the boat. He then had to spend some time and effort finding the boat later, which did just fine on her own.

4. I would also contact the CG ASAP if I thought a situation was developing. If later on you have to restrain the crazy crew, shoot them, heave them overboard, or put them on bread and water it will be good to have this in evidence. See an old thread on here about a crazy crew member going overboard and not being retrieved.

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No experience with a hysterical crew, but last year had a guy (found on CrewFinder) back out last minute for a 1000nm delivery, leaving us shorthanded. 
 

This spring saw his name on the N2B crew board, nope... that’s a guy I’ll never sail with.

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My course and action would be simple, head immediately to the closest port and get them off.

I probably wouldn't take anyone out in conditions they have never been in before, if i was unsure of their experience, I might take them out in some challenging conditions and see how it goes.   

edit to add, you can tell pretty quick, if someones comfortable to be on a sailboat, especially if its a monohull.

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2 hours ago, Rasputin22 said:

and he actually pulled his head out of his ass enough to learn a thing or two about ocean passenging on the rest of the trip!

That’s the way to treat a freeloader!!!

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A captain is legally responsible for both the boat and the crew. He can not be overruled even by the owner, authorities, nobody. He is probably the closest thing to God in the pecking order whilst you are on the water. 

Would I hesitate to restrain a crew member that is endangering the boat or the crew? No, I'd strap them down in a bunk no problem at all and have done before (I wasn't the skipper, he called for it) when seasickness, dehydration and delerium made it too dangerous to leave them unattended. 

I had a crew members with supposedly a bazillion credentials shut down completely and curl up in a ball in the middle of the cockpit floor right in front of the companionway in pretty horrific conditions. Eyes open, pupils reactive, but completely unresponsive and immobile, we didn't know if they had a heart attack, were paralysed or had a stroke. We didn't restrain them as they posed no risk, just fucked us up a bit due to the loss of a pair of hands when we needed it most.  On the flip side. I've sailed with a crewman who panicked, wasn't dealt with and ended up with a fractured skull resulting in a 100nm divert that jeapordised the boat and the rest of the crew. Shit happens, yet the obligations upon the skipper don't change as a result. That's why a skipper is bestowed with near absolute power, it has to be that way to make sure everyone safely gets home. That's predicated by the skipper being worthy of the title, something FF needs to learn.    

The way I approach this issue is simple; how will it look when I am standing in the dock of a coroners court with the next of kin in the audience and maritime experts on the witness stand. Were my actions justified?  Did I take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of my boat and crew? You'd look like a bit of a right fuckwit if you'd ignored an errant or  hysterical crewmember and as a result their actions exposed the boat and crew to danger that caused injury or god forbid a death.  

An errant crew member is no different to a lost rudder or fouled prop. If they are a danger and mitigation of this risk involved restraints or whatever else means are available, that's exactly what you should do. 

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Super informative. Thanks people.

 

I wasn't looking at paid crew being useless but more towards the guests who may go completely nuts. I agree not to take people you don't know out without knowing their abilities but for a day sail with work colleagues or clients you never know what might happen even in a sheltered bay.

Seems like the paid crew market is a minefield. As someone who is diligently logging hours on my own boat and other people's boats while racing I wondered how the system is kept honest.

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I keep one of these on board for such eventualities.

image.png.8c2629ad21f77f099508fd8fc3c1018a.png

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I brought a boat back from Cabo one year, and the owner decided (last minute) that he wasn't comfortable with me doing it solo, so he rounded up a guy for me.  A completely random guy, unknown to either me or the owner. No idea of his sailing skills, let alone any offshore experience.

Almost walked.  Probably should have.  Whatevs.

So we left and by the time we'd cleared Lands End he'd brought out a gallon-size ziplock full of primo bud and started to work his way through it.  Hey, it was the 80s.

Only two real problems with the scenario.  One, these were the days when the Feds impounded boats bringing stuff across a border, and I *really* didn't want to make a phone call to the owner from San Diego to tell him his boat had been siezed and he'd never get it back.  And, two, the guy who was supposed to be helping me was worse than useless.  The BEST times were when he was zoned out (either unconscious, or staring at some shiny thing and giggling).  In between those magical moments, he was either going through the boat like a madman, ripping open locker spaces looking for munchy things and throwing stuff out the companionway hatch if they didn't interest him; or cranking up tunes on the stereo and dancing on the foredeck like some sort of special-Olympics gymnast.

In a rare moment of (his) lucidity, I told him two things needed to happen.  He needed to stay below.  Period.  If he came on deck again before we got to the Customs dock I'd lock the companionway hatch from the outside and/or duct-tape him to the mast step if I had to, up to him.  I didn't want to have to call the Coasties to report a missing person, whether he'd fallen off on his own or gotten a helping hand into the water from me...   And the pot needed to be gone before we crossed the border.  Every speck, and the bag it came in.

Well, he accepted that mission.  Stayed below and chain-smoked for 72 hours straight.  Then came on deck just before Silver Strand, proudly tossed his empty ziplock off the stern and went back below for a nap.  I took advantage of the downtime to go below and check.  Somehow his lighter and pipe managed to fall off the back of the boat.  The few crumbles I found on the cabin sole and countertop similarly went aft.   Couldn't do anything about the smell.... the boat reeeeeeeeeked.

