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Symbiotic Relationship: Newbies and Seasoned Crew

Apr 28th 11
By Louisa Cowan

“It doesn’t take [new crew] long to realize that it isn’t all about the partying, getting a suntan and seeing the world,” says Mate James. “I suppose we all get the same wake up call at some stage.”


At the beginning of each season, the docks, crew agencies and passerelles are flooded with eager newbies who’ve been told to go to Antibes or Fort Lauderdale to get a job on a boat, be paid a fortune for nothing but sun, sea and you-know-what. In actuality, when they get that coveted first job, newbies are in for long hours, hard work and should have skills tailored to the position they’ve chosen. Some newbies are shocked by the reality of their new career choice and seasoned crewmembers can be frustrated and irritated by the latest class of green crew. So what can the long-time yachties do to help their freshmen counterparts and what, if anything, do they get out of working hand-in-hand with fresh meat? 


“One of the most important things to remember when a new crewmember starts on board is to lead by example. If you’re new, you will take your lead on behavior from your colleagues, so it’s up to us to show [newbies] that being punctual means being on deck ready to go 10 minutes before the start of the day,” says Bosun Rocky. “You almost have to give a running commentary on everything you do, like ‘clean the decks using this product,’ you can’t assume that there is any previous knowledge at all.”


Don’t forget, although you have to put in a little extra work or those first few months, the advantages aren’t all one-sided.


“Taking someone more junior [under my wing] really helped consolidate my knowledge whilst showing them their job,” explains Deckhand Jeff.  “I also had a bit of a confidence boost as I went from being the lowest of the low to realizing that I had actually learned a lot and knew what I was doing!”


If you’re leading by example and helping to train the newcomer, you aren’t just helping a newbie settle in, but you’re adding a valuable asset to your team. An untrained crewmember who isn’t fully integrated as quickly as possible will flounder and can be a burden. The more effectively everyone works together, the better the crew dynamics and the better the workload.


A tip for newbies: be keen and ready to give a job your all. Be willing to follow instructions and trust the experienced crew when they tell you that you don’t know it all.


“When I was a newbie deckhand I worked my butt off," Bosun Dallas says. “I threw myself into the job completely, took it extremely seriously and gave 110 percent at all times. I still do and I take pride in the fact that I know I am good at what I do. It drives me insane when new crew don’t have the same standards. This is a job, there is a reason it pays the big bucks and that is, it’s hard work! Listen up, work hard and learn!”


A sentiment shared by blogger Septic tank in his recent post, “Wants-to-be but can they be?”


So to all you long-term crew out there: take some time to train the newcomers, show them how it, whatever it may be, is done properly and you can expect to add a valuable new asset to your team, that is, if the newbie is prepared to get his/her head down, hands dirty and learn the ropes.


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  • hi
    Posted by princessx11 03/07/2011 16:00:32

  • A newbie who thinks they know it all does not last long in an industry loaded with veterans and especially if they argue with a superior. Once they have 20 years or more in yachting and know more, then by all means, tell me. But not when all you have done is daywork on a couple of yachts. That does not make you a professional or qualified in any way.
    Posted by Mary Beth Lawton Johnson 11/05/2011 00:16:20

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