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Best and worst captains
Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 11:41 PM
Joined: 01/05/2008
Posts: 41

The October issue of Dockwalk has an article about finding the perfect captain and it made me think of my past captains. I've worked for all sorts of captains. One was great, a fun captain but frustrating as he rarely left the wheelhouse while the crew worked to near-death, still I liked him though and admired his professionlism. Another truly was Capt. Bligh, screaming at the crew whenever his temper flared. Another always called ahead to La Palapa to get the berth closest to the Soggy Dollar, so he could put his feet up on the aft deck and watch the action, ahhhh.

I guess my perfect captain was someone who mixed a bit of fun in with the work; you know, cold beers in the Jacuzzi after a long, hard charter and dinner off the boat but on the owner. After all, yachting is meant to be fun, even for the crew on occasion, in my opinion. I remember a press tour a while back on this yacht where the crew looked a bit terrified when the captain appeared; on the top deck they were busy scrubbing invisible bird doo while the captain explained his daily inspections of the crew quarters, bouncing quarters off the bed and such -- not my kind of boat.

If any of my past captains are reading this, just know I'm not talking about you, of course.


Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2008 2:34 PM
I worked with a captain and chef married couple. While I got on with them both pretty well, the captain was very short tempered. He would raise his voice to me in front of guests if he was upset and if I was ever chatting with any of the guests, he would make sure to belittle me in front of them. It was very uncomfortable. Since the chef was married to him, I would end up doing all the dishes and pots and pans after every meal, as well as some of the prep beforehand, and then he'd tell me I was too slow at washing up.  A definite Capt. Bligh!
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 4:24 AM
Ok, I am a captain and read the article........ Boo Hoo, to predominately the stews.... One thing that seems to be forgotten is the fact that a captain has more than likely worked his way up from being a deckhand and spent a lot of time and money qualifying to be in the position. Unlike a stew (and good luck to them I say) who's entry level is pretty damn easy, just get an STCW and away you go. Hell, this gripe is the same as an article grouching about the CEO of a company and one of the underlings does not like the fact that the CEO does things his way. Remember one thing, captains are mostly in this for the long haul, not a 2 year sabbatical to make some money and then move on to a land based job.
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 9:46 AM
Captain Cool and Captain Good Vibes,  in the Med and the Caribbean, thankyou to Tommy and Ron if you happen to be reading this. You were the best !
Followed by a hat trick of Captain bastards. One of which I managed to hang in there for more than 2 years with. He was more of a hot and cold head,  however the other two needed anger management in large doses.
Number three had women issues. The female crew had found themselves living in a confined space with a captain that would regularly put them down in front of other people whenever the opportunity arose. Then he would try and play us all off against each other because he was bored. We saw through that swiftly enough though.

Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 2:16 PM
I find it telling that this Anonymous captain compares himself to the CEO of a company (not many CEO's have a company of only 12 staff) and refers to junior colleagues as underlings. You sound like the kind of guy I'd like to work for - any jobs going?
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 2:46 PM
Just to clarify, I am not comparing CEO's and captains. If it makes you feel better how about I call it the manager of a small store ????? Just by your response you are clearly one of the people I was talking about, who is here to make a quick buck. And FYI, a crew of 12 would probably be manning a 150ft yacht, and a 150 ft yacht would have a annual budget in the millions, so in reality not all that different to a CEO of a small/medium sized company.
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 4:57 PM
The first captain I ever worked for was part of a captain/chef team, and he had alcohol issues- like downing 3 double martinis and drinking a bottle of wine at night when we were on charter. As a result, he would tell the rest of the crew to do something, and while we were doing what he had asked, we would get yelled at! He could never remember what he had already told us, and would deny it when someone had the stones to mention it- classic alcoholism. I stuck it out for a season, and was fortunate enough from that experience (the crew agencies said that if I made it for an entire season with them, I could do anything) The next team I worked for were completely different. They worked hard, they had the same expectations of the crew, we were respected, guided and encouraged- the captain lead from the front and lead by example- he was an easy person to work for. As for the captain who is comparing himself to a CEO....while I agree that running a multi-million dollar asset is a HUGE job, and a lot of responsibility, there is very little to stop a captain from running a vessel and the crew in a less than professional manner. A CEO of a company has HR and legal constraints to how he/she may operate, rules on hiring and firing and so on. A number of years into the industry, and quite a few qualifications to help me "climb" the yachting ladder- I am now married to a captain, and we run our boat in the manner of the couple that I so enjoyed working for in the past. That is an example I keep in my mind, and I respect my captain for his hard work and dedication. How do Capt Bligh's expect crew to respect and put in the extra mile and effort, if they lead with less than stellar HR and management skills? In my experience, a great captain sets the tone for the team on the boat, no matter what the itinerary or how crazy the charter/guests may be.
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 8:13 PM
Joined: 01/05/2008
Posts: 41

I agree with that last comment 100% that the vibe comes from the top down - and that's the same whether you're talking about a boat or a company.