Got to the Customs dock, got the guy OFF the boat onto the dock, and when Officer Friendly walked up with his clipboard I told him the story.  Don't know the guy, don't know his citizenship status or whether he has ID, the owner put him on board, I don't think he's got any more dope on him, you're welcome to check, he's all yours.  As far as me and the boat, we're both clean.  Had lots of second thoughts about whether it would have been smarter to let my "crew" stretch his legs at Enrique's in Turtle Bay and "accidentally" leave without him.  Probably would have meant a much simpler clear-in through Customs, but the conversation with the owner would likely damage my future prospects as a delivery skipper. 

Surprisingly, I got cleared through pretty quickly.  My "crew" was invited to bring his belongings up to the office for a chat.  Don't know what happened there, don't care.  Never saw him again.

Hit the fuel dock and got straight outa Dodge.  Mostly just to make sure I really *could* get out of Dodge.  Had a nice delightfully-solo daysail up to Dana Point, had a great dinner at the marina, and then left for MdR at oh-dark-thirty the next morning.  Spent most of the day cleaning and trying to air the smell out of the boat. 

Had a fairly "pointed" chat with the owner, who met me at his slip on arrival, about how his last-minute pickup "crew" made my job harder and infinitely less safe, plus could well have resulted in his boat being forfeited to the Feds.  It would have been better all the way around if he'd just let me leave solo, as we'd originally planned.  Oh well.

Fun times.

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42 minutes ago, sledracr said:

Well, he accepted that mission.  Stayed below and chain-smoked for 72 hours straight.  Then came on deck just before Silver Strand, proudly tossed his empty ziplock off the stern and went back below for a nap.

Legend.

I've only had one problem with intoxicated crew. I haven't had any problems letting people drink freely while underway other than this one incident which I should've saw coming when a bottle of scotch was getting passed around. Lesson learned.

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Can't you tell them they will feel better "swaddled," take them below, wrap them in a blanket and secure that lunatic burrito with duct tape?  Guess it's tricky if the boat sinks and they find the body, though.

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It's not always the crew's fault.  Had a girlfriend get hit by a full on panic attack starting on a long cruise.  Totally competent girl/crew, but got hit with the attack on a perfectly beautiful day just when we rounded the corner of the Straits and the horizon opened up to the Pacific.  It was excruciating to watch her become terrified of "nothing".  

Nothing she did, nothing she had control over, nothing helped...except turning around.  Even that didn't "help" so much as stop the acceleration of the terror.  After a few hours we got inside a harbor and she could help on deck with her head down.  Then, on anchor, it passed.  She said she hadn't had one in years and didn't even think about needing to warn me.

I didn't think of calling the CG, but that might have been an option, or caused even more terror.  

Glad I never had one!  Yikes.

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Had a crew lose it in fresh conditions during coastal race, 30-40 knots on the wind in some pretty lump stuff. He basically chucked his toys and went downstairs, took a few hours before he came right- trust was broken. Pretty scary if something like that happened at sea and you had to rely on him.

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21 hours ago, Rasputin22 said:

I had a couple crew that the boat owner had already made arrangements for an Atlantic crossing. He had found them on that crew hosting service that used to run the NARC rally down to the Caribbean. Pretty sure most of you will know of that story. I was hired by the owner because I had done a previous delivery for him on which he and his brother and an engineer who worked for him crewed. The brother was somewhere on the Asperger scale but the owner had fully disclosed that and he gave me the final call on that on the first trip. The guy turned out to be better crew than most but could become easily distracted but the owner/brother was great in dealing with that and we all had a great trip on the first deliver. I was glad to hear the brother was wanting to do the Trans-At passage but it was once again my decision. I was fine with him having done the earlier trip but wanted to bring my own mate with whom I had done several deliveries on big catamarans.  The owner said that the two guys who Offshore Passage dating service had arranged had already been sent tickets and he didn't want to upset that apple cart. Supposedly they had taken offshore courses and taken tests and done previous trips with/for OP but it didn't take long after seeing them in action on the boat that was pure BS. I didn't get to bring my right hand man (even for air fare and $75 per day!) and I should have vetted the two pier head jumpers myself. 

    Long story short, I told one of the guys that if there had been an island within 500 miles mid Atlantic I would sail out of my way to put his sorry ass off! We had a chalk board in the galley with a rotating watch schedule and after saying so I walked over and erase his name off the duty roster and turned an asked if he would like me to pour him a cocktail...

   He looked at me in puzzlement and I just told him he was now just a passenger and my offer of a drink was just to be sure he was enjoying himself. It took less than two days until he came crying to me to put him back on the duty list and he actually pulled his head out of his ass enough to learn a thing or two about ocean passenging on the rest of the trip!

was this the trip were everyone thought they could make their own course decisions / navigation calls when you were off watch?

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28 minutes ago, toad said:

Had a crew lose it in fresh conditions during coastal race, 30-40 knots on the wind in some pretty lump stuff. He basically chucked his toys and went downstairs, took a few hours before he came right- trust was broken. Pretty scary if something like that happened at sea and you had to rely on him.

