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post #529 of Old 08-07-2013
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Re: Mutiny at Dawn - Transpac Race 2013

Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
I vehemently (if that is a strong enough word) disagree with that. In fact, for me, that is the crux of the matter on this thread.

If something happens to one of the crew or the boat, the captain of that boat has the ultimate responsibility. If someone get hurt or lost at sea, it is his responsibility. THe buck stops with him and you can bet the lawyers land-side would agree with that if one of his crew got hurt.

Boating, in my opinion, has become too recreational. In what other endeavor can a person take command of a item without so much as a learner's permit and have so many people 's lives resting on their decision? How many Sea Rays are sold every year to people who have never driven a boat? How many Hatteras? How many sailboats? How often on this forum do we get a clown with ZERO sailing or offshore experience ready to sail to the carrib or S America or whatever and wants crew or asks which boat he should choose? And on this thread were the crew members (and captain) of this boat really experienced enough for the endeavor?

Like I said before, I think that people fail to appreciate the incredible responsibility put on a captain when they step on his boat. That does not change just because this is a recreational boat versus the US Navy. The sea does not care. The waves and weather do not care. THe law does not care. It is an old tradition and it is a good tradition. In the day of five minute fire truck arrivals and hospitals at every corner, many people forget that when you are out there, you are on your own. As such, it forces (or should force) the captain to have his crap together because he is legally and justifiably at fault for everything that happens on his boat. With that in mind, the idea of arguing with the captain, usurping his authority, or taking over his vessel is (and should be) a matter of last resort and only in dire circumstances. Mutiny (which I do not think RD or Jake really did) should be dealt with harshly, and legally, even on a recreational boat because the implications for the captain are still severe.

Were RD and Jake justified in what they did? I am not sure... I have not heard the other side of the story. But in doing it, they had better have exhausted all other options first and truly been in danger. Some of the key difference between me and others is that I hold the captain primarily responsible for everything that happened. All of this (or most of it) could have been identified long before the race started. He should have gotten to know the crew better and let the crew get to know him better. THey should have had more shakedown cruises. They should have had a very clear discussion beforehand on the water and supplies and how they would be rationed. THey should have discussed the chute and how and when they would fly it and each persons abilities. They should have had a clear understanding on the use (or lack of) the AP and things that would DQ them. That is NOT RD's or Jake's responsibility... that is the captains. I am still miffed that they shot off across the ocean with the miniscule amount of preparation they did. I think if the weather had ever turned bad, it really could have been life/death.

If the captain had been a leader, and had done all of these things, yet RD or Jake took over and broke the rules, then yes, I would probably have exactly the same view as Nick. But Nick, I suspect that you by nature and habit take care of all of that stuff before the boat leaves the dock? The crew and expectations are very clear before the dock lines are thrown off, right? So you place yourself on this boat, reading what you had read, and put yourself in the shoes of the captain and (rightfully) come unglued. Quite candidly, I think your bar is a lot higher and had you been captaining that boat, I suspect none of it would have happened because the prep you put in beforehand... and NOT because of your physical abilities or how you maintain your authority after the boat leaves the slip. Big difference.

This has been a great thread. It should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking about hoping on a boat as crew or captains looking for crew. It doesn't even have to be about racing. It's not. It is about the reality you face when you take off to sea, about how large the ocean is, how small the boat is, and how important it remains that respect, leadership, and camaraderie be maintained.

My opinions.

I vehemently disagree with your vehement disagreement!

The notion of captain as master and commander, pun intended, goes back to days when "recreational" boating was non-existent and the laws of the sea evolved to cope with issues that arose on ships; ships that were used for commerce or warfare. Both of these institutions had inherent checks on a captain's authority. Kings would appoint admirals and captains and there would be an established chain of command. Merchants would need to answer to their kings, lenders, or stock holders. Thus, it was in the best interest of a fleet to make sure that any captain appointed to duty was capable of the task at hand and should the captain not perform his duties well, then his position, livelihood, or even his head was at risk! A shipowner hiring a captain to transport spices would not leave his valuable cargo and ship to someone who was not capable of making a successful run, lest he go bankrupt. Similarly, an admiral would not have incompetents commanding his ships in an engagement at sea. Should the admiral lose the battle, he might also lose his rank or even his head as well. Obviously, it would be in his best interest to find the best captains he could find to command his ships.

Recreational boating instills no such checks and balances. This is even more true in the age of the internet where anyone with some extra cash in their pocket can buy a fancy boat, post an craigslist ad for crew, call himself "captain" and sail off into the sunset. You can't just expect someone to blindly follow orders from someone who unknowingly, may have just yesterday been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia!
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