To the anonymous captain in this forum, don't worry, we're an equal opportunity magazine; check out the next issue where captains get to whinge about their crew. No shortage of stories there either.

Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 11:49 PM

This does not excuse the Captain's who, by virtue of a total lack of managment experience, run the vessel 'their way' with total disregard for their team. My experience included a Captain who deemed it appropriate to be sleeping with the '17 years his junior'- 2nd Stew. At 20 years of age, new to the industry, and having trouble coping with the environment as it was, this yo-yo relationship made our crew atmosphere absolutely unbearable on a daily basis. If the 'Stew' had a problem with any of the crew, you could bet that they would be in the firing line withing minutes, that is of course unless you weren't her 'Agony Aunt' for the day. It was like being back in Elementary School. Armed with a temper to top it all off, he would regularly explode - at times - with no real reason. I recount one day him completely clearing two tables of breakfast dishes - whilst people were sitting there - very swiftly with his walking cane. We were all working a long, hard 'Med' season with long hours and limited time off, this disruption to our vessel was inexcusable. Many Captain's have wonderful skills, but absolutely no management experience. After 12 years in the business, I have seen plently of really average Captain's and about four that I would drop everything for. Don't assume that climbing a heirarchy and maritime training equips you with the skills to run a boat.

Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2008 12:06 AM

By the way, the industry is FULL of crew trying to 'make a buck'. Not all of them exibit the work ethic associated with this way of thinking. In fact, admit it 'CEO' there must have been a number of time throughout your career that had it not been for the moeny at the time, you would not have stayed.

And you are right, Captain is like a CEO, there is little doubt about it, but a CEO doesn't live with his co-workers in a very small and confined environment for months on end!! There are so many elements to a Captain's job that means if he is missing one, it has a huge difference on the crew - and you would also have to admit working for some really bad ones. I trust that in your position, this has taught you the lessons you need, to ensure they are not passed onto your crew.

A management course for Captain's is a more essential requirement than people think. There is a difference between a captain who just gets the job done and a Captain who maintains an elite standard with minimum fuss and total respect of his crew. I have worked for the latter before and if there more of them, this would be a totally different industry to work in.

Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2008 1:26 AM
I have been in the yachting industry for 6 years now and am niether a deckhand or a stewardess.
I can only speak of two encounters i have had with challenging Captains on the vessels i have worked. While both pesron's had resumes to impress, they shared one common flaw that they both ultimately lost their jobs over - people skills.
In my humble opinion, and i mean humble, there are three cruicial skills that make a good captain.
First, is knowledge.The things that he or she learns in a class room.
Second, is ability. Basic boat handling skills that are practiced and refined with experience.
Thirdly, and what i believe to be most important, is people skills. The ablity to communicate, to listen, to exercise both compassion and discipline equally and to lead by example.
Now, this is only  my opinion, so don't slaughter me over this,  I just believe that when attempting to manage a group of people of various ages and cultural backgrounds, a captain with strong people skills sure makes a difference. I am fortunate enough to finally have a Captain onboard who fits the description , but the boat went through four different people before we found the right cantidate.
It seems that the simplest of life's skills can be one's biggest downfall.

Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2008 3:36 PM
From the "CEO" captain Wish I had never used that comparison......But it made a point I think/hope. I agree with most things said here, and personal/management skills are definetly right at the top of the list. But to the people who are here for a while to make a buck, please put yourself into a captains shoes, and I am talking about captains who make this their life and see many people come and go with their backpacks. It is a ship like any other ship at sea, and the code at sea is the captain is the boss for many reasons, the primary one being safety. I have been in frightening situations with these crew who think they know, but in a situation that requires immediate action are less that capable, YET , get offended and take it personally when the captain addresses them in a manner that leaves no room for discussion. And kinda feel that the point in discussion needs to be analysed and discussed. Captains on merchant vessels do not have this problem as they are dealing with professional seamen. So go easy on this industries captains, it is a "Human Relations" / "Personal Skills" juggling act. We have people arriving on the dock looking for jobs who were secretaries, waiters/esses, lawyers, pharmacists, school leavers(never been on a boat type), stage managers, pre school teachers and so I can go on. I reckon the percentage of "qualified" people in the industry is way lower than the "new to the industry" type. But the industry needs all these people. Yet I think the "never been at sea " types should make a concerted effort to try wrap their heads around the fact that these are ships and do go to sea and their is a lore at sea. Oh yes, I would like to retract the "CEO" comment
Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:20 PM

