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Having fun on yachts is all about the crew

As a yacht (they are all just boats to me) owner and avid reader of The Triton, I suggested to Editor Lucy Chabot Reed that Triton readers might benefit from an owner’s perspective. I believe that the most important element of owning a large boat is the crew. They can singlehandedly make or break the entire experience.

I have had 30+ meter boats off and on for more than 25 years, selling my last one in 2008 at the exact right moment in time. I chartered while watching the turmoil in the yachting world until about a year ago when two friends interested in the thrill of yacht ownership asked me to join them as their guide and co-check writer.

After much searching, we acquired a 35m boat this spring and began the adventure.

As before, the primary challenge has been crew. A great crew can make any boat fun, and a poor crew will ruin the experience on even the $100 million yachts I saw at the Monaco show in September.

On my previous boat, I was lucky to have a captain and crew who had been with me for more than 20 years. Unfortunately, they have retired from yachting and thus I was given the challenge of rebuilding a team from scratch … and the fun began.

I think I speak for most owners when I say that the most important aspect of boat ownership is that it is supposed to be fun. It is up to the crew to help make this dream a reality. Owners know that boats are not inexpensive and not without heartbreaks, but it is up to the entire crew to limit the amount of owner “brain damage” in the process.

In upcoming columns we will delve into ways that crew can make the boat ownership experience the most fun for owners and for themselves. In each column I will try to provide one actionable tip based upon the actual happenings on my boat or others.

Here is one to start:

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show provides the greatest learning opportunity in boating. I have not missed one in 20 years. If you are a captain or crew, you should cover every inch of ground in this show every year.

If you missed FLIBS, go to the Miami or Palm Beach shows. Better yet, go to both of them. The workboat shows are interesting, too. You will see new products, learn new things and meet people who can expand your knowledge and your value as a crew member. Ask lots of questions and listen.

I always visit the stands of the manufacturers of the major components on our boat to see what is new. This year, I learned that if our very dependable 1,600 GPD watermaker dies, we are doomed. The control board for it is no longer available.

Imagine what it would be like, deep in the Caribbean with a full load of guests, to have our watermaker stop working. Getting a new one takes three weeks just to get it from the manufacturer. No water for ice is not fun. A yacht owner can survive without water, but not without ice.

Needless to say, the new spare watermaker goes in next week.

Peter Herm is the pen name for a real yacht owner who is an entrepreneur based on the East Coast of the U.S. It comes from Pieter Harmensz, original owner of the oldest known stock certificate in 1606, issued for a Dutch company with the largest shipping fleet in the world. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

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