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Crew Unlimited and ICT in Ft. Lauderdale join with Bluewater in Europe

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Crew, employees, industry expect opportunities as European and U.S. companies partner to expand yacht crew training, placement

 

By Dorie Cox

Yacht crew and industry professionals anticipate benefits from the partnership of a European and two U.S. companies for yacht crew training, placement and other yacht services. Crew placement agency Crew Unlimited and maritime training school ICT in Ft. Lauderdale have partnered with Antibes-based Bluewater to expand services on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

The official change took place Sept. 19 when the Ft. Lauderdale companies changed their names to the Bluewater brand. Bluewater’s main offices in Antibes and Palma de Mallorca provide yacht charter, yacht brokerage, crew training, crew placement and yacht management. Crew Unlimited has been a placement agency since 1983 and ICT, formerly known as International Crew Training, has offered courses for about two decades.

Ami Ira, owner of the former Crew Unlimited, will work with recruitment, brokerage and charter yachts in the United States as president of Bluewater USA, retaining her current staff. Her company will merge its database of about 60,000 registered crew with Bluewater’s list for a total of more than 100,000 yacht crew.

Deckhand Michael Haines holds an American passport and expects this expanded list will give him access to more jobs because the more diverse list of crew nationalities will give captains better access to specific crew.

“There are a lot of jobs not looking for American crew,” Haines said. “And a lot of jobs look for American only.”

Bluewater and ICT will combine resources to provide training courses for yacht crew in several locations. Yachts will have the option to redeem vouchers for crew training courses earned through a subscription program and money spent on crew placement.

Jay Lasner, CEO of ICT, will continue in the same capacity as CEO of Bluewater crew training in the United States. His current staff will remain.

“Bluewater’s new worldwide reach means that crew can rely on the Bluewater model of training and recruitment regardless of which timezone they are in,” said Peter Bennett, managing director of Bluewater, in a press release.

Stew Nicole Edwardes works aboard a 105-foot yacht that primarily stays in South Florida. She expects to see a benefit from the expanded database, placement and training as she moves forward in her career.

“My opportunities will open up when I decide to move back to charter yachts,” Edwardes said.

Veteran yacht Chef Neal Salisbury has used the placement services of the former Crew Unlimited for years and expects the partnership to make for a smoother path to jobs and training. And he sees the chance for more personal recommendations from people in the Bluewater partnership.

“This industry talks,” Salisbury said. “They say, ‘I had a good one, you’ve got to see this one’.”

He also likes that he can take classes with the same company in both the United States and Europe.

“That helps because as yacht crew, our business is all over the world,” he said.

More potential candidates for jobs gives an employer more options, but also more to weed through, he said.

“It is good for captains to have double the crew base,” Salisbury said. “But, they have double the crew base.”

Capt. Carde Savas signed up with Crew Unlimited in 2009 but said he has found most of his work through word of mouth.

“But I see potential, leverage with this partnership,” Capt. Savas said. “I like this.”

Yet he still questions the future for this and other companies as crew find positions on social media.

“You can find a job on Facebook pretty quick,” he said. “It will be harder for this and other land-based operations.”

Yacht industry veteran Kitty McGowan works to promote yachting as manager of the U.S. Superyacht Association and thinks the partnership is beneficial.

“Our industry has been very regionally focused for so long that I welcome the opportunity to be internationally engaged,” McGowan said. “It’s good for the industry, for crew, and for South Florida. To be part of something bigger does nothing but benefit us. It rolls out the red carpet to say, ‘Come see us’.”

The training aspect of the partnership has started.

“The Bluewater group of training centers will adopt each other’s best practices for our MCA, RYA and PYA courses,” said Brian Luke, formerly president at ICT and now president of Bluewater Training USA. “Although courses are developed according to specified course models, we will take the best of each center and combine them for unique delivery in Antibes, Palma de Mallorca and Ft. Lauderdale. Crew can now license, certify, educate, train and find placement with one stop shopping.”

Instructor Dan St.Denis has worked for the former ICT for the past year and is excited about new opportunities for enriching his abilities.

