Capt. Bligh or Capt. Perfect
Best and worst captains
The October issue of Dockwalk has an article about finding the perfect captain and it made me think of my past captains. I've worked for all sorts of captains. One was great, a fun captain but frustrating as he rarely left the wheelhouse while the crew worked to near-death, still I liked him though and admired his professionlism. Another truly was Capt. Bligh, screaming at the crew whenever his temper flared. Another always called ahead to La Palapa to get the berth closest to the Soggy Dollar, so he could put his feet up on the aft deck and watch the action, ahhhh.
I guess my perfect captain was someone who mixed a bit of fun in with the work; you know, cold beers in the Jacuzzi after a long, hard charter and dinner off the boat but on the owner. After all, yachting is meant to be fun, even for the crew on occasion, in my opinion. I remember a press tour a while back on this yacht where the crew looked a bit terrified when the captain appeared; on the top deck they were busy scrubbing invisible bird doo while the captain explained his daily inspections of the crew quarters, bouncing quarters off the bed and such -- not my kind of boat.
If any of my past captains are reading this, just know I'm not talking about you, of course.
I agree with that last comment 100% that the vibe comes from the top down - and that's the same whether you're talking about a boat or a company.
To the anonymous captain in this forum, don't worry, we're an equal opportunity magazine; check out the next issue where captains get to whinge about their crew. No shortage of stories there either.
This does not excuse the Captain's who, by virtue of a total lack of managment experience, run the vessel 'their way' with total disregard for their team. My experience included a Captain who deemed it appropriate to be sleeping with the '17 years his junior'- 2nd Stew. At 20 years of age, new to the industry, and having trouble coping with the environment as it was, this yo-yo relationship made our crew atmosphere absolutely unbearable on a daily basis. If the 'Stew' had a problem with any of the crew, you could bet that they would be in the firing line withing minutes, that is of course unless you weren't her 'Agony Aunt' for the day. It was like being back in Elementary School. Armed with a temper to top it all off, he would regularly explode - at times - with no real reason. I recount one day him completely clearing two tables of breakfast dishes - whilst people were sitting there - very swiftly with his walking cane. We were all working a long, hard 'Med' season with long hours and limited time off, this disruption to our vessel was inexcusable. Many Captain's have wonderful skills, but absolutely no management experience. After 12 years in the business, I have seen plently of really average Captain's and about four that I would drop everything for. Don't assume that climbing a heirarchy and maritime training equips you with the skills to run a boat.
By the way, the industry is FULL of crew trying to 'make a buck'. Not all of them exibit the work ethic associated with this way of thinking. In fact, admit it 'CEO' there must have been a number of time throughout your career that had it not been for the moeny at the time, you would not have stayed.
And you are right, Captain is like a CEO, there is little doubt about it, but a CEO doesn't live with his co-workers in a very small and confined environment for months on end!! There are so many elements to a Captain's job that means if he is missing one, it has a huge difference on the crew - and you would also have to admit working for some really bad ones. I trust that in your position, this has taught you the lessons you need, to ensure they are not passed onto your crew.
A management course for Captain's is a more essential requirement than people think. There is a difference between a captain who just gets the job done and a Captain who maintains an elite standard with minimum fuss and total respect of his crew. I have worked for the latter before and if there more of them, this would be a totally different industry to work in.
How many Captains have become Jaded,hung in there for the money whilst becoming miserable old bastards with a trail of broken relationships and a tormented crew. Blame the stews for looking for a quick buck, most yachties are slaves to the comparitivly easy money. Captains sell their soles for it. For the short term crew the yachting experience is as much a lure as the quick buck.
If you and your crew can play hard (if you want) and then work hard and all sit down after work and have dinner or a drink without bitching about someone else then you have a good crew who will stay with you.
Firm but Fair with a touch of humour will earn (not demand) you respect.
From a captain who always had a good crew.
well mister super Captain Kirk who built his way up the ladder and sees it easy for stews...possibly a stew or stewardess on larger megayachts might have built their way up the ladder as well ashore , paying for their hospitality studies as I did , getting the best experience ever working hard at servicing customers at the best resorts in the world from bottom up and then joined the yachting industry on superyachts after getting the STCW 95.
all stews , principally on superyachts beyond 40 meters are truly trained professionals at their task and work as long hours as anyone else on the yacht.they are not greenies from dockwalking in most cases.
most captains on superyachts are trustworthy in the stews /stewardesses ability to cope with owners/charter guests demands and offer a high end expected level of service.
possibly even the rgeat tips you as a skipper profit from do come in part thanks to stews making life easier and comfty for those guests.
