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Keeping your job in a bad economy
Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2009 3:11 PM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 71

Enabling the owner to contain costs and preserve the vessels condition, when times are tough is best way to keep your job. Use teamwork correctly, evoke synergy and enable people to deliver results which are greater than the sum individual efforts and capabilities.


It’s everyone’s job to make it happen.


Communicate & organize


Communication, taking time to measure the true scope of work and organizing the yachts manuals and work lists will facilitate positive change.


Review & prioritize


Review the yachts general arrangement drawing, go over each deck level, interior space and exterior space, take notes and make priorities.


Down-to-earth objectives


Realistic objectives that are proportional to the yachts needs and coordinating everyone’s efforts means, thinking about what you’re doing.


Set milestone dates


Make a calendar and display each team’s goal, encourage people to provide feedback that helps coordinate work and avoids duplication of tasks. Close out jobs in sequence.


Press for performance and share resources


Make the entire team accountable, share resources and help others with planning.


A team failing to achieve objectives will eventually learn how to set achievable plans.


Reward positive achievement in simple ways


Say thanks now and then.

Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2009 4:31 PM

Well Dean it all sounds good.  Does this imply that normally,in a good economy when your confident in your job, you park your tools, buy a set of golf clubs and play as few holes ?? ? 

  I see plenty of skippers with golf clubs,  but not one in the shipyard today double checking that everything is prepared for the yard workers in the morning.  I guess these skippers are confident in the economy ?  So many ways to save the owner money.  Or perhaps they take the easy way out and fire a few crew.

Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2009 11:40 PM
Blah, blah blah. Management speak won't help anybody but managers to keep their jobs. Just do your job correctly and hope for the best. We're all expendable no matter how "pro-active" we are.
Posted: Monday, April 27, 2009 1:15 AM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 71

I’m trying to steer away from the negative. Nevertheless I absolutely agree some people need to improve their work ethics. Nevertheless stabbing at the Captain never really achieves much and quite honestly if he can find time to play golf I want to know the secret.


I’ve had all manner of Captains, good, bad, ugly and drunk. Each of these Captains taught me something.


The reason why some Captains appear to do nothing and get away with it is very simple “Communication”. How you are perceived and the techniques you use to validate your salary are real life skills many crew fail to comprehend.


As an engineer I’ve learnt the difference between working hard and working smart.


Working hard can get you only so far, and this is precisely why it is important to take time and analyze the work process and magnify your output.


For example I can reduce the time required for a generator oil and filter service by 50% if I organize my tools, spares and cleaning materials first.


Bean counters, owners and Captains for that matter don’t care how hard you work, they care about how well you work and whether you perform a useful task for them.


Mr. Anonymous Captains and Managers are part of the topography, like it or not.



Posted: Monday, April 27, 2009 10:43 AM

" The reason why some Captains appear to do nothing and get away with it is very simple “Communication”. How you are perceived and the techniques you use to validate your salary are real life skills many crew fail to comprehend. "


Dean, your dead wrong. This is [content removed by moderator].   Ive worked on yachts everyday of my life. 35 years.  The only thing that separates me from all the  gin and tonic boat drivers is knowledge.
    My job as captain is to continuously pass this lifetime of knowledge on the my crew.  Last week I changed the oil bath prop shaft seals and thrust bearing on the yacht.  There is no way that I will let you, the engineer, attack this job without my supervision.  I have changed the oil baths seals on yachts a dozen times.  I know what mistakes mean.  My knowledge will prevent you from making a mistake and forcing a haul out in mid season to fix it.  My knowledge will prevent mistakes everywhere on the yacht, speed up the schedule and save the owner money.  My supervision and knowledge will make you a better crew.
    You can not allow crew to work unsupervised.  I must be on site every day. I must supervise the sub contractors.  Any captain that thinks otherwise is a boat driver with no skills to pass on to his crew and hence  might just as well hang out at the Captains Lounge with a cold beer and phone the owner for more money..  This industry is overflowing with these guys.  They are very poor value to the yacht. one hour I go into the port fuel tank, while my crew goes into the stb tank.  We are removing sludge. I will not allow my crew  to perform these jobs is dangerous when you are ingnorant. I am not ingnorant, I know how to rig an airsupply. I am terrible at golf.

Posted: Monday, April 27, 2009 11:56 AM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 71

Mr. Anonymous


At the end of the day lets agree to disagree, the status quo of yachting is not going to change overnight.


A captain’s failure to teach, manage and supervise merely provides an opportunity for crew to excel as a team. A good crew can carry a bad captain, whereas a good captain can not carry a bad crew.


There is always something to do on a boat and a good captain provides boundaries, guidance, structure and positive support to the crew.


A vagrant captain is no fun, neither is a micromanaging tyrant.


