Interior Training On Board

25 September 2015 By Hillary Hoffower

It’s the battle of land versus sea — while some stews arestaunch supporters of professional interior training courses

they believe fillthe lacking need for interior crew training, others strongly advocate thebenefits of learning on the job, skills which they deem irreplaceable.

“Tasks tend to be boat specific, and onboard training can bequite effective,” says a purser on a 70-meter motor yacht, who was a stewardessfor eight years and trained both on board and ashore. “As a stew, you willbenefit greatly by getting on one good boat that offers a good training programon board. Those are by far more effective in the long run.”

Learning in a live environment certainly has its benefits,but so, too, does professional training. But, is one really more effective thanthe other when it comes to handling the demands of being interior crew? Or areboth sides right? In this two-part series, we’ll take a look at interiortraining, both on board and ashore.

According to a Dockwalk.compoll for stews, around 63 percent of respondents have conducted or participatedin some form of crew interior training on board.

“[We do] how-to tasks, week by week, for example, foldinglaundry properly or using starch correctly or practice making modern flowerarrangements,” says the purser.

Others prefer to train on all duties before the seasonstarts, do hands-on interior cleaning or focus on fulfilling guest preferencesor habits. For one chief stewardess though, it’s all about teamwork.

“Teaching new members is how current crew can refresh andtune their own skills at the same time, and I prefer this to be done not bytwo, but [by] more people together,” says Chief Stewardess Valve Saarma. “Astime progresses, more and more tasks can be delegated for one person to finishand no micromanaging will be needed, only motivation.”

But should interior training be confined to what its namesuggests? One of the biggest advantages of training on board that not enoughyachts take advantage of, according to both Jason King, interior departmenthead at International Crew Training, and our poll, in which less than half ofrespondents reported using this method, is cross-training.

“When working on a yacht, you have so few resourcesavailable, so one of the things you do is cross-training,” says King, addingthat it’s the interior’s mistake not to cross-train. “When you teach the deckguys the interior, or vice versa, when someone is sick or needs an extra pairof hands, you have the ability of doing it.”

Cross-training is not only handy for filling in or for extrahelp, but for creating a more cohesive and understanding crew, which ultimatelyresults in smoother operations.

“A lot of time, there seems to be animosity between theinterior crew and the deck because the interior thinks [the deck] chamois allday, and [the deck] thinks the interior crew just sit around and drink a cup oftea,” explains King. “I think that’s because we’re not doing enough cross-trainingto show how hard everyone works.”

Touching again on the importance of teamwork, Saarma adds, “Everyoneon board has some extra skills, and we all share them and take the time to makea training out of it. It’s great to delegate tasks and responsibilitiesaccordingly to each person’s strongest side, but it is just as important to beable to do the jobs of a fellow crewmember, not only to be filling in for eachother, but also to respect and appreciate the different jobs and understand howeveryone’s input makes the whole come together.”

King compares cross-training to tying a bowline knot — thereare different ways of doing it to get the same result.

“One hour a week, get all crew together [so] everyone learnsa way of tying the knot,” he says. “Go to the galley, go to the engine room.Over a period of time, you learn more than just your own department, [and] thecaptain knows what everyone does.”

You could also follow in the steps of the purser, whoreports having interior/exterior swaps on her yacht, where deckhands make thebeds and the stews wash down so “everyone has an understanding of what it takesto do the other’s job and are more willing to help out when it’s crunch time.”

Devon T, who’s been a stewardess for four years, adds, “Deckskills [are] a must in almost any program that I’ve been a part of. [It] alsodoesn’t hurt to know your way around the galley.”

No matter how you cross-train on your yacht, it’s sure to makeyour job more dynamic and interesting, as Chief Stewardess Anjuli Waybrightcalls her informal cross training experience.

Waybright, who has been a stewardess for two years, shedslight on yet another benefit of training on board.

“I constantly learn new tricks and tips from other crewcoming through, and through online forums where information is shared,” shesays.

Thus, onboard training is always an evolving experience, whereyou not only learn as you move from boat to boat, but from others who come andgo on your own yacht. Whether you’re cross training or grasping anunderstanding of tasks specific to a certain yacht, you’ll continue to add toyour skill set.

As one stewardess on a 118-foot yacht puts it, “I learnedmore working than a course will ever teach.”