The bowman on a boat I was racing on chucked his toys and went for a nap in the V-berth via the hatch to avoid facing the rest of us. It was a super light day and we had been waiting for 3 hours for RC to start a race. Reaching under main alone at 2kts or so and we decided we would hoist the kite to entertain ourselves. Bowman had been indulging in some rum we won at the previous regatta and was furiously yanking the furling line instead of the bowsprit line and getting pissed that the pitman (me) wasn't easing the tack so he could pull it out...

Only had two more regattas after that one and he ghosted us the following season.

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25 minutes ago, KC375 said:

was this the trip were everyone thought they could make their own course decisions / navigation calls when you were off watch?

Yeah, you really do pay attention KC! 

    I called what my Dad in the Navy used to call a 'Captains Mast'. I asked everyone on board to put their personal handheld GPS units and GPS enabled smartphones on the table. The pier head jumpers pull small Garmin units out of their pockets and I added my three devices and I forgot how many the brothers coughed up. I thought I had seen a larger unit being used by one of the pier head jumpers on night and asked again like in the old westerns when the bad guy keeps pulling out knives, derringers and other weapons when being shaken down. I told the holdout I would go look in the nightstand drawer in his cabin and if I found another GPS I would throw it overboard immediately. He AND the other OP asshole went and got their 'throw down' units. I had my laptop running a Nav app at the chart table and the boat had a big standalone unit with display there as well. The owner had an Ipad running a Nav app (which was actually pretty cool) and it ended up we had about 15 gps sources all told. I let the owner keep his Ipad (as we were both trying to figure out how to interface it with the onboard system) and declared my Laptop as the official ships standard for position. I put all the rest in a small duffel and put it in my cabin. 

    I have to confess I did keep my Iphone which I used when in my bunk as a 'telltale' compass like the old upside down compassed over the skippers bunk. That is how I had busted the two OP goofballs late at night. Before I stashed all the handhelds, I accessed the preferences and saw that they were using either the wrong map datum or were using compass rather than true readouts and even miles per hour. It was like the Tower of Babel. I insisted that at the end of each watch each watch stander was to enter Lat/Lon (in the proper format) course and dead reckoning speed and well as what the chart plotter was indicating. 

    Then I put the worst offender mentioned earlier on furlough for a couple of days which finally brought him around. After that little meeting I went over to the VHS and turned it on already queued to 'Master and Commander' to the classic part about how the Masters word was Sacred on a ship! I sure as hell didn't want to have to throw the mens grog overboard!

 

 

A captain's mast or admiral's mast is a procedure whereby the commanding officer must:

  • Make inquiry into the facts surrounding minor offenses allegedly committed by a member of the command;
  • Afford the accused a hearing as to such offenses; and
  • Dispose of such charges by dismissing the charges, imposing punishment under the provisions of military law or referring the case to a court-martial.

 

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48 minutes ago, Rasputin22 said:

...

    I have to confess I did keep my Iphone which I used when in my bunk as a 'telltale' compass like the old upside down compassed over the skippers bunk. ...

Oh, great. Something else I now feel compelled to buy for the boat.

And I might as well get one with patina.

This telltale compass was manufactured in September 1874 and sold to the U.S. Navy

yhst-37093161787174_2270_11525846

yhst-37093161787174_2270_11360839

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Well I'll let you keep that nice example over you bunk if you ever do a delivery with me! I was going to Google that just to illustrate my post but you did just fine, Thanks.

 

dirigo-compass-5.gif
 

Click to enlargetrans_1x1.gifVery Rare Ritchie Telltale Compass

yhst-37093161787174_2270_11678129By far one of the most rare and interesting Ritchie compasses that we have ever seen. This telltale compass was manufactured in September 1874 and sold to the U.S. Navy (See the image of the serial number books at E.S. Ritchie below). The compass was repaired in November 1883 as shown in the E.S. Ritchie serial number log book. Some years later it was then acquired by Frederick T. Adams to be used on his Yacht Sachem. (See the letter of authentication from the descendants of Frederick Adams below). It was brought to us for service by the descendants of Frederick T. Adams. We disassembled the compass and replaced the gaskets and fluid along with a light cleaning and this compass is back to working condition.

According to E.S. Ritchie and Sons this compass was quite possibly one of the first liquid filled telltale compasses ever made.

The design of this telltale is like no other telltale compass that we have seen. Most telltale compasses incorporate a pivot mounted in the glass with a compass card and float assembly sitting on the pivot, so the user is looking at the bottom of the float with the compass card mounted on the bottom of the float.

This compass has the pivot mounted in the "roof" of the compass, the compass float has positive buoyancy and is "floating" upside down and riding on the pivot that is pointing downward, the compass card is mounted on the float and facing down.
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Just don't tell my spouse how much it cost.

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The situation with rebellious crew became decidedly worse with the advent of lightweight plastic winch handles......those old bronzies always did the trick! ;-)

 

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I've had my moments of less than stellar performance, falling asleep in 2 in glass off conditions instead of paddling all day and night, etc. Though I did get asked back.

