The Engine Room: Engineer Challenges

28 August 2019 By Laura Dunn

Consider the outcry if the onboard AC dies, or heaven forbid, the Internet. Crew and guest alike enjoy the fruits of the engineer’s labor as they work to keep all systems running smoothly. This collection of top-notch engineers dish on the biggest issue facing them today, as well as the most challenging part of the job.

“The most challenging part of my job is work/life balance. It’s no secret that yachts can demand high work loads and long hours, so being able to manage your time for rest can be a challenge. As an engineer, you are constantly thinking about the state of the vessel, and to be able to walk away, switch off, and relax isn’t always so easy. …The biggest issue facing yacht engineers today is keeping the salaries to an industry-standard across all yachts.”
Chief Engineer Daniel Thomson, M/Y Irisha

“The most challenging part of the job is being away from loved ones. With a baby on the way, this is only going to get harder. It does, however, make you appreciate everyone more when you haven’t seen them for a while. The next most challenging part of my job takes place in the summer when fully crewed — living conditions can get tight on a 45-meter superyacht! People are tired from the long hours and tempers can flare. One thing I always miss is a big double bed and my privacy.
The biggest issue facing yacht engineers today is technology, which is constantly changing. You need to keep up with it or you can quickly fall behind. There are so many sensitive electrical systems now that you need to be electrical, as well as mechanically minded.”
Chief Engineer Jon Bennett, M/Y Amore Mio

“I am from the Caribbean and there is a difference in character between the Caribbean and the English-speaking world. We are more open and we care about each other, but here in Europe, people care what they can get from you — also, being a ‘hands-on’ person who is used to working out how things work, computerized systems where you press a button and something happens, and you don’t know how or why is challenging. Sometimes nationality is also an issue. The biggest issue facing yacht engineers today is complying to the hours of rest rule under MLC, 2006. It’s impossible to comply, especially in the summer. I think these days it takes less time to become an engineer. In my day, you needed to have five years at naval college to qualify.”
Chief Engineer Hector Bergery Delgado, M/Y Sea Blue’z

“I’d say the hardest part of my job is staying on top of the planned maintenance, which can be challenging when bigger projects arise. Working with IDEA yacht management software is a huge help to stay on top of the daily/weekly/monthlies. The biggest issue facing yacht facing engineers today are the rotations. I’ve been tempted to try out the commercial side because of steady rotations and set time off for a similar yearly salary.”
Chief Engineer Adam Mercer, M/Y Avalon

“I’d say the most challenging part of my job is managing the services and systems when the yacht is in full use. Being a sailing yacht with very small tanks for water, fuel, and waste, it’s a constant juggle between running generators for watermakers and other equipment whilst trying to keep a quiet boat for the guests to relax on, etc. I guess the environment is in the forefront of most people's minds these days and is one of the biggest issues facing the industry. For instance, what can we do to make the running of the boat more eco-friendly? How can we reduce the negative impact we have on the environment?”
Engineer Grace Williams, S/Y Cambria

“The hardest part of the job is always making sure everything runs smoothly on the boat. And that’s never the case. Especially at the start of the season when there’s loads of stuff breaking after the winter period. I’d say one of the biggest issues touching engineers is getting the time to do more courses. For crew that aren’t on rotation, it’s very difficult to find the chance to do courses. And then on a more day-to-day level, getting spare parts quickly is something that never happens.”
Sole Engineer Fouche van Wyk, S/Y Irelanda

“I love yachting but as a father and very much a family man, I find being away from home for long periods of time pretty challenging. I think the biggest issue facing sole engineers is dealing with crew who don’t have any engineering experience or knowledge at all: It makes an engineer’s life quite grueling.”
Engineer Rami Saeed of M/Y Clarity

“The most challenging part of my job is to stay informed about industry developments. It is difficult because development happens at an incredibly high rate — too quickly at times for governments and training institutions to follow. One of the biggest issue facing yacht engineers today: finding an employer who offers long-term career opportunities or to climb the ranks within a decent time. Government acceptance of experience is also challenging — if you are on a yacht that rarely moves more than four hours a day, it will take years before you can apply for CoC advancement, regardless of how skilled you really are.”
Chief Engineer Edvin Hatlø

“The most challenging part of my job is the crew politics. I think it’s important that crew learn to respect each other’s views and space. We are there primarily to do our jobs — I don’t enjoy it when politics prevents me from doing my best. The biggest issue facing yacht engineers today is keeping up with technology. Engineers must all take time out to continue their professional development. Finding that time is not easy!”
Chief Engineer James Cory, S/Y Aquarius