It’s the battle of land versus sea — while some stews are
staunch supporters of professional interior training courses
they believe fill
the lacking need for interior crew training, others strongly advocate the
benefits of learning on the job, skills which they deem irreplaceable.
“Tasks tend to be boat specific, and onboard training can be
quite effective,” says a purser on a 70-meter motor yacht, who was a stewardess
for eight years and trained both on board and ashore. “As a stew, you will
benefit greatly by getting on one good boat that offers a good training program
on board. Those are by far more effective in the long run.”
Learning in a live environment certainly has its benefits,
but so, too, does professional training. But, is one really more effective than
the other when it comes to handling the demands of being interior crew? Or are
both sides right? In this two-part series, we’ll take a look at interior
training, both on board and ashore.
According to a Dockwalk.com
poll for stews, around 63 percent of respondents have conducted or participated
in some form of crew interior training on board.
“[We do] how-to tasks, week by week, for example, folding
laundry properly or using starch correctly or practice making modern flower
arrangements,” says the purser.
Others prefer to train on all duties before the season
starts, do hands-on interior cleaning or focus on fulfilling guest preferences
or habits. For one chief stewardess though, it’s all about teamwork.
“Teaching new members is how current crew can refresh and
tune their own skills at the same time, and I prefer this to be done not by
two, but [by] more people together,” says Chief Stewardess Valve Saarma. “As
time progresses, more and more tasks can be delegated for one person to finish
and no micromanaging will be needed, only motivation.”
But should interior training be confined to what its name
suggests? One of the biggest advantages of training on board that not enough
yachts take advantage of, according to both Jason King, interior department
head at International Crew Training, and our poll, in which less than half of
respondents reported using this method, is cross-training.
“When working on a yacht, you have so few resources
available, so one of the things you do is cross-training,” says King, adding
that it’s the interior’s mistake not to cross-train. “When you teach the deck
guys the interior, or vice versa, when someone is sick or needs an extra pair
of hands, you have the ability of doing it.”
Cross-training is not only handy for filling in or for extra
help, but for creating a more cohesive and understanding crew, which ultimately
results in smoother operations.
“A lot of time, there seems to be animosity between the
interior crew and the deck because the interior thinks [the deck] chamois all
day, and [the deck] thinks the interior crew just sit around and drink a cup of
tea,” explains King. “I think that’s because we’re not doing enough cross-training
to show how hard everyone works.”
Touching again on the importance of teamwork, Saarma adds, “Everyone
on board has some extra skills, and we all share them and take the time to make
a training out of it. It’s great to delegate tasks and responsibilities
accordingly to each person’s strongest side, but it is just as important to be
able to do the jobs of a fellow crewmember, not only to be filling in for each
other, but also to respect and appreciate the different jobs and understand how
everyone’s input makes the whole come together.”
King compares cross-training to tying a bowline knot — there
are different ways of doing it to get the same result.
“One hour a week, get all crew together [so] everyone learns
a way of tying the knot,” he says. “Go to the galley, go to the engine room.
Over a period of time, you learn more than just your own department, [and] the
captain knows what everyone does.”
You could also follow in the steps of the purser, who
reports having interior/exterior swaps on her yacht, where deckhands make the
beds and the stews wash down so “everyone has an understanding of what it takes
to do the other’s job and are more willing to help out when it’s crunch time.”
Devon T, who’s been a stewardess for four years, adds, “Deck
skills [are] a must in almost any program that I’ve been a part of. [It] also
doesn’t hurt to know your way around the galley.”
No matter how you cross-train on your yacht, it’s sure to make
your job more dynamic and interesting, as Chief Stewardess Anjuli Waybright
calls her informal cross training experience.
Waybright, who has been a stewardess for two years, sheds
light on yet another benefit of training on board.
“I constantly learn new tricks and tips from other crew
coming through, and through online forums where information is shared,” she
Thus, onboard training is always an evolving experience, where
you not only learn as you move from boat to boat, but from others who come and
go on your own yacht. Whether you’re cross training or grasping an
understanding of tasks specific to a certain yacht, you’ll continue to add to
your skill set.
As one stewardess on a 118-foot yacht puts it, “I learned
more working than a course will ever teach.”