No photos from our training on the water today, it was just too busy. The crew candidates did far better than I managed the first time out. Credit to the Academy cadre for really preparing folks for the on the water portion of our training.
I had a few notes for my crew today that I thought would be useful to share with everyone.
Couple of points to keep in mind:
- Keep your hands clear of the cleats. It takes practice but line handling where your hands don't approach the cleats is one of those things the QEs notice. See Earl's excellent example in a movie from last week.
- Associated with this, when the coxswain directs you to use a line that does not meet the needs of the situation bend another or ask for a new line. The coxswain will have dozens of things going through their head when line suitability issues emerge (e.g. docking, towing) so you may need to be particularly assertive.
- Now you've seen it done. Spend some time thinking about how these evolutions may work underway -- imagine the various evolutions, throw in some random occurrences and how you would respond. The best surgeons do surgery in their heads when out of the operating room (and likely in their dreams as well). The best operators have already imagined most of the situations they will face and gone over the options and response in their minds. Beyond these evolutions I'd challenge you to do the same kind of thinking about situations involving interactions with other crew members and your coxswain - build some situations where TCT is required. Build some situations where we are outside our capabilities and need to stand down or reorient so we can meet the objective safely.
- The stern tow is the one you need to do fast in our AOR, it is how we get people out of immediate danger -- like from out of the path of a tug. Whenever you get on a boat look to the stern tow gear, how are you going to lead it, is the bit or cleat you'll need clear, do I know what we'll be using as pendants (which become the #1 in a side tow) for skiff hook connections and for handing over a line, where is the heaving line, and do I remember how to bend the pendant to the tow line. Our side tows and other evolutions are more forgiving and you'll often have time to adjust. You all participated when we repositioned Ken's boat further aft in a side tow - we have the time to do this in most cases since we've already used the stern tow to get to a safe location with plenty of sea room.
- Have your quick release clove hitch for tying fenders worked out on rails, lifelines, hand rails, etc. It is the knot you will be tying to all sorts of different objects on different boats. If you only practice on a simulated rail in a horizontal position you may have difficulty on a vertical rail or a lifeline . When you are asked to move a fender the expectation is you'll have it done in under 15 seconds and be ready for the next tasking.