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kingcan 07-04-2008 02:23 PM

How do you chose a skipper?
My partner and I are learning to sail together. We're (almost) starting from the same position in terms of experience and we have slightly different strengths and interests which - I think - will serve us well as a team on board.

But how do you chose a skipper?

By skills?
The person who can fix the engine in an emergency or the one with the weather sense? The most competent navigator (using charts and chart plotter)? The one who consistently positions sails to maximum effect?

By experience?
Who has more "sea time"? What was the nature of the sea time - pleasure or work?

By attributes?
Like caution? Decisiveness? Stamina? Physical strength?

By gender?
Well, there are only two, so I guess I don't need to make this explanation any longer. :)

By default?
What if the other can't take direction without quibbling? Do you just make them skipper to save time?

In part, this is a larger question about determining and defining roles on a boat. I know there have to be defined roles (my father was a Coast Gaurd Captain). But when you're essentially starting from scratch - like we are - how do you determine how those roles are allocated? Particularly the role of skipper?

Interested to see what everyone has to say.
Thanks in advance for your comments!

Plumper 07-04-2008 02:36 PM

I think that over time it will become obvious who plays what role onboard. On a boat with a couple rarely is one of the two responsible for every decision. I would call the relationship on our boat, co-skippers. Blue and Gold watches if you like.

chris_gee 07-04-2008 09:17 PM

I think there is a big difference between being a CG captain with a crew, and a husband and wife working together.
Instead of seeing captaincy as who is in charge over the other, I suggest you see it as who is responsible. That may change how you see it and make the burden less attractive. It doesn't mean that one can't consult, or be alerted to something one may have overlooked. In a domestic situation the emphasis is not on giving orders but having a plan communicating it and ensuring that the other is willing and able to carry it out. A coastguard crew would not say stuff you stick it. An unhappy partner may.
Some responsibilities may be delegated eg navigation however it still can be prudent to check.
I once went fishing with an airline pilot. Just before launching I asked if the bungs were in, a mistake I have made. His response was, "Yes thank you for asking," which I thought was particularly apt, and presumably reflected his background.

sailingdog 07-05-2008 07:25 AM

Just remember, who is the captain is also a legal thing—the skipper is the one who takes the blame if your boat gets into trouble. The captain is responsible for the actions of the boat, the crew and such in many countries. If one of you doesn't want to take that kind of responsibility on...the other one is the skipper. :)

The captain is also the one who has to make the hard decisions. Granted, you can make decisions by committee or consensus, but when push-comes-to-shove, the captain is the one who is responsible for whatever decision is made.

bubb2 07-05-2008 07:45 AM

Both my wife and I have Coast Guard master license's. However we share duties on the boat. Docking, she is at the helm and I am handling dock lines. Anchoring, she is at the helm and I am handling the anchor. On long cruises we take watches. When it comes to navigation, we both have equal in put. We have seem to fallen in to a routine which works well for us.

The only hard and fast rule we have is I stay out of her galley and she's stays out of my tool box!

sailingdog 07-05-2008 07:54 AM


You let her push you out of the galley... you're a big chicken.... (smart chicken though more likely than not). :) ;) :D

bubb2 07-05-2008 08:01 AM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 337178)

You let her push you out of the galley... you're a big chicken.... (smart chicken though more likely than not). :) ;) :D

I am told that she has sharp things in that galley, and she is the only one that knows where they are.

sailingdog 07-05-2008 08:39 AM

rofl.... as i said... smart chicken. :)

Originally Posted by bubb2 (Post 337179)
I am told that she has sharp things in that galley, and she is the only one that knows where they are.

nolatom 07-05-2008 10:24 AM

I can't quite tell from your question if you're looking for a hired captain, or rather an instructor who will help both of you become your own skippers. The former is an employee, the latter a mentor.

Assuming the latter:

Everything you've mentioned is important. So also is the ability to communicate and teach, which is essential no matter how much skill or sea time the capt/instructor has. The idea is to get theoretical knowledge from a book, into your brain, then into your fingertips, so that it all becomes secondary (remember learning to drive?).

You learn to sail by sailing, period.. Alternate that with book study, and both will make more sense to you as you go along. You need a variety of experience, weather, geography, and maybe even instructors too, to become a well-rounded sailor. So don't necessarily confine yourself to one instructor, any more than you would have confined yourself to one teacher while coming up through your primary and secondary education ashore. We all have our own teaching styles, and learning styles, so the more of them you experience, the better. Some people learn better by spoken words, some by sight, some by feel, some by the written page..

I teach sailing a few times a month as a weekend gig, and believe I do it reasonably well, but always recommend to students that they get taught by more than one instructor.

Hope this is of help.

kingcan 07-21-2008 10:38 PM

to clarify, nolatom, I my question was; as the two of us learn to sail together, how will we determine which of us is "skipper?"

There are definitely some good suggestions/models set out here - enough to make us think how we'll work together on board. So thanks, everyone.

And if all else fails? One should simply threaten to hide knives or mess up the toolbox! Muwahahaha. (Dang, I learn fast!)

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