The Art of Dredging

Dredging and shipping

                    TEN TIPS for CAPTAINS


...a bit of  insight in a captain´s mind...




When you have a serious incident with your ship (for example: a collision): just hang by these simple rules:

Is anybody hurt ?  Is there danger for lives ?

If not, just sigh of relieve, it´s going to be your lucky day.

Stay afloat should now be your next priority.

If the vessel can still sail, consider it a bonus. You can get somewhere and start repairs, take it from there.

If the ship is still operational, you have no more worries.

Time for some serious paperwork, anyway.



Be decisive.



A problem can be tackled in a number of ways.

You can ponder a while on the merits of different solutions, but sometimes, it's better to take a suboptimal decision than to take no decision at all.

You are not onboard to be politcal, poetical, diplomatical, or scientifical.

You make the decisions, and take the responsibility for it.



Mind Murphy.


Murphy's Law is a law of nature. "If something can go wrong, it will go wrong."

Murphy is always onboard ships. He is with the crew, with the ship's design, with the environment, somewhere spooking in the main engines, or in an electric switchboard, he is with us.

Don't count on your luck to outsmart Murphy; you won't.

It's a fulltime job to keep Murphy off your back.



You never walk alone.


You are not alone onboard.

There is the crew, with their opinions, experience, eagerness to help you, their little idea's, their wild fantasies.

When you have a real problem, it's always a good idea to tap into these vast resources.

 Everybody carries pieces of the solution with him and a fair bit of brainstorming together brings up so many ideas that the solution to your problems seems simple.




Never mind the details.

Well; never mind them in the first place.

But: the master is in the detail.



Be cool, be cold as ice.


Panic is no option.

 You will be faced with crisis situations.

Get prepared for them.

Panic blocks the brain functioning, so you better don´t flip.



Do something, don't just stand there.




What's the bottom line ?


Profit for the company, I guess. Or was it "Safety first."

But profit can be perceived in different ways. Probably the office's view can differ from your view. Sometimes I see the company's profit in safeguarding the ship and stopping or scaling down operations.

It maybe bad weather, or a faulty rudder, or some risky operation .

Well, it´s still supposed to be the captains´s choice, in most cases.





The head of watch looks ahead for about 15 minutes, to avoid collisions, to check courses, to avoid close quarrter situations with other ships. He has a tactical vision.

The captain looks ahead for years, and sees that second mate develop into an able chief mate in two years from now, he sees technical trouble coming up with the ship operating in this mode, he sees, envisions, anticipates.... It´s pure strategical thinking.



Stand by your men...


Without a captain, the ship sinks.

But without a crew, the ship gets nowhere.

It's a complicated equation.

Lifeboat exercise on the Rio Parana, Argentina, somewhere 1995. The captain is standing on the buoy. Crew in the lifeboat is considering picking him up. Or not.

Ah, those were the days !



When things go wrong.... really wrong....


....and when you have no more options, no more chances, things are just going down, down ....

Enjoy the adrenaline rush, iit´s about the only sensible thing left you can do.




Marc Van de Velde,  February 15th, 2010


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