I might get to teach there and their instructors may come here,” St.Denis said. “We will see how they do things and bring them back to our school and make it better. Some of our courses are better and some of theirs are.”

The schools will exchange Powerpoint presentations and books.

There will be many benefits for crew, he said.

“For example, navigation and radar will be exactly the same in the Med and here,” St.Denis said. “If anything happened to an instructor, I could go and pick up teaching on day two or three to cover.”

Linda Turner has been competing in the crew placement industry since 1982 as owner and director of Crewfinders International. She has both prompted and weathered changes.

“Back then there was Sea Berth, which didn’t last, Crewfinders and Crew Unlimited,” Turner said.

“We made owners accept crew agencies and not just find crew on the docks.” But she said the industry was new and growing more than 30 years ago. “At that time, people didn’t even lock their boats.”

Ira credits Turner with helping her get her start in the industry, and the two have remained friends as well as competitors.

“I want what is best for Ami, but this new merger will be hard to compete against,” Turner said.

“But, we’ll persevere and adjust,” said Heather Chase, data manager and placement officer for Turner’s company.

“We’ll adapt,” Turner said. “We’ve competed against full service companies for more than 20 years. The only thing different is the schooling. Is that a big difference? We’ll find out.”

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at dorie@the-triton.com.



Posted Sept. 16

By Dorie Cox

Crew placement agency Crew Unlimited and maritime training school ICT in Ft. Lauderdale have partnered with Antibes-based Bluewater to expand placement and training on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The official change takes effect on Sept. 19 when Crew Unlimited and ICT will change their names to the Bluewater brand.

Bluewater’s main offices in Antibes and Palma de Mallorca provide yacht charter, yacht brokerage, crew training, crew placement and yacht management. Crew Unlimited has been a placement agency since 1983 and ICT, formerly known as International Crew Training, has offered courses for about two decades.

Ami Ira, owner of Crew Unlimited, will work with recruitment, brokerage and charter yachts in the United States as president of Bluewater USA, retaining her current staff.

Rebranding to Bluewater begins at Crew Unlimited and ICT in Ft. Lauderdale. PHOTO BY DORIE COX

Rebranding to Bluewater begins at Crew Unlimited and ICT in Ft. Lauderdale. PHOTO BY DORIE COX

Jay Lasner, CEO of ICT, will continue in the same capacity as CEO of Bluewater crew training in the United States and the current staff will remain.

“Bluewater’s new worldwide reach means that crew can rely on the Bluewater model of training and recruitment regardless of which time zone they are in,” said Peter Bennett, managing director of Bluewater, in a press release. “We are delighted to welcome Ami Ira, Jay Lasner and their fantastic teams to the Bluewater family.”

Crew Unlimited will merge its database of about 60,000 registered crew with Bluewater’s list for a total of more than 100,000 yacht crew.

“Yacht crew will now just have one place to keep up-to-date,” Ira said. “I am excited to join the Bluewater family, a team I’ve known and respected for more than 20 years. The marriage of our two brands will surely be a game changer resulting in the world’s largest talent pool by far.”

Bluewater and ICT will combine resources to provide training courses for yacht crew in several locations. Yachts will have the option to redeem vouchers for crew training courses earned through a subscription program.

“We are all the same people, just with a different name,” Lasner said. “We are still the school you know, and now even better. Why? Because now we are on both sides of the Atlantic, we can give free training, and we have a much bigger network to help our students find great jobs.

“Everyone at International Crew Training is passionate about being the finest maritime training center of its kind and delivering the finest training in the world,” he said. “It is a natural step to provide a business now spanning both sides of the Atlantic, thereby combining our efforts towards these mutual goals.”

“The Bluewater group of training centers will adopt each other’s best practices for our MCA, RYA and PYA courses,” said Brian Luke, chief operations officer at ICT. “Although courses are developed according to specified course models, we will take the best of each center and combine them for unique delivery in Antibes, Palma de Mallorca and Ft. Lauderdale. Crew can now license, certify, educate, train and find placement with one stop shopping.”

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at dorie@the-triton.com.

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