A Year in Review on Dockwalk.com, 2011

Dec 26th 11

As the calendar flips and another year fades into our history, we wanted to reminisce with some of the most memorable moments of 2011 on Dockwalk.com.

Most Read Blog
A Risky Business (March 30, 2011)
“This all may sound pointless, but I hope the perspective provides insight into just how much yacht crew have control of the risks they face. It would seem that somewhere in the greater scheme of things judgment is one of the most important safety factors in yachting.
So, to all of you men in tenders when the boat is in port late at night— be careful as the odds are against you!”

In light of recent yachting-related deaths, Mike French points out that while working on a luxury yacht seems cushy and ideal, there are real risks associated and all crew must be vigilant in order to keep themselves and their crewmates safe. 

Most Commented-on Blog
Food issues not welcome? (March 14, 2011)
“I have been looking for a new job on different sites and I still find quite frustrating the ‘no food issues’ clause. I am a long-time vegan, never made a fuss about it, always been happy to eat whatever the cook or chef could put together for me or did it myself when/where possible. … I believe I can perform just like any omnivore. Why should it be an issue? Why should I miss out on jobs for my ethical choices? I'll be interested to know how other veg deal with it.”

Maui shares her frustration over the fact that she’s having trouble finding a job as a vegan and captains and crewmembers debate whether being a vegan/vegetarian is a reason to not hire someone.


Most Read Hot Topic

On the Hunt - Jobs Opportunities During the In-between Season (October 6, 2011)
“But what does it really take to get a job during the in-between season? ‘[Crew must] be available,’ says Rupert Connor of Luxury Yachts. For those crew looking to switch vessels, Connor advises, ‘Captains just don’t want to have to wait two or more weeks when they need someone now. Most of our placements are for immediate start. Location is an important component to availability.’”

Captains and crew agents weigh in on what they’re looking for when hiring and placing crew between traditional seasons.

Most Commented-on Hot Topic
Let Them Eat Spaghetti
(January 13, 2011)
“But even with enough money to own a crewed yacht, some bosses are still pretty cheap — hey, they didn’t get rich by spending their money foolishly.”
Regardless of the number of dollars or euros in an owner’s piggy bank, some are just plain cheap. Dockwalk recounts some of the best in the owners cheap hall of fame while captains and crew share their own stories.

Most Read and most commented-on Forum
Chef killed in St. Maarten
(February 28, 2011)
Chef Ludovic Guillevin of M/Y Cheetah Moon was brutally beaten to death on Saturday, February 26, 2011, on the beach at Mullet Bay in St. Maarten.

Top Headlines of 2011

The yachting industry says goodbye to design talent Bill Langan (January 4, 2011)
Yacht fire in Naples, Italy (January 5, 2011)
North Carolina fire destroys 25 boats, injures three (January 9, 2011)
Superyacht crew saves the day (January 24, 2011)
Salperton loses her mast (January 24, 2011)
Octopus's helicopter makes emergency landing (January 31, 2011)
Somali pirates hijack American yacht (February 21, 2011)
Chef killed in St. Maarten (February 28, 2011)
USCG notice to mariners on piracy (March 8, 2011)
Never forget to never walk alone! (March 26, 2011)
Cheetah Moon captain speaks out about the death of Chef Ludovic Guillevin in St. Maarten (April 1, 2011)
Crewmember killed in tender accident in St. Maarten (April 5, 2011)
Killers found in SXM (April 9, 2011)
S/Y Titan badly damaged by fire (April 26, 2011)
“Hoot for Yachting” protest planned for Palma de Mallorca (April 29, 2011)
Fire destroys new Sunseeker (May 7, 2011)
2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season (May 19, 2011)
Fire on M/Y Addiction (May 23, 2011)
Three captains rescue missing diver in The Bahamas (May 25, 2011)
Fire in Golfe-Juan (May 28, 2011)
Reality Crew (July 26, 2011)
Record-breaking drug bust on board a pleasure vessel (August 3, 2011)
Cocktails” on the rocks (August 8, 2011)
M/Y Kai damages Croatian marina (August 8, 2011)
Sunken yacht blocks Fort Lauderdale canal (August 10, 2011)
Murder on board (August 12, 2011)
M/Y Godspeed destroyed by fire (August 12, 2011)
Yacht crew rescued off fastnet rock (August 15, 2011)
M/Y SunChaser catches fire (October 18, 2011)
M/Y Final Act ablaze (October 24, 2011)
Yacht chef found dead (October 25, 2011)
British Merchant Ships Now Permitted To Carry Armed Guards (November 10, 2011)
S/Y Hetairos First to Finish Transatlantic Superyacht Regatta (November 30, 2011)


