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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #11  
Old 01-30-2012
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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
It gets bit tricky when I am asked to skipper someone else's boat. I tell them that if they are not comfortable with what I am doing, let me know.

In this thread skipper/owner = one person.
I had a situation where I asked a couple of sailors to help me deliver (at no cost) my recently purchased boat about 70 miles in open ocean, as I did not feel comfotable sailing this alone on a new boat knowing somthing may break along the way and I would need some help handling the boat. I also did not know the local waters well. I was very happy to have the extra hands and help aboard. Did have some engine problems along the way and it was great to have someone handle the boat while I fixed the engine. We did have a slight navigation problem. I had a working chart plotter, but the most experience hand did not pay much attention to it. He also like running very close to coral reefs. Up until this time I was allowing the most experienced sailor to call the shots, although we never had a formal discussion as to who was captain. It got to the point though where we were about to run aground on coral and I said we need to tack. Later the experienced sailor had us going into an area he thought was a harbor, but our location was incorrect (as I had to point out to him on the chartplotter), we almost ran aground again.

I was greatful that these two sailors helped me deliver the boat, and I could not have done it without them, but how do you handle a situation that you either hire or have someone come on the boat at no charge to skipper your boat. What if this "skipper" is potentially putting the boat and crew in danger, how do you regain control? 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 danger- whom is ultimately responsible- the owner or designated skipper?

Last edited by casey1999; 01-30-2012 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 01-30-2012
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Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
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.
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Last edited by davidpm; 01-30-2012 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 01-30-2012
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Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
I'm in this situation several times a year. I'm the definitely low-cost but supposedly 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.
[*]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.
Ok, here is the question. You hire or have come along someone that supposedly has more experience than yousellf to act as skipper. But part way through the trip you see somthing that is clearly not right in the way the boat is being handled or navigated. What do you do? Do you speak up and say somthing- and what if an argument starts. Whom has the ultimate responibility- the owner or skipper that is hired by the owner, or the owner? Unfortunately I did not go through the discussion points you mentioned before we left (next time I will). In one case as we were sailing very close to a reef, one of the sailors said "well if we hit it, you do have insurance right?" and he was not joking. I myself try to not use insurance if I can help it, as even with insurace, I've lost my boat and may not be able to insure a new one (too high of risk).

Last edited by casey1999; 01-30-2012 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 01-30-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
Ok, here is the question. You hire or have come along someone that supposedly has more experience than yousellf to act as skipper. But part way through the trip you see somthing that is clearly not right in the way the boat is being handled or navigated. What do you do? Do you speak up and say somthing- and what if an argument starts. Whom has the ultimate responibility- the owner or skipper that is hired by the owner, or the owner? Unfortunately I did not go through the decusion points you mentioned before we left (next time I will). In one case as we were sailing very close to a reef, one of the sailors said "well if we hit it, you do have insurance right?" and he was not joking. I myself try to not use insurance if I can help it, as even with insurace, I've lost my boat and may not be able to insure a new one (too high of risk).
I would not trust the judgement of the "well if we hit it, you do have insurance right?" guy. My thought process is similar to David's, except I do teach. I also do skippered charters in which the charterer is responsible for the insurance. If they are uncomfortable, we do not do it. Likewise, if I am uncomfortable, we do not do it.

Much of my business comes from referrals. If I want to stay in business I need to be safe.

Also because I am certified and a "professional" there is likely a higher expectation of duty of care.
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Last edited by jackdale; 01-30-2012 at 06:08 PM.
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I would not trust the judgement of the "well if we hit it, you do have insurance right?" guy. My thought process is similar to David's, except I do teach. I also do skippered charters in which the charterer is responsible for the insurance. If they are uncomfortable, we do not do it. Likewise, if I am uncomfortable, we do not do it.

Much of my business comes from referrals. If I want to stay in business I need to be safe.
Good advice. I was under severe time contraints and needed to move the boat so basically took who I could get, without even first meeting the person. In the future, will try not to get into that situation again.
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In one case as we were sailing very close to a reef, one of the sailors said "well if we hit it, you do have insurance right?" and he was not joking.
In my opinion that attitude is just wrong, very wrong.
Also I would really question his experience as anyone I know with real experience would err on the side of safety.
Let's say for the sake of argument that this guy knew this water completely and had been sailing the same spot for 50 years and was 100% sure he was safe why would he terrify a new owner. That is just mean.

If it's a friend have a heart to heart and make him apologize and never do it again. Sometimes our friends take liberties because they have known us so long.
If it is just an acquaintance you know what to do.
It will never happen again because you will have the "talk" above and you will simply assert your right to have the boat follow the more conservative course.
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In the heat of the race, it is acceptable to make it clear that want an order followed. You probably did the best possible.

However, prior to the race, there should have been a deliberate briefing on who will give tactical orders. For that matter, it should be discussed exactly what everyone's role will be. That could then be referenced prior to having to yell.

I probably wouldn't invite that crew back, because it should be fairly evident that the owner trumps the guest. Duh.... If you do want/need the crew back, then asking her how she thought it went may be the best ice breaker. But make your desire clear going forward. The crew then gets to decide if they want to play by those rules.
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Good advice. I was under severe time contraints and needed to move the boat so basically took who I could get, without even first meeting the person. In the future, will try not to get into that situation again.
In another forum, someone suggested that the most dangerous item on a boat was a calendar.
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Also because I am certified and a "professional" there is likely a higher expectation of duty of care.
That would certainly be logical but there have been other threads and I've done other research and have not been able to determine any evidence to support this concept.

From the laws point of view the law is the law. You either followed it or didn't. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. So whether you are 100ton skipper or on your first sail on your first boat you have to follow the rules.

The converse of "higher expectation of duty" might be an allowance for inexperience.
I suppose that in some very specific cases if an accident happened and the 100ton skipper and the Newbie both broke the law the skipper may be hit a tiny bit harder but since collisions are almost always decided by assigning a percent of liability to both vessels it would be hard to know.
Experience is not supposed to be part of the process.

Of course if I mess up I still have my day job so from the career point of view you do have a higher risk.
I hear there is an Italian cruse liner looking for a captain. Not funny I know.

Last edited by davidpm; 01-30-2012 at 06:44 PM.
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In another forum, someone suggested that the most dangerous item on a boat was a calendar.
I would also add alcohol.
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