Reinforcing Roles on a Boat

We will never have crew again on our boat, but if you do choose to have crew on your yacht, it would behoove you to really grind in the roles and rules of the boat. 

A friend of mine recommended that you also have the crew members sign a "contract" which lists all the rules and roles. Out at sea, laws don't really matter when you are dealing with someone who has intense anger issues, but it might help somewhat. 

When a crew gets out of line and you tell them their place in the pecking order, having a piece of paper that they signed might help bring them back down off their high horse. Understanding the roles became an issue for us when our crewmember began thinking that this was "his boat" and that "he was in charge". 

He would frequently yell at us, call us lazy, and say hurtful things that would make Maddie cry. Then he would yell at me for plotting our course without "consulting him first". Weather information, route planning, and sail changes (in his opinion) all needed to be run by him for a final decision. 

Naturally, this is not the case and he was merely having delusions of grandeur. The order on the boat was made very clear to him:  

Herby is Captain and is in charge of making course decisions, looking at and interpreting the weather, and making sail plan decisions. If it had to do with where we were going, how we were getting there, and what sails were flying, Herby and only Herby was in charge.

Maddie is 1st mate (but her true title is Admiral) and she makes choices with me. She can give her opinion on where she wants to go and suggestions about weather and sails, but the final decision is ultimately made by the Captain. 

Un-named crewmember is last on the list. He follows orders, holds the course set by the captain, and is responsible for letting the captain know if a sailchange is needed while on watch. While off watch, he does the dishes and sleeps. He has no say or opinion with regards to sail choice, course, weather planning, or navigation. 

To give an example: say we are sailing from Point A to Point B, and along the way we see a pretty island. Maddie can say "Hey, that place looks cool, lets stop there for lunch!" I as Captain then have to look at the weather and see if we can stop there because of the weather. Next, I check the charts to see if we fit in there and can anchor safely. After all that is done, then I decide if we can pull in or not and stop for lunch. The crewmember, has no say in the matter. If they love islands or hate islands, their opinion has no weight on what occurs.

Now, I feel that we are also all people, so I am very lenient with this rule and will listen to their opinion and try to make them feel like they are part of the team, part of the boat!  

If the crewmember has an interest in learning how to do the functions of Captain, I will gladly take them under my wing and show them everything. They can watch as I look at the sky, check the barometer, take our noonsite, plot our course and check the charts. I am also very happy to teach them how to do all of these functions! I got my first ocean sail on board another boat as crew, and the captain was a wonderful teacher. He showed me everything and taught me how to carry out a lot of the tasks because he knew my next time out in the ocean was going to be on my own boat without any guidance. I would love to return the favor by educating someone new to cruising on how to safely sail across oceans and cruise in comfort. 

The problem is the line between crew and captain seems to have gotten blurred in the eyes of this one crewmember. All of a sudden, he felt that he was captain and making all the decisions. He began yelling at me one day when he saw a text to a shoreside weather person. I texted the shoreside person what our proposed route was and asked him to check for storms along that path. Our crewmember became irate and began yelling at me. 

Crewmember: "How can you have a course plotted?!" 

Me: "I have to have a course plotted, we are crossing an ocean." 

Crewmember: "You didn't consult me on this course! All decisions about this boat need to be run by me for approval!" 

To this I laughed, which only set him off even further. I thought he was delirious or just joking around, but it turns out he was very serious about this matter. 

Me: "I am the captain, I don't have to ask you about anything. I make the choices and you carry them out. I go over the weather and course with you as a courtesy because I think it's nice to let you know what we are doing and where we are going, but you are not involved in the decision making process." 

Crewmember: "You are not in charge, you are not in command of this boat." 

At this moment, I realized that he was not joking and I had to put him in his place, which led to more arguing until I told him to go back to his bunk and start the day over again without yelling. 

At this point, when he was having delusions of being a captain on his own boat, and a written & signed contract would have been helpful to remind him of his place in this boat.