Double the Yachts, Double the Fun

13 October 2008 By Charlie Kiss

There’s a cliché worth remembering when considering a multiple yacht program: “Be careful what you wish for.”

Believe me, I know from my experience as a captain in a multiple yacht program, that this is not something to be taken lightly. Captains, crew and owners all need to work together to make the program a success.

Serving two consecutive yachting programs that involve a motor yacht and a sportfishing yacht operation either separately or in tandem can be quite a challenge, but it’s one with great rewards for owners, captains and crew if you do it right.

Remember: the decisions you make as a captain in charge of such a program can either lead to great enjoyment and prosperity or they could lead to disaster and despair.

The first element needed to make your multiple yacht program a success is crew.

Crew are not easily defined, nor understood. Don’t believe me? Walk the docks of any sportfishing tournament in the Bahamas and see if the crew resembles the type you would find along the bulkhead during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. And I’m not just talking about the way they look. Crew simply are not a monolithic entity.

There is a different mindset among crew depending upon their responsibilities and environment. The primary challenge for the captain with any yachting program is the cohesiveness of owners and crew.

When you mix a motor yacht crew with a sportfishing crew strange things can happen. Finding crew that will deal easily with the rigors of tournament fishing and the service demands of the cocktail and canapés set can be quite a challenge, but it’s one that must be met.

Take the sportfishing example. Owners need to enjoy the experience of trying to catch a fish, not just the end result of catching that fish. Then, the owners and crew must be able to move to the mothership where the owner rightfully expects to be pampered. Obviously, each yacht will have its own crew, but the overall mentality must carry back and forth. Crew must be competent and confident in both roles.

Sounds like an easy thing to do, but only if everyone is physically and mentally on board with the idea. This means being on board two separate yachts at once in the same location or apart by thousands of miles.

Find open minded crew who will do anything within reason as long as it will not jeopardize safety. There are plenty of crew available with a “can and will do” attitude, but you have to make sure those are the ones you hire before the program begins. Not doing so can prove disastrous.

What about cash flow? This is where the owner comes in, but the captain has to be a master at budgeting. The program requires significant funds – not for throwing around and boasting, “Look at me with my two yachts”
– but for maintaining the crews and the boats.

Top salaries, recurrent training, monetary and non-monetary incentives are a few things that should be offered to experienced crew, so you have to have enough money up front in order to get this program moving in the right direction and maintaining it.

Inexperienced crew will only have to look in the direction of their experienced crewmembers to see their career future. If they stick with the multiple yacht program and do what it takes to make it thrive, they, too, will succeed beyond measure as a member of a successful team.

How many times have you seen a situation where crew can’t wait to jump ship? Create a program where crew on the outside are seeking to join the yachts because of the program’s positive reputation. Or they will avoid it because of its bad reputation. We all know those yachts.

Now, consider the yachts themselves. Without constant preventative and routine maintenance, the entire multiple yacht program will collapse. A redundant maintenance program will ensure that when you want something to work it will work.

The oceans have no sympathy for those who do not prepare and equip themselves for unforeseen situations. Without proper funding you run the risk of not being able to catch that trophy marlin because you were trying to save money on fishing line. You also may run the risk of finding yourself alone in a life raft with faulty lifesaving gear that missed its annual inspection.

The owners who are involved in my multiple yacht program are wonderful, and they insist on the following creed:
- Crew come first and foremost.
- The boat comes second.
- The owners and guest come last.

When the crew is happy, it makes for a happy boat. The results of this happiness are reflected in the enjoyment of owners and guests who will always feel that the crew has their best interests in mind, which is how it should be.

What are your thoughts on a multiple yacht program? Are there advantages and disadvantages that would lead you to join or avoid such a set-up? Let us know. Leave your comments below and become an active member on