How many Captains have become Jaded,hung in there for the money whilst becoming  miserable old bastards with a trail of broken relationships and a tormented crew. Blame the stews for looking for a quick buck, most yachties are slaves to the comparitivly easy money. Captains sell their soles for it. For the short term crew the yachting experience is as much a lure as the quick buck.

Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2008 6:57 AM

If you and your crew can play hard (if you want) and then work hard and all sit down after work and have dinner or a drink without bitching about someone else then you have a good crew who will stay with you.

Firm but Fair with a touch of humour will earn (not demand) you respect.

From a captain who always had a good crew. 

Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2008 10:00 PM
As a captain it doesn't pay to be nice, the moment crew see a opportunity they take a mile.  For example, During a rebuild I provided crew with there own car, a very very nice place to get away from the yard downtown in the city life 6 hour work days with weekends off.  A healthy amount for provisions, however once on the boat and working longer hours the music changed.    Crew need to understand that this is not a vacation, there is no where in the world you can make this kind of money with a yacht buck investment, and if you dont like it then there are plenty of other choices for us to choose from.  I advise newly reported crew to keep your gab shut keep your head down and work.  The rewards will be ten fold if you dont follow the drama trail.
Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2008 11:43 PM
A captain that can balance hard work with a bit of fun and humor and respect his crew is the only one that keeps good crew and lasts in the long run. Chief Stew with a Happy Boat
Posted: Monday, November 3, 2008 6:46 PM
I agree.  Captains need to know how to strike a balanc between being the boss and having fun. There's a fine line.
Posted: Monday, November 3, 2008 11:38 PM
Wouldn't it be bloody interesting to do a poll on Best & Worst captains in the industry I think it might put a few of those with their heads too far up their own arses in their place and give thanks to those who really know how to do their jobs properly.  One of the long term hard workers...
Posted: Friday, November 7, 2008 2:20 AM
Anonymous wrote:
Ok, I am a captain and read the article........ Boo Hoo, to predominately the stews.... One thing that seems to be forgotten is the fact that a captain has more than likely worked his way up from being a deckhand and spent a lot of time and money qualifying to be in the position. Unlike a stew (and good luck to them I say) who's entry level is pretty damn easy, just get an STCW and away you go. Hell, this gripe is the same as an article grouching about the CEO of a company and one of the underlings does not like the fact that the CEO does things his way. Remember one thing, captains are mostly in this for the long haul, not a 2 year sabbatical to make some money and then move on to a land based job.

well mister super Captain Kirk who built his way up the ladder and sees it easy for stews...possibly a stew or stewardess on larger megayachts might have built their way up the ladder as well ashore , paying for their hospitality studies as I did , getting the best experience ever working hard at servicing customers at the best resorts in the world from bottom up and then joined the yachting industry on superyachts after getting the STCW 95.

all stews , principally on superyachts beyond 40 meters are truly trained professionals at their task and work as long hours as anyone else on the yacht.they are not greenies from dockwalking in most cases.

most captains on superyachts are trustworthy in the stews /stewardesses ability to cope with owners/charter guests demands and offer a high end expected level of service.

possibly even the rgeat tips you as a skipper profit from do come in part thanks to stews making life easier and comfty for those guests.

case rested.

Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 10:59 AM
A note for crews and Captains. Seemingly many crew (as indicated by their comments) underestimate the effect of the responsibility of running a yacht. I have in the passed tried to increase this awareness by team training and job appreciation, this does work both ways, though while I have been prepared to use my downtime to set this up, many crew have been less willing to use their off days to participate. The adage that it is lonely at the top is well phrased, if the leadership is lax then the team does not unite well, if the leadership is overbearing then the crew rebels, that middle ground in the peak of season, when crew conflicts and workload is intense, is hard to find. Captains are on the job 24/7 even when they manage a few hours free, there is always calls from agents requiring details, owners with schedule changes, suppliers who cannot deliver on time, crew issues, admin issues and that does not take into account that the poor bugger hasn't seen his family in two months. (many Captains are at a maturer stage in life) compare this to many crew who are there for the season and then will spend a couple of months in Thailand while the Captain administrates the yard period. So get together guys and gals, Captains, remember when you were 23 and full of party, and Crew, try to have a thought for the "not always nice" bugger that is running the show, he can't do it without you and vice versa. And those Captains that think they have earned the right to be right, remember what it was like on the receiving end, a Captain is not what you are but what you do, .....
Posted: Thursday, January 1, 2009 9:23 AM

