How many times as a First Mate before .... - Page 2 - SailNet Community
View Poll Results: How many times as a First Mate before being a captain
Zero. Act as a captain for my first time ocean voyage 9 39.13%
1 to 2 times as a first mate/deckhand before I am willing to be on my own 3 13.04%
3 to 4 times 1 4.35%
More than 5 times 10 43.48%
Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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post #11 of 14 Old 10-05-2010
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Originally Posted by jephotog View Post
I think the lack of responses stems from in part the ambiguity of the question.
Yes it made a vote difficult for me.

When I started ocean sailing it was not on my own boat and there was more chance of flying than being skipper because the owner of the boat was the skipper - always. And I sailed with other boat owners for several years before getting started on my own boats

On my own boats? I assumed command on all of them from the very first time I sailed on any one of them. And like all of the owners I sailed with in the early years - it'll be a cold day in hell before someone else skippers my boat while I'm aboard.

I don't know which of these fits with the poll so I didn't vote.

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post #12 of 14 Old 10-05-2010
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Risk? No. Becoming the captain for the first time in blue water is not about the willingness to take risk, although it is a minor factor. If you are going to risk your life, it better be for a damn good reason. I've risked my life for my country but I will not knowingly risk my life or the lives of others for sailing. Sailing is a hobby and is NOT a good reason. As an aside, I must balance my statement by saying also that there is risk in everything we do, and either we accept the risk or we don't do it. Regardless of activity, if we are wise we ensure we understand the risks we take and minimize them or at least reduce them to acceptable levels. Naturally, that wisdom statement means something different to each of us.

To my mind the answer to your question, as with most things, is: It depends. Others have already stated the important factor is not how many times have you been out but how much sea time you have, and I agree that is important. But there are other conditionals that also affect the answer. So characterize your experience on the water/at sea in these ways:
-- doing what?
-- going where?
-- in what kind of weather?
-- how long in blue water ?
-- how long in coastal (< 10 miles from shore) waters?
-- how long in semi-protected waters such as bays?
-- how long in trips short enough that you can guarantee a good weather window?
-- long long in extended passages where the weather cannot be predicted for the entire trip?
-- how long in heavy weather?
-- during what time of year?
-- in what kind of boat and what size?

There are even more factors of importance:
-- What is your age?
-- What is your physical condition?
-- What is your knowledge level from theory?
-- What is your knowledge level from practical experience?
-- How many people are manning the boat?
-- What is the crew's experience level?

You have taken the courses, which is a good start. Were I you, I would want to sail extensively as crew on a bluewater sailboat in extended passages before I went out on a long passage as the captain -- courses are good but they are no substitute for experience. Only by experience can you understand the risks. Only by experience can you be sure you are prepared to handle all situations you may encounter. Only by experience can you reduce those risks to acceptable levels.

So have fund, good luck, and good sailing. I hope you achieve your dream, whatever it might be.


T. P. Donnelly
S/V Tranquility Base
1984 Islander 30 Bahama
Pasadena, MD

Last edited by dacap06; 10-05-2010 at 09:18 PM.
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post #13 of 14 Old 10-05-2010 Thread Starter
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Captain Abbott,

It is not my intention to knock the pecking order in the merchant marine world. No disrespect to those who earns the rank through hard work and perseverance. I used the term First Mate loosely. Just like many here refer to their wife as Admiral for some obvious reason. My encounter with boat/sailboat is for pure pleasure and no commercial application. The boats I have been crewed are often just the skipper and me. I am the deckhand, first mate, cook and sanitary engineer.

The things that you mentioned is a given. Because I am older and well educated including in medicine, I have more resources and experiences to tap into than others. Every day, my people come into my office to seek advices regarding their data or results. I make decision every day that will have impact on the quality of life others five to ten years from now. Sailing is a passion just for fun and not mean to make a living for me. I wonít a good commercial captain and I canít be a good provider for my family

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post #14 of 14 Old 10-05-2010 Thread Starter
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Thanks for all replied. I appreciate the effort. Please remember this is Sailnet is a place for leisure sailors to share info and passion of the boat. Donít overly interpret it. Donít treat this is a court document . This is not a scientific poll; it is just for fun and treat as a conversational piece. Even with a well-designed poll and experiment, there is always some compromise/assumptions. There are always something is left behind. Donít mad with me if I failed to include your situation. Just state your story and let us learn from it.

The whole idea I wanted to see is what is the "norm" (if there is one) before one is willing to sail their boat into ocean for the every first time after they learn how to sail.

Peace everyone. I am often in Annapolis, drink on me Oh yeah, donít pick on my grammar either; my secretary is gone for the day.

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