My original point was about job retention, team work and synergy. The economic purge today and tough employment market will prompt change, but the cycle of life will remain the same.


Your point about knowledge holds very true, and I am glad to see you’re a good teacher.


Good teachers are expert communicators and this is my precise point. Positively influencing others, learning how network, manage and express ourselves intelligently enhances an individuals net worth.



Posted: Monday, April 27, 2009 6:04 PM

"There is always something to do on a boat and a good captain provides boundaries, guidance, structure and positive support to the crew. "


A good captain ?   I meet very few. In the past 15 years the huge number of yachts built has far exceeded the number of skilled captains.   

      Ill tell you what Dean, on Dockwalk at this moment is an article on hibernating yachts. To gain an insight into the mind of a  "good captain" read the piece.  In this interview the captain  describes how, to save the owner money and keep the yacht in good order, he has fired the crew and kept on a stewardess to clean the inside and a deckie to clean the outside  while he presss buttons to make sure everything works  !!! Think of this  craziness Dean.  A clean yacht that is slowly falling apart under the watchful eye of a well paid captain.   NO ENGINEER !!! 

      The engineer is the only crew who knows every fault, weak point and detail of the ship.  If a yacht is going to stand still this  is the perfect time to slowly and methodically maintain the yacht. An engineers dream. An owners dream and A very good way to spend a limited budget.
    The object of  mothballing  is to maximize the efficiency of  labour, save money and perfect the yacht while  she sleeps. If I were the Owner I would fire the captain ,since I wont be needing any boat drivers, then promote the engineer to  " supervisor of  marine operations ".  I would then  instruct this engineer to hire on two all purpose crew  of his choice and  do what ever it takes to keep the yacht in first class order..
   What is this captain going to do...push a button, find out  that the equipment doesn't work then call a subcontractor in to change the fuse  !  An engineer can accomplish this task in 5 minutes with a voltmeter for no additional cost to the owner. 
    Dean, in this brave new world I would recommend to owners of yachts  that they upgrade the position of  engineer  and downgrade the position of captain.  When It comes time break her out of mothballs and mix up gin and tonics ,  I will simply instruct my trusted engineer to visit a crew agent and retrieve a boat driver off the shelf for the cruise.  When the Cruise is over , put  the driver back on the shelf.  This is the future. This is how you will maximize efficiency. A shore captain adds very little value to a yacht,  a skilled engineer is the ultimate bargain..
   Dean, To add value to your position and preserve your job you must spread this  word amoung owners and management companies.

Posted: Monday, April 27, 2009 10:35 PM
Actually, in this time of mothballing. captains are not needed, redundant, but to keep the machinary and expensive part of the yacht/ship going, engineers, or. at least AN engineer will be kept on. When the industry was doing well, GOOD crew supported and respected each other, Now, in hard times, we have developed a nasty Blame culture. No -one is not Dependant on the rest of the crew being bad, but ALL are dependent on the whole crew being very good. TEAM WORK. Those who understand this, will survive, those who don't, will not, stop bickering against each other, stop knocking the good, crew who are actually trying to give you (crew) a way to survive the current issues,
Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 3:42 PM

To the anonymous two posts up, I know the captain who was interviewed for that hibernation article and he is also a licensed engineer. Not all captains are useless boat drivers who call subcontractors for everything - this one is definitely not. In fact, it's crewmembers like these engineers/captains, the multi-skilled, multi-licensed crew, who will survive the bad economy.

Basically I disagree with your premise that captains are just boat drivers. A good captain is much, much more and I've had the privledge of working with a lot of good captains. I'm sorry your experince is otherwise.

Captain Rocky
Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 4:46 PM
Joined: 09/05/2008
Posts: 5

Indeed, many of us Captains have served as both Captain AND Engineer on board vessels over 100 feet. I happen to be one of them and your remarks are WAY off base since you have no idea what qualifications this particular Captain may have. In many cases Captains on new builds live with the vessel during construction so if ANYBODY was intimately familiar with the inner workings it would be him/her.
Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 5:00 PM

I'm glad to see that your sticking up for your Good Captain buddy.  Perhaps he is a fine engineer.   And nice to see that he managed to keep his job in this bad economy.    The fact remains that when a yacht is hibernated,  it is put into maintenance mode.  This captain kept service staff and fired his maintenance staff,  the  engineer and the mate.  The engineers sole job on a yacht is  system maintenance.  A mate is always a  multipurpose  maintenance crew.
    This captain and  his Two full time, fully insured,  room and board,  boat cleaners represents a very poor value for any owner.  I can hire a dayworker to wash the boat at ten euro per hour and since Im a big boy I can do my own laundry and cleanup without the need for a dedicated  interior staff.     Engineering subcontractors charge 60 euro per hour, bill for travel time and do not know the yachts machinery  history.  This owner is being shortchanged,  the yacht will deteriorate  but  at least it will be clean and  the captain did indeed keep his job..


