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Old 10-31-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

I've spent about 50 years doing crossings with people who have never sailed before. From transAts to deliveries from the VI to the states and misc crew help on short and long voyages around the world, I have very rarely had any problems.
If you can explain your needs properly, teach steering by the compass in one 4 hour watch, you should be able to trust almost anyone to at least call you if they have a problem or sight another vessel. In one recent case a young fellow called me up on deck after about 3 days (6 watches) on the way to Bermuda to inform me he was seeing a ship to the east. After about 2 minutes I realized it was the moon rising through the clouds. A funny experience after the fact, an interruption of my sleep at the time, but he'd done exactly as required; he'd called me up when he thought it necessary.
It really is the responsibility of the skipper to be able to get what he (she) needs from an inexperienced crew member, if the skipper remains available should that crew member require help. This is the reason I prefer inexperienced crew members; they do not oversell their abilities and have no bad habits. After all sailing ISN'T rocket science!
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
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