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Old 08-07-2013
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Limits of Captains authority

This is a question that came up due to a currently popular thread.

I copied some text and added some text to make the question more comprehensive.

The general rule is that aboard a boat the captain makes the rules and the crew obeys. But obviously there are exceptions.
What rules should be obeyed and when can an exception be made.

The following are some guidelines. Do you agree with them?

The captain can sail the boat the way he wants. That may be slow, in the wrong direction etc.
Just about anything the captain wants done should be done so it is easier to think in terms of exceptions.

The following are some candidate exceptions:

1. The captain can not order me to do something I can't safely do. I'm the only one who knows what I can safely do. This exception is not about what I like to do or want to do but only about what I can't physically do without incapacitating injury or death. If for example if a captain ordered me to deal with a hose clamp in a deep bilge where I knew I would get scratched and cut by machinery I would do it as that would be painful and annoying but not incapacitating.

2. If the boat or people were in serious trouble, out of water, food or sinking or serious illness are the only ones I can think of I would use my sat phone not to call in a MayDay but to put them on notice as to our situation. This one I really don't like. I would really hate it if some nervous nelly hid in the forepeak and called a Mayday on my boat if I was the captain. If I was the captain I would calm the nervous person by making the call myself. Typically in case of a difference of opinion I suspect the cc would require a check-in every few minutes until everyone was on the same page.

3. Sex has to be consensual between adults.

4. Crew do not have to follow illegal orders, for example murdering someone.


I have crewed on may Sail Netters boats and would like to crew on all of them.
I'm interesting in the experienced captains take on the limits of authority of the office of captain.

And specifically if you have hand any experiences that you had to deal with either as crew or captain that may be of interest for this discussion.
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Last edited by davidpm; 08-07-2013 at 05:04 PM.
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