Archive for April, 2010

Sailing with a racing crew and “Wake me if…”

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

My previous post was about single- and double-handed sailing. I have to say that I much prefer to go to sea with a full racing crew, i.e. a group of sailors who know what to do and when to do it, and my preferred role is skipper/navigator. In that role, I don’t stand a watch but am awake or wakened whenever necessary. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who never sleep or over-exhaust themselves and can’t make decisions when problems arise.

Sometimes, however, crew members take it upon themselves not to wake me even though conditions have changed in line with my safety briefing instructions of “Wake me if …” Trying to be kind to me, they let me sleep on even though that may jeopardise everyone’s safety. They’re probably not aware of a chatty helmsman who has been sailing off the given course, putting the boat closer to a danger than would be expected or desirable.

Even though the navigator should snap awake when summoned, the more time available to assess the situation and what needs to be done, the better.

I’ve never been a fan of single- or double-handed sailing

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

When I was asked to compete in the double-handed round Australia race in 1988, I declined because I didn’t like the idea of my fellow crewman being in charge of navigating while I slept. While I could trust his work on deck, I felt very uncomfortable about relying on his chartwork.

Of course, this was still in the days of SATNAV, before the arrival of the GPS. But at least in those days, we knew it could be hours between fixes so had to plot each one and keep track of our course and speed so we knew fairly accurately where we were at any time.