If you pay peanuts, you’ll only get monkeys. Top yacht crew working on commercial or private yachts know that the standards expected of them are extremely high and that they will work very hard over long hours taking care of the yacht and often, very demanding owners and guests.
Finding a balance between the owners’ preferences, the yachts purpose, mission, cruising areas and the right roles and personalities of the crew is a real challenge and can keep captains, crew agencies and managers extremely busy.
Attention to detail, a desire to serve and flexibility are welcome attributes in an industry where some of the best prepared professionals can be found. For example, some yacht chefs may be better than Michelin star ones. Yachting can provide crew with truly eye-opening experiences, take them amazing locations and give them the chance to meet really interesting people. It also offers a level of pay difficult to find ashore in similar positions.
As yachts have grown larger so have the crew and manning issues, technical complexity, maintenance, repair and refitting schedules, commercial operation and registration, taxation and management requirements that come accompanied by a long list of industry acronyms such as AIS, APA, CoC, ENG, ILO, IMO, ISM, ISPS, LYC, MCA, MLC, STCW etc. No doubt the sum of these can seem daunting and off-putting to potential buyers and especially newcomers to yachting but they need to be complied with and understood by crew and all parties involved in the operation of yachts.
Much more awareness concerning the well-being of crew, their social needs and mental health is creeping into the industry which can only be a good thing. Crew rotation possibilities more akin to the way merchant navies operate, especially among senior officers and heads of department are becoming more common place. Many jobs on yachts can lead into positions with companies ashore when crew decide to give up life on board so that their yachting experience and knowledge can have professional continuity over time.
It is important to remember that crew can be extremely mobile within the industry if the pay or conditions on board are not adequate or fall below expectations. If an owner is happy with their crew and they are looking after the yacht and the guests at the highest level, I would suggest trying to keep them loyal, involved and motivated. On the other hand, if crew are lucky enough to find an owner and a yacht that complement each other, they should think hard before joining another yacht. The grass is not always greener…