Lets put something new it the equation,
Lets not compare all captains but, A captain coming from the smaller yachts, working his way up to become captain on a bigger yacht trough the old fashion moving up way, is usually better to work for than captains coming straight from the commercial/navy world.
As more and more commercials are coming in this is quite relevant.
These captains have mostly a lack off experience in dealing with yacht crew issues, not to mention their lack of experience in the hotel department other then drinking and eating in fancy restaurants so now and then.
Just to stir this great topic up…
Wow, I might be a bit late jumping in on this blog but I am finding the more I read, the more I cannot resist! Having been in the industry for 10 years I have seen my fair share of Captains and - wow - in any other industry most would never make it that far!
I hear what our CEO is saying about Stewardesses deciding that they know how to run a boat, having been in the industry for a couple of years, having done an STCW but unfortunately, most of the problem is when they are married to the Captain! Thats the ones that think that they know better than everyone else - but this is not about Stewardesses, this is about Captains.
I have worked for Captains that are recently divorced and if the crew are not prepared to entertain him socially, you're out! I have worked for the alcoholic Captain (haven't we all)? I have dated the Captain that was the geek at school and was determined that now people were going to respect him! I have worked for the control freak Captain that put curfews on the crew and told them they were not to stay off the boat (even on days off) without prior permission and they could only have certain days off if they used those days to do what the Captain wanted to do! Then there is the Captain that has never been a Deckhand, Mate, Stewardess or Chef in their life - what the hell would they know about being crew? And god forbid that your personality or sense of humour is a little better than your Captains - especially when it involves an owner or a contractor and you may receive a little more attention!
I did a Degree in Management before I worked on yachts and then worked my way up through the ranks and was promoted to Manager of 45 staff on merit of my people skills and management skills, since when has a Captain worked his way up on these merits? Lets face it, driving a boat is easy, yeah you spend a lot of money on licensing but it is not rocket science - managing people and remembering how it is to be a Deckhand or the Laundry Girl is rocket science.
And for the record, my best ever Captain was only 32, had a YM Offshore, didn't have an ego, remembered what it was like to be scrubbing the decks had the best people skills and management skills - and to top it all, was an excellent boat handler!
Well I am not surprised this has stirred up such a large amount of comment. Due to the nature of what we do this is bound to happen, we are not taking cargo from one port to another but people – this industry is ALL ABOUT PEOPLE. That is both the good part & the hard part, when you are on a happy well run boat life is good, the boats that the crew “want” to work instead of “having” to work are the ones that have the right mix from top to bottom & bottom to top. There is nothing better than when a group of guest tell you this was the best trip they have ever had.
As a Captain I am not afraid to say there are some really bad guys running boats out there, many of them high profile. In fact on a number of occasions I have seen owners get out of yachting because of them - yes instead of firing the Captain they sell the whole operation. Some of these owners years later have gotten back into yachting but they were shy to do so. To many Captains lose touch with reality sitting at the top of the tree & becoming little dictators in there own little world, I am a big believer in spending a year or two in the real world from time to time to ensure I understand the real value of money, the value of people & interaction in the general community.
Fortunately I have worked for some really top Captains, they are well respected by the crew & owners, people want to work on there operations. These Captains also have the level of confidence in there own ability to train people onboard, the mentoring I received from these Captains has stood me in good stead & I have done the same for other crew who have been going up the ladder. I have met some Captains who will not let the first officer or any of the crew do almost anything, not even drive the tender!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My advice has always been to people getting into this business, to find out who you are working for – just don’t look at the boat.
Let me make my point a bit more clear.
Why would I be intimidated by a commercial master?? I am in the yachting for over 10 years. Working on yachts up to 100 meters, I do my job with respect for all crew and I am a firm believer in discipline.
The whole point of this discussion is to identify bad and worst captains.
In no way I claim that a commercial trained captain is not good enough to run a yacht.
On the contrary, I think most are ‘’vastly superior’’ (as you claim) in seaman’s ship.
But are they vastly superior in dealing with silly crew issues? Are they willing to clean there own cabin when the stewies are busy? Can they organize their bunkering in such a way that is also convenient for decky’s, stewies and chefs?
