Crew Quarters Query

5 March 2010 By Janine Ketterer

New Maritime Labour Convention regulations will have crew on new builds living in unprecedented space, but are crew on older yachts doomed to a life of narrow bunks with no outlet to the outside world?

In a recent poll on, we asked what your crew cabin accommodations are really like. The majority of respondents said they work in crews of four to 10 crewmembers and seventy-five percent of all respondents say they share a cabin on board.

Crew were almost evenly split on whether they feel their cabin is of adequate size, with 51 percent of crew responding no and 49 percent saying yes, they have ample space.

Bosun Dane of the 47.5-meter S/Y MITseaAH says, “Our boat is pretty generous for a sailboat. I’ve lived aboard for two years and never had any complaints. I’d say the crew cabins [on MITseaAH] are comparable to those of a motor yacht.”

Bosun Andy of the 46-meter M/Y My Iris says that his crew cabin is a comfortable size; however, storage space is an issue.

Many crew agree with Andy. Only 38 percent of polled crew said they have adequate storage space in their crew cabin. “It’s pretty much the only problem,” says Andy. “By the time you have your crew uniforms put away, there is no space for your regular clothes. And then to add another person’s personal items to that because you share a cabin….”

Deckhand Jeff of S/Y MITseaAH feels the same way, “There is nowhere near enough storage space.”

On the 51-meter M/Y Enterprise V, Deckhand Clay feels that he has ample storage. “We don’t have a full crew so I have my own cabin. I have plenty of space to play with. If we did have a full crew and I was sharing a cabin, I imagine space still wouldn’t be an issue because we would be traveling a lot more and I would have less stuff with me on board,” he says.

When it comes to storage space, the crew of the 44-meter M/Y At Last seemed to have it made. First Mate Jake says that the yacht was recently refitted and storage on board is a nonissue now. “All of the bunks are oversized and there is plenty of storage space.” There are two hanging spaces for him and his cabin mate, one in the shower and the other in the head and in the cabin itself, there are drawers. A closet in the shower may seem a bit impractical, but if it means bringing some extra items along, impracticality goes out the window.

Not only was the hot button issue of space taken care of in At Last, but the amenities are top shelf as well. “We have TVs with satellite television in the bunks; we have access to the onboard movie system and there is Internet access,” says Jake.

While storage space is at a premium, many yachts have amped up their crew cabins’ amenities. MITseaAH, At Last and Enterprise V all offer TVs in their crew cabins with access to satellite TV. Dane says that MITseaAH’s crew have access to the central DVD library. The DVD player itself is in the crew mess but plays on TVs in the cabins, which can lead to a bit of mischief if you’re watching a movie in your cabin and a crewmate in the mess presses pause – as Deckhand Jeff found out a few days ago.

Sixty-six percent of polled crew said they have Internet access in their cabins. The majority of crew have some form of music entertainment in their cabins. Thirty-nine percent have CD players or radios, 10 percent, including the crew on MITseaAH, have iPod connections and 20 percent have CD/radio and iPod connections. Thirty-one percent of crew who answered the poll said they have none of the above.

While some yachts still are sailing in the dark ages of technology, it seems most have stepped up their electronics, if not overhauled their crew cabins, to make life a bit nicer for those who work on board.

Engineer Dickie on MITseaAH says, “Over the past twelve to thirteen years, I think crew cabins and crew quarters in general have gotten a lot better, but it’s moving slowly. I think people are finally realizing that if they want to keep crew on board boats, they have to give us a good space to live in. Otherwise, we’re not going to stick around.”