I had a f31 delivery interisland in very fresh conditions, the whole time our go to upwind sail was a tiny jib I borrowed and brought. I mistakenly went the wrong way around the islands but I did ask and no one said hide under Lanai, now I know. Owner brought "a highly experienced Caribbean professional" along to help us out. Owner was not all there but his professional arrived with a gallon of chablis that he drank solo in 2 days. I was afraid to let either on deck in the channels much less reef or anything else. Was very glad to step off. Neither of them were capable of picking me up.

There are some perils in bringing unfit crew along these days, a skipper was arrested in the Virgins for negligent homicide a while back.

The Freedumb thread seems like the guy is a coddled fabulist who hides his true intentions to get more from others.

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2 hours ago, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

skipper:  get ready to tack..

crew:   why?

I had the reverse of that happen.

Me: Don't tack.

skipper: Why?

Doing main and tactics for a seriously incompetent owner/skipper. Were near the end of a random leg race in or near last place. Be-bopping along at least on the favored tack, in clear air, sailing toward the header where we could tack to the finish. Speed approx 8 knots.

Coming straight at us on the reciprocal heading is a powerboat. From quite a distance, the powerboater altered course to do a standard port-to-port pass with plenty of separation. As the boat nears, the skipper asks me, "Should we tack?" Me: "There is no advantage to tack now plus you would be right in the way of that boat." <me pointing at the powerboat.> Sure enough he tacks at the worst possible time, directly across the bow of the powerboat. If you were trying to total your yacht for the insurance payoff, you could not have picked a better time to tack. The powerboater goes both engine full astern and comes to a halt less than a boat-length from the stbd beam. The crew, oblivious to the whole development, starts shouting the lamest and most embarrassing possible shit at the powerboat.

The powerboat followed us to the finish which took longer because we had to throw in additional tacks with that sloppy crew because we tacked too early. As we finished, the powerboater complained about what the skipper had done. The PRO, not knowing what the skipper had pulled, told the powerboater to fuck off, literally.

Later, at the club, I told the PRO the story, in private.

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2 hours ago, KC375 said:

was this the trip were everyone thought they could make their own course decisions / navigation calls when you were off watch?

I had that happen but in this case, I was a pick-up crew and the only one who could navigate. After a late start, the next morning found us off San Nicholas Island and I asked the owner, "Is that San Nick?" answer: "How the hell should I know?" I asked him how he was navigating to Hawaii and he said they would just follow the jet contrails. I explained that the tradewinds would take us a thousand miles south of the great circle route the pilots used and that we wouldn't be able to see the jet trails from there. He just stared blankly at me. I asked, "Do you mind if I navigate?" Answer: "You can navigate?!?!" "Uh... Yes! Please!" 

My buddy and I would raise the spinnaker and gollywobbler and would make tracks when we were on deck but as soon as we went to sleep, the "schooner people" on board would take it all down and white-sail reach right at the center of the high (toward Alaska, not Hawaii.) I explained that Hawaii is THAT way (pointing 90-degrees to port) and that we were steering toward an area of no wind. Answer: "Schooners like to reach..."  So we would sail along into oblivion for most of a day until there was no more wind, then turn on the engine and steer almost due south to get back to the trades. Once in the trades, my buddy & I would put up the light sails again and we would repeat the whole cycle yet again. We did that maybe 3 or 4 or more times. This was 40 years ago and the memories fade. Our route looked like an EKG of a heart attack patient on life support and made Rimas look like a gifted mariner.

At least we made it.

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Sometimes it is the other way around. Got talked into helping take a boat I had done some work on. Woke up to do a watch at 0600 only to find owner and friend comatose in the cockpit as we were crossing a shipping lane. Still 150 miles to go. Tossed every bottle of booze I could find over the side. When they woke up and complained I told them they were fucking lucky they didn't follow the bottles.

Can find incompetent dipshits at all levels.

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28 minutes ago, Somebody Else said:

I had that happen but in this case, I was a pick-up crew and the only one who could navigate. ...

At least we made it.

At the beginning of the 80s I thought I was a pretty hot sailor ‘cause I could get a dinghy around the marks faster than many (not as many as I wanted to believe) but I didn’t know shit about anything else. I’d never set an anchor or taken a noonsite and had never steered with a wheel.

This was back in the days when navigating really mattered and it did not use gps.

I was invited to join a delivery crew taking a boat from Montreal to Plymouth. Two things drew me to the voyage. An Atlantic crossing would make me a man and their was a crew member I was growing closer to...

In what was for me, an unusual moment of wisdom, I realized there was only one aboard who could navigate which was fine as long as he stayed aboard and in good health...I realized that one was not enough. I passed on the trip (but not the crew member). They got their safely but luck is not a reliable method.

I learned celestial navigation but have yet to do an Atlantic crossing...and the crew member dumped me a few months later.

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Many years ago I was doing a 400nm race (and return) two-handed, and we didn't see anything less than 35 knots for 4 days. It was the owner who didn't handle the situation - he would not go down below, and wouldn't really let me, except for food, and pumping water ballast in or out. We then lost the wheel steering - the 4 bolts holding the wheel to the shaft sheared. Luckily the hydraulic autopilot on the quadrant worked so we were fine - by then 50 knots and up to 10 metre seas. Using the autopilot and adjusting course for the up to 4 knot southerly or northerly current, we got home safely. We he had a look at the track on the plotter - he asked how did I steer such a straight course?

