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The captain is functioning alcoholic...Help!
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2009 2:17 PM
Dear Crew Confessor, After a number of years away from yachting I elected to take the summer off from my "real" job and to cook for an old friend of mine who is captain of a lovely yacht, for the season in New England. This is a captain with whom I have sailed many thousands of miles in years gone by, and a man whom I both respect as a seaman and mariner, and as a man of intelligence and grace. The boat was lovely, the owners as nice as owners can be, and the rest of the crew was terrific as well. Sounds perfect, right? It took me a little while but I figured it out. My old friend the captain has a major drinking problem. Major. He was easily going through a bottle of Stoli a night. You would never know it by his demeanor though, he always seemed perfectly fine, and never appeared or complained of a hangover. Still, I was making excuses for him, not wanting to believe what a serious problem he had until one day, on our way back from Nantucket I grabbed his coffee mug by mistake and took a sip, it was seriously spiked. I tried to have a heart to heart with him just before I left at the end of the season but he dismissed my concerns and began to get angry. I want to help him. I am also very concerned that he could pose a danger to others. Now what?
Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2009 1:32 AM
This is very sad. No shortage of alcoholics in this business. Don't go to see with this bloke again, what if he's blacked out when the engine room starts flooding??!
Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2009 2:18 PM
Hi As someone who has worked with those suffering from Alcoholism the best advise I can give is to continue to be his friend and offer support. Whilst I say offer support, let me qualify. Be his friend, support him emotionally, but with tough love. By no means should you make excuses for him, defend his actions, or his illness. Offer to take take him to an AA meeting or to an Alcohol Consoler or rehab center. It is ad to sit by and watch our closest friend and associates killing them selves one drink at a time. But the nature of this disease is that it tells the drinker that they do not have a problem. Unfortunately your friend will not do anything about his addiction until he has hit bottom, gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired, decides he has a problem and really wants to do something about it. As this issue effect the friend and family suggest that you amy want to speak to someone form Alanon, a support group, for more information and to provide you with better skills in dealing with your friend in a manner that will assist him in getting the help he needs, and the information you need to deal with this issue. Now the hard part. If your friend is operating under the influence, he is putting yours and others lives at risk. He is also putting his owner at risk, God forbid something should happen, of being legally responsible for any damage or injury should an incident occur whilst he is under the influence. From an insurance point of view, well lets just say in most cases, will just walk away. Stay detached, be his friend, support from a distance, and remember he is suffering a disease that can be treated. Good luck. AA and Alanon can be found on the internet and are normally listed in the phone book
Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2009 4:22 PM
Joined: 07/10/2008
Posts: 1

this is a very sad thing. Before I got into yachting 12 years ago, I worked and lived in Boston. My boss was a 'functioning alcoholic', until he finally became and 'unfunctioning alcoholic." He had a great wife, two great kids, ran a very successful family business with his brother and cousin. Basically, he had the world on a string. I became aware of his problem about a year into working with him. Suddenly, he was coming to work drunk, visibly, would sneak out to go for a "walk", and we are sure he was going to his car or a bar for a drink. He would also drink mouthwash, because it, too, had alcohol in it. He ended up going onto rehab, which was unsuccesful, and eventually after several years, drank himself to death in a hotel while away on a business trip. He was only in his 50's. (I had left Boston and was at sea by this time). Your friend has to get help, and he has to stick with it, or he will meet a sad ending.
Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 2:56 AM
How many people reading this are shaking their heads and wondering, is it so and so? The fact is, all facets of this "industry" are riddled with alcoholics. Booze is a huge part of yachting. At every boat show it flows like water.
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2009 2:46 AM
I just got fired over the captain of my yacht getting drunk and going off. He's a mean drunk and when confronted the nexted day he apologized to me. Then he set me up with the owner. He said I hacked the computer and view confidential files. If only I was that computer literate. I am now looking for a good job once again. Captain lied and has zero integrity.
Posted: Friday, September 25, 2009 12:42 AM

It's not just the Captains that drink too much and because yachties spend so much time working it’s only  and natural that they find equally demanding forms of release when they have time off.


