Crewing on Martha


Crewing on the Skipjack Martha Lewis is a privilege that few people get to experience. All of us are very fortunate to be able take advantage of that privilege and serve on old Martha. In order to collectively be the best skipjack crew on Chesapeake Bay (where else would you find a skipjack) we need to work together safely, efficiently, and effectively.  

The following are general rules and practices that we all need to adhere to in order to make that happen. These are not intended to be detailed sailing instructions and rules, but rather, simplified standard operating procedures (SOP) for crewing on Martha.


All active crew members must be at least 12 years old and must be registered with CHC.  If you've been crewing you are probably already registered. All registration means is that we have on file your basic contact information including: your name and address; phone numbers where we can reach you; your email address (important); any medical conditions that, for your safety, we should be aware of; and an emergency contact person. Volunteers under 18 years of age must also have parental consent and provide us with a parent email and phone number.

All active crew members must pass an initial drug screening test at a testing facility authorized by CHC.  All crew members are also subject to random drug tests. These are U. S. Coast Guard regulations! Always be prepared to report for crew duty, only to find that on that day you have been randomly selected to submit to drug testing.  Yes, it can be a disappointment on that day.  But those are CG rules!

Although very helpful, no specific boating or sailing experience is required to crew on the Martha Lewis. CHC will train you.  You must, however, be physically able to perform all tasks required to operate the boat.  This is for your safety, and the safety of other crew members and our passengers.  If you have a physical situation that would limit your ability to safely and efficiently perform the duties of a deckhand, we will get you involved in other ways either on board, at dockside, or in the office. There is an opportunity for everyone at CHC and the Martha Lewis!

We encourage (but do not require) all crew members to take a Red Cross or Coast Guard approved First Aid - CPR class.  As a deckhand on Martha you will experience many people under many different situations.  It is important that you know what to do and what NOT to do in case of an emergency on board.  Here is a link to the Red Cross course participant manual.  You should become familiar with it (VIEW) 

We also encourage ALL crew members to take the Maryland basic boating safety course.  CHC will offer this live from time to time or you may take it on-line at

The only other qualification is that you be reliable. If you sign on to a cruise make sure you report for duty 1/2 hour before departure if it is Martha's first cruise of the day or 20 minutes before departure for subsequent cruises. If you discover the day before or day of a cruise that you cannot make it CALL us at 717-979-2279. If you know two or more days before a cruise that you cannot make it, change your status on the electronic crew calendar ASAP.  To be a safe and proficient crew member, you should plan on working cruises at least two days per month. Sail more... sail better!


    1. Get qualified (see above)
    2. Get trained - new crew members are trained on the job. Contact Brady for details. 
    3. Sign on to cruises using web calendar:  HERE  (Password is marthalewis1955)
    4. Use the web calendar to cancel 2 or more days before an event
    5. Call 717-979-2279 to cancel the day before or day of an event
    6. Report to the boat 1/2 hour before departure if it is the 1st cruise of the day
    7. Report to the boat 20 minutes before departure if it is not the 1st cruise
    8. Do not bring along anyone you must take care of or closely supervise
    9. If you bring along paying guests, let them know that you are working, not entertaining
    10. When crewing you are considered official, legal, responsible crew by the Coast Guard
    11. Cell phone use is limited to essential calls/texts in the main cabin - NO DISTRACTIONS!
    12. Crew is strictly prohibited from consuming alcohol while on duty -- Coast Guard regs!
    13. There is NO SMOKING or use of any tobacco products on board at ANY TIME
    14. The safety of passengers and fellow crew members is your number one job - be alert!
    15. Keep your political, religious, and cultural views/opinions out of your talks to guests
    16. No boating "elitism" -- sailors, power boaters, paddlers, and jetskiers are all guests

   First cruise of the day
  1. report to boat 1/2 hour before departure and check in with captain
  2. clean and dry all seating surfaces
  3. check around for any litter or overnight "deposits"
  4. place empty trash bag in recepticle
  5. clear spider webs
  6. remove and stow sail covers in forward cabin
  7. raise flags: city/state on port shroud; Stars & Stripes aft end of boom
  8. position fire extinguishers at proper stations
  9. place swim ladder in life ring
  10. check with captain to see if she/he needs any help with other tasks
All cruises
  1. If not 1st the cruise report to boat 20 minutes before departure
  2. police decks for litter/messes from previous cruise
  3. greet guests, take payments, sell tickets (at dockside)
  4. check condition and position of sails and lines
  5. meet with captain to get line handling assignments
  6. assist in boarding of passengers upon captain's command to board
  7. pay attention to any special needs passengers and board them first
  8. secure gangway on the dock before departure
  9. do passenger and crew count and crosscheck with captain''s count
  10. assist captain with safety talk if asked to do so by the captain
  11. execute assigned role in departure
  12. make sail at captain's command
  13. give talk on bay, oystering and Martha 
  14. steer boat when asked by the captain -- or you may ask to steer
  15. mingle with passengers and always with an eye on safety issues
  16. gently enforce passenger safety rules
  17. douse sails at the captain's command
  18. prepare passengers for docking - all passengers must be seated
  19. check decks for obstructions
  20. prepare for and execute assigned docking tasks at captain's command
  21. keep passengers seated until boat is stopped and secured at dock
  22. put gangway in place and put donation box out
  23. thank passengers for their patronage
  24. assist passengers down the gangway
  25. help special needs passengers after all others have disembarked
  26. police decks for trash and items left behind by passengers
  27. check with captain and ask to be dismissed
Additional items on last cruise of day
  1. return fire extinguishers and swim ladder to main cabin
  2. take down all flags and stow appropriately
  3. put sail covers on
  4. wash down decks with water (sweet, sticky stuff draws ants)
  5. take trash/recyclables to appropriate receptacles on shore
  6. assist captain in hoistng pushboat into davits
  7. coil and stow all lines -- no lines should br on deck overnight
  8. crosscheck with captain on powering off lights and accessories
  9. stow and lock gangway on deck

CHC is adopting a more rigorous program of routine maintenance, organization, and general "shipkeeping" using the following guidelines:

    1. Detailed deck, cabin, and hull cleaning/scrubbing and touch-up painting will be done every two weeks by 4-hour volunteer work details. You can sign up on the crew calendar.
    2. Deck washdown will occur at the end of each cruise day as part of the end of day routine.
    3. Cleaning/drying of passenger seating surfaces and spider web removal will be part of each day's start-up routine.
    4. Condition of running rigging should be reported in the daily ship's log along with the usual entries for oil, coolant, battery and other items entered by the day's captain.

The main (aft) cabin will be kept organized and tidy and will be used as a storage area for following items only: basic tools; educational equipment and supplies; scientific equipment; hospitality supplies; first aid supplies; and all Coast Guard required publications and documents. Spare lines, rope/cordage, PFDs, and all other gear will be stowed in the port and starboard forward cabins. Crew members' daily personal gear should also be stowed in the main (aft) cabin -- not on deck.