Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mission Rules


NASA has things called mission rules. When a negative event occurs a mission rule dictates what course of action to take. I’m sure that other endeavors have mission rules also, but since we have been in Titusville and NASA lingo is on my mind, I’ll use the term “mission rules”.

Most of these mission rules have to do with getting in and out of marinas. Some of them are as follows:
  • Always request a tee head or an outside slip first. If not available consider only a slip that is near the end of the dock. Never accept a slip assignment further in on a thoroughfare, and then only if the thoroughfare is wide, such as seventy feet wide or more.
  • When leaving a slip the winds should be five knots or less with a wind direction that would be helpful with the exit. For instance, if a stern out exit is desirable the wind should be blowing out so the stern goes out with the wind putting the boat in the proper direction. Same if we would want the make a bow-first exit. The wind should blow the stern into the thoroughfare so the bow is heading out.
  • When entering a slip the winds should be coming at us head on.
  • The crew should be physically ready to go.


  • One of our other cruising rules is when winds are greater than ten knots they should be at our back or our sides. (Some readers may say this makes me a weather wuss. Guilty as charged. And if some of you more crusty captains are thinking that sometimes you have to buck up and take charge of the circumstances and damn the torpedoes…do it with you own boat. One very important lesson we have learned is the wind is like a second engine with somebody else at its controls.)

There are others that are now more or less instinctive but the ones above are consciously paid attention to. I’m sure other boaters do the same thing. The one that is most important to me is the one that the crew is ready to go. When we attended our first AGLCA rendezvous in Norfolk last May I sat in on a somewhat poorly attended seminar presented by the president of a marine insurance company. It’s too bad it was not attended by everyone because I, frankly, got a hell of a lot of very useful information from it. In the presentation it was said that a captain must consider about a half a dozen factors before making the decision to go out or not. Things such as weather conditions, water conditions, traffic, cruise plan, and the condition of the boat are obvious. But the one he really stressed was the condition of the crew. He was emphatic that if the crew is not ready to go it is the responsibility of the captain to not go! And this makes perfect sense because, as he said, most accidents, injuries and fatalities are caused by human error or physical failure. And if a crew is not physically, mentally and emotionally ready to go then the probability of having a mishap, or worse a life threatening accident, increases tremendously. This is the reason for our “One NO vote wins” rule.

Today is Sunday, May 5, 2013 and as noted in yesterday’s blog post it was to be our goboat day with a long eighty mile run to Marineland Marina. Yesterday evening everything looked good. Winds were to be very low in the morning and everything was falling into place. Of course, as is often the case, the first look at things when I woke up presented me with a new set of circumstances to consider. First, the winds had picked up overnight and the forecast was for sustained winds of ten or more knots with gusts in the fifteen to eighteen knot range. So the second mission rule was broken. But I was somewhat ready to go with it anyway because we are bow-first at the end of a dock in an inside slip and the wind was coming from a direction that would push our stern out of the thoroughfare, and with an unusual placing of the inside slip piling our bow would swing in a way that would make this kind of exit possible. I could deal with that. I like stern first maneuvering. Unfortunately a very large cruiser came in late and tied up to the fuel dock that is the tee dock next to us. And even though he had plenty of room he tied up with his bow sticking ten feet into the already narrow exit of the thoroughfare effectively blocking us. Damn. And because the winds were blowing out I did not have confidence that I could get the stern swung around the other way so I could do a bow first exit. So at least we would be stuck in our slip until the cruiser left. Also, the thoroughfare is narrow down at our end so taking advantage of any maneuvering room is important. (One of our friends recently had a mishap while trying to exit a marina under windy conditions complicated by a tidal current. They damaged their boat when they were not able to avoid crushing into the anchor of a docked sailboat.) On top of all that the wind direction for the cruise would be hitting us head on or at least off the port bow so our speed would be diminished somewhat. And as we were going to try to jump eighty miles we needed every piece of speed we could get.

Now, about the crew being ready to go – both Lisa and I had a tough night last night. I just had my usual tossing and turning along with that kind of hazy, half-conscience kind of sleep. But I woke up ok and felt I was ready to go. But Lisa had a tough night. As I have mentioned in previous posts Lisa caught some kind of lung crud on our last shore leave that just will not go away. That’s one of the reasons we spent a week in Indiantown. She needed some recuperation time. Last night she was awake several times during the night so that when our time to depart was approaching she was still trying to catch up on sleep lost during the night.

So all things considered I decided that we would stay in Titusville one more day. Now, I don’t play my Captain’s card very often, but today is an exception. I have ordered (or as she is the Admiral, strongly suggested) that today she is to totally shut down. She is not to work, not to exert herself nor do so much as lift a finger. (Ross, I’m sorry if Laura showed this to you saying, “SEE! SEE!”) Tomorrow is another day.

Btw, it’s now raining and the skipper of the cruiser said that if it wasn’t for his schedule to be in Jacksonville today to pick up the owner he would not go out today either.

1 comment:

Sweet Pea said...

We have from day 1 had the "one no rule" it was the very first rule we adopted . Since I am the one who pushes the " GO Boat days" I have managed to persuade the captain to travel on days that were maybe, less desire able, and at the end of the day he should not have listened to me! So that "one NO rule" means exactly that !
After all if you had not been held up in Tittusville you may not of had that great history lesson on your boat to share with us