By Dorie Cox
Every 30 days, many yacht crew struggle to remember charter dates, night watches and unplanned tasks to record their hours of work and rest.
“I was banging my head each month,” former deckhand Tim Fletcher said of the hours he logged during his six years on yachts including M/Y Amadeus, M/Y Blush and M/Y Garcon, plus a circumnavigation on S/Y Dreams.
“How basic the hours of work and rest are to record, but how frustrating they turn out to be,” Fletcher, 31, said by phone from his home in the U.K.
Fletcher is founder and CEO of WorkRest, an app and software for recording crew hours. He and his business partner, friend and former Deckhand/Bosun Stuart Willis, launched the beta version of the app about a year and a half ago. It was officially launched in May, and so far more than 10,000 hours have been logged on the app each day, Fletcher said.
“These are expensive boats with advanced technology, but that was an area that was forgotten,” Fletcher said.
The idea for the app grew from watching crew in the mess trying to record their time. Fletcher assumed someone had already created an app, but he could not find one. So he began pumping captains and chief officers for information about the records required on yachts compliant with Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and U.S. legislation, including the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90).
Then he put his university graphic design training to work and let the tech and business side of his brain take over. He’s a guy who comfortably uses phrases like “MVP” (minimal viable product – the least thing to create to confirm market demand).
“I love solving problems and optimizing situations. I actually enjoy streamlining processes,” Fletcher said.
Willis, 26, got involved when he and Fletcher worked together on M/Y Blush. A competitive sailor since the age of 10, Willis was a professional racer by 16. He then worked as a deckhand on M/Y Le Yana and M/Y Robusto, and as a bosun on M/Y Blush. Willis admits he struggled with recording his hours.
“It’s such a painful task on paper,” Willis said. “I was notoriously bad. I waited ’til the end of the month. Tim was more diligent.”
Willis recently left yachting. His partner, Amy Oberman, worked on a Perini Navi 158 and they had come to a crossroad with their futures. Instead of investing in becoming an officer of the watch, Willis chose WorkRest, and the couple settled into life ashore.
Crew can download the WorkRest app on as many devices or computers as needed. Input syncs with an internet connection and is added to the vessel’s dashboard version for instant reports any time, instead of waiting until month’s end. The app is especially important for captains and first officers because it can confirm compliance, Willis said.
“Some vessels have 40 crew,” he said. “It used to be only commercially operated, or over 500 gross tons. Then it wasn’t such a big deal, but now even 60-meter yacht charters have to comply. And before, hours were only figured at the end of each month, when it was too late to do anything about it.”
Willis said there will always be overworked crew.
“We don’t want people to fake hours,” Willis said. “But we want to help bring some understanding of compliance.”
Record-keeping is far from fun, but self-designated “Chief Happiness Officers” Fletcher and Willis are trying. Crew can simply shake their device to send instant feedback to the “Hours of Rest Heroes” (another title they often use).
“It’s not something crew want, but they have to do it – and this is quick and painless,” Fletcher said. “Select a day, tap to amend, and record in under five seconds.”
What really motivates Fletcher, though, is the value of crew work.
“They realize they just worked a month solid,” he said. “Crew can reflect on their hard work. It’s pride. WorkRest captures that and joins in that feeling. Bragging rights come with that.”
For details, visit workrest.co, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +44-0-772-046-6012.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome below.