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Passenger/Crew Orientation

Capt. Matt,

I think the course is great! I really enjoyed it - in fact, I’m going to recommend it to the people I most often take out on my boat in the summer, because I think it’s really important for the crew to be informed as to what to do if the captain becomes incapacitated, or falls overboard! Below is a tragedy that was related to me.


We had a horrible, but preventable tragedy this past summer in the Boston area.....on a beautiful July afternoon two guys went sailing off Boston Light in a stiff breeze - their first mistake: not listening to, or ignoring the weather forecast. A lot of other people did the same thing, but were lucky - these guys were not.

The sky turned black, the wind picked up to 60 knots, and the seas grew to 10-12 feet, as severe thunderstorms blew in. In minutes, there were a half-dozen or so boats on the rocks, and one that had capsized with 2 adults and 6 children aboard! (they were all rescued, thankfully.) I got this info from an eyewitness who himself was out sailing, and told me that in 30 years of being on the water he has never been so scared in his life!

The captain of the sailboat I was referring to was knocked overboard by the boom while he was frantically trying to get the sails down. HE DROWNED in FULL VIEW OF LAND and a whole bunch of other boats who didn’t know what was happening to him because they were too pre-occupied with their own critical situations. The man left on board did not even know how to use the radio! When he finally figured it out, he could not tell the Coast Guard where he was located! He was from out of town, so he couldn’t even give them a dead reckoning - the ultimate irony is - the local Coast Guard station was less than ½ mile away! But the guy didn’t know it ‘cause he wasn’t familiar with the area. It was very frustrating for both him and the Coast Guard; by the time they got to him it was too late for the captain. He drowned because the only crew on board DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO!

A very tragic story, and it never should have happened! Anyway, thanks for the course and all the neat info - I have it in my ‘Favorite Places’ file, and I’m going there now!



I think your story is a very significant and important issue and would like to publish it on the Nautical Know How site so others will possibly learn from this tragic mistake.

Capt. Matt

Yes, you may use that story at your site - if it helps even one person to realize that it is imperative to teach the crew the basics, it will be worth it. A mere 5 minutes or so at the beginning of each trip would do it - a mini-briefing, of sorts. The following is some of what I think the captain should cover, at least briefly:

Maybe it would be a good idea to compose a "Crew Test" for those people who don’t own their own boat, but spend a lot of time on friends’ boats! I think your web site is great - the graphics are fantastic, and the pages move quickly. The information is wonderful, and oh - I love the way the knots tie and untie themselves! It’s the first time I finally figured out how to tie a correct bowline, seeing it done that way (yeah, I know, it’s not that hard, but it’s been sort of a mental block with me - something like when I was trying to understand college algebra!)!

Thanks Janice!
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