Top 7 Ways to Alienate Fellow Crew

2 June 2008 By Lisa Hoogerwerf Knapp

It doesn't take much to get on someone's nerves, and in close crew quarters, one misstep can lead you to alienate yourself from the rest of the crew.

Every crewmember has the potential to lead either a powder keg or cream puff existence. If you prefer cake to explosions, there is a strategy for maintaining good morale and getting along.

Crew and captains dish with and weigh-in on how to annoy and alienate your mates...Just for fun:

7. Live and eat like a pig.

“My mind is going crazy thinking about this,” says Engineer Rory Donaghy. “We have someone who eats noisily and chews with his mouth open. It’s so gross. No one wants to sit at the table with that guy.”

6. Couple up.

Lovers at every latitude? Chefs and stews spooning outside of the galley may relieve each other’s loneliness but don’t always boost the crew’s morale.

Couples can become cliquish. If they isolate themselves from others, it creates a strained atmosphere on board. Then mind games can start. If a crewmember with a significant other is upset with one person on board, it can become two against one. Good luck with that group dynamic!

“Couples have a different mentality than a single person,” Donaghy says. “Sometimes the crew will go out and then the couples go back to the boat earlier. It’s not in the same spirit.”

“Couples should include other crew in their activities,” says Capt. John Penman. “Don’t let your crewmates think they are intruding on your personal time. I date the chief stew, but try to incorporate the crew into one, big happy family and bring people together. If I go to the shooting range to fire off a thousand rounds of ammo, I always ask others to come along.”

5. Be the pet.

Envious women, such as gals who turn on each other just because another is prettier or better liked by co-workers, are destructive in any work environment, be it the office or the galley.

“It was so much political bullsh--,” Nicole Thompson, stewardess, remembers of one yacht where the owner paid her particular attention. “The women on board were absolutely brutal,” she says.

You can alienate fellow crew without even trying if the owner or captain shows preference to you. Whether you seek out their attention or avoid it, others might resent you through no fault of your own.

4. Let drugs and alcohol rule your life.

“If the crew can't drink together, they will never be able to work together,” says Engineer Lloyd Bernard.

Indeed, how one handles his or her liquor often dictates what life will be like on the boat.

“It’s okay to have a drink,” says Capt. Ernie Smith, “but if we have a big day ahead of us and they come back hung-over, I don’t tolerate that. Crew coming back inebriated is a detriment for everyone else. Someone has to pull their slack, and it can create a safety issue, too.”

Drug use is frowned upon. Obviously.

“These people isolate themselves by their choice of behavior,” Donaghy says. “They’re put off to the side (and it’s their own fault)."

3. Tell others "That’s not my job."

“People get pigeonholed to our industry,” says Capt. Bryan Pridgeon. “You’re the mate, she’s the stew. Then you have a busy evening where the girls inside are under pressure and need help to bus glasses to the flybridge.”

If you’re inconsiderate and don’t pitch in, it can come back to haunt you.

2. Don't respect cultural differences.

While variety is the spice of life, a melting pot of different nationalities doesn’t always result in a good bowl of gumbo. And what exactly is gumbo? If you’re not an American from the Gulf states, you may not know.

“All the Kiwis, Aussies, and South Africans -- people from the southern hemisphere -- have a lot in common and a similar culture,” says Donaghy, a native of Zimbabwe. “We all play rugby, but can’t relate much to [U.S. sports fans' fascination with] the Super Bowl or World Series. However, the northern hemisphere people don’t always get along. Brits are a lot different than Americans.”

1. See aliens while on watch.

Tommy Gurr, first officer, hired a delivery mate for a voyage from San Diego to St. Maarten.

“She told her watchkeepers that she would see aliens frequently while on watch,” Gurr says. “I would have to say she was pretty much alienated after that came up.”

How do you alienate your fellow crewmates? Better yet, how do they alienate you? Let us know by posting your comments below.