I am amazed, well I shouldn't be really, that besides Kate, the original author of this blog, everyone is choosing to
remain anonymous. (Therefore in this spirit, I shall too! The saint that I am! )

Anyway the best Captain I have had was a guy I have worked for on and off for near on 10 years on the variation of boats he's had. Really nice guy, was keen to pass on his knowledge and believed in happy crew, happy ship. (Mark off Persuader) Worst was a mad drunk captain (Owner to boot!) No qualifications, but would through his weight around once drunk, sober was a nice guy. But when he'd start drinking, normally from 9am with any hard spirit (Tequila, whisky, rum, vodka etc and start throwing empty diesel canisters off the back and try shooting them we'd all comply for crew safety sake. That gig lasted all of an Atlantic crossing.Entire crew got off with me.Had to get the embassy involved on arrival for repatriation as he held all crews passports and salary! But he picked up pontoon walkers in 4 days and left at night without paying his berthing fees! By then I was on a flight home! Madman!

Posted: Thursday, January 1, 2009 5:06 PM
Well said.
Posted: Friday, January 2, 2009 1:26 AM

Interesting topic,


Lets put something new it the equation,


Lets not compare all captains but, A captain coming from the smaller yachts, working his way up to become captain on a bigger yacht trough the old fashion moving up way, is usually better to work for than captains coming straight from the commercial/navy world.  

As more and more commercials are coming in this is quite relevant.


These captains have mostly a lack off experience in dealing with yacht crew issues, not to mention their lack of experience in the hotel department other then drinking and eating in fancy restaurants so now and then.


Just to stir this great topic up…


Posted: Friday, January 2, 2009 1:14 PM

Wow, I might be a bit late jumping in on this blog but I am finding the more I read, the more I cannot resist!  Having been in the industry for 10 years I have seen my fair share of Captains and - wow - in any other industry most would never make it that far!

I hear what our CEO is saying about Stewardesses deciding that they know how to run a boat, having been in the industry for a couple of years, having done an STCW but unfortunately, most of the problem is when they are married to the Captain!  Thats the ones that think that they know better than everyone else - but this is not about Stewardesses, this is about Captains.

I have worked for Captains that are recently divorced and if the crew are not prepared to entertain him socially, you're out!  I have worked for the alcoholic Captain (haven't we all)? I have dated the Captain that was the geek at school and was determined that now people were going to respect him! I have worked for the control freak Captain that put curfews on the crew and told them they were not to stay off the boat (even on days off) without prior permission and they could only have certain days off if they used those days to do what the Captain wanted to do! Then there is the Captain that has never been a Deckhand, Mate, Stewardess or Chef in their life - what the hell would they know about being crew? And god forbid that your personality or sense of humour is a little better than your Captains - especially when it involves an owner or a contractor and you may receive a little more attention!

I did a Degree in Management before I worked on yachts and then worked my way up through the ranks and was promoted to Manager of 45 staff on merit of my people skills and management skills, since when has a Captain worked his way up on these merits?  Lets face it, driving a boat is easy, yeah you spend a lot of money on licensing but it is not rocket science - managing people and remembering how it is to be a Deckhand or the Laundry Girl is rocket science.

And for the record, my best ever Captain was only 32, had a YM Offshore, didn't have an ego, remembered what it was like to be scrubbing the decks had the best people skills and management skills - and to top it all, was an excellent boat handler!