Can they fathom that the chef needs fresh bread or fish every morning, fresh flowers for the stewies.. Can they think of tender runs? If you only know how much stress falls off the shoulders of these people when they have a master whom takes all these issues in consideration (read consideration because I understand it is not always possible)
I just analyze the captain, and the skills they have in dealing with crew. With bigger boats coming out there will be more and more captains, engineers and mates coming for the lures of yachting. I claim commercials have mostly different attitudes and experiences then original yachties.
And you say that you never worked on yachts, so even if you are the best seaman in the world you cannot judge in a way you do, if you feel you are superior then us mere yachties
I have no doubt that yachting is going to a other level, I can see it around me that in the last 5 years huge changes happened, and in my opinion it is not always for the better.
(Same stories I hear from crewing agents and suppliers)
Most large yacht have huge turnover in crews, we have to wonder why?
If you have been working on smaller boats you know where I am talking about.
That’s a different discussion though.
One thing I do have to give you a hard time for though,
Working for a alcoholic master?
Regardless how good he is, a good captain should always show discipline, and he can drink but needs to know his limits!
Lead by example!!
I rest my case now, and I hope you see what I am saying. Not every person is the same,
There are good and bad apples on booth sides.
Take it easy
I have alot of respect for the "old salty dogs that scrubbed the decks for 5 years before they were even allowed to touch a line" blah blah blah....I really do, but, as previously mentioned, thats not yachts. Commercial and Yachts is 2 completely different industries, no comparison whatsoever. And guess what, it isnt rocket science to be able to drive a boat, going the commercial route these days is even easier than the yacht route....how many times do Commercials do your own weather routing, how many times have you entered an unknown, unlit port as the sun is disappearing - unassisted, in fact, when was the last time you entered any port unassisted? how many times have you picked your way through shallow narrow channels with the Mate hanging off the bow or up the mast directing you through rocks?? 16 hrs of work during the day, then 3 hrs of anchor watch at night?
If yachting was that luxurious, dont you think everyone would be doing it?
The Captains that come through the Commercial routes have some very strong points, but unfortunately...Yachting is not usually one of them! Its a different industry and just cos you never went to the bridge or drove a tender for 5 years doesnt mean the Deckhand should be treated the same way on a 150ft yacht!
To "anonymous" who posted this:
....how many times do Commercials do your own weather routing, how many times have you entered an unknown, unlit port as the sun is disappearing - unassisted, in fact, when was the last time you entered any port unassisted? how many times have you picked your way through shallow narrow channels with the Mate hanging off the bow or up the mast directing you through rocks?? 16 hrs of work during the day, then 3 hrs of anchor watch at night?
Have you seen Deadliest Catch?? I know a yacht captain who used to fish - those guys can handle anything and never sleep. Hats off to you. They fish until the seas reach 50 feet.
Great to see that the debate is starting to heat up, but we should take a moment to settle down and conduct ourselves professionally as you are all so quick to point out in your above posts.
I have a point that I would like to add that digresses slightly but still fits the context of the debate. I have been in the industry now for 8 years as an engineer and worked my way up the ladder. I came from a career as a commercial pilot so I know what it means to be responsible. I have spent my eight years working for just two captains. The first, we worked together for four years and I left with a glowing written reference. He was an English master that was stern but friendly and had amazing boat handling skills. He let crew have time off and always encouraged crew to get out and see the world that we operate in, which has not been repeated since, much to my disappointment. For example he would always stop in Dominica for a crew day out to explore the island. This was capped off with a run up the Indian river for a bottle of dynamite with the locals. The second was an Aussie that loved to work hard and play just as hard. When he met a girl and invited her to work on our boat as chef. She had little skills but was eager to learn. She soon grew to dislike me as I was having too much fun with the captain on our days off. The choice was that I go or she leaves him. He chose the former. I found it difficult to get a good job after working for him for three years as he had to fire me for some made up reason. My question that I ask you and myself every day is; what does loyalty buy you in this industry? I mean If I only work for two people in Eight years and one is now retired then that leaves me with one captain that has fired me as my only current reference. No one cares that I have worked for that same guy on two different boats over three years. You might ask yourself, why not take it up with the courts? Because that’s not how it works, at least not that I’m aware of.
So in this discussion of bad and good captains. What I would like to know is. At what point do we draw the line. I have a mortgage and a fiancée. Because the captain just wanted a steady root my life gets turned upside down. In the real world this is highly illegal. We accept a few injustices as part of the nature of the industry but what or who is stopping a bad captain from being really bad. I am aware of the ILO as this is all part of my studies but in reality that is not an option....yet.