We had a plan to do bigger races but I realised that if i ever went overboard he would not be able to retrieve me, but he knew I could save him.

Taught me a lot about making sure I had someone I could trust on the boat! Or sail solo...

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34 minutes ago, KC375 said:

In what was for me, an unusual moment of wisdom, I realized there was only one aboard who could navigate which was fine as long as he stayed aboard and in good health...I realized that one was not enough. I passed on the trip (but not the crew member). They got their safely but luck is not a reliable method.

I learned celestial navigation but have yet to do an Atlantic crossing...and the crew member dumped me a few months later.

My "only navigator on board" crossing was the impetus for me to learn about HF single-sideband radio. They had this modified Kenwood ham rig aboard and neither the skipper nor his ex-Coastie buddy could get a peep out of the thing the entire crossing. They would spend an hour or 2 twiddling the dial until they heard something, then try to break with a call something like, "Can you hear me? Hey!" Never a clue what band they were in or anything approaching radio protocol.

When I got home I immediately enrolled in an amateur radio course and got my General license.

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24 minutes ago, Somebody Else said:

My "only navigator on board" crossing was the impetus for me to learn about HF single-sideband radio. They had this modified Kenwood ham rig aboard and neither the skipper nor his ex-Coastie buddy could get a peep out of the thing the entire crossing. They would spend an hour or 2 twiddling the dial until they heard something, then try to break with a call something like, "Can you hear me? Hey!" Never a clue what band they were in or anything approaching radio protocol.

When I got home I immediately enrolled in an amateur radio course and got my General license.

My kids just don't understand me when I try to explain how cool ham radio used to be...on the right frequency with the right atmospheric conditions you could sort of communicate with...

...someone they can now painlessly link into a multi party video call.

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3 hours ago, KC375 said:

My kids just don't understand me when I try to explain how cool ham radio used to be...on the right frequency with the right atmospheric conditions you could sort of communicate with...

...someone they can now painlessly link into a multi party video call.

That was then, this is now.

I understand your kids. I want my High Seas Broadband now.

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The only issues I had was when a fellow crew member had a little too much scopolamine in his plaster and saw UFOs (the flying saucer type) during his night watch. Apart from that he felt great, man! Well, at least he didn’t  change course towards them or signalled them to beam him up... So when the second crew got seasick, I put him on „superpep“ chewing gums instead. That sent the kid into 13 hours of comatose sleep, but he was kind of fine after that. Luckily, the skipper and I were immune. 

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17 hours ago, Somebody Else said:

That was then, this is now.

I understand your kids. I want my High Seas Broadband now.

I have to admit, Mr C who is quite bright and well educated in his areas of interest never quite got it straight why his iPhone didn't work in the middle of the ocean.

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This thread has encouraged me to just keep singlehanding. 

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I would tie my crew up. Perhaps with some degree of violence. But that would only escalate the situation to pandemonium...expert-level pandemonium not even imagined by the likes of FF in his wettest dreams.

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Buy a better autopilot

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57 minutes ago, Ajax said:

This thread has encouraged me to just keep singlehanding. 

I'm happy to sail with my GF. She knows what a coward I am at heart and trusts me to not put us into dicey situations.

She doesn't even say 'I told you so' when I run us aground while she's giving me a running commentary on the depth plotter output.

FKT

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On 5/26/2020 at 6:22 AM, Rasputin22 said:

I put all the rest in a small duffel and put it in my cabin. 

    I have to confess I did keep my Iphone which I used when in my bunk as a 'telltale' 

Two different issues. Crew can keep their own devices. I trust my iPhone more than the system of a boat I just jumped on, especially if everyone else just jumped on it to. But skipper should give clear standing orders before he goes to bed. 

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On 5/25/2020 at 10:23 AM, shaggybaxter said:
Quote

A captain is legally responsible for both the boat and the crew.

True

Quote

He can not be overruled even by the owner, authorities, nobody. He is probably the closest thing to God in the pecking order whilst you are on the water. 

Not True

 

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Last delivery I did, coastal, only about 300 NM, but still, a delivery... woke up around 3am, checked GPS at nav station... holy cow, threading the needle between a rocky point on the landward side, and a rocky reef on the other side... maybe 0.2 NM apart, pitch black, running at about 11 knots... poked my head up and asked the other 2 guys if they knew where they were... nope, steering north and kinda following the lights of another boat, that they now couldn't see. Can you hear breaking water to the left? I asked. Uhuh. Can you hear breaking water to the right? I asked. Uhuh.  Was not happy, didn't sleep much at all thereafter. 

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9 hours ago, SCANAS said:

Two different issues. Crew can keep their own devices. I trust my iPhone more than the system of a boat I just jumped on, especially if everyone else just jumped on it to. But skipper should give clear standing orders before he goes to bed. 

Yeah, that's pretty weird/control freak move & I'd step right back off the boat and walk away if he tried that.  What is he planing to try to do to me out on the water? Why is he afraid of me knowing where I am or having any means to communicate.