Captain Rocky
Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 5:26 PM
Joined: 09/05/2008
Posts: 5

I think you've missed the point. Perhaps the Captain IS the Engineer, or at least as qualified, therefore keeping the yacht perfectly maintained, keeping the insurance company happy, and can take the yacht out without having to "Pull a boat driver off the shelf" as you so delicately put it.
Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 6:00 PM

Rocky, its entirely possible that he was the captain and engineer on that 40 meter yacht.   Near superman if you ask me.  I'm a captain Rocky and I'm an Engineer...35 years of it.  I am presently in the shipyard and tomorrows work list is to remove the retractable bow thruster and change the shaft seals.   My engineer cant handle it himself, to big, to intense , so I am helping him.  Neither my stewardess, nor deckhand would be able to lend worthwhile assistance on this project.  I would never, ever think of dismissing my maintenance crew and keep on boat cleaners if the owner decided to cancel the season and put the yacht into maintenance mode.

   This blog post was about how to preserve your job in an economic downturn.  I recommend to any young crew out there, crew who are just starting their career, to become an engineer.  If you are near my yacht you are valuable, I will protect your job.

Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 7:35 AM
"this post"Actually, in this time of mothballing. captains are not needed, redundant, but to keep the machinary and expensive part of the yacht/ship going, engineers, or. at least AN engineer will be kept on. When the industry was doing well, GOOD crew supported and respected each other, Now, in hard times, we have developed a nasty Blame culture. No -one is not Dependant on the rest of the crew being bad, but ALL are dependent on the whole crew being very good. TEAM WORK. Those who understand this, will survive, those who don't, will not, stop bickering against each other, stop knocking the good, crew who are actually trying to give you (crew) a way to survive the current issues, Was not in any way knocking Captains, many of wom I know are also engineers, my own husband is duel qualified, ex merch, master and chief engineer 3000 kws, however, when you have large yachts, that require full unlimited engineers, or engineer 6000 or 9000 kws then the captain can not legally run a duel role, and insurance companies wll insist when a yacht is mothballed that th engineers, must stay, but the captain (whether a driver or much more skilled) is not required. Sorry that I hit a nerve, was in no way an insult, just n observation, of what has happened on several 50m + including several over 70m
Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 7:40 PM
Joined: 10/05/2008
Posts: 21

Dean, I think you make some great points about what should happen in the yachting industry reguardless of the economy. I do feel that so many crew are able to take the easy way out and subcontract work that they should otherwise be doing. While Mrs. Anonymous, I do not work on a 50 or 70+ meter yacht, I know the value of my job working on a yacht. As the build captain/engineer on a 92' yacht with only one other crew member, I have a lot on my plate. Every program is different, designed to fit the owner of the yachts needs. Some require lots of service and others just want things to work when they come for a trip, it is the owners choice where they spend the money. Lets try to keep the owners from mothballing the yachts. If they want to cut the budget, see what you can do to make things run smoother with budget cuts. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out trying to find the cheapest way to do something, after all it is a yacht and it was his choice to buy it. But, I have found many ways to cut costs. Just going to different marinas that are not as expensive as IGY. Running the boat at a slower speed to conserve fuel. I have been able to cut $100,000+ out of our budget, working with the owner to stay in one place for a month or more to get discounted rates. Taking shorter trips and utilize places that we are near. If he gives me the time then I can do the varnish, waxing etc. I have been able to accomplish these things without compromising the saftey or integrity of the yacht, and have kept my crew on salary as well. I can also still find time to play golf (though I don't play). Lets work with the owners and hopefully we will all come out of this downturn better for the wear. I definetly get nervous about the boss shutting down the program and having to look for another position, I am trying to keep one more yacht owner in the industry.
Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 8:15 PM
Joined: 04/09/2008
Posts: 3

To Mr. Anonymous who posted on the 28 April 2009.

I personaly must say that you are just as close minded as the Captain, who you want to bash/describe in your post. I am neither an Engineer nor a Captain. But I believe that every crew member and crew position has it's values. You simply seem to focus on the engineering side of things and nothing else! That is a shame! A captain does soooo much more then just drive the boat, that is the smallest part of his duties. He is the brain of the entire oparation, from managing the crew, administration, accounting, MCA regulations, insurance claims etc. Can you body work without your brain?? No, it doesn't process your food, it doesn't make you see. But it keeps your entire body running. You can live without a leg, without an arm. Try that without a brain! Good Luck!

As far as mouthballing a Yacht and cuting down on crew. I would say that one person per department should be kept, in order to maintain the Yacht at the current standard. Interior needs just as much attention and maintenace as the engine room. If you wish to know exactly what it is a Stewardess does, please do not hesitate to post back and I shall email you a winter maintenance list that I run on my Yacht. I am sure some of the Captain's out there can do the same, feel you into what it is that they do in the bridge or their office all day.

