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Rockter 01-28-2012 12:11 PM

advice needed, discipline...

I need advice here.

For the first time ever I entered my ship into a series of races. I am not an experienced racer, largely because my ship is heavy and a bit slow, but I entered anyway.

The rest of the crew were females, 4 of them.

One of the crew was rather bossy, and hogged the helm a lot. I was the captain, and being among 4 females, was polite.

It was not too long before I was having my orders countermanded by the helsmwoman. At the start, for example, the wind dropped and I made a headsail change, rather hurredly, otherwise we would have been nearly stopped. I said that this was my call. She tried to contermand it.

At the end, I missed the finishing mark, and had to go back round again. Once again, she countermanded it, wishing to press on. Inwardly, I got very angry. Eyes narrowed, I issued a direct order, and took the wheel forcibly. We went round again rather awkwardly, lumbering close-hauled into a swell to gain some distance to weather, then at last turning agian before the klaxon sounded indicating that we had finished.

I said we'd have to talk about it when we got to port.

There were other instances later, too.

Guys, I detest giving a direct order. In 19 years I must have issued about 4 of them.

Now, I am not Adolph Hitler, but some commands really have to be obeyed.

I spoke to other boat owners and they said not to tolerate such nonesense.

When I sailed the Atlantic, I obeyed everything my captain said, to the letter. I was the ship's owner, and in one heated argument with the first mate, I was ordered below. I obeyed immediately, such is the importance of respect for the ship. He and I laugh about it now. That obeyance is important to me, but not to all, it would appear.

So what do you do, guys? Do you raise your voice? What do you do to get a command obeyed in such circumstances?

Faster 01-28-2012 12:31 PM

Clearly this is not a person you're likely to invite back... and frankly it takes a lot of cheek to 'take over' someone else's boat.

Can't say I've ever run into that issue with guests, although it's definitely possible to have 'too many skippers' on a boat, esp if a disagreement arises - I do recall one incident years ago when I was quite annoyed with a fellow boater along for the ride who was insisting on doing something differently than I planned.. and we weren't even racing.

Next time you'll have to have that talk before you leave the dock. It's your boat, your calls and your rules.. you just need to make that clear. That said, if you feel someone there can offer constructive advice there's nothing wrong with consulting that person (along the lines of - "should we change that sail? or do you think the wind won't last?") but in the end it's your call unless other arrangements have been pre-arranged....

Lake Superior Sailor 01-28-2012 01:13 PM

Captain rules, & he or she must own up to the responsability: Right or wrong! Mutineers need to walk the plank!..Dale

Capt Len 01-28-2012 01:34 PM

Can you say 'get yer own boat"? A captain leads, crew follows commands and usually the dock is not far away.You can talk about it later over a beer but personally I wouldn't bother.

jackdale 01-28-2012 02:00 PM

There is a difference between the being on the helm and being the skipper. Some do not understand it.

Boats are not democracies. Having said that I did crew on one race boat in which there often was a lot of discussion, maybe too much, about tactics.

Once while cruising in Turkey with 4 women (a trend here), I indicated that it was just about time to come about. When one of the crew asked if she had a voice in this, the others responded in unison "No."

The suggestion of not inviting her back is a good one.

The situations you describe were annoying but not dangerous. In a crisis one person needs to make a call and that person is skipper.

I will discuss destinations, routes, anchorages, etc. with the crew. But it is my call when I am happy with an anchorage and how the anchor is set.

davidpm 01-28-2012 02:59 PM

I would be interested in hearing her side of the story.
Maybe your style is so gentle that she didn't know you issuing an order and not starting a discussion.
Maybe she thought she had to be forceful to show how much she knew and that is what was expected because that is how the guys do it.

I would ask her. "So how did you think we did as a team on our last race"

You might find out something about yourself.

That being said, your boat your rules.
Once you know she knows you can make a decision to keep or cut.
If she has potential is would be shame to loose someone good due to a simple misunderstanding.

Siamese 01-28-2012 02:59 PM

Captain's the one with not just the ownership of the boat, but the responsibility for the boat and its crew. Captain calls the shots.

jackdale 01-28-2012 03:09 PM


Originally Posted by Siamese (Post 822887)
Captain's the one with not just the ownership of the boat, but the responsibility for the boat and its crew. Captain calls the shots.

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.

smurphny 01-28-2012 05:22 PM

This is very similar to running a theatrical production. I used to direct shows and had to deal with a lot of egos. What I found works pretty well is to explain about the "not a democracy" part right off the bat and make it very clear that while you respect everyone's opinions and ideas, no one is to interrupt while we are putting together a show. I would say something like, "If you have ideas, I would love to hear them later and may well use them but not in the middle of this well planned procedure." On a sailboat or in a show there cannot be more than one person in charge. It leads to chaos and very possibly, danger on a deck or a stage.

cranki 01-28-2012 06:40 PM

If I have people on board who have not sailed with me I sit them all down in the cockpit before leaving the dock and let them know that I am the captain and if I issue an order they must follow it without question. I let them know that the ultimate reason for this is everyone's safety.

I have been on some very contentious racing crews where the owner was not the skipper and just who was seemed to be an open question. Never a good situation and one that always will lead to heated arguments and confusion at the least.

So let them know right at the start who's is captain and boss. If you are the owner and not the captain then fine, so long as everyone aboard knows who is.

The newbie mistake you made was allowing for any question at all. Issuing direct orders is the job of the captain, however, that can and should be done in a calm, gentle and patient manner.

Your difficult helm woman should know better - do not let her back on board.

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