Dockwalk - Piggyback Crossing Duties Untitled Page

Piggyback Crossing Duties

May 12th 11
By Leigh Ellis

When the boss gives the okay to send your yacht from one cruising ground to another with Dockwise Yacht Transport, it’s a great opportunity for most of the crew to fly home or take a vacation. But one or two lucky souls will need to ride along with the yacht on board the big ship, to keep an eye on her and finish some of those chores that were put off during the crazy season.


Who should be the designated rider? “Anyone can go,” says Capt. Charles Burleigh of the 92-foot Northcoast yacht Atlantic, who has done four transits with Dockwise to date, including the trip from Nanaimo, British Columbia in Canada to Fort Lauderdale. “I am the captain, mate and engineer, so I was the obvious choice.”


Yachts that travel on Dockwise are not “dead ship” like most of those shipped atop a freighter. During the loading process, after the yachts are floated into the Dockwise vessel and blocked, the deck is drained, the yachts are secured and the ship’s crew works with the yacht crew to connect power and raw water to the boats.  “You can hook up a big hose to get the air conditioner running, and you hook up your shorepower to their electrical supply,” Capt. Charles says. “They give you fresh water.”


You can’t just jack the yacht into the mother ship and forget all about it, however, cautions Capt. Herb Magney of the 145-foot Heesen At Last.  On a previous yacht, he says, “I had to clean up after having the boat’s engineer ride along and screw up 80K worth of electrical systems in the boat because he did not check to air conditioning water hookup for days and it broke.” That engineer was fired when he got off the ship.


Another routine duty the rider is to rinse the soot from the ship’s exhaust off the yacht’s exterior. “You have to wash down every couple of days,” says Capt. Charles.


Yacht crew are allowed to do just about any kind of work to their boats can handle during transit. “Some crew are doing varnish work, replacing the zincs, painting the bottom, polishing the props,” says Capt. Charles.


The only rule here is to be a good citizen to the boat next to you. When crew are inconsiderate, Capt. Herb calls it the “boat next-door syndrome.” “All the sanding dust from the deck, metal grindings, epoxy paint overspray is all over our boat and the boats around us.” He adds, “It’s not the shipper’s responsibility. Take it up with the crewmember or the captain of the boat.”


While cabins are available on some Dockwise vessels, most crew prefer to sleep in the comfort of their own yacht. You can use the ship’s gym, which typically holds basic equipment. You can send e-mail using the ship’s Internet and on Dockwise’s 209-meter Yacht Express, you can even take a dip in the swimming pool.


Yacht crew are welcome to eat three meals a day in the ship’s crew mess. The food has improved recently, says Catalina Bujor, marketing manager for Dockwise Yacht Transport. Food that Capt. Charles calls “comfort food.” In addition, the ship’s crew holds weekly barbecues on deck.


Once a day, during mealtime in the mess, crew are asked to perform their only duty required by the ship’s captain, which is to sign the logbook, so he knows they're still on board and in good health. “The dining room is quite a hike up a number of flights of stairs,” says Capt. Charles. “If you don’t feel like going up, you can ask another crew member to sign in for you.”


One way to break up the monotony of an ocean crossing is to pay a visit to the ship’s bridge, see its systems and hobnob with the captain and his officers. But, Capt. Charles says, “You ask permission first — you don’t just barge in.”


Typically, yacht crew communicate with the ship’s crew via VHF. If a storm is coming, the Dockwise captain will give you at least 24 hours’ notice to batten down the hatches on the yacht. While Dockwise ensures that all the yachts its transports are completely secure on deck, a storm at sea can break up the monotony for everyone.

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