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Crew Dawgs - What Motivates Crew

(Ken helped bring CAYUGA from Hampton, VA to the BVIs in November, 2015. This article appeared in the spring issue of the Salty Dawg Rally Newsletter)

Do you ever wonder what motivates a crew member to become crew in a Salty Dawg Rally? Maybe not, but here are reflections and insight from someone who crewed in the 2015 Fall Salty Dawg Rally.

My ‘Dawg Tale’ begins as a Lake Superior sailor who finds it difficult to gain desired offshore experience and difficult connecting with blue water captains due to my geographic location. In 2015, I responded to a Salty Dawg Rally crew posting and was invited to participate as crew. I was pleased, excited and cautious about the opportunity. I sail extensively on inland lakes and maintain significant chartering experience along with some offshore experience, but being offshore in an unfamiliar boat with unknown individuals was something new to me.

Prior to the Rally, I provided a resume to our Captain via email and we interviewed each other over the telephone. Not knowing your crew or captain always leaves an additional factor of uncertainty and risk for both parties. It is very important for both captain and crew to feel comfortable with each other’s abilities and level of experience.

On the surface, being crew may be a means to an end for both the skipper and crew. The reality is that a life experience is shared among all parties. Fortunately, our journey went well. We all realized and fulfilled our responsibilities, regardless of if we knew each other. Sure, there will always be personality differences, but that is one of the unique characteristics of the journey. There also were challenging situations, but that is when we depended upon feedback from other crewmates.

In the end, we were just like family. We cooperated as a team and made the best of the situation regardless of challenges or differences. I have crewed on many boats and have heard numerous captain/crew stories, some good and some bad. In my opinion, much of the story relates to realizing that we are all different and we all bring something unique to the table. Some of us may need mentoring, some may need patience and some may need to be objective, but we are all here for a common purpose and accepting differences may lead to having the proper mix which is essential to a safe and pleasant passage.

I can’t speak for other crew members, but what motivates me to become crew is my passion for sailing, desire for additional offshore experience and opportunity to evaluate performance capabilities of numerous sailboats. Eventually, I would like to sail my boat in this rally, but the reality is that I won’t be able to do this for about another ten years. The best way for me to gain experience now is by crewing for those who are already doing it.

I hope this provided some insight to how some crew members think and what motivates their desire to crew. It is good to know what makes crew tick and I encourage other crew to share their thoughts with the rally. In ending, I would like to leave you with the following message:

Salty Dawg Rally – Thank you. I am grateful for the Salty Dawg Rally which provides opportunities for sailors such as myself to crew and gain more experience from those who are already doing it. Opportunities like this create well educated crew members who may desire to carry on the legacy of the rally as future captains. Captains – Thank you to the skippers who accept crew and share their knowledge. Especially skippers who select unknown crew. Whether you know it or not, you are a mentor to your crew. My experiences as crew are preparing me for my future offshore experiences as a captain. Crew – Thanks to the crew who provide links to the chain and glue for the bond. I know this sounds corny, but it is true. Please realize you are an important part of the journey. To All – Be safe, have fun and enjoy.

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