Most yachties love their water sports, enjoy working out and are always on the lookout for sightseeing opportunities and adrenaline rushing activities like skiing, sky diving, hiking, biking, surfing and so forth.


Fitting in a dive, finding a place to water ski or traveling to that hiking spot 20 km away is not always possible and consequently it becomes much easier to Binge Drink and start downing copious amounts of alcohol at the local watering hole, and eventually stagger back to the boat, only to wake the next morning with a thumping hang over and a vague recollection of the previous night.


Binge drinking is often associated with physical or social harm. Perfectly good people make terribly bad decisions when intoxicated and this is precisely why many strictly ran boats are dry boats.


Binge drinking can be defined as drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated, often through the heavy consumption of alcohol within a short period of time.


Binge drinking is socially accepted in many of the countries yacht crew hail from, and so binge drinking is regularly confused with social drinking and the use alcohol for relaxation.


Many people say they are social drinkers, and yet they cannot imagine socializing without alcohol. Does this mean some of these people are alcoholics?

Overstepping the line with alcohol

It's often difficult for people to tell when they're crossing the line into dependency. Generally, you are crossing the line if you:

1. Become socially abusive or fought with co-workers for no apparent reason.

2. Change in tolerance to alcohol.


3. Ever defend or hide your drinking and can't remember what happened after drinking a little too much.


4. Have had problems you've due to your drinking.


5. Resent other people's advice who wants you to drink less.


6. Use alcohol to help you get through painful situations or feelings.

7. Vandalized property

8. You regularly drink alone.

Look At Yourself

If you've wondered about your own drinking, look at yourself honestly. Ask yourself why, how often, and in what situations you drink. Think about the effects of your drinking on other people: employers, co-workers, friends and family.

Look at whether you drink more or less than others, regularly work with a hang over and see a decline in your work performance, fitness and general well being.


Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2009 4:30 PM
This subject hits close to home...For those in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County has many AA and Al-Anon meetings. In the interest of sharing information, AA has an office downtown with 24-hr hotlines: 305 S Andrews Ave (954) 462-0265 or (954) 462-7202 I myself am in recovery, and I am not the only one affiliated in yachting who has sought help. Alcoholism does not discriminate on gender, race, socio-economic or any other factors. I hope that if this posting helps JUST 1 person, it is worth it.
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2009 6:48 PM
Just to continue from the above posting...I am anonymously posting this info as a sign of my respect for AA. If you choose to attend a meeting, "open" mtgs welcome all, and can be a great source of information. You do not have to identify yourself OR state that you are an alcoholic. In fact, those in mgmt positions could gain understanding in general. My other rec. for anyone wondering is that there is "44 questions" that can help clarify in your own mind. Also attending a speaker mtg can a great way to get to know AA. "what you hear here, who you see here, let it stay here" is a fundamental of ALL 12-step programs.
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2009 7:18 PM

Yachting promotes the consumption of alcohol in crew magazines, at every event and portrays an unrealistic version of professional yachting by focusing on the party lifestyle.


Alcoholism and substance abuse is definitely one of yachting’s dirty secrets. A drunken captain probably learned how to be a drunk when he was a crew member and just followed in the foot steps of his mentor.


When will our industry grow up and promote events which capture the imagination of energetic crew and enable people to regularly participate in socially responsible events that don’t make alcohol a focal point.


I never thought I had a drinking problem until I got a DUI and was made accountable for my actions. The counseling I received transformed my social habits and made me realize that I drank too much when I had a bad day or was dealing with stressful working conditions for extended periods.


They say you average person drinks and drives forty (40) times before they get caught.


Yachties binge drink regularly and this is alcoholic behavior.


How many crews do you think drink drive when they go out on a bender?


Perhaps somebody should stand bye with a breathalyzer at one of Ft Lauderdale’s infamous watering holes and see what the average blood alcohol reading is at 1130PM.

Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2009 8:17 PM


I'm an alcoholic,

I'm in yachting, and to tell you the truth.... since I'm  sober, everything in my life tastes better.

Everything! Results of my efforts = 400%!

Professionaly, sexualy, and... the flavors&smells of life and friendship!

It's a pleasure to be alive.

thank you for bringing the subject



Great...that's just great.
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2009 9:32 PM
Joined: 25/08/2009
Posts: 8

Druken Crew and Their Accomplices [auss kissers]

I dealt with a cpt who drank every day along with gorging on mints. He smelled of menthol of course and bad cheap cologne. He was the kind of guy who played mind games  and would then say that people were in denial of wrong doing.  This guy was a major trip with a bit of sociopathy and major narcissism.  He was a joke.

 I believe this cpt even stoled some of the petty cash when he was supposed to give me the money to buy groceries for the hungry crew. We essentially had to buy our own food for dinner and on weekends. There were times when we were not given enough water, even after I begged the cpt for money just for the water and basic food products.  I sometimes felt blamed for there not being enough food even after I tried to bargain with this fool [cpt].

 Some crew members seem to be intimidated by Cpt. "Drunk" and went along with his way of doing things to secure a job. I and one person [ a "Tweetle Dee" Kiwi who didn't like the cpt but seemed more concerned about kissing up to his crew agency and keeping quiet about all this] finally ended up telling managment.  I basically had to implore the guy to speak to someone at least anonymously.  I guess he was also uninterested to speak out at first since he was yet another illegal crew member working in the States.  

After doing so, I was praised by managment for doing the "right thing" but ended up losing my reference, even if I was told by mngt that I would get a letter of reference from the cpt.."no problem".  I never bothered to ask this cpt for a LOR,  and I never heard from this managment agency again, though it did give crew members a little bit more cash with our pay after finding out about the food scarcity issues.  

I never had personal issues or confrontations with this cpt per say, but he did fire about three people for really no for wanting me to work his watch shift.   There was a woman [Tweetie Dum] who helped get me the job and who was afraid to say anything about this issue as well.  


Get this, she actually asked me about doing drugs after I expressed my concerns about this cpt.  What an idiot.  It was as if she was trying to turn this around on me as if I've done something myself.  She even told me that she would snitch on me if she ever saw me doing drugs.  And yet, she told some of us that the cpt's drinking was NOT our business.

And speaking of this particular accomplice to Capt. "Drunk", as bad and cryptic as her reputation has been, I don't necessarily buy the hype that she's some kind of crazy woman out to stalk a bunch of old cpts and become Queen Captain, though, I do believe she was a hypocrite over this particular situation to a T.  And if I knew her and I was a hiring official, I would not hire her at all. I don't care how many tickets she's touted over.   

Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2009 10:03 PM
Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 10

To suggest that the yachting industry and its social events promote alcoholism is absurd. Why not accuse yachting and it's culinary influences of causing obesity. The industry may attract hedonists and gluttons, but it does not "promote" either vice. There is nothing wrong with enjoying socializing at a bar - those who over-indulge are usually grown adults who would likely overindulge and get pissed no matter what industry they are in. Just because a few people have a serious problem does not automatically mean that alcholism is out of control and somehow the fault of yachting. That's Bollocks and it is offensive to the majority of yachties who drink responsibly!
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2009 11:09 PM
In response to the above posting...Alcoholism strikes yachties just as often or as little as any other profession. HOWEVER, I do believe that a dialogue about this disease is warranted (JUST AS IN OTHER PROFESSION!)
Posted: Monday, September 28, 2009 3:13 PM
Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 10

