Another lesson learned

Another lesson learned

After the last year or more of extraordinarily great experiences with crew from I have become very spoiled. Most of the crew have taken to life on Furthur and my, often odd ways, like ducks to water. This has created a life of extreme joy for me and for them. The postings on my findacrew site indicate the mutually grand experiences the crew and I have had.

So when all this does not work, I can only go back and look at what happened and see what-went wrong and how to prevent it from reoccurring, hence the point of this posting.

One of the elements that as missing in the recent crew shift was a consistent member who passed on to the new crew all the tid bits of info in a girl to girl way. This was the first time in over a year that I had all new crew. I had foreseen the difficulties but did not prepare as well as I should for this change—saw the train coming but did not get off the tracks sort of deal.

The other element was taking on too many people. I have had six onboard before and know it is stressful to the boat, water supply and me. We seemed to make it work before but with challenges. So taking on 4 crew was a mistake. The risk of taking a smaller crew is that some will leave and the boat becomes shorthanded, a risk I will just have to take from now on. Add to this a crew of four with absolutely no experience on a cruising boat and apparently little idea of what to expect, again something I could have mitigated.

I have established criteria for crew and screen for these criteria when selecting. Although I have had some grand experiences with couples onboard, over all I think that couples distract from the unity of a crew and bring a level of drama not desired. It clearly states in my profile that I do not accept couples. Also it clearly states that I do not accept smokers, and only look for crew who are nonsmokers.Findacrew does a good job of separating couples and smokers so this is easy,unless someone is less than forthcoming with the truth.

So when the crew arrives from some distance and I am counting on them to stay, and they announce they are a smoker or they announce they are a couple, what should I do? In this case I accepted both situations. The smoker did quit and I am very respectful of her for this, yet it is certain that the withdrawals did influence her temperament.I was a real bitch when I quit! The two girls who were “traveling companions”announced they were in a new romantic relationship, and that one did not really speak any English. This put a whole new dynamic to the crew which caused significant problems. The drama level rose way beyond what I like or react well to.

In hindsight, which is always 20/20 I should have done more to address this right off and probably changed crew at that point. Not only did this indicate problems to come with crew dynamics it also indicated a lack of honesty which I should have read. I went along with my, “all experiences are a chance for me to grow” idea and tried to make it all work. This was a noble yet unpractical venture given my personality and values.

There were two elements that seemed to give the crew great displeasure, one I did not control and one I did. I had told the crew that I would be working on the boat for about a week after I returned from the states installing a new water maker.I told them they were welcome to stay on the boat and enjoy the luxurious hotel accommodations while I worked. What I did not express enough was that this time period was unpredictable and when it took longer it caused them displeasure which they freely expressed. Also I could have been more direct about the effects of weather on cruising plans, something I took for granted they would know but did not. So when weather and delayed parts ramped up the stress level tempers flared, mine the most.

The other element was my decision making protocol. As indicated in the “letter to crew”that they all receive, I do not debate decisions I make on safety or ship’s operations. I am glad to explain my reasoning but not to a debate. So when I told two of the divers to abort the dive due to high current and inexperience of one of the divers I did not tolerate an argument. This caused another conflict in no small part due to dealing with a romantic couple I believe.

The crew seemed to bounce from doing exceptional things, boat cleaning, dive gear work and the awesome cooking of one member to acting in what I thought with a lack of respect for the boat. There were several instances where I had to step in to make sure damage was not done. There was alack acknowledging established procedure. They clearly viewed this as me being tyrannical. It is difficult to walk the line of; I want the crew to feel this is their home and acknowledging that it is really my home and I have certain things I want done or put in certain ways or places. Again this had never come up before but I need to prepare better for it if it does.

I called a crew meeting and we discussed calmly these problems. I took responsibility for my temper and apologized. I also took responsibility for things I could do better. I was a bit puzzled by the reaction; no one indicated any acknowledgement of neither improvements they could make nor willingness to do so. This may be an age thing, when I was 25 I knew everything and was certain of it. I do believe that the more we learn in life the less certain we become,the more I know the less I know sort of thing. In any event it was obvious that the crew saw no part in our problems.

So we took off on a grand adventure, a 300 miles off shore trip to a world famous dive site, Layang laying. This trip required a permit that I was able to attain. The water maker work was done and the weather opened up so off we went. The passage out was smooth all the way and the crew did exceptionally well at watches. We arrived and did two days of wonderful diving in calm clear waters and isolation.

The first bump came when the boat load of armed security came to check us out. I should have gone over this expected event and protocol better. One of the crew took it upon herself to ask permission to go ashore from one of the security team. I was simultaneously asking the officer in charge the same question. We got conflicting information. When the guard returned I wanted to clarify this and was asking the guard when the crew member engaged the same guard, I “shhhed”her and tried to get clear information. It was clear that this guard was giving us permission to go ashore. Later the girl reprimanded me for “shhhing” her and I explained that it was the captain who should always communicate with government officials. She clearly did not agree and tempers flared again. This altercation seemed to be the defining point in the crew and I again called for a crew meeting. Again I indicated a willingness to move on and have a good time and again the crew was fast in their position that all this was my doing.

That night a front came in and it bounced us around. Getting weather predictions turned out to be impossible both from the resort—“weather, the weather is good” and the Navy base—go figure. So I decided to make a fast retreat and not get stuck in along term weather pattern. We departed and the wind picked up. We hit over 30knots of wind and 4 meter seas, rough going but nothing Furthur cannot take easily. This is when the crew shined; they did a great job and took it all well. The wind eased and we came back to the marina early the next morning.

It was apparent that they were all leaving but no one seemed to want to tell me. They spent all day packing and making travel plans. They all paid what was owed the ship and we split company on cool but friendly terms.

I wish them all safe and grand adventures and hope they all find what they are looking for.I especially wish the couple good fortune as they are facing big challenges. I hold no ill feeling towards any of them and hope they feel the same.

For me this is a great chance to learn. I can clearly see where I could have prevented this from happening. I have taken immediate steps to do so by communicating more directly with one potential crew about life on a cruising boat. I also now seethe value of a great crew and will not take it for granted this happens naturally. So I await the new crew and the next adventure!

2 thoughts on “Another lesson learned”

  1. WOW ! That sounds like an anomaly on the Furthur. From what Ive read you’ve had great crew. Now your stuck with zero crew ? Sounds like you ended up with a bunch of pansies to me. Thought they were on holiday for sure.

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