Surviving a 24-hour Turnaround

12 July 2008 By Alex Scott

It takes a special kind of crew to be able to execute a successful 24-hour turnaround.

Condensing a sum of work, which ideally would be done in several days, to a mere 24 hours (sometimes less) is quite a challenge. With no rest between guests, it's enough to lead many crew to pack their bags and wave goodbye.

As unpleasant as they are, 24-hour turnarounds are possible. Here are a few pearls of wisdom to help you sail right on through.

Planning is everything: Schedule as much as possible ahead of time. Don’t forget that everyone will be on a tight schedule, so communication is key. If the interior crew have scheduled deliveries to the marina and the captain makes plans to take-on fuel at an alternate location, that can cause a major disruption in the delicate balance of timing.

Dayworkers are your friends: If there is simply more work that needs to be done than the crew is capable of doing themselves, then take advantage of dayworkers. Some captains will even hire crew from neighboring boats who have downtime to help make the magic happen.

Focus: Make sure everyone is given every opportunity to focus and get the job done. The chef will likely need to concentrate on provisioning, so meals should be simplified: leftover appreciation day, frozen lasagna appreciation day and fix-it-yourself meals will buy time for the chef, but the crew might appreciate a meal out to give them some semblance of having had a break. Avoid boondoggles that eat up precious time or make more work for someone else; for example, eliminate errands that require multiple crew or use of the tender.

More is more: Be sure you are stocked-up on the supplies you need to do quick turns. Ship’s stores should include plenty of extra filters, replacement parts, cleaning supplies, paper products, essential provisions, and enough linens to make it a few days without doing the wash if it comes to that.

Prioritize: Go over your punch list, and give top priority to items that must be done before new guests arrive and accept that some items may have to wait. Does the inside of the barbecue grill really need to be detailed? Do the bilges really need to be cleaned? Do the DVDs really need to be re-alphabetized?

Know the crew’s limitations: Everyone may be anxious to get off the boat and away from one another for a while, but it is important to make sure everyone gets the rest they need. Unfortunately, many crew often do the exact opposite of what they should do. If a captain suspects that their crew may not know their own limitations, then he/she may have to set limits on their behalf. If necessary, institute a no alcohol rule and/or a curfew to avoid an unpleasant disciplinary situation.

Quick turns are taxing, and though everyone would prefer to have sufficient time to rest, repair and reprovision, sometimes you just have to play the hand you’re dealt and make it happen in a day or less.

To get through these difficult turns, the British Army sums it up best with its seven-Ps aphorism: Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.

What else can you do to help survive a 24-hour turnaround? Share your tips below.