Top 10 Things Never to Say to a Captain

19 May 2008 By Matt Gomez

We all have things we’d love to say to the boss, but are fearful of doing so. It happens in any business, and the yachting industry is no exception.

But just what are those things? And what would happen if you were given the consequence-free opportunity to say them?

Well, here’s your chance to find out. is curious, so we started asking questions of crew as they worked on the docks at Bahia Mar Beach Resort and Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The question: What are a few things you should never say to a captain?

“I’ll fix it tomorrow,” says Terry Clark, engineer on the M/Y Golden Rule. “I’d probably lose my job if I said that one – and I should.”

“That’s not the way we did it on my old boat,” says Pete Lombaard, mate aboard the 125-foot M/Y Namoh. “That’s about as effective as saying, ‘This is the way I would have done it…’ Neither comment will do you much good.”

Just ask his boss, Capt. Greg Russell. The skipper says he’s “heard them all” over the years, but there are a few choice comments that stand out:

"'When do we get a day off?’ and ‘I’ll do it later…’ have to be high on that list," says Russell. “I don’t want to hear either one of those.”

But there are many others, and some are not so kind.

“Your girlfriend snores at night,” offers a bosun who asked not to be identified. “I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true – our captain’s girlfriend is the chief stew – but I wouldn’t say it to his face.”

While it’s usually best to tread lightly and speak guardedly when in the presence of someone in charge, that’s not always the case. Many captains may encourage – even expect – candid conversations with crew. They post “open door” policies where all crewmembers may share their grievances and speak freely.

Jeff Miller, first officer and co-captain aboard the 130-foot M/Y Second Chance, says such a policy helps boost crew morale.

“We’re open to all questions,” he says. “That’s why we have a happy crew.”

Some of his favorites include:

- “But I just washed the boat…”

- “Hmmm…Let me think about it.”

- And the ever popular, “That’s not my job.”

Several responses enjoyed popularity in our informal poll, but one had the distinction of being our runaway winner. If you are a parent, you can probably guess what it is:

“Are we there yet?”

So, what do you think? There are plenty of other things you should not say to a captain, so we invite you to say them in our comments section below.

What would you never say to your captain? Keep it clean – no profanity – but your comments are welcome here.

Let those comments fly here at, so you’ll never have to say them to the captain’s face. Unless, of course, you really want to…