The findings of new research into the welfare needs of superyacht crew were presented last week at a seminar held at Inmarsat’s headquarters in London.
ISWAN (The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network) partnered with MHG Insurance Brokers to conduct a survey of seafarers who work on superyachts to investigate welfare issues specific to the sector, backed up by in-depth interviews and diary studies.
Rob Myers, Senior Director, Large Yacht and Passenger at Inmarsat, opened the seminar by introducing Inmarsat’s recent work on improving superyacht crew communications.
Dr. Olivia Swift, who conducted the research for ISWAN, then presented the results to delegates. Based on responses from 402 superyacht crew to the 50-question survey, key findings include:
82% had experienced low crew morale ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’
77% of women, and 55% of men, had experienced problems with on board leadership ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’
67% ‘usually’ or ‘always’ felt rested in port
79% were on permanent contracts
51% were satisfied with their leave entitlement
57% of women and 39% of men suffered from social isolation or loneliness ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’ while working on board.
As a seagoing career, working on superyachts offers some wonderful opportunities reflected in quotes including: "Yachting delivers beautiful adventures to remote parts of the world…at a fraction of a cost that any other occupation can offer."
Other responses highlight the physical nature of the job, "…you work bloody long hours without a day off in weeks during charters.’ and perceptions around support, "I know a lot of yachts look after their crew but a lot don’t."
Overall the report captures the many positives for crew working on superyachts while highlighting the areas where improvements can be made.
Recommendations in the report include:
Improving recruits’ knowledge of what to expect on board before they go to sea
Improved support for seafarers who are coming out of the superyacht sector
Raising awareness of what support for wellbeing is out there for seafarers, and widening distribution of welfare materials and information to include yacht crew
An increase in the availability of rotational posts, which would make a concession to family life
Enabling more time for rest and relaxation
A panel then addressed three key discussion points stemming from the report: gender, religion and leadership.
The panel members were:
Andrew Wright – Secretary General at The Mission to Seafarers
Karen Passman – Founder of Impact Crew
Peter Dudzinski – Director, Underwriting Services at MHG Insurance Brokers
Nicola Morgan – Recruitment Manager & Shore Based Positions at wilsonhalligan
Danny McGowan – Strategic Organiser at Nautilus International
Richard Le Quesne – Financial Director & Honorary Treasurer at the PYA
Of note, MHG Insurance Brokers’ Chairman and CEO Andrew Dudzinski said: "How can we expect to recruit and retain loyal crew tomorrow if we don’t understand their welfare concerns today?"
ISWAN’s Executive Director Roger Harris said: "The research highlights some real concerns of crew working on superyachts that need to be addressed by the sector. We are grateful to MHG Insurance Brokers for funding the research and to The Mission to Seafarers for supporting it."
Andrew Wright, Secretary General at The Mission to Seafarers, said: "I was absolutely delighted to attend the excellent superyacht seminar. The findings of the study confirm my own experience of the industry and were properly thought-provoking. This is an area of need which has been insufficiently on the radar of most maritime welfare organisations. At The Mission to Seafarers we are determined to take forward current discussions. Working with partners, we are looking to develop appropriate kinds of support, focused on identified areas of need and using our particular skills and experience."
Seminar delegates described the research as ‘long overdue’ (Dùghall MacLachlainn, a superyacht captain), at the ‘forefront of development of crew welfare’ (yacht recruitment agency wilsonhalligan), and ‘a step in the right direction for the future of superyachting in a modern world’ (Sara Ballinger, Crew-Glue).
Summarizing, Dr. Olivia Swift said: "Rather than the culmination of a project, the ISWAN report was intended to launch a collective effort towards realistic improvements for superyacht crew. The energy and ideas emerging at the discussion event, from a wide-range of key stakeholders, show the appetite and capacity for realising change that will make a real difference to the men and women working in this demanding - and enormously rewarding - industry."
For further information, please contact:
ISWAN, Croydon, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8253 0163
MHG Insurance Brokers, Florida, USA
Telephone: +1 954 548 3581