 

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11 hours ago, El Boracho said:

I would tie my crew up. Perhaps with some degree of violence. But that would only escalate the situation to pandemonium...expert-level pandemonium not even imagined by the likes of FF in his wettest dreams.

So who's on the tiller while you're busy tying up the crew, tough guy?  And what if they're stronger or more numerous than you?

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lots of stories in which i miss: when handing over a watch you also hand over navigation... i'm sure you've checked that the next watch understood the gameplan...

side effect: when you inform the crew... they know what's going on... less panic...

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57 minutes ago, Starboard!! said:

Yeah, that's pretty weird/control freak move & I'd step right back off the boat and walk away if he tried that.  What is he planing to try to do to me out on the water? Why is he afraid of me knowing where I am or having any means to communicate.

 

Rasp has done more sailing than most & in his story he says their datum was wrong & they had their own routes & ideas & I accept that is a huge risk, but I think those are different issues. Keep your device but stick to MY course. 

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Just now, SCANAS said:

Rasp has done more sailing than most & in his story he says their datum was wrong & they had their own routes & ideas & I accept that is a huge risk, but I think those are different issues. Keep your device but stick to MY course. 

Sounds like his issue was that his crew didn't trust his routing / leadership, not that they had alternative sources of data. In any case, a crew (and maybe skipper) selection issue.

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2 hours ago, Starboard!! said:

So who's on the tiller while you're busy tying up the crew, tough guy?  And what if they're stronger or more numerous than you?

Sorry, I was making humor about tying up my wifey. But my autopilot would be steering, as it always does no matter the conditions.

BTW, one trick with unwanted people...like maybe over-motivated customs thugs...is to flog the sails and hold the boat beam to seas. Most lightweights will abandon ship or go comatose.

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Crewed on a very slow boat in the Chicago Mac once. Wind went light in the Manitous and we weren't going to make it in in time for the party.   We had an Irish guy from Dublin who was a last minute crew pickup. Claimed to have lots of experience racing and cruising in Ireland and the Caribbean.  Not quite. His only experience must have been sleeping with a bottle of Jamesons under an overturned dinghy.  He started whining about missing a private party on Monday afternoon. I mentioned to him that wasn't the purpose of the race. He became very surly while we were off watch to the point of threatening me.  Must be an Irish thing. When I responded, he stated that his relatives were IRA and I should watch myself. I responded with I hope your effin relatives are really good swimmers because we are 20 miles offshore. Furthermore, my 132 cousins in Chicago, all of Irish descent, would like to meet him if he got back to Chicago.  If fact some of them will be meeting us at the dock in Macinac Island which was true. He finally shut up as he realized his situation was hopeless. The owner found out about his actions and literally threw his gear off the boat before we had even tied up. Probably a good idea as the rest of the crew was none too happy with him.

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2 hours ago, SCANAS said:

Rasp has done more sailing than most & in his story he says their datum was wrong & they had their own routes & ideas & I accept that is a huge risk, but I think those are different issues. Keep your device but stick to MY course. 

Thanks Scanas,

     The real issue that prompted the GPS roundup was that neither guy had any understanding of routing to take advantage of favorable winds and/or currents. From The Canaries Islands to St Martin if one takes the Great Circle route (not that they would have understood that) or even the using rhumb line sailing you would probably end up becalmed in the Azores High or further down the road end up drifting with the seaweed in the Sargasso Sea. We sailed well south down the African coast for better wind nearly to the latitude of Cape Verde Islands and the owner was even mildly interested in putting in there but we headed West once we got firmly in the Tradewinds. Basically the hundreds of years old sailing directions for the Triangle Trade route. I gave the two the Sailing Direction and Planning Guide and that seemed to sink into their feeble minds but once we were heading more or less due West for the Caribbean they were totally unable to grasp the concept of VMG apparent wind sailing. That is to gybe downwind to keep the big catamaran at its best velocity made good towards St Martin. I would give each watch stander the course to steer and also a target boatspeed and spend 5 minutes making sure that they could keep the boat 'in the groove' without the sailing flogging or risking a gybe. Most people can get the hang of that in a couple of days but these guys would pull out their handheld GPS with St Martin set as a waypoint and steer straight for that once they were sure I was asleep. The banging and slatting of the sails and even the awkward slapping of the waves and the fluctuating boat speed would wake me even without my 'tell tale' Iphone running a nav app in my bunk. 

   It was simple to get up and go into the dark salon and watch these fools willfully disregard their responsibilities as trusted crew and I would flip on an interior light and the one guy who got taken off the watch schedule and stuff his GPS in a pocket and then head up and stare at the helm compass (also a full chartplotter hooked to the autopilot at the helm) and then lie to me about his actions. I warned him repeatedly and after the third day was when we all had our Captains Mast and he got himself 'BlackBalled'.

