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Splitting the tip: What's fair?
Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 4:58 PM
Joined: 01/05/2008
Posts: 66

Dockwalk was asked to post this question for a person who wished to remain anonymous:

“Yacht has a repeated client who charters the boat for long weekends and tips well. He is very happy with service, food and all, so he walks off the boat with a BIG smile and delegates 20000€ for tips. It is roughly 1000€ per person. Captain decides to hand out tips in sealed envelopes and gives 500€ to all crew except heads of departments and some of his favourites, who receive 1000€ each, rest of the tips (about 7-8000€) he keeps for himself. Is there ANY legal entity or clause that would stop him from doing it or are we still suffering from “master and commander” syndrome? I thought this died centuries ago…”

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 5:39 PM
Captains actually keep the lion's share these days???  Well, according to the Captains I work with they tell me they split it evenly amongst the crew.  The only time that changes is if the client wants to give specific amounts to particular crew members, which I do not condone.  I thought this archaic practice of "Captain and Commander" was long gone.  If not, I suggest the crew stage a mini revolt and set their Captain straight!!
Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 5:43 PM
Well at least he's figured out that stealing tips is best achieved when you bribe some of the crew.
The management company might be interested to know about this practice, as captains who skim from their own crew usually have little issue skimming from their owners, contractors etc. I'm sure management would want to thoroughly audit his bookkeeping if they knew.  

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 9:58 PM
It is stealing and nothing short of it!!! If the charter guests knew they would be disgusted!! When I tip at a restaurant for good service I don't expect the manager to get the lion's share. I have worked in hospitality for 18 years and in my opinion it is shameful! Just incase you are wondering I am one of those heads of department to benefit from this type of behaviour and still it makes me want to vomit!!!
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 3:48 AM
Joined: 03/06/2009
Posts: 14

I have been doing this charter thing for some time now and my policy is that the tip gets split evenly amongst the crew regardless. I prefer to use an open book policy and allow the chief stew to do the actual sharing in front of the rest of the crew. If any crew member still has a question about the split then they are welcome to to look at the charter accounts, no secrets. Lastly, if the tip is a bit "low" then I remove myself from the split.

This may seem over compensating but I do know of other captains who have a tendency to take a lions share of the tip, and that is their prerogative I guess. Its just not how I do business. That said, every captain runs their program differently and there may factors that we or the crew are not aware of. Possibly a bonus arrangement with the owner or who knows what. May I suggest simply asking your captain if you have any doubts or questions as to the reasoning how / why the tips are being split. You may be surprised by the answer. 

But unfortunately there are still the odd few that may have greedy reasons and in that case you as a crew member always have the choice to move to a more professional transparent program.

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 7:57 AM
I'm afraid to say your Captain is nothing more than a thief. I have been in the industry for almost 10 years now and every Captain I have worked with has split the tip money equally between all of the crew. I have even had Captain's refuse tips for themselves saying that they get paid enough already and that it is mainly the crew that do all of the work anyway. The tips on our current yacht are counted out in front of us, fair and square, we all get the same. I strongly recommend that you pass this information on to your Management Company and if it is not resolved, seek a position elsewhere. Good luck.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:29 AM
Just to clear the issue with the captain in question. Crew representatives confronted captain about the tips not being split equally and his reply was: "... This should teach some crew to work harder and if they do not like it, they should find other jobs..." Last line of defense would be to contact DPA which I am sure will happen soon. I will keep this post updated with reply from him.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:40 PM
Joined: 05/06/2008
Posts: 1

     I have never posted my opinion on these forums in the past, but on this one I'll make an exception. I do not think it is fair for the Captain to keep the lions share of the gratuity. On any yacht I have command of, we have a policy that I inform all crew of from the date they start, concerning tips. We all share equally. Everyone gets the same amount. If a peticular crew member is not pulling their weight and really doesn't deserve a full share of the tip I handle it this way. I still divide the tip evenly and the crew member who really doesn't deserve a full share gets something extra in his or her envelope along with their full share, a one way plane ticket home.  Everyone who has worked with me knows this policy, and it has always served me well in the past and I see no reason for me to keep money I didn't earn, or to keep crew members to don't pull their share. Thanks for the opportunity to spout off.

