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Seamanship

Watch-standing

We sincerely believe that there is only one way to stand your watch. It is on deck, in the cockpit, keeping a look-out, dressed for the weather and ready to work the boat. The only exception to this might be when in the open ocean, in weather so appalling that the boat is regularly being swept by large breaking seas. Obviously single-handers cannot do this and they must accept the consequences of not being able to keep a constant lookout. However, a crew of two can and should. We have been in situations in the open ocean in which our boat might have been lost and us with it, if we had only been keeping an intermittent watch.

In addition, we are convinced that if you are on deck for the whole of your watch you keep a better eye on the developing weather situation and thus are able to make sail changes while they are still easy, rather than later when they are not.

Among many cruising couples, one person will be more experienced and probably more confident than the other. We think it is the duty of both persons to ensure that the less experienced person gains the expertise, experience and most importantly the confidence to carry out all the normal evolutions of a watch keeper alone. This should include reefing, changing sail, pilotage and navigation. There have been numerous accounts of voyages in which the more experienced person in a two-member crew has been incapacitated and the less experienced has had to work the boat alone to the next port. It is neither sensible nor safe to maintain a tacit conspiracy of superiority for one person and convenient incompetence in the other. Each person must be able to trust the other to work and navigate the ship.

 

 

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