I agree with Dean's posts. We need to communicate better, be more organised and work as a Team. Everyone is valuable, and we are only as strong as our weakest memeber. Let's start working together and communicating instead of bashing certain crew positions/roles. That would be ignorant and a backwards step.


Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 9:32 AM
i would love that engineer to deal with all the paper work...what got to do 9-5 paperwork as well as all the engineering?? poor guy would have a breakdown. he would have to work 24 hrs a day.
Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 10:18 AM
9 to five paperwork ?  Run that by me one more time.   I spend Monday mornings and Friday afternoons on paper.  Eight  to 10 hours a week plus a few full days each quarter.   The only captains I know who  9 to 5 the paperwork are searching for arbitrage opportunities in the ships accounting.  This does indeed take time.
  Logic says that since you seem to be stuck  into mountains of paper it would  be more cost effective to sub contract this work out to a professional yacht management company who has a full staff of office workers.    The yacht owner will realize that the  way to save  money  during tight economic times  and  preserve the value of his asset  is to mothball the skipper , double up on the engineering maintenance  department and employ a first class management company to oversee the office work.
Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 11:28 AM
Joined: 09/09/2008
Posts: 78

 First off, this posting everything as anonymous has to go. Grow some nads or it weakens everything you write. Dean, did you just come from wallstreet? I see the drival that you posted and it makes me want to puke. As a capatain of just under 30 yrs and the same boat owner for the last 15 , I have to say that if I was in a position to lay off crew, then I would probably see you as the weakest link and would let you go and if your position was needed to be filled find someone out of the layed off to fill it. Down to earth objectives? One too many motovational posters I think. When I hire someone, then I hire them becouse they can do their job without someone standing over them, if you have to micro manage them then there is no use having them. Your goal is to do your job and thats all. There is always something to do, I have never seen a boat that didn't have something to do and have pointed stuff out to people when needed. As to the fool whining about the Captains not doing anything, look for a position on shore, becouse you probably will not be employed for long. One of the abilities of a captain is to see and hear all, you would be surprised and they do not tolorate attitudes like yours. A captain does more than you will ever guess, at hours when you are in the pub complaining about how you work harder. When a vessel goes into mothball, in most cases the captain is the last to go becouse, the insurance will not allow it, he has more knowledge of multiple jobs. As to the captain that changed the oil baths seals on yachts a dozen times, what the heck are you doing? Is it a fetish of yours? Maybe you need to change your habits? I would say you need to hire another engineer, and let him do his job. To all out there that do not want to be the weakest link, do your job, keep a good attitude and keep busy, if your main work is completed see if you can be of assistance with someone else, if not clean something. Unless your position dictates it, do not tell anyone else what to do, do not whine. If you are the last one in and the first to leave odds are you will be the first to go.JMHO
Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 2:11 PM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1026

Well Captain Erik,  I rather like the way Dean thinks. 
   Personally I'm not one of those management guru types,  but Dean's writings are coherent.  More power to you Dean.  Nice to see a yacht crew who takes interest in his job and is personally trying to improve his efficiency.  This is the mark of a professional crew.
   Dean,  One thing I suggest is for you to highlight the position and contributions of the  engineer directly with yacht owners by writing articles that they read.  The glossy yachting mags.
    Ive been running yachts for over thirty years and I'm confident that the owner has no idea about challenges, hours and the attention to detail an engineer puts in.   Everything always works as new and machine space still looks like it just came from the werft in the Netherlands.  Almost like magic.
    And remember, captains instinctively take credit for any operational success that the yacht enjoys...the captain  is a big man.  He will never let his ego be infringed upon.  I got it fixed !  I ordered it !  I did the paperwork !   Unfortunate but true.   

    Observe how these guys  must put Capt before their name when they comment on dockwalk. I guess this is their way of telling us little people that they really, really, really  know what they are talking about.  Ego.
   Don't direct your thoughts at captains Dean, direct them at owners and management.


Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 3:11 PM
Dean, your input to this industry over the years including the articles you have written are appreciated. I take something positive from each one. The fact is some Yachts are going into reduced expense mode. Multiskilling and team work is more neccesary , organization, defined goals and objectives of that is critical. This also becomes a great time for younger crew to cross train. During this time some people slack off, some get in and do an honest days work. The slackers know who they are. To some of the crew bashing Captains playing golf, don't presume you know his deal with the owner, he does and has more to lose. Plenty of owners consider a Captain un-organized if he can't fit in golf during the down time. He hired you, he can fire you. As for the manning requirements during this time, that decision may already have being made by the Insurance company and flag state. As soon as you think you are indespensible, you become despensible.
 Average 5 out of 5