Skip to main content

A Duty Roster for a Shipshape Charter

Make a task list for your crew to help avoid a mutiny

Make a task list for your crew to help avoid a mutiny

When bareboat chartering with friends or family, it can be tough to be the captain. Not only are you ultimately responsible for navigation, anchoring and the safety of the vessel, but you also have to manage crew duties without coming off like Captain Bligh. Part of good crew management and morale is keeping the boat clean and shipshape so you don’t have a mutiny.

I like to see how roles develop naturally aboard before making a roster. Some people cook because they like it, some are fastidious cleaner-uppers, some are capable mechanics, some are good shoppers and some can be downright lazy. Even if your whole crew chips in, you might want to rotate duties to eliminate grudges and make sure everyone is involved in managing the boat, although that can also mean being a little out of some of the crew’s comfort zone. I set up a four-component roster and rotate everyone through, including myself, because the captain should lead by example.

Cooking

This is a tough one. Some people excel at meal preparation while others get hives when asked to boil water. However, even kids can get involved with making an occasional meal, especially if it’s just setting out sandwich meats for lunch or fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Leave the big dinners to the chefs aboard, but get everyone in the galley at some point to share in the fun.

The first rule is: the cook doesn’t do dishes. A cook might have a sous chef who will help clean up as they go, but the big dishes are done by someone else. You seldom have three meals aboard as people scatter to bars and restaurants during the day. For dinners, I like to have a rotating shift of people who make sure the galley is spic and span for the night. Dishes are not allowed to sit overnight for three reasons, including 1) the smell and bugs they attract, especially in the tropics; 2) the mess the morning cook has to deal with if the cleanup crew is still asleep; 3) if the weather gets rough during the night, it’s best not to have stuff flying around in the galley.

Decks & Cockpit

Boats get dirty. Even with daily rain showers, the cockpit usually fills up with food crumbs and hair, sand lodges in nooks and crannies, and there’s always a tangle of lines that needs tidying. A bucket on a length of line is a great way to sluice the decks with seawater just before dinner and a quick wipe down makes a happy hour, happier. Just be careful of open hatches over people’s beds.

Heads & Floors

This is usually the least popular duty aboard and hence the reason for having a rotating schedule. Floors should be swept and wiped down with a mixture of vinegar and water if they’re salty. If you have enough heads for each couple aboard to have its own, it’s usually up to them to make sure the facilities are usable and not aromatic. Even so, someone should cruise through to check that the through-hulls work and that the heads get freshened up with vinegar or lubricated with oil for proper function. If the captain is smart, he or she will take this duty first. Not only will the crew admire your selfless example, but the heads are never as foul at the beginning of the trip as at the end, so you’ll catch a break.

Other Stuff

Now that you have the tough stuff out of the way, that leaves sailing, navigating, checking the engine, jury-rigging anything that’s broken and provisioning. I have no official roster for these functions because people have natural tendencies toward certain areas. But it’s easy to spot a wallflower who might benefit from a quick navigation lesson or who would get a thrill out of hoisting the sails. Don’t let the same people do the same stuff all the time, and try to get everyone involved.

There’s an important function for everyone aboard, even if that’s an enthusiastic cruise/entertainment director. A duty roster is not just about keeping everyone busy, but rather about running a shipshape charter that will linger in everyone’s memory as a fantastic vacation. And it doesn’t hurt that you, as the captain, will be the star of the story. s

Charter Chat

Dream Yacht Charter is offering aLow Season Special in Australia, 7 nights for the price of 5, 10 nights for the price of 7 and 14 nights for the price of 10. Offer is good from November 1 to December 23. dreamyachtcharter.com

Sunsail Vacations is offering kite-board adventures while on a catamaran flotilla. Learn to kite-board when cruising on a Sunsail 444 catamaran in the Bahamas. The event runs from November 5 to 12, 2016. sunsail.com

The Moorings will introduce new monohulls from Beneteau into its Caribbean bases this coming winter. A fleet of four-cabin Moorings 48.4s will be split between St Martin, St Lucia, Grenada and the BVI. Smaller, but lacking nothing in comfort, the new 42.1 will be delivered to the St Lucia and Grenada bases in December. moorings.com

Zuzana Prochazka holds a 100-ton Coast Guard license and cruises Southern California aboard Indigo, a Celestial 48

August 2016

Related

00-LEAD-210918_11HR_AZIMUT48HRS_AMO_00411

11th Hour Racing Team's Green Mission

“I’ll admit, it’s still hard to watch the boat leave the dock sometimes,” says former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mark Towill. Since meeting during a Transpac campaign over 15 years ago, he and his teammate Charlie Enright have sailed thousands of miles together aboard two Volvo ...read more

D61_JKELAGOPIAN-3

Boat Review: Dufour 61

Dufour, long one of France’s most well-respected builders, has been producing sailboats in La Rochelle since the dawn of fiberglass boatbuilding. Having recently merged with another La Rochelle-based builder, Fountaine Pajot, Dufour has now joined other European mass-production ...read more

m138123_14_00_210609_TORE02_SE_2152_2504-2048x

The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean ...read more

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more

01-LEAD-AdobeStock_40632434

Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to ...read more