When his 'time out' had been served, I got the guys handhelds out and we all sat down and but them on the 'ships preferences' such as Lat/Lon decimal degrees, time format, chart datum, speed units, True North bearings and even North up over Course Up to make sure that the written data entered into the ships paper log was consistent. I demonstrated how much difference Lat/Lon in degrees-minutes-seconds could differ from degrees-decimal minutes and how we all had to be on the same page. But the capability of a GPS that finally got through their heads was VMG to STM and have them steer up until the apparent wind was on the beam and the indicated VMG was maxed out. Lots more fun at the helm, cooler and more comfortable motion and then I would have them steer back to the Rhumb line and watch the indicated VMG drop back to about half the max. I then programmed one of the big cockpit racing display to show Time to Target or Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) and then they could see that sailing the rhumb line would put our arrival back days. Like I said earlier, another week and they might have the basic skills to join a Trans At boat an be of use on the crew. 

 

Pub. 140 Sailing Directions: Enroute, 2019 North Atlantic Ocean ...

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4 minutes ago, Rasputin22 said:

Thanks Scanas,

     The real issue that prompted the GPS roundup was that neither guy had any understanding of routing to take advantage of favorable winds and/or currents. From The Canaries Islands to St Martin if one takes the Great Circle route (not that they would have understood that) or even the using rhumb line sailing you would probably end up becalmed in the Azores High or further down the road end up drifting with the seaweed in the Sargasso Sea. We sailed well south down the African coast for better wind nearly to the latitude of Cape Verde Islands and the owner was even mildly interested in putting in there but we headed West once we got firmly in the Tradewinds. Basically the hundreds of years old sailing directions for the Triangle Trade route. I gave the two the Sailing Direction and Planning Guide and that seemed to sink into their feeble minds but once we were heading more or less due West for the Caribbean they were totally unable to grasp the concept of VMG apparent wind sailing. That is to gybe downwind to keep the big catamaran at its best velocity made good towards St Martin. I would give each watch stander the course to steer and also a target boatspeed and spend 5 minutes making sure that they could keep the boat 'in the groove' without the sailing flogging or risking a gybe. Most people can get the hang of that in a couple of days but these guys would pull out their handheld GPS with St Martin set as a waypoint and steer straight for that once they were sure I was asleep. The banging and slatting of the sails and even the awkward slapping of the waves and the fluctuating boat speed would wake me even without my 'tell tale' Iphone running a nav app in my bunk. 

   It was simple to get up and go into the dark salon and watch these fools willfully disregard their responsibilities as trusted crew and I would flip on an interior light and the one guy who got taken off the watch schedule and stuff his GPS in a pocket and then head up and stare at the helm compass (also a full chartplotter hooked to the autopilot at the helm) and then lie to me about his actions. I warned him repeatedly and after the third day was when we all had our Captains Mast and he got himself 'BlackBalled'.

When his 'time out' had been served, I got the guys handhelds out and we all sat down and but them on the 'ships preferences' such as Lat/Lon decimal degrees, time format, chart datum, speed units, True North bearings and even North up over Course Up to make sure that the written data entered into the ships paper log was consistent. I demonstrated how much difference Lat/Lon in degrees-minutes-seconds could differ from degrees-decimal minutes and how we all had to be on the same page. But the capability of a GPS that finally got through their heads was VMG to STM and have them steer up until the apparent wind was on the beam and the indicated VMG was maxed out. Lots more fun at the helm, cooler and more comfortable motion and then I would have them steer back to the Rhumb line and watch the indicated VMG drop back to about half the max. I then programmed one of the big cockpit racing display to show Time to Target or Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) and then they could see that sailing the rhumb line would put our arrival back days. Like I said earlier, another week and they might have the basic skills to join a Trans At boat an be of use on the crew. 

like mentioned before: when handing over the watch you also hand over navigation/ gameplan. a lot is in preparation which includes navigation and at least some knowledge of the boat...

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7 minutes ago, daan62 said:

like mentioned before: when handing over the watch you also hand over navigation/ gameplan. a lot is in preparation which includes navigation and at least some knowledge of the boat...

I don't know what part about a course to steer and target boatspeed isn't a gameplan or how much you expect him to elaborate in a forum post. He's also said he gave them Sailing Direction Planning Guide which would seem like he was trying to share the overall game plan and help it sink in which is above and beyond what's required. A course to steer and instructions on when to wake the captain is all you would need to handover a watch.

You would have to be pretty retarded to be steering 45-60 degrees off course and not ask to get some reasonable understanding why.

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Just now, climenuts said:

I don't know what part about a course to steer and target boatspeed isn't a gameplan or how much you expect him to elaborate in a forum post. He's also said he gave them Sailing Direction Planning Guide which would seem like he was trying to share the overall game plan and help it sink in which is above and beyond what's required. A course to steer and instructions on when to wake the captain is all you would need to handover a watch.

You would have to be pretty retarded to be steering 45-60 degrees off course and not ask to get some reasonable understanding why.

Best not to pick crew with no experience and who can't be trusted to follow directions. Though it sounds like they did, once he took the time to explain how it all worked. So maybe it was in the communication (and their confidence in him)?

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16 minutes ago, climenuts said:

I don't know what part about a course to steer and target boatspeed isn't a gameplan or how much you expect him to elaborate in a forum post. He's also said he gave them Sailing Direction Planning Guide which would seem like he was trying to share the overall game plan and help it sink in which is above and beyond what's required. A course to steer and instructions on when to wake the captain is all you would need to handover a watch.