Posted: Saturday, January 3, 2009 4:03 PM
Sounds like you feel intimidated by commercially trained masters. You know they are better trained and vastly superior seamen/women,not merely a bunch of over sexed ,overpaid chancers who would be laughed off the bridge of any commercial vessel. People skills,dont make me laugh,I sailed with some of the biggest bas---- that ever walked the earth but was happy to sail with them because they knew how to handle a ship in a force 10. I always called the master 'Captain ' or 'Sir' even the alcoholic ones. Most especially the alcoholics because they were less aloof and more 'one of the boys/girls. The bigger the ba----- the boss is uually means he's good at his job.Not rocket science e'h, tell that to the scores of sailors who spent a lifetime at sea and never even got on the bridge never mind reaching command.  I'm intrigued the comments posted here. Ex Commercial Master. 
Posted: Saturday, January 3, 2009 6:49 PM
Why would you want to date a geek? confused
Posted: Sunday, January 4, 2009 12:16 AM
Joined: 31/08/2008
Posts: 7

Well I am not surprised this has stirred up such a large amount of comment. Due to the nature of what we do this is bound to happen, we are not taking cargo from one port to another but people – this industry is ALL ABOUT PEOPLE. That is both the good part & the hard part, when you are on a happy well run boat life is good, the boats that the crew “want” to work instead of “having” to work are the ones that have the right mix from top to bottom & bottom to top. There is nothing better than when a group of guest tell you this was the best trip they have ever had.


As a Captain I am not afraid to say there are some really bad guys running boats out there, many of them high profile. In fact on a number of occasions I have seen owners get out of yachting because of them - yes instead of firing the Captain they sell the whole operation. Some of these owners years later have gotten back into yachting but they were shy to do so. To many Captains lose touch with reality sitting at the top of the tree & becoming little dictators in there own little world, I am a big believer in spending a year or two in the real world from time to time to ensure I understand the real value of money, the value of people & interaction in the general community.


Fortunately I have worked for some really top Captains, they are well respected by the crew & owners, people want to work on there operations. These Captains also have the level of confidence in there own ability to train people onboard, the mentoring I received from these Captains has stood me in good stead & I have done the same for other crew who have been going up the ladder. I have met some Captains who will not let the first officer or any of the crew do almost anything, not even drive the tender!!!!!!!!!!!!!


My advice has always been to people getting into this business, to find out who you are working for – just don’t look at the boat.


Mark James

Posted: Sunday, January 4, 2009 11:27 PM
Hi Mark , sounds as if your a really nice guy and wasn't trying to upset any of you but when 'anonymous' attempts to criticise 'Commercials' I had to reply. Why do you assume that people other than yourselves are somewhat lacking in what your generic term is 'people skills'. Ship masters come in all shapes and sizes with differing levels of managerial expertise . Teamwork as you know is essential on any vessel but at the end of the day there is only one place where the buck stops and that is with the master. I must admit I have never worked on yachts but the last vessel I was master on carried 1000 passengers and had 6 mates . Would never be so presumptuous as to title myself as 'captain'. (Commercial with little people skills)
Posted: Monday, January 5, 2009 5:19 PM

Let me make my point a bit more clear.


Why would I be intimidated by a commercial master?? I am in the yachting for over 10 years. Working on yachts up to 100 meters, I do my job with respect for all crew and I am a firm believer in discipline.


The whole point of this discussion is to identify bad and worst captains.

In no way I claim that a commercial trained captain is not good enough to run a yacht.

On the contrary, I think most are ‘’vastly superior’’ (as you claim) in seaman’s ship.


But are they vastly superior in dealing with silly crew issues? Are they willing to clean there own cabin when the stewies are busy? Can they organize their bunkering in such a way that is also convenient for decky’s, stewies and chefs?


Can they fathom that the chef needs fresh bread or fish every morning, fresh flowers for the stewies.. Can they think of tender runs? If you only know how much stress falls off the shoulders of these people when they have a master whom takes all these issues in consideration (read consideration because I understand it is not always possible)


I just analyze the captain, and the skills they have in dealing with crew. With bigger boats coming out there will be more and more captains, engineers and mates coming for the lures of yachting.  I claim commercials have mostly different attitudes and experiences then original yachties.


And you say that you never worked on yachts, so even if you are the best seaman in the world you cannot judge in a way you do, if you feel you are superior then us mere yachties


I have no doubt that yachting is going to a other level, I can see it around me that in the last 5 years huge changes happened, and in my opinion it is not always for the better.

(Same stories I hear from crewing agents and suppliers)


Most large yacht have huge turnover in crews, we have to wonder why?

If you have been working on smaller boats you know where I am talking about.

That’s a different discussion though.


One thing I do have to give you a hard time for though,

Working for a alcoholic master?

Regardless how good he is, a good captain should always show discipline, and he can drink but needs to know his limits!

Lead by example!!


I rest my case now, and I hope you see what I am saying. Not every person is the same,

There are good and bad apples on booth sides.


