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Yacht First Mate Duties


By: Mike Dickens

Outdoors I am the First Mate of the trawler, the Patricia Ann. I jokingly call myself the Admiral because any decision the Captain makes can be overruled by me but we are usually a good team and in agreement.

A cruising yacht is a small city afloat. There are several power generation systems aboard, both alternating and direct currents and maybe a solar system on some boats, a waste treatment system, hotel accommodations to allow the crew to sleep and rest, food preparation systems (electrical or propane), food storage systems (freezers and refrigeration), navigational systems to allow the yacht to move about the "city" and even entertainment systems with movies and concerts. Yes, a {{{luxury yacht|large yacht is a rather complex system. Running a yacht is a team effort Ė it would be very difficult for one person to handle and monitor everything.

A First Mateís role is to do anything that the Captain cannot.

As First Mate, I stow everything down below when we are getting ready to cruise (anything that can fall and break while underway) . I also handle the lines when leaving the dock. I also make sure to hang those lines in their proper place once we get underway. The Patricia Ann is always ship shape and clutter is NOT an option. While we are cruising to our destination, I am reading paper charts while the Captain is operating the boat and navigating with the chart plotter. We rarely go without both paper and electronic charts.

When we reach our destination, itís my job to lower the anchor, allowing the Captain to set the hook at which time I fasten the bridle. If we take our tender ashore, the Captain runs that the same as he does Patricia Ann and I handle lines. Itís just a lot easier on a 10í boat than a 44í boat! When we are ready to leave our anchorage, I bring the hook up, wash the chain and anchor off and secure the pin. When we arrive back at our slip, I again handle the lines while the Captain guides Patricia Ann right where she should be. I guess another way to look at it is I am the Captainís assistant. Some women might have a problem with that but I donít. We know couples whose roles are reversed Ė whatever works!

Another very important first mate duty is to plan meals and provision. We both do the actual provisioning but I get to plan everything. I enjoy this part and love the shopping even more! We both enjoy cooking Ė my Captain is the grill-king and I am the galley slave, just kidding. I plan healthy, tasty and easy meals as I donít want to spend hours in the galley when there are islands to explore!

The Captain on our boat is responsible for maintaining the boatís engines and all associated equipment and systems. I am responsible for keeping a clean living environment which includes the bridge, sundeck and isinglass.

We found an inexpensive way to keep our isinglass clean which does a fair job. We put 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo in Ĺ gallon of distilled water and use a car wash mitt. Dry it off with a chamois and voila, you are done. I like the way Klear to Sea works better but it is far more expensive so I alternate between the two. My Captain is responsible forcleaning the exterior and itís amazing how dirty it can get. We painted our boat about 3 years ago so we have to be careful which soaps we use as some leave the surface looking chalky and dull.

Mary Dickens - MV Patricia Ann

Mike Dickens is the operator of Paradise Yachts, located in Florida USA. Paradise Yachts is a full service yacht brokerage offering quality used yachts and boats. We sell and ship worldwide.

Visit our website at http://paradiseyachtsales.net to view our current inventory; visit our Cruising Center at http://www.paradiseyachtsales.net/CruisingCenter.html to experience the boating lifestyle.
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