The coxswain must keep the screw rotating
sufficiently to maintain steerageway and then keep the
bow facing the seas at an angle on either the port or
A drogue or sea anchor is a cone-shaped canvas bag
about 2 feet wide at the mouth and approximately 4 1/2
feet long. It is towed open-end forward so as to offer
resistance. The towline is made fast to the open end of
a sea anchor, and a tripping line is secured to the pointed
end. The drogue fills with water and tends to slow down
the forward movement of a boat. The most important
use of the drogue is in keeping a boat at right angles to
a sea. The bow of a small boat can be kept toward the
seas by rigging the drogue line and allowing the
drogue's resistance to the water to hold the boat in
position to the sea.
If the drogue is no longer needed, the towline is
slacked and the tripping line is heaved on. This action
causes the sea anchor to lose its resistance and enables
the crew to haul it aboard.
SECURING FOR SEA AND READY
Boats are secured for sea when they are gripped
down in the chocks, with plugs out and boat covers
stoppered down securely.
The ready lifeboat, usually a motor whaleboat, is
secured for sea in the davits, and, on some ships, swung
out ready for lowering. As a safety measure, wire
preventers connected to the davit heads may be attached
to the boat's hoisting eyes, and the preventers must be
cast off before lowering. They are equipped with pelican
hooks, which can be tripped to transfer the boat's weight
back to the falls.
The lifeboat has its sea painter and steadying lines
already rigged, and the manropes from the span are
coiled down clear for running. To keep it from swinging,
the lifeboat is gripped against a pair of soft paddings on
a heavy spar called a strongback, securely lashed
between the davits. Canvas-covered lines running in a
V-shape from the strongback around the boat to the deck
are the gripes in this instance. They are brought down
hard to the deck by means of a turnbuckle, with a pelican
hook for quick releasing. The strongback is not always
used. A set of inboard gripes, similar to those outboard,
is used instead.
At the start of each watch, the Boatswain's Mate of
the watch (BMOW) checks the ready lifeboat and
reports the ready lifeboat condition to the OOD. It
should have a full tank of fuel and fuel oil reservoir. The
bilge should be clean and dry with the boat plug in place.
Life jackets and safety helmets should be ready nearby
or in the boat so the crew may don them before lowering
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Explain proper
etiquette procedures for a member of a small
boat crew, including saluting, loading and off
Early in this chapter you were told that a ship is often
judged by its boats and their crews. Clean boats and
sharp crews draw favorable comments from superiors.
An essential element for a smart crew is proper,
seamanlike conduct. Following are a few rules of boat
etiquette, established by custom and regulations, to
serve as your guide to proper conduct when in boats.
Observe them closely, and insist that others in your boat
When there is no officer, petty officer, or acting
petty officer in a boat lying at a landing, gangway, or
boom, the personnel seated in the boat rise and salute all
officers passing near. When an officer, a petty officer,
or an acting petty officer is in charge, that person alone
renders the salute.
Coxswains in charge of boats rise and salute when
officers enter or leave their boats unless the safety of the
boat would be imperiled.
When boats with embarked officers or officials in
view pass each other, hand salutes are rendered by the
coxswain and the senior officer embarked. The engine
of the junior boat is idled during the salute. After the
officer returns the salute, speed is resumed. Coxswains
must rise while saluting unless it is dangerous or
impractical to do so.
When a powerboat salutes another boat in passing,
crew members outside the canopy stand at attention
facing the other boat.
If a powerboat is carrying an officer or official for
whom a gun salute is being fired, the engines are slowed
and clutches are disengaged on the first gun, and the boat
is headed parallel to the saluting ship. During the salute,
only the person honored rises and salutes.
Enlisted personnel who are passengers in the stern
sheets of a boat always rise and salute when a
commissioned officer enters or leaves.