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Old 07-29-2006, 06:50 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 24
Default Compatible crew.

I have just finished a 5 week stint as a crew member and I could not get off the boat quick enough,the skipper drove me nuts.I put an ad on the internet and got a reply from a guy straight away who was planning an Atlantic crossing from Nova Scotia to Portugal on a 25ft sloop,I had already done a crossing on a 32ft yacht so I thought just 7ft shorter its not much of a difference,big mistake,this boat was tiny and had a very small beam,it was very uncomfortable to sail in and very slow,it took 23 days to get to Flores in the Azores that was from Bridgewater in Nova Scotia,this guy lied when he told me the boat was very comfortable for 2 people and it handled very well on the sea,the truth was it was like living in a shoe box and it handled and sailed like a pig in the water,it would roll like hell in the slightest of seas.I flew to Canada from England ,the voyage was supposed to start the last week in May ,the boat was anchored out in Chamcook Bay in New Brunswick ,a remote bay 10 miles from the nearest town,when we arrived at the boat the plan was just to make last minute adjustments and then we would set sail for Bridgewater 284 miles away ,this would be the departure point,2 weeks later we were still in Chamcook Bay,when we got to the boat in the dink I was shocked at how small it really was ,the cockpit was only big enough for one person to sit in,we had trouble with everything ,this guy had no idea how to use any of his electronic equipment ,the Garmin GPS ,the electronic charts and the auto pilot ,he was trying to work out how to put a route into the GPS from the computer and transfer that to the auto pilot,he would constantly talk to himself and do a vocal running commentry on whatever he was doing.The point I am trying to make is this ,the guy should have known how to use all this gear before hand ,as a skipper you don`t just turn up at your boat with a crew member and then start trying to learn how to use your equipment,it gave me a very bad impression of him and I had no faith in him what so ever.I had the feeling I should leave but I did not want to let him down.He kept going on about how usefull his weather fax was ,when we left Chamcook Bay it was only 284 miles to Bridgewater two and a half days sailing at the most,the second day 20 miles off the tip of Nova Scotia we ran into severe weather ,we tuned into the weather channel on the radio and all we could hear was gale warnings for the area we were in for the next 2 days,we were motoring but could not make any headway because the tide the wind and the waves were all against us,we were in 100ft of water so we put the anchore down,that was 7pm on a Wednesday ,we rode out the storm there untill 8am Friday morning.As skipper this guy should have checked the weather before we set off,his failiure to do this could have got us into real trouble and maybe resulted in our deaths,so much for his weather fax he didn`t even use it,since I have some experience I should have made sure that we knew what the weather was and not assumed that he had checked the forecast, after, he said that he had checked the weather , but if he did ,how come we got hammered for 2 days?Eventually we got to Bridgewater where we spent another week with this guy trying to work out how to use his equipment,looking back now I should have left the boat then,I only stayed because I didn`t want to dissapoint him,if I had gone he would probably have to cancel the trip as he didn`t want to do it solo.After being stuck on the boat with him for 3 weeks by this time I had had enough of him and really should have left regardless,it was a miserable trip ,the first 2 weeks we had rough weather and it was very hard to cook as the galley just ran along the inside of the boat and there was no way of holding yourself in place.Another major problem was this guy could not talk about anything else but the boat,which meant there was no conversation at all which made for a very boring trip.I eventually flew back from Horta and was very relieved to see the back of this guy and his boat.I have crewed with people I have met off the internet before and have had some very good experience`s,but this was one to forget,so be carefull who you crew with and if your instinct tells you that you won`t get on with the skipper or crew then you probably won`t,so don`t feel obligated to go because its not worth it.

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Old 07-29-2006, 10:47 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 437


Good on ya.

I'm sure your next voyage will be much better.

If Aye were you - in the future, I'd not sign on to any vessel smaller than 40 ft. and it might be better to sign on as third crew member instead of being stuck one-on-one with a stranger. Try to find out how long he / she has owned the vessel, where he / she has sailed, a detailed list of equipment & safety gear and how long it has been since last haul-out.

Generally, the owner of a large, well quiped vessel of such caliber would be no slouch and it would be much more comfortable & enjoyable with three people rotating the watch on ocean crossings.

And above all else - follow your hunches and obey that little voice in your head.

It is very admirable that you didn't want to let him down by leaving before completing the voyage... but if the captain wasn't prepared or comfortable with sailing his boat on his own, an alarm flag should have risen.

Better luck next time.


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Old 07-30-2006, 02:02 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Sandettie
Posts: 1,917

A really bad skipper is like really bad weather. Every effort should be made to avoid setting sail when either prevails. To continue the analogy; reef the sails when you first think of it:turf a twerp at around the same point of recognition...Both have the potential to severely compromise your safety.
"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 07-30-2006, 04:33 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 24

You are right of course,I will have to listen to my instinct next time and act upon it ,this is something I have always done in the past and it has kept me out of harms way.After sitting in that storm for 2 days I was going to quit as soon as we got into port ,I didn`t do this so I only have myself to blame for a very boring and miserable trip,I`m just lucky we didn`t run into some serious weather this guy didn`t even have a life raft,he had a floatation system that he installed after I had complained about him not having a life raft.Your advise to not sign up to anything less than 40ft is very sensible and I would think twice about sailing with just the skipper again,although I have done this twice in the past and had no problems but they were normal guys where as this guy would talk constantly either to me or to himself which drove me nuts.
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