If the particular crew member who is the only one who knows how to handle the boat, navigate, or make a minor engine repair becomes incapacitated, safety could be affected. Certainly, each person is better at some things than others, but most people can learn a new task or part of a task, if they’re willing to try. Having a cross-trained crew makes life aboard more interesting and pleasant for all. The chief varnisher may not give up putting on the flawless final coats, but almost anyone can do the surface preparation. The mechanic on the boat doesn’t have to teach the complicated engine repairs, but almost anyone can learn to change the engine fluids, tighten belts, replace an impeller, bleed the fuel system, clean and check the engine, etc.
(See “The Engine Room” at www.womenandcruising.com/admirals-angle/2008/06/22-the-engine-room.) Probably the skipper is not going to have any luck trying to cross-train someone to disassemble the toilet or work on the holding tank, but there is really nothing that most people cannot learn to do if they’re willing, encouraged and taught. Share the responsibility. Share the fun.