Symbiotic Relationship: Newbies and Seasoned Crew

28 April 2011 By Louisa Cowan

“It doesn’t take [new crew] long to realize that it isn’t allabout the partying, getting a suntan and seeing the world,” says Mate James. “I suppose we all get thesame wake up call at some stage.”

At the beginning of each season, the docks, crew agenciesand passerelles are flooded with eager newbies who’ve been told togo to Antibes or Fort Lauderdale to get a job on a boat, be paid a fortune for nothing but sun, sea and you-know-what. In actuality, when they get that coveted first job, newbies are in for long hours, hard work and should have skills tailored to theposition they’ve chosen. Some newbies are shocked by the reality of their newcareer choice and seasoned crewmembers can be frustrated and irritated by thelatest class of green crew. So what can the long-time yachties do to help theirfreshmen counterparts and what, if anything, do they get out of workinghand-in-hand with fresh meat?

“One of the most important things to remember when a newcrewmember starts on board is to lead by example. If you’re new, you will takeyour lead on behavior from your colleagues, so it’s up to us to show [newbies]that being punctual means being on deck ready to go 10 minutes before the startof the day,” says Bosun Rocky. “You almost have to give a running commentary oneverything you do, like ‘clean the decks using this product,’ you can’t assume thatthere is any previous knowledge at all.”

Don’t forget, although you have to put in a little extrawork or those first few months, the advantages aren’t all one-sided.

“Taking someone more junior [under my wing] really helpedconsolidate my knowledge whilst showing them their job,” explains DeckhandJeff. “I also had a bit of a confidenceboost as I went from being the lowest of the low to realizing that I hadactually learned a lot and knew what I was doing!”

If you’re leading by example and helping to train thenewcomer, you aren’t just helping a newbie settle in, but you’re adding a valuableasset to your team. An untrained crewmember who isn’t fully integrated asquickly as possible will flounder and can be a burden. The moreeffectively everyone works together, the better the crew dynamics andthe better the workload.

A tip for newbies: be keen and ready to give a job yourall. Be willing to follow instructions and trust the experienced crew when theytell you that you don’t know it all.

“When I was a newbie deckhand I workedmy butt off," Bosun Dallas says. “I threw myself into the job completely, took it extremelyseriously and gave 110 percent at all times. I still do and I take pride in thefact that I know I am good at what I do. It drives me insane when new crewdon’t have the same standards. This is a job, there is a reason it pays the bigbucks and that is, it’s hard work! Listen up, work hard and learn!”

A sentiment shared by Dockwalk.comblogger Septic tank in his recent post, “Wants-to-be but can they be?”

So to all you long-term crew out there: take some time totrain the newcomers, show them how it, whatever it may be, is done properly and you can expectto add a valuable new asset to your team, that is, if the newbie is prepared toget his/her head down, hands dirty and learn the ropes.

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