I am happily employed on another yacht but a lot of this I put down to the fact that I am an engineer, what if I were a stew or a decky working for three years for my first captain. Food for thought.
And by the way I personally think we shouldn’t compare commercial skippers to yacht skippers they are really different jobs.
It's not whether a Captain is good, bad or ugly.
The real question is what does a Captain do after yachting?
I think there are great Captains who find it hard to make it ashore when trying to duplicate their success at sea.
Whats the difference between God and a captain?
God doesn't think he's a captain
The Best Captain makes $8 k to $15 k a month.
The Worst Captain makes $4 k to $6 k a month.
Basicly the average is $1,000 a foot, 65+ feet is where
the real world starts, so you figure the numbers. A deck hand making
a thousand dollars less a month than you the captain, it is time to find
a new job captain because you are not good for the industry!
I am a Captain and Chief Engineer, both current licensed and I make
more as an engineer because engineers are not not shooting each other
in the back.
Example: A captain and stew team are making $60K together/total
who is hurting the industury, the best captains do not play that game because they
earned their bars in Hr, Pr, and basicly Rules of the road. They know what the
value of the license is! It is a proper life and good captains are an examples
of it, (Male or Female). I do not know one good captain who chases younger
members of the crew or crews who don't believe in the job. People come and go
and that is business and makes a better person now days. These negative stories
will always be around but as one grows - you will find the best vessels don't have
these problems because everyone helps each other and won't let each other fall into
the Negative Trap. They are proud when one of the team finds a better position and
usually throw a going-a-way party. Now thats respect for each other!
Now let the feathers fly - GOD Speed
I have spent 10 years working on sail and power boats from 60'up to 110'.The last 4 as Captain on a 70'expedition power yacht ,i hold a RYA OCEAN 200/T. I love the private yachting industry ,and i have decided to further my studies . Thus i have enrolled at the Australian Maritime Acadamy in Tasmania to study for my Mate/Master >500 /T, this is a Australian Maritime Saftey Authourity accepted course in other words this is a Commercial industry accepted certification ,the MCA Master/mate 500/T is not . I understand that the MCA rating is accepted in the Pleasure industry , but i wanted to get the very best education with a broader perspective , so i decided to do the AMSA certification the course is 8 months fulltime ,as compared to 2 or 3 months for the MCA certification ,so its more of a commitment but i belive will be worth it in the long run .this i feel will give me the very best skills that come from the commercial indusrty and i will be able to continue in the Pleasure Yacht industry working on the finer refinements of putting together a top notch crew and expereince for the Owners and guests . So to me its not about the comparision its about the practical intergration of avaiable education and personal experience .
I have been a commercial captain for ten years and worked on deck for 12 prior. I am in my mid-30's. The biggest differences to me between commercial captains and yacht captains is definitely the level of experience and the general sense of urgency.
When you are responsible for 500 or so passengers and 100 or so rotating staff you get a different value system than when you have 12 crew and some guests. Also, with yachts I feel that a captain is going to be less inclined to stand up to behavior that is unacceptable aboard a voyage for fear for a job or alienating an owner. In the commercial sector, you do not have this option. In yachting, you really are only responsible to the owner in your mind, while in commercial, you are responsible for a higher level of safety as well as being accountable to the Coast Guard or other flag authority. There is also the matter of engineering. Most captains that are worth anything in the commercial sector can and do have the capability to not only manage the engineering department, but be able to fix problems along side or even in place of the engineer. In yachts, I see alot of subcontracting things that should be able to be taken care of in-house.
Even a yacht worth 200 million dollars does not have the same value as a vessel carrying passengers.
I operate vessels alongside yachts knowing that the captains do not abide by the same chemical testing guidelines as we do, which concerns me as well.
I have seen yachties work there way up to captain in only a few years and that does not give the management experience neccessary to make important decisions. Two years on deck of a yacht is not two years on deck of an inspected vessel. Unfortunately, the training academies will guarantee you will pass a test and then you are a captain. You are not. I do not hire captains from yachts unless they have had some commercial experience or are willing to learn as a Mate.
The really superior captains I know were born with it in there blood and did not choose their career sitting in the cold somewhere dreaming of how great it would be to be a yacht captain or crew.
My experience has been in the 130'-220' range and I can only compare to this, not big ships.