The Master is responsible for: –
To perform their legal requirements, a Master must have a special blend of proficiency, skill and discipline including the practices below.
Decisions are made on knowledge, experience and training.
A Master needs to have confidence in their ability to navigate the vessel over waterways that may contain hazards.
Hazards may be in the form of other vessels, swimmers, shallow depths, isolated dangers, reefs, bridges, adverse weather, tides, and broaching or choppy seas.
Doubt equals Danger
When in doubt, don’t go out! Opposed to confidence is the uncertainty of the situation; a vessel in danger represents the potential loss of life.
Every hazard requires some knowledge of their nature and effect on your situation. The potential risk to your vessel, and your passengers, all must be assessed before casting off.
Prevent fatigue and stress
Sharing of helming and responsibilities reduces risk to you and your passengers. Constant steering and keeping a sharp lookout is stressful, and takes considerable concentration and focus. A three-hour watch is considered long enough for any helmsman, any longer increases the risk of a collision or grounding.
The Master must be calm, in control and keep the passengers informed of the passage. A clear briefing of the vessel and its safety features is paramount before casting off, in particular life jackets and their operation. The Master should also be a good communicator to promote the passengers confidence.
The Master must maintain a proper lookout at all times.
The Master should be informed of the most recent weather forecast and possibly have a local weather application on a smartphone that may be updated every 10 minutes. Knowledge of weather patterns help in the planning and preparation for a perfect and stress free day out for family and friends.
Be prepared and don’t wait until a crisis arises. The Master should always calculate for potential collisions and other risks so to navigate the vessel safely avoiding close encounters that can quickly become collisions.
Basic preparation may include: – checking safety equipment, getting a weather forecast, securing loose items, consideration of potential fire hazards, training someone on how to handle lines, using the one-third principle for fuel.
The vessel should be suitable for the conditions. What is the safe passenger and load capacity? Was the vessel designed for smooth water or crossing ocean bars? Does it have adequate freeboard in adverse conditions? Is the dead rise appropriate for the location? Is the roll soft or stiff when at anchor or to hold a course in a beam sea?
Qualifications start at a recreational boating licence and can progress to; VHF radio operator, practical boat handling, navigation., Also worth considering are commercial grade Coxswains and Master V certification.
You never stop learning.