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Yacht captains group launches

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One cannot say they didn’t think this thing through.


A small group of captains have been meeting for about a year, discussing the viability of a Yacht Captains Association.


Taking care to seek input from captains and industry leaders, they have double checked not only the receptive tide, but the weather and temperature before committing.


And tonight, as the 29th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show begins, they step out into the public as a sponsor of the U.S. Superyacht Association’s mixer (5-7 p.m., USSA pavilion, booths 913-922 near the cocktail barge), ready to talk to fellow captains about the group and its role in the industry.


“We’re inviting captains to stop by and talk to us about the YCA,” said Capt. Michael Schueler, one of the founding captains along with Capt. Ian Bone, Capt. Chris Lewis, Capt. Wendy Umla and Capt. Michael French. “We’re being careful [about creating the group] because we don’t want to promise the world to get people to sign up and then not deliver.”


Their objectives are lofty, including a code of ethics that captains must agree to before becoming members, and advocacy for yacht captains in front of regulatory and maritime agencies inside the industry and out.


The group also wants to foster professional development programs that include leadership skills training and relationships with universities that will turn onboard experience and skills into credits toward business or management degrees.


“We’re looking for people who want to join us,” Schueler said. “We have a long way to go, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it. All the things we want to do are going to take time, and a lot of work.”


To that end, the YCA has partnered with Ziebart Consulting of Ft. Lauderdale and Washington, D.C., to provide management services to help form and manage the group, described as a non-profit, membership-driven association dedicated to professional yacht captains.


The Ziebarts will create the bylaws and governance structure of the group, manage a marketing and branding campaign, oversee budget and planning, establish member benefits, coordinate educational programming, and launch a membership campaign, according to a news release.


“For nearly a year, captains Bone and Schueler diligently have explored with captains and industry leaders the need for and prospects of an association solely dedicated to professional yacht captains,” Geoff Ziebart said. “The response to their discussions has been universally positive, and we are proud to partner in the launch and management of this exciting initiative.”


The group is up and running, with its official Web site launched (www.yachtcaptains.org), the ethics code drafted, and management consultants in place.


All it needs now is a lot more volunteers.


Lucy Reed is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com


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