What ground rules and instructions should you lay down for crew joining your boat


Joining someone else’s yacht for a passage is like travelling to a country with a different culture. Things are invariably done differently there, and you need to observe the customs carefully if you want to fit in.

In March I interviewed skippers and crews taking part in the World ARC round the world rally in Grenada. They were on the last leg of their 18-month circumnavigation, and it was no surprise that crew changes (and problems) were one of the most common topics of conversation.

An ocean passage anticipated as an easy and relaxing holiday is likely be a disappointment. Even a leisurely passage can be surprising tiring and hard.

Even small dissatisfactions can stack up: if you think you’ll get a shower every day when you won’t, or you expect to arrive at a certain time and you don’t. These gripes are are surprisingly common. The list goes on.

On top of that, a yacht allows almost no privacy, and there is no escaping from your own, or other people’s, foibles.

So what makes successful yacht rules and customs? As an example of some, below is the list Paul and Andy Atkinson sent to the many friends and family who joined them for legs of the World ARC on their Jeanneau 49DS Tallulah Ruby.

I’d be interested to know what advice or rules you set down for crew joining your boat. Do you have joining instructions or a tried-and-tested recipe for harmony on board?

Conversely, do you have a tale of conflict on board and an opinion about how it could have been avoided?

If you do, please email me using the link at the bottom.

Basic rules on Talullah Ruby

? Small amounts of alcohol will be permitted at Happy Hour and on special occasions
? No smoking below decks. If you must smoke please consider other crew and make sure all ash and smoke goes overboard
? Drugs on board: none, thank you
? Please keep heads, showers and yourself clean. Smelly loos and crew are not welcome
? Watchkeepers: steer at least half of your watch to conserve valuable energy
? Try to save power by turning off all unnecessary lights, appliances, instruments, etc
? Water will not be rationed but when showering please turn off shower head when washing body and hair and rinse off with minimum amount of water
? Please make as little noise at night as possible so as not to disturb others. No speakers on deck
? Lifejackets must be worn and harnesses attached to jackstays on all night watches. Person coming off watch must check new watchkeeper is wearing lifejacket, Life Tag and harness is clipped on
? Please be on watch at least 5 minutes early. The previous watchkeeper will be tired and ready for bed. He also has to discuss developments through his watch
? Do not pee over the side or stern – use the toilets
? Do not leave the cockpit to go forward without telling someone
? Under no circumstances leave the cockpit at night to go forward unless another crewmember is there to keep an eye on you
? Do not turn on generator or watermaker unless asked to by skipper
? Do not run engine except in emergency unless asked to by skipper
? If you are to tired to stay awake on watch, call the skipper
? In an emergency or bad weather, or if you are worried at all, always wake the skipper