- RT @YouHadOneJ0B: this toddler playing catch with a dolphin is the best thing I've seen today https://t.co/jkJNZcMDBT 2017-09-18
- RT @theboozephiles: Grapefruit Cardamom Fizz https://t.co/P17gfOJzpZ https://t.co/3ewT7QVuOg 2017-09-19
- RT @NeWestPress: Congratulations to Susanna Pfisterer, winner of the 2017 Alberta Readers Choice Award for FIFTY PERCENT OF MOUNTAINEERING!… 2017-09-19
- It's snowing in #yeg. Sigh. 2017-09-19
- The question is: Do I give in to temptation & read Book 3 of @nkjemisin's Broken Earth, or do I reread 1 & 2 for the full-body experience? 2017-09-19
- Playing with black patina in my latest whale. https://t.co/0re7AOEYRX https://t.co/ZMBm2g5Yyy 2017-09-20
- RT @MattAndersonNYT: Things native English speakers know, but don't know we know: https://t.co/Ex0Ui9oBSL 2017-09-21
- RT @FortEdHank: We have some exciting news!! These little Hanklings Hudson and Jasper will be joining our beloved #FEPHank once they grow a… 2017-09-21
- I'm seating to think I'm a bit stuck on whales ?:-) #stainedglass https://t.co/eRj0uqTgdG https://t.co/u05QM8uJpM 2017-09-21
- RT @Harvard: On this day in 1947, Grace Hopper found the first computer bug—a moth in the Harvard Mark II https://t.co/P6zqdfChm4 https://t… 2017-09-10
- RT @theboozephiles: Gold Digger https://t.co/fRFEZkbv2n https://t.co/4obBs4T5TV 2017-09-12
- RT @theboozephiles: Our Cranberry Cosmopolitan. A sour little twist that makes this classic even better. https://t.co/parrA4m1Cl 2017-09-14
- I've Got New Crew – https://t.co/qRyZc2qFWU 2017-09-15
- Regular sized-feathers. Still haven't settled on a favourite style. https://t.co/EtfQtG0sl8 https://t.co/x4PovkPc8M 2017-09-15
So the good news is that that Never for Ever has been booked for charter pretty steadily this season. The bad news is that if I want to go cruising again in 2017 it will have to wait until October. But what the hell, how cold could it be… 😉
And, since Leslie is back at work (although ironically it looks like she will be in Minnesota at a conference when I head out), I had to do some recruiting for crew. After some pleading, couple of old friends volunteered. These are guys I have known since high school, but the last time we travelled together was a highjinx-filled attempt to drive to Vancouver for a weekend from southern Alberta. And one of them is the guy who ostensibly taught me to sail, albeit in Lasers and on a lake. The other, as far as I know, isn’t much of a water person.
This will be the first time I have headed out on a cruise with a) someone other than Leslie and b) an all n00b crew, and that has me thinking a bit about what cruising my own boat with new crew entails. My conclusions? Well, for one thing, I have to up my game. I can no longer rely on having a familiar and trusted partner to consult and double-check my decisions. Leslie and I have learned to sail together and, although I technically have more qualifications (at least on paper), she has been there throughout the process, learning at her own pace. The result is our cruising status quo has always been more of a partnership than the traditional hierarchical captain/crew arrangement.
With new crew the balance of responsibility shifts completely onto my shoulders. Back when we did a lot of rock climbing, we once hired climbing guides to take us up the apron on the Squamish Chief and I asked my guide (from the most excellent Squamish Rock Guides) how he could trust us as unknowns to belay him up the mountain. His reply was that he essentially had to be confident that he could climb it solo. Looking ahead, I think that this is going to be true for me as well. Sure it will be nice to have help, but I am going to have to be able to do all the main operations by myself and then really work on my communication skills so I can transmit expectations and be confident that we are all safe. And that starts with a little review of what to expect when you are expecting (to cruise). We have previously done up a Boat Briefing Checklist for passengers, so that takes care of the basics. And the point of this post is to serve as a review of any other factors that I need to consider.
So what are the minimum skills I expect from crewmember? And which ones will I actually need? A lot of my reading has stressed the difference between passengers and crew. I’ve had passengers before and expected them to do very little other than avoid clogging the head. But I have always had crew and I am not sure I am up to sailing solo in any but the most benign conditions. And October in the Salish Sea always has the possibility of some “interesting” weather.
So I started the specific skills I might take for granted. Thinking about it — and going back through my Competent Crew workbook — I concluded there were only a few really important ones that I either need to teach or ensure are done correctly.
And number one skill will be knot tying and line handling. Because if I want to complete the trip with things like fenders, tenders and fingers intact, I am going to have to have faith in how lines are handled and made fast. For me the three main knots are the clove hitch (fenders and tying up to bull rails), the round turn with two half hitches (fenders and general securing of things like the dinghy) and a cleat hitch (self-evidently for attaching things to cleats). In the case of any stressful dockings or moorings, I might not have time to double check everyone’s knots so it would be good to be confident that nothing gets loose right when it shouldn’t.
Flaking and storing lines is also important although I can always find time to do that myself later. I do think it is important to communicate the difference between coiling and properly flaking. When were climbing, a properly stored line often was literally a matter of life and death, but most people tend to be pretty casual about handling “rope.”
In the end, it’s not the actual sailing I worry about because I have been conscientious enough to take the time to learn to do most things solo (although now that I think of it, I haven’t practiced reefing by myself). It’s docking, anchoring and basic seamanship that have always up to now been two person operations.