Take it easy

Posted: Monday, January 5, 2009 7:48 PM
Maybe this is a dumb question, but you know what they say, "the only dumb question is one that you don't ask." So, here goes: what is the difference between a captain and a master? For what it's worth, I have a lot of respect for the commercial guys but the private yachting world is a different world. Not as easy as it looks fellas. Goes both ways though, I doubt that many yacht captains would feel comfortable or even attempt to hop behind the wheel of a 1,000 passenger cruise ship or a 600 ft. freighter.
Posted: Monday, January 5, 2009 10:14 PM
Please look at the post from anonymous who thinks that 'commercials' as he says cannot run a yacht crew. Let me say that I respect all yacht captains as it really is a difficult job dealing with people, much easier with containers as they don't answer back .  I'm British and my certificate describes me as master although out of respect some people refer to me as captain. To be correct though Captain has military conotations which are not usually adopted by commercial ships. Maybe its different in the USA, I 'm not sure? As for the alcoholics , recognizing their existance doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with their lifestyle. Health & Safety laws permit random alcohol checks but believe me they are still sailing the seven seas and looking at this website it seems that its not confined to commercial vessels. I am interested in all ships and it would seem that yachts are getting too large too be refered to as boats and are in fact 'ship' in the true sense of the word. My present job is a River Pilot and I'm 61 years of age,  I started my sea going career at age15 and from here I'm standing you all have a very enviable lifestyle. Anyway I'm sat here bored out of my skull dreaming of sailng on a beautiful yacht so I thought I' wind you all up. My father sailed on an American yacht during WW11 the HMS 'Sumar' this vessel was leased to the Royal Navy and turned into a minesweeper.She was based in Jamaica for the duration of the war. Are there any golden oldies out there who remember this yacht 
Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 9:27 PM

I have alot of respect for the "old salty dogs that scrubbed the decks for 5 years before they were even allowed to touch a line" blah blah blah....I really do, but, as previously mentioned, thats not yachts.  Commercial and Yachts is 2 completely different industries, no comparison whatsoever.  And guess what, it isnt rocket science to be able to drive a boat, going the commercial route these days is even easier than the yacht many times do Commercials do your own weather routing, how many times have you entered an unknown, unlit port as the sun is disappearing - unassisted, in fact, when was the last time you entered any port unassisted? how many times have you picked your way through shallow narrow channels with the Mate hanging off the bow or up the mast directing you through rocks?? 16 hrs of work during the day, then 3 hrs of anchor watch at night?

If yachting was that luxurious, dont you think everyone would be doing it? 

The Captains that come through the Commercial routes have some very strong points, but unfortunately...Yachting is not usually one of them! Its a different industry and just cos you never went to the bridge or drove a tender for 5 years doesnt mean the Deckhand should be treated the same way on a 150ft yacht!

Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 9:28 PM
if you had the faintest idea of what makes a professional Captain you would refrain from writing such tripe. Spend a few "Years" studying, working the proverbial ladder, then take a position where you are fully entrusted with a multi million Dollar asset, the ultimate responsibility for the safety of crew and vessel, the admin duties, the management of people in all aspects of their jobs, training, compliances, technical education...... case closed!!!!!!!!
Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 9:40 PM
I am so confused! Too many anonymous posters, I can't figure out who is arguing with who or responding to who, nearly everyone has the same name: anonymous! Maybe we could help each other out and if we are going to post anonymously give ourselves a number at the beginning of the post, i.e. anonymous 1, 2, etc... Just a thought. And since I can't be positive if any of the anonymous posters were multiples, I'm the anon who asked what the difference between captain and master was.
Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 10:35 PM

To "anonymous" who posted this: many times do Commercials do your own weather routing, how many times have you entered an unknown, unlit port as the sun is disappearing - unassisted, in fact, when was the last time you entered any port unassisted? how many times have you picked your way through shallow narrow channels with the Mate hanging off the bow or up the mast directing you through rocks?? 16 hrs of work during the day, then 3 hrs of anchor watch at night?

Have you seen Deadliest Catch?? I know a yacht captain who used to fish - those guys can handle anything and never sleep. Hats off to you. They fish until the seas reach 50 feet.


Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 10:35 PM
For me the key with Captains, as many of the posts have alluded to, is simply EGO. Those skippers that can keep a head on their shoulders and their feet on the ground are the ones that can empathize with their crews and be accommodating and flexible for their owners and guests. Driving a 150ft boat is an excellent achievement, well done. But It doesn't mean you're an infallible demi-god with divine power and complete control over the minutiae of the crew's life. Humility in captaincy, as with all leadership, is the key to earning respect.

