A leader is someone who is responsible and reliable. The commitment to responsibility and constant showcasing of his dependability and true knowledge is a mark of a true leader. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, although many aspire or even pretend to be one. Of course it gets to be dangerous when being a leader is thrust into the hands of someone who is completely unqualified or unprepared for that role. It would just be unfair to everyone involved, even to the individual who was given responsibilities for which he is not ready. The importance of having a truly competent leader is thus only highlighted even more. Although it is difficult to make certain that only good leaders will be given the reigns of power and authority, there are ways to help in preparing them for their task.
There are many different kinds of leaders, and each one has to prepare for their eventual leadership in a different way. This is also due to the variety in the fields and disciplines where leaders are needed, and it might be expected that there is no clear cut and single way that a person can prepare for it. Each situation and each case is unique, so that can be challenging by itself because that is like saying that there is no single and proven way to be a leader that can work for everyone. Still, it never hurts to be prepared, and knowing as much as you can about your chosen field is the best tip that anyone who wants to be responsible and effective can have.
Skippers and Seamanship: Keeping the Boat Afloat
One of those many kinds of leaders is the skipper of a boat. It is a term that is usually used in lieu of captain or as an equivalent of it. More or less, the term skipper is the direct equivalent of “captain in charge aboard ship”. The skipper, as opposed to the captain who commands a ship, is one who takes complete control and command of a boat or sea craft. A skipper is the undisputed leader of the boat’s crew, as they cruise and travel over seas, rivers, and lakes. There might be some instances and occasions where the skipper is also the one who owns the boat, but this is not always the case. The only indisputable fact is that the skipper is the absolute leader of his crew and of the boat in general.
The use of the term skipper is more frequent and common for noncommercial vessels that usually privately owned. That might lead some to think that the term might not mean much as far as leadership is concerned, but the fact that skippers of private vessels also command a crew is enough to qualify him as a leader. The crew might be a small one, but his overall command and control of the vessel is a testament that a skipper is a true leader in his own right. And for those who might want to see some official evidence of skippers considered leaders, it would be of interest to note that Skipper RNR was an actual British Royal Naval reserve rank that was used for the skippers of fishing boats who also happened to be members of the service. They have the right to be promoted to the rank of Skipper Lieutenant RNR and Chief Skipper RNR, which is equal to a Commissioned Warrant Officer. The term skipper is also used as a merchant naval slang by the Navy and Marine corps, and is meant to describe any commanding of any kind of base, command, or ship. Its use is regardless of actual rank by the officer, and is closely associated with the respect felt by the speaker towards the officer.
Skippers are closely associated with seamanship, and it is not difficult to see why. Seamanship is defined as a complete and competent understanding of boat knowledge and shipboard, and skippers are considered experts and authorities when it comes to seamanship. It might mean some, it not all, of the following: splicing, rigging, line handling, knots, rigging, surface prep, celestial navigation, splicing, helmsman, stewardship, maintenance, damage control, and just about every aspects that has something to do with boats. If you simply look at it, you might say that it is a lot but all part of a skipper’s job and serves as a great challenge for him as well. If a skipper can be good in most of those that have been mentioned, and then he can certainly be considered a good skipper. But of course there is always room for improvement.
A Few Tips for Better Seamanship
A good skipper should never be satisfied. He can never rest on his laurels, even if he is already good at what he does. There is always an area or two of seamanship that he could improve on, and he should always look to find ways on how to do so and also to do it efficiently. Even the skippers that are considered to be the best are looking to improve themselves. The following are tips that can help a skipper improve his actions and his decision making in some familiar but tough situation.
• Maneuvering a boat at low speed – The first thing that might come to a person’s mind when he hears that a skipper is maneuvering the boat or vessel under his command at low speed is a walk in the park. Yes, that’s only natural, but it is also very wrong. The skipper needs to be very careful about the propeller characteristics of the boat. A clockwise rotating propeller that is viewed from astern moves the boat forwards and backwards, and it also pushes the stern towards starboard when it goes forward and then when in reverse, to port. When the boat is moving more slowly, the effect is much more pronounced, as the rudder effect is much less. Going reverse will only result in the boat going tighter with the stern going port.
• When Crossing Bars – A skipper who is making a crossing of a barred entrance needs to do so only with extreme caution. After all, the very safety of the entire boat and crew might be placed in jeopardy if he does so without being a little too careful about it. This is only highlighted when the skipper is attempting to make such a crossing for the very first time. Seeking advice from people who have local knowledge should come hand in hand with consultation with charts. The feat needs to be done about two to three hours after low water, and with guidance of those who have local knowledge about the situation, other times might be used.
• When Man is Thrown Overboard – Skippers need to help make sure that all manner of precaution and safety measures are done to reduce the risk of any member of the crew falling overboard. If it still happens despite every care is made, then the skipper needs to make sure that these two things are done: get the man overboard (MOB) reattached once more to the vessel, and to get the man overboard (MOB) back right on board the vessel or boat.