Piggyback Crossing Duties

12 May 2011 By Leigh Ellis

When the boss gives the okay to send your yacht from one cruising ground to another withDockwise Yacht Transport, it’s a great opportunity for most of the crew to flyhome or take a vacation. But one or two lucky souls will need to ride alongwith the yacht on board the big ship, to keep an eye on her and finish some of those chores that were put off during the crazy season.

Who shouldbe the designated rider? “Anyone can go,” says Capt. Charles Burleigh of the92-foot Northcoast yacht Atlantic,who has done four transits with Dockwise to date, including the trip fromNanaimo, British Columbia in Canada to Fort Lauderdale. “I am the captain, mateand engineer, so I was the obvious choice.”

Yachts thattravel on Dockwise are not “dead ship” like most of those shipped atop afreighter. During the loading process, after the yachts are floated into the Dockwisevessel and blocked, the deck is drained, the yachts are secured and the ship’s crew works with the yacht crew to connect power and raw waterto the boats.  “You can hook up a bighose to get the air conditioner running, and you hook up your shorepower totheir electrical supply,” Capt. Charles says. “They give you fresh water.”

You can’tjust jack the yacht into the mother ship and forget all about it, however,cautions Capt. Herb Magney of the 145-foot Heesen At Last. On a previousyacht, he says, “I had to clean up after having the boat’s engineer ride alongand screw up 80K worth of electrical systems in the boat because he did notcheck to air conditioning water hookup for days and it broke.” That engineer wasfired when he got off the ship.

Anotherroutine duty the rider is to rinse the soot from the ship’s exhaust off theyacht’s exterior. “You have to wash down every couple of days,” says Capt.Charles.

Yacht creware allowed to do just about any kind of work to their boats can handle duringtransit. “Some crew are doing varnish work, replacing the zincs, painting thebottom, polishing the props,” says Capt. Charles.

The onlyrule here is to be a good citizen to the boat next to you. When crew areinconsiderate, Capt. Herb calls it the “boat next-door syndrome.” “All thesanding dust from the deck, metal grindings, epoxy paint overspray is all overour boat and the boats around us.” He adds, “It’s not the shipper’s responsibility.Take it up with the crewmember or the captain of the boat.”

While cabinsare available on some Dockwise vessels, most crew prefer to sleep in the comfort of theirown yacht. You can use the ship’s gym, which typically holds basic equipment.You can send e-mail using the ship’s Internet and on Dockwise’s 209-meter Yacht Express, you can even take a dipin the swimming pool.

Yacht creware welcome to eat three meals a day in the ship’s crew mess. The food hasimproved recently, says Catalina Bujor, marketing manager for Dockwise YachtTransport. Food that Capt. Charles calls “comfort food.” In addition, theship’s crew holds weekly barbecues on deck.

Once a day,during mealtime in the mess, crew are asked to perform their only duty requiredby the ship’s captain, which is to sign the logbook, so he knows they're stillon board and in good health. “The dining room is quite a hike up a number offlights of stairs,” says Capt. Charles. “If you don’t feel like going up, youcan ask another crew member to sign in for you.”

One way tobreak up the monotony of an ocean crossing is to pay a visit to the ship’sbridge, see its systems and hobnob with the captain and his officers. But, Capt.Charles says, “You ask permission first — you don’t just barge in.”

Typically,yacht crew communicate with the ship’s crew via VHF. If a storm is coming, theDockwise captain will give you at least 24 hours’ notice to batten down thehatches on the yacht. While Dockwise ensures that all the yachts its transportsare completely secure on deck, a storm at sea can break up the monotony foreveryone.

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