What are your thoughts on the situation where the boat owner designates someone (supposedly more experienced) to be skipper, but to later find this skipper is putting the boat in daner- whom is ultimately responsible- the owner or designated skipper?
I'm in this situation several times a year. I'm always the low-cost and sometimes the supposedly more experienced hand.
These new boat owners are looking to me for help and guidance so the way I handle it is to have a little conversation right up front.
Our trips are usually under three days long.
These are the subjects I cover in our pre-departure briefing.
- I'll navigate, handle lines, select anchorages, dock etc.
- Your the owner so you get to do anything you want which I hope will include most of the steering. Since I expect you want to lean as much as you can you can ask about anything that is happening or try your hand at anything you want to do.
- I'm not going to constantly be teaching for a whole three days that will drive us both batty, but if their is something you want to know ask and I'll explain it. Sometimes you will be just too tired to learn anything.
- If you are uncomfortable about anything, speak-up and we will do what is possible to make you comfortable. This may include taking an extra day, taking an inside route, reefing, staying further away from obstructions. It's your boat and your insurance. In case of a disagreement the most conservative course of action rules.
- If I believe that in the next few seconds someone is going to die or be physically hurt and I don't have time to discuss it with you I may take the wheel out of your hand, push you out of the way or in some way forcibly change what is going on so no-one gets hurt. It can seem rude but I have to know from you now if that is acceptable to you. If it is not acceptable we have to agree on an acceptable alternative or make other travel arrangements.
- If I believe that in the next few seconds some property is going to be damaged do you want me to follow the above life and limb rules or let you learn from experience? This is your call it's your property and your insurance.
- Are you also willing to accept the risk that while I will make every effort to make sure everything is safe and no property is damaged I may do something that causes injury or damage and that you and your insurance company is ultimately responsible as I'm just a hired hand, you are the owner and skipper regardless of your experience or lack therof.
I've done this many times for guys with new boats and have never had a problem. I believe I am even more cautious than I would be if it was my boat as I really feel the responsibility.
Some skippers are really involved in navigation and follow the chart some leave it all up to me.
So far all have taken their turn at the helm and usually I can get some extra shifts out of them.
Some have attempted to dock some insist I do it, its all good.