Favorite Quotes of 2011
January 2011

“Wow, it’s amazing that crew can behave so badly. They forget that one stupid mistake can ruin a career in a flash; for instance, the crewmember that spat on the cop. If the guy is foreign, all the cops need to do is visit the captain, get the passport of the fool then visit the immigration and once the visa is revoked, [that person] will not be able to travel in the [U.S.] for at least five years. [Crew] forget that being allowed in a foreign country (any foreign country) is a privilege not a right.

If your crew are causing a wild scene ashore and giving the vessel a bad name it becomes the master’s responsibility because, once you have crew sign on, the vessel is responsible for their wellbeing, which means they need to behave and act responsibly too. If the master is not bothered, then he is just as bad as his rascals causing havoc ashore. When kids misbehave, who do you think people look at? The guardians, of course. … Bad crew points at bad leadership. If I hired them because I initially missed the warning signs in the beginning and it comes out later, they will get warnings to change their ways and if they do not heed [said warnings] they are off the vessel very quickly.” Comment posted by Anonymous on January 23 to the “Have the crew gone wild” forum (January 22, 2011)

February 2011
“I am a new candidate, a girl, looking for a job. I’d like to ask whether it is normal that they ask about my size, weight and [for a] picture?”  Comment posted by Marzena on February 24 to the “First job, first doubts” forum (February 24, 2011)

“It's not that uncommon for a few reasons. I have interviewed candidates that were too tall or too wide to move through the vessel safely. … Some issues arise with uniform sizes if the vessel expects you to wear uniforms that they have already purchased. And then there is the question of being presentable. [Also, it’s] not just what God gave you, but what you have done to yourself, i.e., tattoos, piercings etc.” Comment posted by Craig, February 25

“This is not totally unusual. As others have mentioned, it could be as simple as lack of storage space for a wide range of sizes of uniform on board. Or, some charter yachts have an image and their crew need to all look fit, healthy and attractive as this is what their paying guests expect. Or, perhaps the owner has particular tastes and all of the stews have to fit into a [specific] description. I currently work on a boat where the girls have to be pretty, very thin, young, witty and intelligent and of certain nationalities before they will even be considered....and they will hire someone who has less experience but fits that mold because they will train her. I don’t think it’s right. In the world outside of yachting, it would be illegal to hire on such a basis, but this is yachting — where there are very few rules. All you can hope is that if they ask you for your photo, that you fit into whatever appearance they desire.” Comment posted by Anonyomous on February 26

March 2011

“Unfortunately, we all have to worry about lawsuits and lawyers these days. My understanding is that the liabilities arising from incidents on board are covered by the owners P&I policy — make sure it’s valid! I should say that I have little knowledge of U.S. law, so the situation could be completely different on U.S.-flagged boats. Of course, it will be a prerequisite that you are covering your duty of care obligations and also that ignorance is never an excuse (you must be able to demonstrate that you are keeping up to date with new M-Notices, Flag notices, etc.), but in general you should not worry about personal liabilities if you are competant and carrying out your duties diligently (and logging the fact). I have seen contracts (and refused to sign them) that require the employee to cover the liabilities of the yacht owner. These liabilities are the owner’s and, seriously, what is the point in chasing a crewmember for the cost of an oil spill clean up! Anyway, crewmembers are very well protected by international law, but it certainly would be helpful to have the lawyers bills covered by someone like Nautilus. Comment posted by Chrismlewis on March 11 to “Crew liability on yacht deliveries” forum (March 6, 2011)

