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Old 11-01-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

Judgment is more important than ability, skill, or experience. As capta said, knowing when to call for help, guidance, or even just a second opinion is paramount.

One of the best crew I have ever had started with little sailing experience and no passagemaking. She was weak on systems. She spent watches reading manuals, took over the galley (my galley!), and asked questions. She provided tremendous support and counsel to me. By the time we got across the Atlantic she was an ace with all the instruments, including MARPA. I will be forever grateful to her. She recently finished her first Pacific passage two-up.

One of my worst crew experiences held a USCG 100 LT Master's license. He looked great on paper, sounded great on the dock, and even performed decently the first few days out. At night in pretty mild conditions (F4, maybe F5) he missed alarms including the autopilot kicking out which led to a series of gybes before I got on deck (having proved the concept of levitation). Then it turned out he couldn't steer a compass course, had no meaningful spacial perception, and was generally useless.

Over time and with many miles behind me on deliveries I've interviewed a lot of crew. I think I've gotten better at weeding the wheat from the chaff. I spend more time swapping stories during the interview than initially. I also assess the questions prospective crew ask of me.

I have a couple of dozen crew with whom I can sleep through a watch. A number of others that I just check on occasionally. Everyone else can expect to see me at any time. I never want to find crew asleep on watch again.
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