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Driver 07-24-2007 04:32 PM

Need opinions on skipper judgement
Hello everyone,
I've been a Sailnet reader for awhile, but I rarely post. Would like some opinions since my 'skipper' is a big fan of web forums and not a a big fan of my suggestions. ;) We sail a 39 ft boat that weighs around 14,000 pounds with our five-year old. We're pretty much 'bay sailors' who just cruise on the weekends. Our daughter has been sailing with us since infancy and feels comfortable on the boat - maybe a little too comfortable. We had a smaller vessel previously and she would stay in the cockpit with us while we were under sail. Now, on the 'big boat' she like to go down below by herself and spend time down there while we sail. I don't have a problem with that when conditions are light and when we are not heading upwind. Recently, we had a nice day sail in 17 -ish knot winds that were gusting just over 20 knots. At the point we turned around to head back (at my suggestion) I was at the helm and stated that the sails would need to come down or our smallest crew member would need to don her vest and immediately join us in the cockpit with some reefing to be done. We were in a 'narrow' body of water, 25 knot winds at this point, with frequent tacks necessary to head upwind and my skipper thought I was completely unreasonable to think there were any safety issues. Note that our boat is also a newer model where we have a virtual dance floor to go flying across with few handholds - especially at a height suitable for someone who is 43 inches tall. I have now been told I should get a motor boat or stay at the dock. Has anyone ever encountered similar issues and if so, how did you handle them?

Love to sail but.....

USCGRET1990 07-24-2007 04:40 PM

Take it from someone that saw a lot of injured (and a few expired) boaters.
When on the water, in a vessel, there's no such thing as being too careful.
Murphy's law seems more prevalent on the water.

GySgt 07-24-2007 04:43 PM

LOL, I bet there are 15 men looking at this right now thinking....."there is no way I am going to answer that"!

I'll let the old salts handle reefing in 25 knot winds, I am a newbie, so I usually reef in 20 knot winds because of my lack of experience.

bestfriend 07-24-2007 05:18 PM

Got that right, Sarge!

First, we need to know to whom you are the Admiral of, so we can thoroughly trounce him.

Second, we will need a photo of him for Giulietta's records, he is the official record keeper.

SoOkay 07-24-2007 05:29 PM

Why does this thread read like a virtual game of "hot Potato"

On second thought... I'll go onto the next thread claiming not to have seen this one.

PS-I would be hard pressed to let someone interfere with my Childs safety.

tommyt 07-24-2007 05:44 PM

Now lets not be sexest here. We are all assuming that Driver is the Admiral and Skipper is her husband. Could be that the wife is the more adventurous one in this family you know.

That being said, whoever was NOT concerned should be relieved of the helm, the child should have ALREADY had on some form of PFD, and the offender should have been sent below to kneel down and see what it feels like to a little one. :D

btrayfors 07-24-2007 05:46 PM

The skipper is responsible for the safety of all persons aboard, adult and child, in all conditions. Newbie sailors, in my experience, tend to be either overly cautious or -- worse -- overly confident. As they gain experience, and the sea whacks them a few times, they begin to achieve a more desirable condition of being knowledgeable, experienced, and.....cautious.

In my opinion, with a 39' light displacement boat it would have been prudent to reef before the wind reached 25 knots, especially if you were beating to windward in a narrow channel.

Remember, however, that there are several ways to reef safely and that ANY reduction in sail area can be very helpful in relieving strain on the boat and the crew. For example, you can just roll up the headsail....all the way. That leaves you with only the main to deal with. Under main alone, most boats will tack to windward OK, but will do so VERY slowly. Losing the headsail has the effect of a slow WAY down. And, usually, the boat's motion becomes more liveable and you can better work on deck while you reef the main. Or, just drop it entirely if conditions suggest. Then, roll out as much genoa as you need. Most boats will tack very well to windward under genoa alone.

No one can tell you how best to deal with the skipper when you don't agree with his/her decisions. But equipping yourself with some knowledge of sailing, and participating in, e.g., sail raising, reefing, steering, navigation, etc.....can earn you big points when it comes to challenging the skipper.


davideureka 07-24-2007 05:58 PM

our rule one hand for the boat the other you can do what ever you want life vests are on everyone that do not obey this rule or does not have hands my yorky went over on the fourth from wake from another boat

bestfriend 07-24-2007 06:00 PM

Okay, okay, I'll give a serious answer. First of all, the rules on my boat for my son are: At the dock, life jacket above deck, off below deck. When the boat leaves the dock, the life jacket does not come off him (he's six by the way). Tell me, when its the three of you and something bad happens, an emergency, no matter what the wind or how many reefs, are you going to have time to put a life jacket on your five year old when your boat is sinking? As far as guests go on my boat, I give in to the person with the least amount of comfort. I want everyone to feel safe and have a good time.:)

eryka 07-24-2007 06:14 PM

On our boat, when there's a difference of opinion, the more conservative one rules. Always.

I admit that it doesn't happen very often - we've both got about the same level of experience and have both had the same Coast Guard & Navy training.

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