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post #17 of Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Limits of Captains authority

Here's where I think people get themselves all knotted up. For a boat to operate effectively, there needs to be some sort of understood and agreed upon leadership. There are many decisions to make underway and someone has to make them. If the boat wants to do them all like a commune, go ahead. Although, its well known that is time consuming and you may not always be given the time. The important issue is that everyone understands and agrees how decisions will be made, which could change underway or at each watch. Not knowing or agreeing to leadership is a recipe for disaster.

There is also someone aboard who will be considered responsible for the boats actions in the event any liability is incurred or laws broken. This is very specific by jurisdiction.

However, the idea of there being a Captain aboard a recreational vessel that has inherent authority over subordinates is silly. I will extend that to a boat in a race, without professional paid crew. Leadership needs to be understood and agreed to. In many cases, the owner does not default to leader for a given passage. The owner can refuse to allow his property to leave the dock, but crew must agree to leadership.

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Jeanneau 54DS

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