Dockwalk’s 20th Year: What I Wish I Knew….

27 September 2016 By Hillary Hoffower

For better or for worse, a lot is learned, lost, and gainedwhen you work on a yacht — especially for 20 years. In the third installment of“Dockwalk’s 20th Year,” captains andcrew look back and share what they wish they knew before embarking on theiryachting career. Veterans, you’ll relate, and new crew — well, you just mightpick up a tip or two.

What do you wish you knew when you firstentered the industry?

How to Prepare

“I had been self employed for a few years and living independentlyfrom age sixteen to twenty, so I wasvery independent, working my own schedule three to four days a week andsail racing the other few days a week…it took some adjusting to living on boarda one hundred-thirty-five-foot yacht with eight crew of whom you didn’t knowand every minute of your day was controlled by the first officer. So a littleforward insight and conditioning from someone in the industry already wouldhave helped the transition.” — Capt. Vaughan Hill, M/Y 11.11

“How importantqualifications would become to the industry. Although I feel qualifications areimportant, I feel it has become too insurance industry driven and a chase forpaper over useable skills. I learned most of what I know on board at sea, notin a classroom. There is a skillset required at sea that no classroom canproperly prepare you for.” — Capt. Karl Joyner, S/Y Columbia

How to Be More Savvy

“How to be acarpenter.” — Capt. David R. Pines

“How to tie abowline. I was called out by the captain one day and couldn't tie a bowline. Heshowed me how, then put a copy of ‘Chapman's Piloting and Seamanship’ in myhand and suggested I read it cover to cover.” — Capt. Chas Donahoe, M/Y Tera-Byte

“Exit strategy!Yachting is tough to get into these days, but oh boy, getting out at the end isreally hard. Finding anything on land that engages the mind like life at sea isa tall order. I would urge everyone to plan that exit well. Study if you haveto, get the qualifications you need, because it is a big change of life whenone day you have kids and a family to think about.” — Capt. James Lowe

All Things Money

“If anything, Iwish I knew the power of compound interest. I've saved over theyears, but should have saved more early on. Where have we heard that songbefore.... Maybe Rod should come out with one similar!” — Capt. John Olson

“To startsaving money for the IRA sooner and more. I also learned early on

to NEVER useyour own money for the boat.” — Capt. Tedd Greenwald, M/Y Pilgrim

“How to sail wouldhave been a good start. And also how to manage money better. It took some yearsfor me to realize what a unique opportunity the industry offered to save forthe future.” — Capt. Greg Butler-Davis, S/Y Victoria

The Trying Times

“How much patience and energy youwould need!” — Danny and Lisa Robinson, S/Y Meari

“Ireally stumbled into professional yachting by accident. In those days I wasreally in it for the travel and adventure, which I certainly found. I did serveon one very large yacht but left after about a year because it was scheduled tojust sit in Antibes and I wanted to go back to a smaller sailing yacht [that]was traveling. We rarely sailed on that large yacht; I didn't really like thepolitics of a big crew, and I was frustrated with the lack of adventure. However,now as I enter my fifties I realize I probably should have stuck it out and Iwould be running much larger boats now with the accompanying paycheck. At leastwith the route I did take. I accumulated a lot of unique experiences and somefunny stories.” — Capt. Geoffrey C. Gardner

The Sacrifices

“I might have wanted to know that ‘for a fistful of dollars,’ thepromises of freedom would be swapped for a few liberties...” — Capt. JacquesMeader. M/Y Paolyre

“The personalsacrifices necessary to maintain a significant role in this industry, whichoften place a toll on home life, family, and relationships. I’ve learned tocapitalize upon the elusive quality time when it is available to makeeverlasting memories not unlike those expected by our owners and guests.” —Capt. Chris Harris, M/Y Cachee

Photo:Capt. Chris Harris