Capt Lee Rosbach

Tom Summers
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:50 PM
Joined: 16/11/2009
Posts: 4

I also was moved to post a reply, something I have never done here. As an engineer, retired from tugs and other workboats, but who has done a few stints on large yachts, here are my two cents worth: Rather than cite Captain and Commander, which might be more myth than reality, I would suggest we look at the old fishing boats which paid by the "share" system. The crew and the owners have a set formula for divvying up the proceeds of the catch. From the crews portion it was further divvied up equally among all the members of the crew. Any bonuses paid to "key people" or favorites came from the owner's portion. Clearly this tip is for the crew to divide evenly regardless of favored status. The skipper is a scoundrel and should be made to walk the plank. PS: One reason I steer clear of this forum, is a general dismay I have towards this industry in general. It seems to me that all too often officers and other key people are not well versed in the traditions of the sea, let alone decent all-around mariners. This is somewhat understandable when one considers that the yacht industry is populated by mostly younger and prettier folks, and /or folks who just don't have that much sea time. That's still no excuse to chisel from your crew. And I agree with the poster who said that this skipper is probably skimming elsewhere, too. And let me add one last thought. Large yachts sure are a lot of fun! Or should be, anyway.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 11:22 PM
Dear captain Lee, I appreciate your response and thank you for your opinion. Captain Mike believe me, the procedures have been honored and captain was asked to explain the position and reasons for such change in tips. You can see his reply in one of the posts earlier. I believe no more comments are needed. As regards Tom Summers, I agree with your opinion but the worst of it is that this captain is a long years commercial captain turn yachtie. He believes he can bring new rules to industry I guess.
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1:21 AM

Hello Noonymouse. I wish to remain anon too.

This is a very interesting conundrum. Let me put my thoughts down for you.

The problem is deeper.

You say the split was not in a percentage of salary, nor was it equal across the board. In other words, he has given more of the tip to his HOD's but you say that there are 'Favorites'  too, so is there a deckhand that was maybe with him on a previous boat that also got an enhanced tip, while other deckhands did not? If this is the case, you have a serious problem.

Let me expand on that. It boils down to personalities now. Fairness is not a word in this man's vocabulary. If he is capable of doing that, then he is probably skimming from agents, and screwing the management company, and the owner. He is probably a con artist, and the owner thinks the sun rises when captain wakes up. His motives might be that he is a "Simple Egotistical Prick", or his wife and family are high maintenance and maybe he is too, splashing himself with luxury goods etc. which makes him a "Complicated egotistical prick with a bitch wife." (Joke)

Jokes aside though... the grand scheme of things, I regard my job as captain, as being the owner's representative, and my job is to do all that I can to take the boat and crew forward to achieve the mission of a charter experience that is unsurpassed. One of the main things on the management front is crew morale, I wont even get to safety and seamanship, those are foregone conclusions. Morale!! There is nothing better to work on than a happy ship, the vibe of the crew is completely felt by the guests, and can make the difference between an Ok charter and a great one.

This prick has effectively wiped the feet out under the crew, there can be no comeraderie, and team spirit, and I bet the crew are working on a minimalist fashion, nobody going the extra mile for their shipmates or the guests, and I don't blame them.

If any of the above is true, then I suspect that its is merely a symptom of his behavior, and management style. Even IF the guest gave him the 20k and said 'Do with it what you like' the fact that he puts himself first is the big indictment.

Schettino!! I bet if you hit a rock he will be arranging the damage control from the rescue boat or from the shore, ie first one off....

You have made no mention of his other failings, and the above is just a character type analysis, I might be wrong, but I suspect there are other things that are not as they should be....Does your Chief Mate seem happy? a CM cannot make his/her feelings known...

I wish there was a MANREGS like COLREGS, and then there should be a rule "The master of a vessel shall use every resource at his disposal to build a team to run a happy ship"

Anyway.. what can be done about it? Not much I am afraid, in this industry you have happy ships and sad ships, and those with high crew turnover are sad ones, the people who stay, are scared of him or owe him.

There are a few things, if you want to take the gloves off...

Tell the DPA to read this post.

Record the dates of the transactions, and any other you suspect, and send an anonymous tip to the tax authorities where he is resident.