You would have to be pretty retarded to be steering 45-60 degrees off course and not ask to get some reasonable understanding why.

first of all, i was not there and not judging. 

in my opinion the 'big plan' is part of preparation. every crewmember knows the big plan and with that understands  decisions that are made. if they don't understand a decision they ask. when handing the watch over you explain conditions  and where you are in the gameplan. in the end it's all about thinking in the same direction...

 

sailed a lot with crew under 18... if they don't know, teach them!

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Rasper, you're a LOT more patient than I would have been. I've had to deal with klutzy and ignorant crew, but very very rarely a mutinous one. I'd be strongly tempted to smack at least one of them around a little.

My grandfather had a method of dealing with a helmsperson who was not steering to his satisfaction. First he'd teach you how to steer, then he'd tell you how to figure out which way to steer... after that, you were expected to handle it. If you couldn't figure it out, or if he gave you a course that you didn't follow, you'd get a warning (if he was feeling mellow) and the next thing you'd know about it would be a couple of busted knuckles on your helm hand.

For the record, I have never used that method on any crew I've taught.

Probably the worst case I've dealt with was a dangerous skipper who wanted to drive his boat (a racy 40 footer with way too much draft for the area) over a breaking bar just outside the inlet. We'd run aground at that spot before, and one time running back in, there was wind against tide and some pretty big rollers... running down onto it, you could see the backs of them but they didn't look bad unless you knew what you were looking at. We didn't need to run the whole sea channel but we DID need to make toward one of the inner pair. Nope... even after I pointed out to him, this guy kept homing for those breakers. Finally I rested my hand on the tiller and guided him the other way, then when he tried to steer back, I put my knee in the way of the tiller. A look straight in the eye, and I said "I'm steering until we get into the channel." The rest of the crew never even knew about it, but they'd had a hard day of beating & spinnaker-ing in 18~22 and a healthy chop and needed some calm down time.

Last time I sailed that boat.

I've been prepared to use a sap and cable ties on a crew but did not have to actually do it. Roaring drunk and demanded more booze and LAND NOW!! One of the others talked him down and he passed out soon, anyway.

The worst is leaving for a passage and having nobody wanting to turn in. Yes it's exciting, sailing until 3 in the morning but somebody should get some sleep BEFORE that point so as to be ready to take over.

FB- Doug

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15 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

The worst is leaving for a passage and having nobody wanting to turn in. Yes it's exciting, sailing until 3 in the morning but somebody should get some sleep BEFORE that point so as to be ready to take over.

FB- Doug

I have always been the guy who turns in early for exactly that reason.

As soon as I am confident that I'm not required on deck for a long passage I'm heading for some sleep/rest. 

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20 minutes ago, JohnMB said:

I have always been the guy who turns in early for exactly that reason.

As soon as I am confident that I'm not required on deck for a long passage I'm heading for some sleep/rest. 

Military benefit- you learn to get some shut-eye when possible, pretty much any time, any where.

I just hate to be awakened by thumping, crashing, screams of panic, and the sound of water gushing in!!

There's a great cartoon which I can't find on the interwwwebs: a sailboat cabin with a man looking up from his bunk, as another sailor leans in thru the companionway saying "No need for panic, just calmly hand me the flare gun and my life jacket..."

FB- Doug

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We had a panicked female mammal pop her head out the cabin, take a look around and then call the CG in full panic mode.  We were totally under control, though wind was 35+ all on deck were very experienced.  This resulted in a ridiculous inspection by a bunch of zit -faced, jackbooted young thugs who had less than zero knowledge regarding boats and weather.  Would have happily jettisoned the female, only problem being she was the very humiliated owner's wife.  

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1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

The worst is leaving for a passage and having nobody wanting to turn in. Yes it's exciting, sailing until 3 in the morning but somebody should get some sleep BEFORE that point so as to be ready to take over.

Great point here. With newbies on board it is hard to get them to get over the excitement and adrenaline of finally shoving off. They will learn soon enough usually! 

     I had a good friend who rebuilt in the finest manner a Chinese Junk to remarkable standards. Still pretty leaky offshore at first until the planks of the topsides took up enough seawater to swell up tight. He had a young gung ho relative youngster join him and his wife when they left the New Orleans area bound for the Virgin Islands. The kid got the whole nightwatch briefing with especial emphasis on checking the bilges through the little dust bin grate at the bottom of the companionway stairs, EVERY HOUR!  It was routine in the early days of a passage to log how often the auto switching bilge pump cycled. The idea was so the owner could track if indeed the seams were swelling tighter. 

    The skipper woke up while the kid was on the graveyard watch and figured he may as well get go and go check on him and take a pee over the rail while he was at it. As he swung his legs off the bunk and slid down to the floorboards, he was shocked that bilge water was up to his ankles! He was on deck in a flash and the kid was taking a little nap at the wheel. I'm glad I wasn't there for what happened next but the upshot was that the fellow after surviving the tirade that he so well deserved lost his bunk assignment and had to sleep on the salon floorboards with his pillow right on top of the 12" square little teak grating that he should have been paying more attention to in the first place!

    I think he served as the human bilge alarm for about three days and served the rest of his time aboard that vessel satisfactorily.

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