Clarity of Command

31st January 2008

Clarity of Command

Initial Report

Report Text:

This report, which CHIRP has summarised, was from the owner of a yacht on a passage for which he had engaged a professional skipper. During the voyage the yacht ran low on fuel making it uncertain whether there would be enough for entering the next port. The owner became concerned that the skipper’s plan for completing the voyage and entering the port whilst low on fuel had considerable risks without a contingency plan, so he intervened and insisted on a different plan to complete the voyage.

CHIRP Comment:

As described in the full report, the owner was justified in his concerns about the risks in the plan intended by the skipper.

Without going into the specifics of this case, we would make the general point that, for the safety of any vessel, all on board must be absolutely clear as to who is in charge.  In the unusual event that there is a transfer of responsibilities during a voyage, it is important that this is done formally, all the crew are advised and it is recorded in the logbook.

Also, the fact that the yacht was running low on fuel highlights the importance of thorough passage-planning from berth to berth.

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