Crew Confidential?

21 August 2009 By Janine Ketterer

If loose lips sink ships, then spilling the beans about a guest or owner could have you off the yacht and looking for work before you can send the photos to Celebrity gossip is always in demand; when even family members are willing to rat out their kin for a few bucks from a gossip rag or website, it’s no wonder owners and guests want crew to keep their mouths shut about the goings-on on board.

Sailing away on a multi-million dollar yacht is certainly one way to avoid the prying eyes of the paparazzi, but if crew are “tweeting” about the clientele, privacy is compromised. For this very reason, many yachts have enacted confidentiality agreements either in or in addendum to crew contracts.

To get the real scoop on confidentiality, recently surveyed crew and the results proved to be very interesting. About 70 percent of crew who participated said that they have had a celebrity guest and owner, but of those crew only 39 percent had a confidentiality agreement. Forty-four percent of crew said that previous vessels required such an agreement. (Numbers are based on poll results as of 21/8/09 -- they are subject to change as more responses come in.)

Ian Pelham, director of The Crew Network, says that all of the crew coming through their doors must sign a confidentiality agreement. “[The confidentiality agreements] are very simple, [crew] can use any information that they learn on how to do their job better anywhere they go, but anything specific about the yacht, owner, guests or that particular job, they have to keep to themselves.”

Pelham also says that crew may be asked to sign another contract while on board, which would take precedent over the agency's.

In the March 2007 issue of Dockwalk, Capt. Mike French tackled this very subject in the article titled Loose Lips Sink Ships. In the article, French maintains that if you as a crewmember are asked to sign a crew confidentiality agreement, keep in mind that it is a legally binding document, so be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, just in case you have a habit of running your mouth.

Even mentioning the name of the yacht you work on is sometimes taboo as several Dockwalk staff members have learned while taking dockshots. One celebrity owner in particular allows his crew to be photographed but the name of the yacht they work on is not to be mentioned.

So, even if crew have a contract, are they keeping their lips sealed? Almost two-thirds of the crew who answered the poll said they feel their job does not require a confidentiality agreement.

Does that mean crew are chatty kathys? Well, perhaps not. The overwhelming majority of crew who have a contract, say they abide by it and most of those who do not have contracts say they are still discreet. Is this because crew are simply too busy to bother with those vacationing on board?

Still, some crew enjoy dishing the dirt. While only four percent said they have been reprimanded for opening their mouths when they shouldn’t have – and none of the crew who answered had been sacked for not abiding by their confidentiality agreement – 26 percent of crew who have ever worked under a contract said they’ve just never been caught. So perhaps crew are just good at gossip.