Record everything, make notes, and build a case so that if it ever comes to 'he said - she said' you have your facts, dates, and witnesses.

Get the whole crew to read this thread so that they know that there is sympathy out here, and at least some of us are cheering for them (Except those Capts that are also on the take)



Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:54 AM

I believe we don't know the full story here, but that being said i am also quite disgusted in the way we perceive tips in this industry expecting gratuity is not something i have been brought up to do, nor is complaining about how much free money I receive or didn't receive. All our tips are divided equally in front of us after the guests leave, we share them out equally, If i think someone hasn't done there fair share after being told to do something about it then yes i believe it is unfair they get the same as the crew who were working twice as hard to cover that person (not that i ever skim there tip).

 If you were in that situation what would you do? sack that person (who needs just needs a bit of help or motivation to improve) or rather deduct some of his tip because he doesn't deserve it and to help him with a boost? It's a real difficult one! I certainly don't condone the captain keeping the extra! this should be shared between all of the worthy crew.

And as for guests giving the tip out to individual members of the crew, I do not see the issue here, it is after all at their discretion, i just ask crew not to disclose how much they have received to one and other

It has been a long time since I have worked in the hospitality industry but what waiter shares there tips with each other or even the cleaners, buss boys/girls, managers, door staff, barmen, car park security or even in some cases the chefs?? ... exactly

And while i have your attention, A tip is NOT something that should be expected, demanded or even complained about, most of us are paid very well to do the jobs we do, lets not be greedy and certainly not complain when its not enough! who here has tipped $1500 when staying in a hotel for 3 days? If you don't like it then you should be on a private vessel
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 9:47 AM
Joined: 13/07/2008
Posts: 32

Unfair, low morale, greedy ... yes, no question.

 However sacking crew for lower performance can't be in every case justified neither is always possible in the middle of the high season.

 In the end of the day crew on-board are sourced or at least shortlisted by the Captain and newbies do not usually jump straight into the charter - there must have been an ample time to evaluate/test them well beforehand and build a good professional team.

 Bringing mid-season new crew to improve team efficiency often has a downside and risk of last-moment hired replacements to actually worsen the picture thus may enter a vicious circle of subsequent replacements in the team.

 My personal approach is looking at the weak points and putting the team efforts to correct those first, at least completing the season with the team as started.

Posted: Sunday, August 3, 2014 12:52 PM
Joined: 13/10/2013
Posts: 6

The captain is a thief. Split the tip evenly. Done!
Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 8:53 PM
Opinion needed- do you think sometimes one member of the crew deserve a higher tip than the rest of the crew? Is there a line between favoritism and reward a person for going above and beyond? How should the captain handle the tip if they decide to reward one person-should it be done in private or in front of everyone??
Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 5:25 PM
A few insights I have on this worthy of further discussion. Prior to yachting I spent some time in the commercial fishing business and the majority of that industry is paid on a share basis, as eluded to previously. The difference on the boats I was on, was that the shares were not divided up evenly, it was by position and seniority. So the Captain got the largest, then the mate/engineer than the deckhands and then the greenhorns. Many industries that rely on what the vessel makes/catches are paid this way. There is no way the Captain is not taking the lions share of the proceeds.
First of all, before I go on, I have been in the industry for over 25 years and have always had the tips split and have always split the tips evenly. When I first started as a deckhand, I know this was not the case with many boats back then, I was lucky to work for a good captain.
I have often discussed these issues with my crew, where I have a problem, due to my previous work, is the following.
Lets say you have a strong core crew that have been on the boat and worked hard all year round, and then when it comes the busy time, you take on a couple of green crew to get through the season. Now the old crew have to spend time teaching them the ropes and looking after them, actually taking more time out of their own day, yes this is part of the job. Now personally I could see a reason for not paying those part timers/green crew an equal share of the tips, but it must be known by all parties up front.
Now I'm sure I will here that they work just as hard during the charter as everyone else and should get the same tip amount. What about the crew that was working 12 hour days and 6 -7 day weeks getting the boat ready in the weeks leading up to the season? There could be some rational to split the tips unevenly, but this industry just does not see it that way.
I hope hear some constructive feed back on  this, as I have always enjoyed others point of view and a lively discussion.

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