Prolific sails with at least six adults on every voyage, who are responsible for managing the trip, maintaining the vessel and her equipment, and ensuring that all our crew members have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Sea staff for each voyage will include the skipper, bosun, and first, second and third mates.
The skipper is in overall charge of the vessel, sea staff and crew, responsible for the safety and success of the voyage.
The bosun is responsible for maintenance.
The first mate organises the day-to-day running of the vessel and ensures that the skipper’s decisions are carried out.
The second and third mates are watchleaders (and the first mate sometimes runs a watch too).
OYT South has a professional skipper and bosun, though we may use fully-qualified volunteer skippers and bosuns to cover when they are on leave. The three mates are almost always volunteers.
The main differences between first, second and third mates are down to experience and training, and the level of responsibility they are expected to handle on board. Very briefly, an OYT South third mate is only asked to run a watch under supervision. A second mate will be able to carry out orders from the skipper or the first mate without supervision, and will generally be much more familiar with the vessel and with OYT South routines. A first mate is the skipper’s executive officer, who must be thoroughly familiar with the vessel and with all procedures on board; able to direct and supervise other watchleaders; and fully competent to get the vessel to a safe haven if the skipper is ill or injured.
To a significant extent, promotion within the sea staff depends on familiarity with Prolific and her routines, and on experience of sail training with young people. There are experienced Yachtmasters who have perhaps been skippering their own boats for years, who are comfortable sailing with us as third mates because they may only do one voyage a year on board Prolific.
There is a sixth staff berth available at the skipper’s discretion for an extra adult. This can sometimes be used for staff training.
You can read the impressions of a newly-qualified volunteer here.