Dockwalk - What Happens on Board, Stays on Board Untitled Page

What Happens on Board, Stays on Board

Jun 2nd 09
By Di Thompson

There’s an unspoken virtue that can go a long way toward helping to elevate a crew member’s reputation in the yachting industry: Respect for confidentiality.

Almost every written employee contract these days has a clause stating that keeping company business private is part of the employee’s work conditions, and the yachting industry is no exception. For obvious reasons, yacht owners, guests and captains trust that their business on board the yacht, whether it is professional or recreational, will stay on board.

Consider the life of a famous musician or other celebrity whose everyday life is on the world stage. He has purchased or chartered a yacht with a (hopefully) tight-lipped crew in order to escape from his everyday realities. He wants to retreat to his private floating haven, which cannot be penetrated by the media or other prying eyes.

It's on board such a vessel that your ability to keep what you see and hear confidential is both essential and highly regarded.

Capt. Jason Mills said recently, “I was perusing CVs for a suitable candidate for the coming season, and was astounded to see that one clever person had gone into detail stating all the famous people they had served during previous yachting experience. This particular CV stayed in my hands for one New York minute before going into the paper shredder.” Capt. Mills continued, “Owners and guests expect a high level of professionalism from superyacht crew, and onboard privacy is paramount.”


Another form of “loose lips sinking ships” that we are all too aware of is dockside gossip. The need to be the center of attention by telling a good story can get you into more trouble than it’s worth.


What are the possible consequences of “talking out of school”, so to speak?


“They can be very real,” says Capt. Ed, who works for an owner who insists that his yacht’s crew sign a confidentiality agreement. “An indiscretion is as easy as mentioning a single episode about a guest from a recent charter. If your seemingly harmless piece of gossip gets back to the owner or agent, it can mean instant dismissal for a crewmember.”


One recently fired crewmate found this out the hard way. “I was out drinking with the captain and crew from another yacht several weeks ago,” says the ex-deckhand who asked not to be named. “I mentioned that the owners’ daughter was on board with her girlfriends and how hard they partied on their last night. My captain was informed and he told me so in the wheelhouse the next morning – with a copy of my signed contract right under my nose. I had breached the confidentiality clause that warned me of instant dismissal.”


All crew must take the privacy agreement seriously for this and other reasons, including security. Everywhere a yacht is docked, you might be asked, “Who owns your boat?” The vessel’s security depends on your answer.


Your boss could be nearby on the back deck enjoying his morning paper and a cup of tea. On the dock, a punter is admiring the yacht and calls out this very question to you. If you come up with a creative or witty answer to the question, your boss will certainly respect you for doing so. He may even get a laugh out of it!


What do you tell punters on the dock who ask who owns your yacht?


Rating  Average 0 out of 5

  • May I chime in with a story from my book, Mediterranean Summer, that's relevant to this topic?

    "When the attractive cashier at the supermarket saw Serenity’s embroidered insignia on my uniform, she was jubilant because one of her favorite yachts was in the marina. When she asked if it was my yacht, I let slip that I was the son of the owner. She told me how lucky I was, to which I responded that every time I came to the boat, I was delegated to be the cook. As ridiculous as that line was, she bought it. She beamed with pride to be in the company of a member of the well known family standing before her. I paid about $1,800.00 cash for two carts of groceries and hurried out.
    I hadn’t counted on how much of a favorite Serenity was to her. She came by on the morning of party day to see the boat. The owners were in the cockpit having breakfast, but in the confidence born of the belief that she was a friend of one of the family members, she called up to them and asked to speak to their son, Davide. La Signora looked over the rail of the aft deck and must have asked her, “And this son of mine, Davide, what does he look like?” The girl must have described me to a tee, for la Signora came directly to the galley to inform me that there was a young lady on the quay asking to speak to her son. She was not amused. But when I went out to deal with my visitor, I had to pass the cockpit. Il Dottore looked up, smiled, and said in a low voice in front of his friends, “Bravo, bravo.”
    Posted by volochef 06/06/2009 20:26:58

  • The simple & usually true answer is " a company "
    Posted by yachtone 06/06/2009 19:39:16

  • To anyone asking me that question I would ask them right back if they were a pap. They immediately understood the situation then and usually smiled and backed off...
    Posted by Caroline Freedman 06/06/2009 14:16:37

  • One of my previous captains would tell anyone who asked the question that Elvis owned the boat. The owner heard him say this one day and just about fell over laughing.
    Posted by LeslieD 05/06/2009 00:12:11

  • When i worked on deck YEARS ago I loved to tell the tourists that my dad owned the boat... and was surprised at how many of them actually believed me! As if i would be out at 8am with a chamois in hand if my dad owned a 160' yacht... it still makes me smirk! Seriously though, that's the only answer they ever got. I never thought of another polite way of saying "It's none of your business".
    Posted by Yacht Crew Register 03/06/2009 21:20:03

Add Comment

Text Only 2000 character limit