Yes, it is fine to talk about it for those in this industry who do have a problem, but I was responding to the anonymous person who said------------------------------------------------------------------------------"Yachting promotes the consumption of alcohol in crew magazines, at every event and portrays an unrealistic version of professional yachting by focusing on the party lifestyle. Alcoholism and substance abuse is definitely one of yachting’s dirty secrets. A drunken captain probably learned how to be a drunk when he was a crew member and just followed in the foot steps of his mentor." -------------------------Remarks like that are ridiculous. Like yachting somehow stands to benefit from recruiting the next generation of alcoholics. I get tired of people constantly talking about how "bad" crew are. We are not all money-grubbing, self serving alcoholics. Most of us are quite professional and resent constantly being grouped-in with the bad eggs.
Crew Confessor
Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 6:47 PM
Joined: 20/11/2008
Posts: 94

Dear Concerned Friend,

It is with a heavy heart that I read your letter, for this is an all too common problem in the yachting industry.  Alcoholism has been recognized as a disease by medical professionals for decades, a disease that can be controlled, but a disease without a cure.  Problem drinking is common in the yachting industry for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the very nature of the business, the fulfillment of dreams and fantasies, often replete with free flowing wine and cocktails.  Nearly every industry function features alcohol, from broker showings to charter shows, and of course the "crew parties" familiar to anyone who's ever attended a boat show like FLIBS.  So alcohol is everywhere in the yacht business, certainly more than in many other professions. Often the only activity open to hard working, busy yacht crew who want to get away from the boat for a few hours is time at the local watering hole.  It all contributes to an atmosphere where heavy drinking is more tolerated than society in general and binge drinking is not uncommon.

It is blatantly obvious that your friend has a major drinking problem.  There is nothing social about downing a bottle every night, and if he is able to "function" whilst consuming such an amount he has likely had a problem for quite some time.  Long term severe alcoholics are often masters of deception, and often they choose vodka under the mistaken impression that it will be harder to detect the smell on their breath.  Because their body requires such a large amount of alcohol to achieve the desired result they are often deluded into thinking that they can "handle it."  Of course they are quite wrong.  This past summer a young mother with several children in her car was returning home from a vacation when she proceeded to drive the wrong way on a major highway.  She killed herself and seven others when she eventually collided with an SUV.  Neither her family or friends could ever recall seeing her drunk, nonetheless police estimated that she had downed at least ten drinks prior to the crash.  So perhaps this woman had been able to hide her drinking and "function" right up until the moment of the awful crash that took so many lives.

Your friend is in grave danger of harming himself and others.  If something were to happen on the yacht, regardless of fault he would most likely be tested for drugs and alcohol, and if found to be under the influence, arrested.  The USCG is not eager to give licenses to captains with a DUI or BUI conviction either. 

Since your friend is "an old friend" is there any way you can have a serious discussion with him?  I suggest a visit to Rethinking Drinking to arm yourself with some facts before you sit down with him.  Organizations such as AA have been enormously helpful to many individuals.  If you are not confident in your ability to get him to seek help it might be necessary to enlist the help of his friends and for you all to perform something of an intervention with him.  This may sound extreme but if you were to learn that he had killed himself and/or innocent people as a result of his alcohol abuse and had done nothing, how could you forgive yourself.  You must at least try, even at the risk of losing his friendship.

And readers, even if you are merely an occasional social drinker, is worthy of  a read.

Your Crew Confessor

Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 10:11 PM

Nobody is saying yachting promotes “Alcoholism”.


Yachting is an industry which promotes itself and does use alcohol as a draw card. Social and professional events regularly serve FREE DRINKS.


For example a competing journal hosts a monthly networking event, and on the email flyer they “SAID THIS IS NETWORKING, NOT A PARTY”.


Another renowned shipyard in South Florida serves free booze to crew on Fridays, for the most part this works well for crew and is very pleasurable indeed. Nevertheless there are individuals that have one to many and flounder around, trash golf carts and behave belligerently.


The greatest majority of Captains and Crew are capable of self control and distinguish between social drinking and binge drinking.


All occupations and every socioeconomic group is susceptible to the disease known as alcoholism.


The most effective way to prevent people from going to far is through education and a progressive change in the perception of the consumption of alcohol and its effects.


Everything in moderation I say.

 Average 5 out of 5