What Can Merchant Mariners Learn From Volvo Ocean Race Sailors?


#21

It was meant to be a joke. Sorry if I offended you by using SWA.


#22

Yeah mentioning SWA triggered me so much, I had to retreat to my safe space


#23

All comparisons aside and what could be learned, I’d sign on for a race leg anytime.


#24

As I have mentioned before, I am what merchant mariners call a WAFI… And for my sins I have done a bit of offshore racing.

My take is that preparation before the race is the first component. This means prepare everything. The boat has to comply with SOLAS to take part, Sails gear etc must be in working order and capable of doing the job. Remember any breakage means instant loosing the race. Food has to be planned. A hungry crew is slow… that looses the race. Weather forecasts tides etc must be studied… Plan the nav in advance and keep it up to date as the race progresses. The nav is cruical, not in terms of getting to the destination, we can all do that, but in terms of not wasting time punching a cross tide.

Then pick the crew to work together. Everyone has an ego the size of the Hover Dam, (If you don’t you are in the wrong place). But there is no room for disagreement over what to do or how to do it. Any time spent disagreeing with each other is time not spent making the boat go fast. You certainly learn that when the boat that was behind you is suddenly gets in front whilst you were having a tantrum. Underlying all this is respect for your crewmates. You have to trust them… … with your life when you go off watch.

You always do what the skipper says. But you can and do blame him if he makes a bad call and you loose places. And of course course he knows the truth of your criticism.

Racing is a very high adrenalin environment, the very opposite of the calm and measured approach necessary for commercial navigation. Part of that difference stems from the respective positions we occupy. Sailors really are close to the elements. Merchant mariners (especially on larger ships) are, by comparison, removed and remote in an air conditioned bridge many floors up from sea level. On a small yacht you do feel very vulnerable and exposed. You get a close up and personal experience of the power of the sea. I wonder if that is the one thing merchant mariners could learn from us WAFIs’. Perhaps if the master of the El Faro had spent more time on deck instead of behind glass, he may have paid more attention to the crew.


#25

Have you sailed on large ships?
And you bring up El Faro?
You couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Driving a big ship through heavy shit, such as what Bay of Biscay can bring you (saying this because just a month ago I went through a fucking NASTY storm over there) puts you in a position where you want to question your decisions and that of your superiors. A big ship is no better, in fact, probably worse in that shit. I don’t appreciate your attitude towards professional merchant mariners.
“Air conditioned bridge watch”
BULLSHIT

30 degree rolls on a cargo ship on the 7th deck in your “air conditioner” bridge feel worse than on your stupid yacht.
I’ve been on both.


#26

Do you think that Merchant Mariners do not have to work together?
Do you think they do not have to plan for a voyage?
Do you think that crews are not selected?

Your comments are incredibly naive and misplaced. Stay on your yacht and keep out of my way.


#27

My take is that preparation before the race is the first component. This means prepare everything. The boat has to comply with SOLAS to take part, Sails gear etc must be in working order and capable of doing the job. Remember any breakage means instant loosing the race. Food has to be planned. A hungry crew is slow… that looses the race. Weather forecasts tides etc must be studied… Plan the nav in advance and keep it up to date as the race progresses. The nav is cruical, not in terms of getting to the destination, we can all do that, but in terms of not wasting time punching a cross tide.

We call that voyage planning and it is a given. Professional merchant mariners will agree with you that navigation is crucial we do it really often. Fuel and distance made is something dealt with daily for years on end.

Then pick the crew to work together. Everyone has an ego the size of the Hover Dam, (If you don’t you are in the wrong place). But there is no room for disagreement over what to do or how to do it. Any time spent disagreeing with each other is time not spent making the boat go fast. You certainly learn that when the boat that was behind you is suddenly gets in front whilst you were having a tantrum. Underlying all this is respect for your crewmates. You have to trust them… … with your life when you go off watch.

Being less sensitive we deal with the crew we have and more often than not make it on time without running into anything.

You always do what the skipper says. But you can and do blame him if he makes a bad call and you loose places. And of course course he knows the truth of your criticism.

I envy your bitching session at the tiki bar.

Racing is a very high adrenalin environment, the very opposite of the calm and measured approach necessary for commercial navigation. Part of that difference stems from the respective positions we occupy. Sailors really are close to the elements. Merchant mariners (especially on larger ships) are, by comparison, removed and remote in an air conditioned bridge many floors up from sea level. On a small yacht you do feel very vulnerable and exposed. You get a close up and personal experience of the power of the sea. I wonder if that is the one thing merchant mariners could learn from us WAFIs’. Perhaps if the master of the El Faro had spent more time on deck instead of behind glass, he may have paid more attention to the crew.

The reason it so high adrenaline is it is a game for you and not played day after day for years on end. The captain of the Faro made his decsion for reasons he took to the bottom of the sea with him… Whether it was behind glass or standing on deck of billionaire’s toy while working for free would have likely made no difference

Couldn’t get the quotes to work in my reply, perhaps due to the really slow IP, sorry.


#28

It’s all about feedback, or in different terms it’s about an audit.

The racing sailors command system has evolved in an environment where there are constant audits, screw-ups cost speed.

By contrast the captain on a deep-sea ship is almost always isolated from feedback, never has a audit. The only way the methods used aboard ship can be audited is for many things to go wrong, plus a good dose of bad luck. Chances are most of us make it through our careers without being put to the test in that way.


#29

30 degrees?
My first thought was “so what, I wouldn’t even notice that”, but I gave it a bit more thought and realized my positive stability goes out to 125 degrees and narrow boats are just stiffening up at 30. A big merchant ship - and this is a guess - is in trouble at what? 60 degrees? 45?

Anyway, has anyone thought of fishing boat crews offshore? Small crew, tight quarters, dangerous work on deck, and their income is dependent on working together to land fish. They are not getting paid by the hour.


#30

This is one of the key points from the article:

We can’t escape the boat so we are forced to communicate well and also forced to make decisions as a team and accept the captain’s final word on the subject.

By contrast the deep-sea captain likely will never be forced to change his decision making style.

For example the new third mate that doesn’t look out the window but gets his full situational awareness from electronics. The mate will be confident he has good understanding of the situation, but at some point he may accidentally glance out the window and see a small fishing vessel in his ship’s path. That’s an audit. He’s forced to change his methods.

The new mate is violating a basic rule of navigation not to rely on a single source to gain situational awareness.

In the case of the deep-sea captain, he uses a variety of sources to construct a mental model. Another officer may have a different mental model but, like the new third mate relying on electronics alone, the captain may be very confident that his understanding alone is correct therefore no incentive to have his understanding tested against another crew member’s. It’s the higher-level equivalent of thinking there is no need to look out the window.

The point is, unless the deep-sea captain gets into a serious bind and has a lot of bad luck his system will never get put to the test to the point of failure. His system is not forced to evolve in normal day-to-day operations