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 2:46 AM


Great to see that the debate is starting to heat up, but we should take a moment to settle down and conduct ourselves professionally as you are all so quick to point out in your  above posts.

I have a point that I would like to add that digresses slightly but still fits the context  of the debate.  I have been in the industry now for 8 years as an engineer and worked my way up the ladder. I came from a career as a commercial pilot so I know what it means to be responsible. I have spent my eight  years working for just two captains. The first, we worked  together for  four years and I left with a glowing written reference. He was an English master  that was stern but friendly and had amazing boat handling skills. He let crew have time off and always encouraged crew to get out and see the world that we operate in,  which has not been repeated since, much to my disappointment.  For example he would always stop in Dominica for a crew day out to explore the island. This was capped off with a run up the Indian river for a bottle of dynamite with the locals.    The second was an Aussie that loved to work hard and play just as hard. When he met a girl and invited her to work on our boat as chef. She had little skills but was eager to learn. She soon grew to dislike me as I was having too much fun with the captain on our days off. The choice was that I go or she leaves him. He chose the former. I found it difficult to get a good job after working for him for three years as he had to fire me for some made up reason. My question that I ask you and myself every day is; what does loyalty buy you in this industry? I mean If I only work for two people in Eight years and one is now retired then that leaves me with one captain that has fired me as my only current  reference. No one cares that I have worked for that same guy on two different boats over three years.  You might ask yourself, why not take it up with the courts? Because that’s not how it works, at least not that I’m aware of.

So in this discussion of bad and good captains. What I would like to know is. At what point do we draw the line. I have a mortgage and a fiancée. Because the captain just wanted a steady root my life gets turned upside down. In the real world this is highly illegal. We accept a few injustices as part of the nature of the industry but what or who is stopping a bad captain from being really bad. I am aware of the ILO as this is all part of my studies but in reality that is not an option....yet.

 I am happily employed on another yacht but a lot of this I put down to the fact that I am an engineer, what if I were a  stew or a decky working for three years for my first captain.  Food for thought.

And by the way I personally think we shouldn’t compare commercial skippers to yacht skippers they are really different jobs.

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 3:13 AM
If being a captain is so hard, why do so many morons hold the positions?

Posted: Thursday, January 8, 2009 2:50 AM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 71

It's not whether a Captain is good, bad or ugly.

The real question is what does a Captain do after yachting?

I think there are great Captains who find it hard to make it ashore when trying to duplicate their success at sea.

Posted: Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:32 PM

Whats the difference between God and a captain?

God doesn't think he's a captain

Posted: Saturday, January 10, 2009 9:43 PM

The Best Captain makes $8 k to $15 k a month.

The Worst Captain makes $4 k to $6 k a month.

Basicly the average is $1,000 a foot, 65+ feet is where

the real world starts, so you figure the numbers.  A deck hand making

a thousand dollars less a month than you the captain, it is time to find

a new job captain because you are not good for the industry!

I am a Captain and Chief Engineer, both current licensed and I make

more as an engineer because engineers are not not shooting each other

in the back.

Example:  A captain and stew team are making $60K together/total

who is hurting the industury, the best captains do not play that game because they

earned their bars in Hr, Pr, and basicly Rules of the road.  They know what the

value of the license is!  It is a proper life and good captains are an examples

of it, (Male or Female).  I do not know one good captain who chases younger

members of the crew or crews who don't believe in the job.  People come and go

and that is business and makes a better person now days. These negative stories

will always be around but as one grows - you will find the best vessels don't have

these problems because everyone helps each other and won't let each other fall into

the Negative Trap.  They are proud when one of the team finds a better position and

usually throw a going-a-way party.  Now thats respect for each other!

Now let the feathers fly - GOD Speed

Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2009 7:29 AM
been there- done that!
I was a captain for 9 years and 8 years previously i had all sorts of positions on Yachts- and run now for 5 years my own company in the Middle East. Nothing compares to the nitty gritty of yachting, then financing, running, competing and working longer hours then running your own show and i really would like to see some of you waking up, in what pampered environment you are in. No money worries and endless action on all borders and I really found it interesting to read how ignorant you all look at the daily 'war' out on the streets.
Time to wake up i would say and wonder if any of these so called captains would stand any chance in the days life of business- but looking at the present crisis, I am more then convinced , that soon a lot of people will face the real world.