Ah docking. Is it a skill or a procedure? Leslie and I have a great system and although we can switch up the roles (and often do when it’s straight forward), when conditions are challenging as with a strong current or wind, I man the helm and she takes care of securing us to the dock. With new crew, lines and fenders can be set well in advance so that’s not an issue and we can talk through the steps and let everyone know what to expect before approaching a dock. And I don’t anticipate going into a strange marina, so I should know the general layout of anywhere we are likely to stop. But will my new crew know what to do once we are alongside?
One issue/skill set which we should probably practice before we leave the dock will be dealing with bull rails. Here in the PNW, marinas generally have rails running the length of the docks for boats to tie up to rather than cleats. Most often these consist of a 4×4 rail that is supported 4 inches off the dock every 8 feet or so. When tying up you generally wrap your line around the rail and tie off with a clove hitch. It’s easy to do with practice, but can look a wee bit gordian if you don’t understand what the lines are doing.
If you are called on by the skipper to secure a line quickly (indicted on our boat by the instruction to “take a wrap”), the thing to do is wrap the dock line over the top of the rail, tuck it under the gap and over the top again. That gives you enough friction to stop the boat if necessary but is still easy enough to slacken or cast off again if necessary.
Competent Crew? Competent Captain?
But there’s the rub, how do I ensure my new line handlers know when things are necessary? Some of my most hilarious hijinks on a dock have been when someone secured a line and I lost control of my own boat. Shudder.
Good communication should take care of that but that’s on me. I have been informed that I have a bad habit of mumbling and assuming people can read my mind. In a high-stress docking situation that habit just might be a bit of an issue.
So we will go over the various procedures of docking and undocking, anchoring and weighing anchor, and general boat handling before hand. Doing it out loud should also reinforce it for me and remind me that I can’t assume anything, which I think is the biggest danger I am going to face. Thankfully I’m not proud and have been known to radio ahead and let the marina know just how incompetent we are so we can have plenty of theoretically competent people on dock to help out. If we take things slow and easy and avoid those rare docking situations where “gusto” is called for we (I) should do ok.
Anchoring is another thing I have never attempted solo although I know its theoretically possible. I intend to review the steps, maybe even write down the math and make sure we review each time we approach an anchorage. They say that the most dangerous time in learning any skill is when you have achieved unconscious competency…that’s when you get complacent.
Hopefully there will be wind. It would be nice to get in a couple of good sails and nothing gets people working together like beating into the wind, tacking back and forth. Plenty of repetitive actions and a little excitement to get the adrenaline flowing. I am looking forward to some good times.
Competent Crew 101
Things to review either before we leave the dock or before actually attempting:
- Basic safety orientation (see Briefing Checklist)
- The running rigging
- The sails (roller furling jib and mainsail)
- Knots & line handling
- Line handling dockside
- Points of sail
- Gybing & the boom
- Windlass operation
- MOB 2.0
- VHF & distress signals
- Dinghy & outboard
- Basic chart reading and buoyage
- Tides and tidal rapids
- Basic terminology (port & starboard, etc.)
- Using the engine
- RT @theboozephiles: There's not much else to say when it's traditional margaritas by the pitcher. https://t.co/NYD8cmOp91 2017-09-03
- RT @theboozephiles: The Revolver https://t.co/Tzs6Vi6RwR https://t.co/JSr22UMLms 2017-09-04
- There's a new whale in town… the latest #stainedglass practice piece https://t.co/FJtNd8bct2 https://t.co/AdYmDTiD7b 2017-09-05
- I had no idea photographing #stainedglass was so hard! #humpback #whales https://t.co/nSSOdksPzH https://t.co/9LEuB3IQYE 2017-09-07
- Today's mini feathers shot upside down! #stainedglass https://t.co/Ma1Sp38yAk https://t.co/wBT9xNdmVS 2017-09-08
- Some gorgeous new art gracing our walls by the talented @mpwynters https://t.co/awKfNDhrfk https://t.co/MvSbRf9ZOv 2017-09-09
- RT @quillandquire: NEW: Associate Editor @AnnickPress Details on job board: https://t.co/RuHWIW7uKV 2017-08-28
- RT @theboozephiles: Sloe Comfortable Screw https://t.co/37EaAz3Ck5 https://t.co/YPUweEOOPF 2017-08-28
- I think I have a thing for whales' butts! #stainedglass https://t.co/POMNh5npqM https://t.co/8mh3gsMnvs 2017-08-29
- What's with the sun this morning? #yeg https://t.co/iE0Ev6RAo5 https://t.co/Ykdt6BNwQK 2017-08-30
- Working in the other end. #stainedglass #whales https://t.co/xPwGpBRcmB https://t.co/UOAi3ssD1I 2017-08-30
- RT @MeanwhileinCana: Architect Hajime Narukawa created a more accurate world map and won awards for showing “an advanced, precise perspecti… 2017-08-31
- RT @SofraYEG: Our bar is now a great place to eat dinner! Dine solo or bring a friend (or three)! https://t.co/FAxdXh9690 2017-08-31
- Buddies. https://t.co/esJZBVJCH1 https://t.co/UMECxOnWC9 2017-08-31
- Because I was thinking of good friends and good memories. #sailing #pnw https://t.co/Uui1zxbyt1 https://t.co/ctfLPhkK7S 2017-09-01