April 2011
“It would seem that the crime rate is escalating in the area [St. Maarten]. Annually, megayachts return to St. Maarten bringing with them the image of luxury. These crewmembers arrive after working hard during the season and would like to have a bit of a good time. Sadly, however, there are bad elements around that wish them ill and are, perhaps, envious of their perceived wealth.
I feel it is important that the captains, brokers and agencies to keep crew informed of the reality of the dangers out there and that they make crew safety a priority until the authorities have shown that they have made progress in providing a safer environment.
Such an accident can happen to anybody and all should take care equally.” Comment posted by Captain Jean-Yves Candlot of M/Y Cheetah Moon in the “Cheetah Moon captain speaks out about the death of Chef Ludovic Guillevin in St. Maarten” forum on April 1

May 2010
“Yachting is preoccupied with youth and for the most part this is justified. There are many more entry-level positions than there are senior positions; therefore yachting will be forever young. Having said that, there is a solid demand for veteran crew because experience has its perks, so long as it comes with the right attitude and performance on the job. …  As an older and hopefully wiser crewmember, I do have a responsibility to show people the ropes, set them in the right direction and provide them with valuable “Aha moments” that enable people to excel in the workplace.
Yachting is a legitimate career option these days and I hope the current generation of newbies aspire to stick with yachting for many years, because few jobs offer such diversity, pleasure and reward.
The best advice I can give to a person trying to break into the game is don’t follow the crowd, consider getting a trade and come back to yachting when you have vocational skills that give you real edge. Engineering, culinary and hospitality staff are the backbone of yachting and all of these jobs are equally viable at sea and on land.” Comment posted by Dean in his “Over 40, but not over the hill” blog (May 26, 2011)

June 2011
“Dayworkers should not work for free. If I have a dayworker who offers to work for free, I will not take him. I take the one who is paid so I have a level of professionalism. I can technically consider a paid arrangement as a contract and thus I will expect the dayworker to honor his end of the deal. If he is a newbie, then he should put himself up for jobs that he can show his ability immediately. I can usually tell from the conversation ahead of time whether that person knows what he is doing [and definetly] within ten minutes of lifting up the tools.
In short, work is a contract; work and get paid. In the scale of things, dayworker pay is minimal and if an owner or captain will not pay the wage, then they probably don’t need the work done or can just as easily do it themselves. Dayworkers: don’t put yourself in a situation that you can be taken advantage of. Also, legally I wonder how you stand if the boat caught fire or started sinking?” Comment posted by Captain Ian Burry on June 7 to the “Dayworking for Free – Is it worth it?” blog (June 6, 2011)

July 2011
“Whilst there must be many people out there attracted to having their moment of fame, I cannot seriously imagine any professionally minded captain who would even consider joining an unknown yacht (condition and safety wise) and accept an totally unknown crew (none chosen by him … ). The ad reads for the filming to be for a short period and with guests on board the whole time! So, the captain will be expected to go straight into full on charter mode, with so many unknowns.
To add to the drama, no doubt scenarios will be introduced that would be difficult to address in a filmed show, imagine having rules broken (20 guest when cruising) difficult situations like guests groping the crew, all filmed and made public, crew arguing with captain and refusing to do drills, etc.
No, I do not believe ANY serious or professional captain would ever accept a job like this; not if they value their sanity or their future prospects. The whole confidentiality issue would also prevent that happening. It’s so ingrained into career yachties, so, unfortunately, if it does happen, the industry will be so misrepresented, and we will spend the next few years explaining to our terrified families that, ‘No, that is not how it really is.’ The future new potential charterers will assume that bad behavior is acceptable from guests. Owners will be be outraged, the list goes on and on. Terrible idea.” Comment posted by Cyd on July 27 to the “Reality crew” forum (July 26, 2011)

