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post #1 of 21 Old 10-31-2013 Thread Starter
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Trusting someone to take a watch

I just did a 62 hour boat delivery the only crew with the owner. He is highly experienced but I got to thinking that he didn't know me from Adam.

How would you evaluate someone as to if you could trust them to take a watch?
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post #2 of 21 Old 10-31-2013
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Trusting someone to take a watch

Check up on him.
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post #3 of 21 Old 10-31-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

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Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
I just did a 62 hour boat delivery the only crew with the owner. He is highly experienced but I got to thinking that he didn't know me from Adam.

How would you evaluate someone as to if you could trust them to take a watch?

David, I reckon if I spent one watch with you or anyone else for that matter I could tell whether you knew the difference twixt your arse and a pothole.

Basic ability should become apparent after someone has been on board for an hour or so.

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post #4 of 21 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!

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post #5 of 21 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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post #6 of 21 Old 11-01-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

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Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
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.
Second that. I sail with many people with little sailing experience but I have only one rule for those watchkeepers: If ANYTHING changes, wake me up. I will not be angry or fussy if it comes to nothing. However, if something changes and you don't wake me up, I will be a BIT on the grumpy side.

Most skippers can handle the boat themselves while awake and rested, it's getting that rest that is paramount. You must trust the watchkeeper enough to exercise their best judgement and alert you when something changes or you will never get to sleep in the first place.

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post #7 of 21 Old 11-01-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

I think a lot of this depends on where you are and the conditions.

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post #8 of 21 Old 11-01-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

The boat I race one ZZzoom has always had a crew put together from free adds in the newspaper.

While plenty of people did not work out they were never really dangerous and the main problem was they just did not enjoy sailing

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post #9 of 21 Old 11-01-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

heh heh,

I'm taking notes here as I'm usually the one you are wondering about

I'm not sailing watches, heck I'm only day sailing. I don't even wear a watch.

Seriously though - I go through the litany when I bring a new person (not just crew) aboard, you know, life preservers here, fire ext. there stuff. I never ask if they know how to use it, or more importantly when. I assume they do not.

No one helms my boat sans me over the shoulder without I watch them first.

Lessons learned are opportunities earned.
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post #10 of 21 Old 11-01-2013
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Re: Trusting someone to take a watch

We've learned the hard way that you've got to choose wisely.

I've had a highly qualified 100 ton master sign on for an offshore passage with undisclosed medical problems that put him down for the count. I've had good coastal sailing buddies that I thought were reliable decide to have a couple of beers before departing on a rough passage and get sick and sleep through their watch.

When someone lets you down on a passage, others have to fill in and run with less sleep reducing safety for all. Yea, stuff happens, but the above cases were self induced.

Some of the best advice I've received is from a doctor who does a lot of offshore passages. He treats his crew like part of the equipment. He dictates what they eat, what they drink, and when they sleep. He wants their medical history. If they don't like his rules they don't go.

There are only a handful of people I want to do a passage with. I admire those who can figure this out on the fly with new people (but based on my experience with selected "friends" maybe you're better off).
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