Can there be two "Master of the Vessel" people on the same boat - same day - same trip?

Many times people want to document that they are the Master of the Vessel in order to be able to qualify to charter a boat at another time. So they often ask us "can my buddy and I both log the time as Master of the vessel in our logbooks?"

The answer lies in logic:

The definition of Master of the Vessel is that the person is able and responsible for making unguided prudent decisions for the safety of the vessel and crew. So merely helming (steering the boat) is out. The other point is despite being successful (or lucky) today at skippering the boat - were they really the skipper - if the crap hit the fan and a big blow came through would they have remained the skipper or would the "REAL" skipper have stepped in? 

Master of the Vessel also means that the person has the background, skills, knowledge, and experience to be really qualified to be Master of the Vessel. If the answer is that they are not REALLY qualified then most likely they were not Master of the Vessel but a good second in command.

If the answer is that the person is qualified and did take or could have taken responsibility then likely they were acting as Master as long as they were the designated person.

So ... Can there be two "Master of the Vessel" people on the same boat - same day - same trip? We say yes with the following provisions:

  • Each one was designated as Master at different times
  • Each one was capable of handling an emergency without the required involvment of the other
  • Each one acted as Master of the vessel making decisions as appropriate
  • Each one had more than 4 hours of Master duty in a day

Over a multiday trip, it is easy to just designate one qualified person per day to be Master.

A final note - you should not be overzealous to fill your resume with time - more so you should be prudent about the entires that they are truly accurate and representative of your real actions.