Crew Life » Career & Training » Keeping Your Eye on the Ball at the End of the Yachting Season

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball at the End of the Yachting Season

AlisonRentoul 1 LR5

Did you know a recent road traffic accident survey revealed that 77% of car accidents occur within 15 miles of the person’s home? And accidents are twice as likely to happen when drivers are one mile from their home. What has that got to do with yachting, you’re wondering… well my point is, the closer you get to your destination, the more likely you are to take your eye off the ball.

This coming week is one of the hardest of the season. You and your team have been working your behinds off all summer, and not only is everyone tired and crotchety, but you can almost taste the delicious freedom that is just around the corner.

But, be warned – you are in treacherous waters right now. A hard season means patience is running out, tempers are fraying and relationships of all kinds are skittering around on very thin ice. Resentments or annoyances that have been building between you and your fellow crew or your boss, guests or management company can easily boil over into an unexpected argument or dispute where you could lose more than your cool.

One of my clients has just returned back from a long, hot, tiring summer with a perfect example of this. On the final day of the boss’s trip the guests themselves were also tired, and were getting annoyed about some bad weather that meant they couldn’t go swimming. They were behaving like spoilt children and the long-suffering crew found it increasingly hard to keep smiles on their faces as they tried to suggest alternative activities.

On top of all this, as they were preparing to leave, the owner informed the Captain that the crew pay was going to be delayed due to a banking issue. Well, that was the straw that nearly broke the Captain’s back. This normally cool, calm and collected man felt the anger rising inside him so fast he thought he was going to spontaneously combust. The idea of having to tell his disgruntled crew this rotten news was almost too much for him. Thankfully he was self aware enough to realize he was about to explode, so he excused himself for a few minutes and went to his cabin, where he made an SOS call to me.

We quickly worked through the situation and I was able to give him a calmer perspective by reminding him of his longer term goals and objectives and how important it was to keep his relationship with his owner on the best terms possible. Together we devised a strategy for him to explain to the owner that this was not acceptable, but in such a way that he would get what he wanted and needed (i.e. the crew pay issue to be sorted out another way), rather than just coming back and throwing a grenade into the room.

The end result was that the owner managed to leave enough money to tide the crew over until their pay would come through, plus an additional thank you bonus for all their hard work. That was a much better outcome than the Captain finding himself unemployed and on the dock, with no reference and nothing to show for three years of hard graft working for this influential family.

I’m sharing this story with you as a kind of cautionary tale. Not everyone has the opportunity to make an emergency phone call in a situation like this and, depending how close you are to the edge of reason, you can sometimes spontaneously combust before you even know what happened – and by the time you regain your senses you realize you’re up to your neck in fallout.

These last few days are vital – remind yourself and your fellow crew that this is the final push, that you are so very close to the end but that you still need to keep the quality of your work and professionalism of your behaviour to the same high standards you had at the very beginning of the season.

Concentrate on the rewards you will gain as a result of successfully completing this season with your reputation not just intact but greatly enhanced through your outstanding performance. Give each other a big pep talk and do whatever you can to inject a major energy boost in your teams to get through this last leg, so you can ensure neither you nor your team fall at the final hurdle.

Be strong and go for it, you can do it!

See original article and other articles by Alison here.

Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See for more information.

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