I met an experienced boat owner at the Palm Beach Show. As boat owners tend to do, we quickly got to the topic of crew. While we agreed on many aspects of boat ownership, we diverged sharply on what is apparently a heavily debated topic; crew use of the boat and the toys onboard.
He was of the belief that the “big boat” and its toys were for his enjoyment alone, not the crew’s. He prohibited his crew from using tenders, Jet Skis, etc. I have the extremely opposite view.
For many years, I have had a simple policy: I want my crew to use anything I do and even the stuff I don’t.
I will admit that this is primarily selfish, but I think it is a good thing for everyone involved. Why is it selfish? I want the crew to experience what the guests will; find the flaws in our operation before the guests have to. This is true of the toys, watersports equipment, almost everything.
I even go so far as requesting that the crew sleep in the master and guest staterooms when we are gone.
First, I believe this is a nice thing to do for the crew. Some of those bunks get a little tight after a while. But more importantly, they will hopefully find all the little things that drive me crazy before I do. The loose toilet paper holder, the funny sounds coming from the running pumps, the squeaks when underway, the odd smells. This is especially true of the guest staterooms.
Unless my snoring gets out of hand, I am not a regular inhabitant of the guest quarters. I really don’t experience what my guests will. My goal is for my guests to have as perfect an experience as possible.
Guests don’t tend to complain or point out flaws even when they should. One guest sheepishly mentioned at the end of our trip that he had no hot water in his shower for the entire week! Now, I go so far as to have a paragraph in our guest manual that asks them to bring any issues or suggestions with their accommodation or the boat in general to the captain’s attention as they find them. They rarely do, as I guess they think it is complaining.
By putting the crew in the guest accommodations when available, I consider it preventive maintenance. They will find all the little irritants before the guests do and resolve the issues. I want the crew to do the same with the tenders and toys. Sure it puts a little more wear and tear on things, but if you have the right crew, this is not an issue.
I don’t expect them to burn $1,000 worth of gas running to bars every night, but I think we are better off to have happy, well-recreated crew. I think we have mutual respect and thus damage or abuse is not an issue.
However, I do put my foot down when it comes to consuming the booze onboard. We had a chef in Alaska whose primary cocktail of choice was vodka and milk starting at sunup. I ultimately solved the problem by putting a note on the bottle of vodka in the bar suggesting it was mine, not theirs. Hint dropped, hint taken.
My suggestion to all owners is to load up the boat with toys and let everyone enjoy them, including the crew. You will have a happier boat and your guests will have a better experience. In the big scheme of things, you buy crew loyalty which comes back in spades over the years.
Peter Herm is the pen name for a veteran yacht owner who is an entrepreneur based on the East Coast of the U.S. Contact him through www.the-triton.com/author/peter-herm.