August 2011
“Tell me how the MLC is going to be good for yachts? Sure you increase the living areas, specify number of crew, etc., but does this add additional cost to owners? I understand the men/women who own these yachts have stacks of cash, but tell me, crew: how many are quite tight fisted when it comes to crew expenses? And let’s not get onto management companies. It all comes down to the bottom line, you implement MLC and I guarantee you, sure living conditions will improve, but wages will certainly drop because of it. We can say we are here for the joy of it but you would be lying to yourself if the money doesn’t attract you.” Comment posted by MF on August 6 to the “Will you join a union?” blog (August 4, 2011)

September 2011
“Just to give you the reality of the job, if you were to start as a dekchand your daily duties will be washing the boat, polishing stainless, fixing items, cleaning windows and then cleaning them again. When guests are on board, you will be up early to make sure the yacht is in pristine condition, getting rid of dew marks, etc. then you will do washes and rinses after each cruise to get the salt off the boat. You also would take guests on the tender and water sports. Crew quarters are often not very glamorous, with bunk beds and a small bathroom, sometimes with just a curtain that you pull across the toilet for the shower. You live 24/7 with your crew so you need to be able to gel with most personalities. there are often crew conflicts. I’m not being negative here, just giving the facts….” Comment posted by Anonyomous on September 10 to the “Weighing my options” forum (September 7, 2011)

“Spare time? Evenings? The majority of yachts are only used during the summer season — winter season is maintenance downtime. The summer season starts about April 15 with a quick haul out, anti-foul, inspection, then the cruise begins. May through Oct on a good program is seven days a week work, no spare time, no evenings off. You are hunkered down in the trenches seven days a week. I haven’t been out of sight of the boat since April 15. Sometime in October the cruise ends, the boat is dead and you are toasted. You limp back to home base then shut down and celebrate life. Once at home base life gets back to normal and us yacht crew live a nine-to-five, five-day work week like everyone else with fun, spare time and a social life like the rest of the world. When searching for a good yacht job only choose yachts who follow this type of schedule and return to the same home base year after year. Avoid at all costs ‘drifter’ yachts with no home base. These boats will eat you alive.” Comment posted by Junior on September 11

October 2011
“Think about it…we are expected to have a picture of ourselves on our resume/CV. Yacht crew are not models or actors, so why does it matter what we look like? We are suppose to be professionals in our field and should be hired as such. We spend years accumulating sea time/experience and spend thousands in classes for licences. Why should it be expected to paste our photos on our resumes? Laws are supposed to protect us (in most countries) from discrimination of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., so why are we expected to have a picture on our resumes so they know what we look like before they even read what is below the photo? We are not in the biz for our looks. We are professionals in our field and should not be discriminated for our weight, hair color, citizenship, smoker/non-smoker, alcohol consumption, tattoos/visible or not, etc.....our resume should reflect our work history and performances. If we don’t ‘look the part,’ we can be dismissed from the pile before the ‘boss’ reads the rest of our resume. It’s a small industry, so I suggest you hit the gym and go for botox before you put your photo on your professional resume. We work in a very shallow and superficial industry.” Comment posted by Anonyomous on October 19 to the “Taking shallow to new depths” forum (October 17, 2011)

November 2011
“Yachting is a special game. … Instead of guessing what additional qualification you may need, it’s best to associate yourself with a first-class management company, then listen carefully to what they require for their yachts. When seeking a captain’s position, I will guarantee you that management first matches your disposition with the client’s needs, then they advise you as to what license upgrade you may require to fulfill the position. Associate yourself with a first class management company and listen to what they tell you. Every license upgrade I’ve ever done was at the insistence of management.” Comment posted by Junior on November 2 to the “Do I have the wrong certifications” forum (November 1, 2011)

December 2011
“Internet. I want it, need it and won’t work on a boat without asking what the crew policy about it is. Most of the captains I know spend all day in front of their computers where they can send personal emails at their leisure, not true of a deckie or stew. But for some reason when crew want to use the Internet we’re debased as being selfish Gen Y’ers who want to spend all day on Facebook. Grow up, Old Guard. This is 2011 and everyone wants to be able to use the Internet, we’re not being greedy. Comment posted by Vicky on December 3 to the “Crew perks” forum (November 28, 2011)





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