All it takes is a quick glance at the headlines (and the Dockwalk.com Forum posts) to see that the yachting industry has been and will be further affected by the current economic downturn with job losses worldwide.
Dozens of vessels in waters around the globe still are actively hosting owners and charter guests, and their captains and crew on board are indeed the lucky ones. But be forewarned: The writing seems to be on the wall that “things need to be tightened up.” Whilst superior job performance and a positive attitude are important in securing and keeping a berth on a superyacht even in the best of times, today all crew need to work extra hard to prove their worth and job value.
Although there are no guarantees even for the most qualified of employees, here are some tips on how to be proactive:
1. Be Ultra-efficient. Sit down with the rest of the crew to discuss ways to improve efficiencies for everyone on board. “I do my own repairs, polishing and services. No day workers, no contractors and keeping a close eye on spending keeps our boss happy,” says Australia Gold Coast-based Capt. Robin Smedley. “We are all vulnerable at this time of industry uncertainty.”
2. Cut Costs. Have a crew meeting and brainstorm ideas for saving money for the boss. You may be able to reduce galley expenditures, at least when it comes to crew consumables. Have a look at your most recent inventory and it will be easy to see where you can save money. For example, if meat or seafood is on the menu every day, look at some vegetarian alternatives. Deck crew can reduce costs by considering less expensive exterior products for the bigger jobs like washdowns – without compromising the environment. Some detailers swear by vinegar and organic sugar soap.
3. Help Your Crewmates. If time allows, and you are capable of assisting in another crewmember’s department, offer to help on a regular basis. This will improve morale and boost teamwork. Cross-training also serves for covering illness and shore leave in times of emergency. Ultimately, you also are proving you are capable of doing more than one job on board the yacht.
4. Keep a Log. This is a normal part of all senior crew work, but it can be helpful to junior crew as well. Every task you complete on a day-to-day basis shows exactly where you are in terms of maintaining your workspace. There will be small tasks in your department that no owner would ever think to consider as being part of your job specification. Make notes of these details, so that if you are asked, you can show the owner what you do, how you do it and when it was done.
5. Make Yourself Useful. Perhaps you have an interest in digital photography or creative writing. Let the captain know about these hobbies, as he might consider using your expertise to help market the yacht instead of paying an outside contractor.
6. Increase Your Skills. You can never know enough in this industry. Why not take a crash course in another crewmember’s department? It can’t hurt a steward/ess to add culinary skills to his or her area of expertise. Deck crew might want to study up on information technology (IT), refrigeration or other engineering skills. There are many ways you can add to your professional experience.
7. Seek Additional Responsibility. One Australia-based crew all have extra responsibilities off the boat, either in the boss’s home or at his corporation. “I go to the house or the office and give the gardener a break,” says the mate. “The chef and stew take over from the housekeeper for a month.” The captain loves it as he gets to have the boat to himself to get the major tasks organized.
8. Get Along with Your Work Mates. Now is the time to make a pact to work well together and support each other for the good of the yacht, the owner – and everyone’s future employment.
Do you have any tips to add to help crew hang onto their jobs?