Don’t you want to make sure you have the best of the best working on board? | MDB Digital


In today's yachting industry time is usually of the essence. Busy programmes and tight yard periods keep the pressure on the team; as yachts increase in size and complexity so must the crew. Sometimes a captain simply doesn’t have the time to source individuals with the specialist skills and experience required – that´s ok though, that´s where people like me, the humble crew agent, come in.

Each year that passes sees yachts grow in size and with the rate of developing technology so do the systems on board. As such, new positions have arisen. For example, we now see Interior Managers residing above Pursers and Chief Stews, and ITOs (Information Technology Officers) working alongside the ETOs and Engineering teams. Quite often with these specific roles we need to spread the net a little wider and actively seek people from outside the yachting industry. This takes time and research; quite often the yacht captain or manager simply does not have the time to dedicate to finding these people.

But the same goes for the traditional positions; everyone in yachting knows how hard it is to find suitable crew, most captains will tell you unequivocally it’s the part of their job they simply detest and often, it gets pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do before season starts (you know, that list which mostly consists of putting the boat back together after a lengthy winter of maintenance and projects, and making sure everything is ready for the first boss trip of the season), so that´s probably why crew agents evolved. We have a niche to fill, and we have evolved further to satisfy the different wants and objectives of our clients.

Some captains would still rather do the leg work themselves and search through suitable CVs on a database and check the references to get feedback from industry peers. In this case, a headhunter style agent probably isn´t for you – it´s more expensive and if you are going to be repeating their work anyway it´s a little pointless. For this reason, we are seeing more of the shopping cart approach agents popping up. You can pay an annual fee to search through an online database yourself and contact whoever you like for any position. Works for a lot of people, if you have a good amount of time!

Social media is a great way of gathering CVs. Be warned; you will have to sift through a large number of applicants in order to find those crew who are suitable. Try it – it’s quite an experience; a captain said to me in Antigua earlier this year he had been inundated and it gave him a newfound respect for what I do. Which was nice.

Basically it all comes down to best use of time. Although I hear “management (or owner) is trying to save money!”, this is illogical and should be challenged. Let’s pretend for a moment you own a €50,000,000 superyacht. Don’t you want to make sure you have the best of the best working on board? Minimising risk to your vessel, and ensuring you and your guests and family are receiving not just the best service, and incredible food, you’re safe and well looked after, and you know, you can rest easy knowing your crew are doing the best for you and your yacht?

And, as a captain, don’t you want to be reassured that you have an awesome team working with you to help you achieve these goals, and feel secure you can let them run their own departments successfully and safely?

So ask yourselves – realistically do you have the time, and expertise required to source the top tier of superyacht crew? For the sake of saving a little money in the short term, is it worth it. Plus it’s worth considering that by not outsourcing recruitment to highly experienced specialists like myself and my peers, you’re taking the Captains or Heads of Departments away from their other duties. Once you tot up how many hours they’ve spent sifting through CVs, trying to check references and interview and check certificates and all that good stuff… are you really saving that many euros?

As an owner, would you do this in your land-based operations? Probably not. So I’m not sure why costs are trying to be reduced on what is potentially the most important part of a superyacht’s operation. If you hire a bad engineer who costs you thousands of euros of damage, or a chef with a drinking issue who fails to serve your charter guests and costs your vessel’s reputation and damages future income streams, well, was it worth saving that fee?

At the end of the day, you can have the best yacht in the world, but if you have the wrong crew on board, it’s going to cost you in more ways than just financially.