Vic and I have been thinking
about renaming the First Mate course at Florida
Sailing & Cruising School. We're considering
something like Marriage Counseling for Boaters
We have come to this opinion
over time as we have noted that students in the
popular course often bring up the issue of poor
communication between the skipper and the crew.
The First Mate course --
there's one scheduled almost every month -- is
a two-day powerboating course here at our headquarters
at Marinatown Marina in N. Fort Myers. It combines
classroom instruction and instruction on the vessel,
including hands-on practice. The instructors tell
me some students seem to pay especially close
attention to the discussion about knot and line-handling
and they would not be surprised if someone were
to ask how to tie the hangman's knot.
We do not teach the hangman's
knot. The First Mate course costs only $195 per
person, not enough to cover extra legal fees to
defend against a charge of accessory to murder.
One student said that if
that jerk at the wheel didn't lower his/her voice,
he/she was going to rope his/her neck, not the
piling. As you'll note, I'm not naming names,
pointing fingers, or even suggesting whether the
jerk is a man or a woman. Readers are free to
draw their own mental pictures.
One the other end of the
scale our instructors hear comments like this
one. "Boy, I can't wait to tell my Fred.
He's been doing it all wrong."
Fortunately, most of the
comments we hear more closely resemble that of
Skippers who shout abuse
from on high are really few and far between, in
my experience. For those, instead of a boating
course, an anger management course or three might
be in order.
Nevertheless, all skippers
should periodically ask themselves how they would
measure up against the high standard of being
a good skipper. According to Charles F. Chapman
in Piloting, a good skipper knows his job
so well he or she doesn't have to think about
the details of doing it. A good skipper thinks
ahead, is vigilant, and knows the capabilities
of the crew.
Skipper, if you measure
up, good for you. But, either way, in the interest
of smoother communications on the vessel, we invite
you to join your First Mate and other members
of the crew and attend. You'll all become better
boaters and better on-board communicators.
It may turn out, however,
that the prescription requires stronger medicine.
Perhaps with a little collaboration with Dr.Phil
or somebody like that we could tackle head-on
this issue of marital communications on the boat.
Our working title for the
new course is Boating Communications (BC-101).
The goal would be for students to learn what is
required of the Skipper and First Mate to communicate
effectively and courteously with each other. Skippers
and First Mates need to communicate effectively
for the sake of safety. Skippers and First Mates
need to communicate courteously for the sake of
having fun together on the boat. That's what it's
all about, right?
I'll bet we could charge
a lot for that course.