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The Crew Coach: Is your Department Working Hardest?

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Q: Fiona, Stew, 24:
"Our yacht owners are older, so don’t spend much time in the water, meaning the deckies sit around watching whole seasons of Breaking Bad in the crew mess while we stews break our backs working and cleaning up around them.

This is my first season, but this doesn’t seem fair – we are doing all the work and they are basically on holiday! The Captain and Chief Stew say that’s just yachting – is this how it is on all boats?"


A: The Crew Coach:

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time someone’s said this in yachting… The ‘my department works harder than your department’ line is as old as the yachting industry itself.  And sometimes it’s even true: there are many yachts where mid season the stews are working when the deck crew or engineers aren’t.

Yet there are also plenty of nights when the stews are sleeping while the deck crew are doing long passages, and captains burning the midnight oil on paperwork. And plenty of shipyard periods where the deck and interior crew are working 9-4, yet the engineer is still in his sweaty overalls at midnight trying to fix the generator. And plenty of 3 am starts for chefs who are woken up after a 21 hour day to cook burgers for a very merry group of guests who forgot they only ate their last epic feast 3 hours ago…

Normally, over time, things balance out.

However, it is fair to say that there are some boats where certain departments do bear the brunt, and this is normally due to the ownership/usage of the yacht.

For  example, a private yacht, owned by people who live aboard and entertain a lot, but don’t want to travel much or do watersports, is a prime example of a setup where the interior crew will tend to have a greater workload than the deck crew.

In an ideal world, your captain and chief stew would recognise this and change the structure of the crew mess and other duties to address this imbalance somewhat. And many of them do, trying to make it as fair as possible for everyone.

But that’s not always the case, like in your situation. What can you do about it? Well, in short: absolutely nothing. Except try not to get too riled up about it. As a new entrant to the yachting industry, you can’t go to your superiors and ask them to change the systems and routines. When you change to a different yacht, you can enquire in the interview process (once you’ve been offered the job) what the procedure is for crew mess duties etc on charter… but for now, you’re just going to have to lump it.

You might find that if you help the other departments when they’re under pressure, they will help you too: well, here’s hoping anyway.

And remember this: when you rise up the ranks and have the power to change things, you can remember how unfair it seemed, and act to make it fairer.

What do you think? Share your comments below! 


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