BTW, yachting is fun and no one forces you to stay in this industry - only be aware that there is nothing to be earned , which qualifies you for anything else...then yachting!

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 2:48 AM

I have spent 10 years working on sail and power boats from 60'up to 110'.The last 4 as Captain on a 70'expedition power yacht ,i hold a RYA OCEAN 200/T. I love the private yachting industry ,and i have decided to further my studies . Thus i have enrolled at the Australian Maritime Acadamy  in Tasmania to study for my Mate/Master >500 /T,  this is a  Australian Maritime Saftey Authourity accepted course in other words this is a Commercial  industry accepted certification ,the MCA  Master/mate  500/T is not . I understand that the MCA rating is accepted in the Pleasure industry , but i wanted to get the very best education with a broader perspective , so i decided to do the AMSA  certification the course is 8 months fulltime ,as compared to 2 or 3 months for the MCA certification ,so its more of a commitment but i belive will be worth it in the long run .this i feel will give me the very best skills that come from the commercial indusrty and i will be able to continue in the Pleasure Yacht industry working on the finer refinements of putting together a top notch crew and expereince for the Owners and guests . So to me its not about the comparision its about the practical intergration of avaiable education and personal experience .

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 11:34 AM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1026

I was coming across the North Sea last December...hard Westerly gale, zero visibility and snow.  We were hanging on for dear life.   Passed just south of a gas platform and watched 2 professional commercial captains working underneath the rig in 4 meters waves and driving snow.  I WOULD NEVER COMPARE MY SKILLS AS A YACHT CAPTAIN with these professionals.......Junior.
Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 2:17 PM

I have been a commercial captain for ten years and worked on deck for 12 prior.  I am in my mid-30's.  The biggest differences to me between commercial captains and yacht captains is definitely the level of experience and the general sense of urgency.

When you are responsible for 500 or so passengers and 100 or so rotating staff you get a different value system than when you have 12 crew and some guests.  Also, with yachts I feel that a captain is going to be less inclined to stand up to behavior that is unacceptable aboard a voyage for fear for a job or alienating an owner.  In the commercial sector, you do not have this option.  In yachting, you really are only responsible to the owner in your mind, while in commercial, you are responsible for a higher level of safety as well as being accountable to the Coast Guard or other flag authority.  There is also the matter of engineering.  Most captains that are worth anything in the commercial sector can and do have the capability to not only manage the engineering department, but be able to fix problems along side or even in place of the engineer.  In yachts, I see alot of subcontracting things that should be able to be taken care of in-house.

Even a yacht worth 200 million dollars does not have the same value as a vessel carrying passengers. 

I operate vessels alongside yachts knowing that the captains do not abide by the same chemical testing guidelines as we do, which concerns me as well.

I have seen yachties work there way up to captain in only a few years and that does not give the management experience neccessary to make important decisions.  Two years on deck of a yacht is not two years on deck of an inspected vessel.  Unfortunately, the training academies will guarantee you will pass a test and then you are a captain.  You are not.  I do not hire captains from yachts unless they have had some commercial experience or are willing to learn as a Mate. 

The really superior captains I know were born with it in there blood and did not choose their career sitting in the cold somewhere dreaming of how great it would be to be a yacht captain or crew.

My experience has been in the 130'-220' range and I can only compare to this, not big ships.


Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 1:08 AM
[Comment deleted by forum moderator for breaking the forum guidelines]

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:17 AM
Ha! Ha! Ha!-love the monkey comment! 
Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:48 AM
I think the racial slur on philipinos is ugly, and whoever called them monkeys is an ignorant ass. Just by being in born in a first world country you have "won" so to speak and have started out life with so many more advantages. I think it really sucks the way that phillipinos work just as hard or harder and get paid less than their 1st world crewmates. Hell, they get taken advantage of at every step, by the crooked crew agencys who make them pay huge amounts of money, to the yachts themselves and plenty of others in between. The yachting industry has taken a page out of the cruise ship biz and it's just not right.
Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:27 AM
You are absolutely correct. I have been a chef on large yachts for the past 5 years. In that time I too have had the best and the absolute worst of Captains. I have always hung in there and its mainly caiused I think by crew always wanting to take that "mile" I am of the mind like what you said, we are here to work, its not a holiday and in my management style is -when time permits, enjoy and have fun. When the game is on you had better be on your game. To new crew wanting to get in the industry please take note of the the previous post.

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:30 AM
Sorry not the previous post, I was replying to one earlier on.

 Average 4.5 out of 5