The Book of Opus

This is where we will be documenting our procedures, requirements, checklists, etc


Before and After Departure, Housekeeping checklists



Crew Overboard

  • Press MOB button on chart plotter, AIS handset to mark position where crew went overboard
  • Shout out “Crew Overboard” repeatedly until acknowledged
  • POINT at person in the water.
  • “The Con” ensure remaining crew is safe and accounted for
  • Helm:
    • Turn into wind
    • Start Engine
  • Trimmers
    • Luff the sails or otherwise prevent them from driving the boat further
  • Other crew
    • Throw flotation and markers towards the crew member overboard
    • Prepare reboarding equipment
    • Prepare for necessity of going into water after crew member
    • Potentially prepare dinghy or other means of retrieving crew member
    • Prepare for the possibility of hypothermia and/or other injury
    • Notify other ships via radio if any are close by that we require room to maneuver to retrieve a crew overboard.
  • Motor back to overboard crew member.

Priority is, as with all emergencies to ensure the safety of the crew aboard, then deal with the emergency. Don’t start handling the emergency only to create a bigger emergency by losing another person overboard or by hitting something or someone. Marinate, Navigate, Communicate in that priority.


Who has and what is “the con”?

You had ONE job to do…

Who has the Con, aka “Who’s in charge around here?”

“The Con” is a concept that is used so that people know unambiguously who to listen to for directions. It denotes the person who is currently in control of the boat – the person from whom all the directions emanate at the moment. This is not necessarily the skipper or captain of the boat.

On a military boat, the con is formally passed from one person to the other. “You have the con” and is acknowledged by “I have the con”. The skipper might come on deck but just because they are present does not mean that they have the con. They might stand there and observe for a while – they do not have the con. Essentially, they are invisible.

The person who has “the con” may relinquish it to someone else by saying, “Mr/Ms _______, you have the con” and that person acknowledges, “Aye, I have the con.” The skipper may take the con either by declaring “I have the con” or simply by issuing an order — in which case the con automatically passes to them. Note that the the skipper does NOT get ‘the con” simply by asking a question. They must either explicitly say, “I have the con” or they must issue a directive.

On Opus, it will usually be either the watch leader or the skipper that has the con and it’s only important to you to know which one is in charge at the moment. Even if the skipper has the con, they will likely work through the watch leaders rather than issue directives directly to the crew.

You had ONE job…

A race boat can be a busy place and it’s natural for you to be curious about what’s going on around the boat. There are many opportunities to learn about other things and it can be tempting to want to keep an eye out on them. Unfortunately, that’s distracting you from doing your job to the best it can be done.

Imagine this scenario: We’re running under Spinnaker in a good wind The trimmer and foredeck are managing the Spinnaker, making some adjustment to the pole. The helm gets interested in what they are doing and pays less attention to their job – splitting their attention between what the foredeck and trimmer are doing and talking about, what the spinnaker itself is doing, the course they are steering, the slight changes in direction of the wind and waves. They get more and more caught up in the doings of the foredeck and trimmer and pay less and less attention to their course, which is slowly shifting to port…

Far fetched? Hah! Seen it done. Done it myself. It takes discipline and self-control to keep your mind on your job, doing your job as perfectly as possible, and letting the rest of the crew do their job. Winning races requires we all do the absolute best we can, by concentrating on your job, not the jobs of others. This gets even more critical at night when things are even more dangerous due to lack of light and vision. A little distraction and someone might well end up in the water or we might end up with a torn spinnaker wrapped around our rudder and keel.

You have ONE job…