Passing the the Yacht Manager

4 March 2010 By Louisa Cowan

Everyone has, at some point, seen a thunderous-looking captain tearing out his/her hair over the latest demand being made by the yacht manager.

“I would love to see my boat manager get the second and third estimates for every spare part needed instead of me,” says one disgruntled captain, who prefers to remain nameless.

However, there are plenty of ways yacht managers can put a smile on a captain's face -- by handling the least desirable tasks.  

Topping the list of jobs that captains love to pass on to the manager is the boat's flag state audit. “I pass my flag state audits straight over to my management company,” says Capt. Chris. “It’s a dull job and I simply hate doing it! Pass it on, that’s what I say.”

This is a sentiment shared by a fellow captain who says, “I would love to hand my flag state audit over to the manager and he then would have to explain to the auditor that ‘it’s just too expensive to fix the watertight door that only closes halfway!’”

It seems that many captains out there would rather not be the ones dealing directly with the more challenging of the boat's contacts.

“Our yacht manager deals with our charter broker, which is fine by me,” says another anonymous captain. “All I want to know is when a charter is actually booked; give me the dates and send the preference sheets. Other than that, all the negotiations can be dealt with by the manager; that way he can filter out any ‘advice’ the broker might decide to give me about how to run the boat!”

Human resources issues were a hot topic amongst the captains interviewed. From arranging crew medical coverage to keeping track of holidays that had been taken, it would seem that these time-consuming administration tasks are the ones to pass off. Crew visa applications and extensions were mentioned several times as being a serious headache and captains gladly leave the responsibility to their management company.

“One of the best things is hiring new crew and then handing the administration involved over to the management company,” says Capt. Dave. He adds, “I don’t want to have to be organizing contracts and medical insurance.”

When it comes to the actual hiring and firing of crew, there are mixed opinions. Capt. Benji says very specifically, “I want to be involved with the hiring and firing of all my crew. The last thing we need is for the management company to start telling me who I should and shouldn’t have working on the boat.”

This isn’t an opinion shared by all however. One captain tells, “Through experience, I have found that involving the boat manager in the recruitment of crew means that there is a shared responsibility should anything go wrong. Some may say it is passing the buck, I call it back up.”

The issue of provisioning for the yacht is also something that captains seem divided over, with some captains wanting their crew to be able to use their own contacts and others being happy to leave the sourcing of produce to the management company.

“Often my chef knows the best places to go for the things he needs, especially in the places we know well, just as my chief stewardess knows the best florist,” says Capt. Chris. “This isn’t something we need the management company to get involved with; it just ends up confusing matters.”

However, maybe the odd bit of provisioning now and again would be no bad thing? Another unidentified captain suggests, “I would like the boat manager to go out shopping for nine crew with the money he thinks it should cost to feed them!”

Watch out yacht managers; you soon may be asked to hit the supermarkets with a shopping list of crew requests on the budget that you set.

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