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Managing a large crew
Anonymous
Posted: Friday, December 19, 2008 3:45 PM

Dear Crew Confessor, The owner I work for recently bought a new yacht that is considerably larger both in size and the number of crew, than I am accustomed to (in the role of Captain). The last time I was on a boat with this many crew I was a deckhand and it was a long time ago. I am fully qualified and confident about the nuts and bolts of running the new boat but it is managing such a larger crew that concerns me most. I don't have any specific problems yet, we're still in the stage of hiring the additional crew we need but I'm beginning to appreciate what an asset working with your wife or girlfriend could be (as the purser or chief stew) but I have to meet her. I feel confident about hiring people with the proper qualifications but it's putting together the right personalities that concerns me most. To make matters more complicated we will be doing a circumnavigation and consequently cruising in remote areas. If I make a mistake, replacing crew could be expensive and difficult. My question/request to you is for some overall solid advice. As a person/man and a Captain I believe in the old adage of work hard, play hard. If you have any hiring tips or bright ideas on setting the right tone from the beginning, they would be very appreciated. I want to be a fair Captain that is stern enough that my crew will respect me for my own hard work and high standards; a crew that will look to me for guidance and answers and never be afraid to approach me with a question. Signed, Captain Now Playing with a Larger Deck


Anonymous
Posted: Friday, December 19, 2008 3:47 PM

It sounds like you sincerely care about this subject, which is a good step. I currently manage, and have managed several restaurants, and have been offered other opportunities as well. I feel that the the best thing a manager can do is provide a fair, fun and professional workplace where the employees enjoy spending time together, and with the guests. A workplace built on mutual respect and professionalism will be a productive one. I am not a whip cracker, so I like to see people get along or get out. I have been fortunate to manage a few good teams, also some so so slackers, but we always get along at the end of the day. Just my opinion. One good thing I have learned is to ask questions, like what would they do if they were in charge, what type of policies wold they set, how would they deal with... and etc. I have been asked questions during an interview like, if you could be an animal what would you be and why? Or if I gave you a watermelon, what would you do with it? You can get a good grasp on a personality this way. I am looking to enter the industry asap as a deckhand, and would like to eventually circumnavigate. If you would like my info, just post below and I'll give you my email. Good Luck!!! I said I would make a helmet out of the watermelon, my interviewer laughed and I got the job!


Crew Confessor
Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 8:08 PM
Joined: 20/11/2008
Posts: 94


Dear Captain Now Playing with a Larger Deck, You have perfect timing. A substantial article, tailor made to your needs can be found in the latest (January 09) issue of Dockwalk. "Modern Day Magellans" is chock a block full of excellent advice for the captain preparing to cruise beyond the typical Caribbean/Med, New England itineraries. As you have already recognized crew selection is always a vital component to a successful yachting program but it is even more critical in a case such as yours. If the stewardess turns out to have PMS 25 days out of 30 replacing her in Patagonia might present a challenge. This is not the time to give newbies to the industry their first job, you have too much at stake. Tried and true crew with an excellent work ethic and an overwhelming desire to embrace the adventure and travel aspect of the position is paramount. Careful resume and reference checking is paramount. I'd also suggest that you seriously consider couples for at least some of the positions if you can. Couples can add a lot of stability to your program and miss less the wild shore life that young singles might. I'd also be especially careful of your choice of chef. Provisioning and cooking on a yacht with a program such as you anticipate is vastly different from chartering in the familiar waters of the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. Consider paying careful attention to time off for the crew as well. Even the best crew will eventually begin to get on each others nerves and will need time away from the boat. Make plans for this in advance, not as an afterthought, keeping in mind that this is yachting and owners and circumstances can often change but at least it's a start. A certain amount of cross training can really help you to be able to give time off to crew; i.e. make sure at least one of the stews is quite capable of preparing meals for the crew and even some basics for guests, deckhands should know how to do laundry etc... I'd venture to say that you are likely to be successful simply by the tone of your letter. Recognizing that one doesn't know it all and actively seeking suggestions says much for your character and likelihood of putting together a great crew and providing your owner with the yachting experience of a lifetime. Keep checking back on this forum, as I have no doubt crew and other captains will express some of their own suggestions here. Good Luck and Fair Seas, Your Crew Confessor
 
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