What Is A Boat Skipper & What Do They Do?

Last Updated on

Unquestionably, boating is and should be a fun experience. However, no one will enjoy if there’s no safety. Remembering to be safe on the water should be any boater’s number one priority. To guarantee a great boating experience for everyone on board, a boat skipper comes in handy.

Now, if you’re wondering what is a boat skipper, then, you need to keep on reading. This article has been tailored to help you with everything you need to know about a boat skipper.

What is a Boat Skipper?

A boat skipper is a person that commands a boat and its crew. In naval terms, a skipper is liable for the care and safety of the ship, vessel, boat or yacht. This is true of the captain too. Additionally, the captain is also accountable for the care and sanctuary of the crew. That’s why a captain is also known as a skipper.

The Duties of a Boat Skipper

A boat skipper is the heart of a vessel. He or she is liable for the boat and must take care of everything else related to it. Accordingly, everything the skipper says ought to be interpreted as a command by the occupants of the boat. This is because, sometimes, the decisions made by the skipper could be the difference between your life and death.

The skipper’s work not only involves the earnest work on board. It can further involve his recommendations on exciting routes, new sites to visit or instructions to follow while in the water or on shore. He is conclusively responsible not just for the sanctuary of the boat but also the protection, welfare, and comfort of all those on board.

The Demands on a Skipper

The demands on a boat skipper vary according to where the boat is navigating. In case the boat is cruising close to the beach, within easy access of a native port, the skipper’s job is simple. Once the boat is covering longer passages, at some distance off the shore, and away from the region the skipper is familiar with, his responsibilities become more wanting. This is because he must allow for likely night cruising, approaching unfamiliar harbors, and the likelihood of having to navigate through bad weather.

Offshore, at a significant distance from land, the demands become even greater. They can include coping with lengthened periods of poor weather, gear failure when there’s no one nearby to call for help, crew illness and many more. Actually, these are just a few of the challenges the boat skipper may need to handle.

Responsibilities of a skipper

As mentioned above, a boat skipper is the most influential person on a vessel. Therefore, there are many responsibilities bestowed on him. To begin with, he plans the whole passage to the suggested destination, which sometimes can take a number of days. Secondly, it’s the duty of the skipper to make sure that whatever voyage the boat is making whether for holidays or for fishing he follows all the maritime statutes. Next, he navigating the boat and provides good care and the safety of the boat and the crew and also manages the boat in all respects. In other words, he must know how to run and maintain all the facilities on board.

The Working Hours for a Skipper

When it comes to working hours, a skipper is usually dependent on the field of work. If a boat skipper is self-employed operating on his own boat, he can function for as long as he wants. A skipper that is on an inshore boat would go back to the shore every day while the offshore boats venturing out in waters away from the shore would be in a position to return just after days, or weeks at sea.

Characteristics of a Good Skipper

Be A Good Leader

A good leader displays confidence and instills the same in the crew. He knows what his crew can do. He is a good coach/teacher and communicates efficiently. Further, he demonstrates how things should be done with perseverance and keeps collected whenever he faces adversity. A good leader doesn’t require yelling or scream to his crew. His crew looks up to him to be the leader they want.

Technically proficient

A good boat skipper knows how to navigate; he is good seamanship and thus will know how to cruise your boat. Also, he will well understand your boat’s capabilities and constraints. He will know exactly what you require to do in case you get into problems, and better yet, understand enough on how to stay away from trouble, to begin with. A good skipper understands that his crew doesn’t necessarily require him to be an expert, but they are going to expect a certain level of competence in him.

Cultivate a fun and relaxed environment

Mainly, the crew sails for fun. So, good skippers make sure the crew appreciate themselves, feel comfortable while on the boat, and let them take part in managing the boat. Hence, a good skipper needs to unwind and sing one sea-shanty or two.

Be Organized

An organized boat skipper is probably to have an established boat that in turn is going to likely be properly-maintained, safe, and will instill trust in the crew. A good and organized skipper is going to have enough stores on board and ensure the crew understands what they require to know. Standard procedures and standing orders will be steady and appreciated by all. Organized skipper assists alleviate confusion and anxiety in the crew minus driving them insane with his marginal obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Keen on Safety

Lastly, a good skipper knows the overriding importance of ensuring that the crew stays safe. Here, the crew expects the skipper to be watchful for them and prevent them from jeopardizing themselves through inattention or ignorance.

So, if you happen to be a crew, watch out for the above traits before you sign on to someone’s boat. Some skippers will possess an abundance of all of these qualities, but most ought to have some of each, at least. Conversely, if you’re a boat skipper looking forward to improving your reputation, pay attention to these 5 characteristics. After you have got a reputation for being a reliable skipper, obtaining and maintaining a good crew is going to be a snap.

Skippers in other Aspects of Life

The job of a skipper though it might appear to carry so many responsibilities is fun too. Some boat skippers appreciate fishing and pursue it as a way of livelihood. These skippers work on their own boats and become self-employed. Nevertheless, those who don’t own a boat can serve huge companies that employ skippers to care for their boats and their catch. It’s possible for an experienced skipper to make a satisfying income. A professional skipper can additionally move into similar careers such as that of Merchant Navy, harbor tug work, gas exploration or offshore oil, cargo operations and fish farming.

Becoming a Skipper

If you’re interested in becoming a skipper or simply want to begin sailing, you’ll need to undertake the necessary training, have enough experience, and possess a license. Any person interested is needed to do well in a Certification Test not overlooking the fact that he or she must be at least 18-years old.

It’s highly advised that you understand how to precisely navigate a yacht or boat for you to pass your test greatly. After you’re done with your test, you’ll get a license which shows you know how to sail a boat into a harbor accurately, know wind patterns, currents, topography and what your duties are as a boat skipper.

Exams or Tests Involved

The majority of Exams for this occupation last approximately 12 hours and normally test your capabilities with:

  • Understanding the engine inspection procedures
  • Knowing how long the fuel of your boat is going to last by determining the extent of your destination
  • Knowing how to utilize flares, life jackets in the case of urgency, and life rafts
  • Knowing and mastering the gas policy
  • Ascertaining the weather information and how it could probably influence your travel arrangements

During the process, you’ll have your program instructor not just checking your understanding of how to correctly and safely sail a boat, but you’ll also be cross-examined throughout your test on any other overall information which every sailor ought to know well. Just like utilizing any other item of machinery, you’ll require knowing the information on how to professionally handle your boat including:

  • Mooring pickup
  • Speed awareness
  • Directing your vessel down a wake
  • Proper positioning
  • Berthing
  • General boat and environmental know-how
  • Mastering how to properly tie and tighten all your knots

Navigation is actually a remarkably important component of sailing any boat or any other vessel. Without this understanding, you could likely lead you and your whole crew into a pretty costly and dangerous situation. You can check out more information on completing a skipper course here.

What You Should Know About Navigation

There are a number of important sailing-related aspects including how to safely pilot your vessel at night and understanding the circulations of tide and current. In addition, you need to learn the chart 5011, that is, master how to chart perfectly not forgetting the blind navigation.  You can’t solely rely on GPS units or a chartplotter.

Becoming a boat skipper can be an exciting and rewarding experience for any person. It’s good prior to apply for your license to learn and master all procedures and information which involve safety while sailing a boat. This way, your encounter can be so fulfilling and full of adventure.