Q&A With Second Officer Grace Mott

30 August 2023 By Lauren Beck

Lauren Beck is the former editor of Dockwalk and was with the publication from 2006 to 2023. At 13, she left South Africa aboard a 34-foot sailing boat with her family and ended up in St. Maarten for six years. Before college, she worked as crew for a year, and then cut her journalistic teeth at Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal online. She loves traveling, reading, tennis, and rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Name: Grace Mott
Yacht: M/Y Lady JJ
Builder: Heesen
LOA: 55M/180' 5"
Position: Second officer
Years in current position: 18 months
Years in industry: 5 and a half
Previous vessels: M/Y Latitude, M/Y Compass Rose, M/V National Geographic Quest, M/Y Double Down
Nationality/Country: USA

My goal is to be captain of a 60-meter-plus vessel in four years. My long-term goal is to curate a team of people fulfilled by the work they’re doing on board — people who are passionate about teaching others and their lifestyle.

My love for the water began when I was working as a Divemaster in the Florida Keys in university. A friend suggested I get my STCW, then try to get a job as a Scuba instructor on a yacht. Five and a half years later, I’m still in the industry and on the pursuit of increasing my license whenever I am able.

I graduated with a degree a criminology; work wise I would likely be involved in some sort of Urban Criminological Design if I wasn’t in yachting. In my off time I would be training for my freediving career, both in competition and instructing.

Strategically navigating every person’s mental and emotional states after a long trip or a big change on board is challenging. You must figure out how to uniquely motivate every individual, while keeping the crew efficient and safe and the guests happy.

Don’t give up! If you put yourself out there and maintain a positive attitude, the job will come. Networking, attending events and training programs, and being proactive in your job search increases your chances. It’s important to build a yachting network as word of mouth can often lead to job opportunities.

Go the extra mile, especially if you’re working on a new project/skill. By showing initiative, being proactive, and working well with your colleagues, you can establish yourself as a valuable team member and build a strong reputation.

Extra skills inevitably improve your guests’ experience on board. However, I think extra skills make life on board better for the entire crew because these skills typically come with a level of passion. People that are excited about their job make the environment more enjoyable.

The most important thing I have learned is how to delineate professional relationships and friendships. The line gets blurred when you work and live with the same people. This distinction allows everyone to be better because it opens the door for constructive criticism and professional development. Then after work, the team can go for dinner without animosity.

Growing my self-confidence by developing new skills has been a significant achievement. At one point, becoming a good tender driver seemed like an insurmountable task. I spent hours practicing and doing docking drills and now I am happy and confident hopping into a 45-foot tender and knowing I can put it on the dock exactly where I want it!

Often, guests depart telling us how they had a week/month they will never forget. It is fulfilling to know that the work we do contributes to lasting memories and gives us all a greater appreciation for our waterways.

Following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is crucial for safety and efficiency on board. Taking the extra time to ensure you’ve followed every step is a small price for avoiding potentially catastrophic mistakes. A chief engineer once told me, “Practice makes permanent, perfect practice makes perfect.”

This article was orgianally published in the May 2023 issue of Dockwalk.


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