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Owner’s View: by Peter Herm
One of the highest and best uses of our boat is to allow our family, friends, employees and business associates to use it in the fun places we get to travel. While some of our guests have been on a cruise with thousands of people, few have done boating/cruising the right way; that is, on a big, crewed boat.
Many of the guests on our boat will have their first “big boat” experience with our crew, and most have no idea what is coming. So I recently embarked on a writing project to give them an idea of how to prepare: The Guide to M/Y Mystery.
Certainly, the official charter business has preference sheets, which we do as well, but for novices first experiencing this wonderful world of yachting, this is not enough. Preference sheets help in cuisine, cocktails and some activities, but not really in what the guests want out of their trip once they grasp the concept of big boating. That does not really sink in until they are on board.
The Guide is designed to benefit both the guests and the crew by setting guest expectations prior to arrival. It details simple things such as how often the bed sheets get changed and who does laundry. It explains where the quietest place on the boat is to read, why the crew quarters are off limits, and why the water is OK to drink.
I had the crew go through my first draft to ensure that I had covered most of the salient points and was only promising things that they could deliver seamlessly, as they usually do. My primary message was that this is a custom adventure primarily designed by the guests. The crew, while available to provide guidance on destinations and activities, were not mind readers in most cases. Mutual communication is the key to the best trip for both crew and guests, both before and during the trip.
The Guide starts with the history of the boat, where it was built, what makes it go, where the drinking water comes from and where the sewage goes. As basic as this sounds, most guests do not know how a boat functions.
It goes on to point out that chaperoned engine room tours are available, and that the best place to read is upstairs, aft of the skylounge, sheltered and quiet under way. I also suggest that the aft deck bar has the best ice, and that meals there are more pleasant out there than inside 90 percent of the time so they should bring a sweater.
Naturally, I list the long choice of sports activities and that the exercise bike is for everyone, even though it is in the master den. Each stateroom is pictured and described so that guests can imagine where they will be camping once they get to the boat, including the bunk room for the kids. Hairdryers? Internet access? Phoning home? Cell service? Currency used in Croatia? How to operate the TVs and what videos and games are in the library is also covered.
Guests are urged to let the crew know upon arrival and via the preference sheets what times they might like to eat and if they are late-night partiers or early-to-bed, early-to-rise types. I have found that guests are a little timid on the specificity of their preference sheets, possibly because it is not a paid charter.
Guests are also urged to stay out of the way when docking, where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them. The crew will do their perfunctory safety lecture upon arrival, but knowing there are four life rafts and where they are located gives comfort to those with Titanic fantasies. And no standing on the bow rail.
When coupled with a great crew and a little foreknowledge via The Guide, I know our guests will have the time of their lives. The Guide is just another tool to help make that happen and it was actually fun to write. I am ready for the season to start. I hope yours is a great one, too. Bow west and high tide only.
Peter Herm is the pen name for a veteran yacht owner who is an entrepreneur based on the East Coast of the U.S. Comments are welcome below.