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Engineer to Captain
Septic tank
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 8:19 PM
Joined: 02/11/2009
Posts: 79

Do engineers make good Captains? Captains need to have a solid grasp of engineering and this is precisely why Engineers are able to make the switch Captain on smaller yachts.
Captain Andy
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 8:42 PM
Joined: 17/09/2008
Posts: 93

Absolutely right! Only 10% of a Captain's job is driving the 'boat', the rest is management which a good Engineer will have already accomplished! I'm also a fan of the person that drive sthe boat and breaks it should fix it!!!!! LOL
Posted: Saturday, September 4, 2010 12:18 AM
Engineers do not make good captains on larger boats. They are too logical and lack the emotional compassion to run an effective crew. Besides, Engineers hate Deck crew by nature, never met one who didn't. So you see the issue there. Now, we need to define Engineer. A person with mechanical aptitude who runs a 60-80 footer is not an engineer, and does make a great captain. This question is relative to vessel size. It takes ten years to be a good Chief Engineer and about Seven years to get all the tickets to be captain on a yacht over 500tons, so you just don't see it....
Posted: Saturday, September 4, 2010 3:08 PM
I am an engineer that’s skippered vessels below 24 meters, completed numerous near coastal voyages and had small taste of what being a Captain must be like. While working as a skipper it became very apparent to me that Engineers only deal with the yacht as a machine, whereas Captains deal with the yacht, the crew, the owner and all the business associated with the vessel. Managing the owner, the crew, the vessels agenda and everything in between is extremely challenging. I had to reinvent my work routines and discover ways to manage the day’s workload and not allow the workload manage me. The how, why, when and with whom aspects of time management for a Captain is more fluid than an Engineers, because external forces directly affect the days priorities. Chief Engineers manage the practical hierarchy and Captains manage the abstract priorities and this is why Captains are able to manage the black, grey and white aspects of the ships business and the engineers stick with whats possible and what’s not possible.
Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 6:40 PM
Joined: 25/07/2008
Posts: 31

As a veteran Coast Guard engineering officer, my owners appreciate that they have the opportunity to have an engineer qualified captain running the show. As stated above, only a fraction of the time a yacht is used is actually underway. Therefore, anyone who is more than an "oil change captain" is a valuable asset to the owner.

Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 7:18 PM
Joined: 09/09/2008
Posts: 78

Seems like this forum and industry seem to be getting more and more of the he said she said mentality. Would a Taurus be a better captain than a Gemini? How not to upset Suzy, and other worthless questions. Next on Geraldo! Everything comes down to the individual, there are no patterns and every rule has an exception.
Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 7:18 PM
Joined: 14/05/2008
Posts: 1

This is a topic that is here and now for me. I operated a marine services & delivery business before pursuing the Engineer position, Id given up on being a "yacht" Captain. Then one day about 18months ago a 33m motor yacht Captain position materialized out of a side job. This year while renewing my masters I decided to upgrade as well to 500gt - Also will be taking exams this fall for USCG DDE4000 (Engineering License). I could go either way in the future, but think getting Engineering gigs is easier. The crew I've worked with (all freelance as this is a 1regular crew boat) have given me great praise for being a good teacher and good captain. The owners are happy to have a dual role Captain as well. I think the best captains have excellent mechanical aptitude and were likely excellent sailors in the past (a very strong "team" sport ethic).
Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 7:18 PM
Joined: 21/03/2009
Posts: 19

It SO depends on the personality and leadership skills of the individual concerned...
A xoxoox

Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 7:32 PM
Joined: 27/07/2008
Posts: 96

In the yacht business a Captain should understand the work of the engineer, ideally by having filled that position as a dual Capt./Eng. on a smaller vessel, but a fully licensed Engineer is wasting a lot of skill and training by changing to a deck position. Having said that if that is what they want and they have the time and aptitude there is nothing wrong with being dual qualified.

Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 7:50 PM
Joined: 26/07/2008
Posts: 1

The keyword here is it "depends."  I have had a handful of engineer friends that wanted the captain situation only to go back to being an engineer.  As it has been stated, there are a lot of other things that need to be taken into account as a captain besides driving the boat from point A to B.  With the soap operas that happen in our industry with crew, owners, and/or charter guests, the ability to manage all the situations smoothly is key.  If there is no organization skills for management, I have been able to see why it is tough to make the switch. 
Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 10:19 PM
As a Class 1 Master Mariner, I HAD to do engineering knowledge to an extremely high level including engine time, watch keeping and on the sticks with a air start engine. That knowledge allows me to vastly understand what is happening when I waggle the bridge stick(s) and should be compulsory for any Captain on any size yacht or ship. My career in yachting has been Capt/Engineer. I have also been harbour Pilot and that job needs total understanding of engineering when the Captain lies to you on the engine status. So for the post, all Captains should and preferably must learn aspects of engineering before let loose on those bridge sticks and thruster controls...
Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:07 PM
Joined: 11/04/2009
Posts: 13

I have seen good Captains and bad Captains, have seen engineers worth their salt and others not worth a spit, let's stop measuring D*&k sizes and stick to your departments. Hopefully those with gripes find that happy boat and live happily ever after.

Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:19 PM
Joined: 11/04/2009
Posts: 13

And further more septic tank, I have an engineer who started his life as deck to become deck officer and he changed to engineering and the boy is so good he would put most of you so called engineers to shame, with his work ethic and ability. Engneering is not some mystic/voodoo science as is made out to be...

Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:57 AM
As I told every one of my Chief Engineers, from tankers to cruise ship to yacht: "don't forget that you are just along for the ride." The only people that think engineers are important are engineers. Just ask them!!!
Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 11:52 AM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 70

I am not surprised to see Captains and Engineers use this forum as a mechanism diminish each other , there is lack of professional respect going both directions in the field. Those who claim their job is more important or difficult than the next guys should step onto the shoes of the other guy for a couple of months before they judge. Captains and Engineers are team leaders that share the responsibility of the boat; consequently a certain amount of information and responsibility is shared between the Captain and Engineer. Shared responsibilities and knowledge is what keeps a boat ticking and enables people to deal with adverse conditions more effectively. During my early career on commercial trawlers and yachts below 45 meters I split my time between deck and engineering and knew exactly what was occurring in both departments. Dual role positions make it very difficult to do either job perfectly and therefore people need to make a career choice if they wish to rise to the next level as engineering or on deck officer. How well or poorly a Captain or Engineer manages resources, interacts, crew, owners and contractors is a function of professionalism standards and skill as a team leader. I am an engineer with an appreciation for the Captains role and know it is within my ability to go fulltime on small yacht as an engineer, but going past 30 meters in size would take the fun out of skippering a boat because there is a longer chain of command dragging behind you. Managing people is definitely a skill that elite Captains do well.
Captain Brian
Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 2:10 PM
Joined: 11/09/2009
Posts: 12

I reckon the person who came up with this question in the first place is a shite-disturber and is having a big laugh over all our responses. I personally wouldn't touch this one with a 10 foot pole that was 12 feet long.
Posted: Thursday, September 9, 2010 6:27 PM
Joined: 02/12/2008
Posts: 2

certainly agree with the engineer/deck crew comment. having worked for a few years it seems that the absence of cross training gives certain people delusions of grandeur. I am of the opinion that more people doing other peoples jobs under supervision certainly helps create a better understanding of what is needed to run a boat.