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Owner’s View: Boat shows can build a crew member’s career

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Owner’s View by Peter Herm

As always, I am counting down the days until the start of the Miami Boat Show and Yachts Miami Beach. It should be on every crew members’ calendar, as well as Palm Beach in March. (Then, sadly, the big boat show season is over until Cannes in September.)

The list of benefits from crew attendance at boat shows is lengthy. First and foremost, it is a networking extravaganza. While some crew may have contentious relationships with yacht brokers, they can be a crew member’s best friend when it is time to get a job.

Every yacht broker will be at these boat shows. Find a great seat at the bar and start buying drinks. Say hello to everyone. Or, as one successful business associate told me years ago, if you are within six feet of someone, give them a compliment, even if you don’t know them.

Yacht brokers hold the access keys to boat owners. If they like you, you will get referred; if they don’t, you won’t. Yacht brokers have referred the majority of my captains over the years. Some were good, some were not, but I listened every time and will continue to do so in the future.

And brokers hear stories from other owners. They are a wealth of knowledge from the owner side of the equation, and I suggest crew befriend as many as they can.

The fun part of a boat show for me is looking at boats. As a certified boataholic, I never know what will tickle my fancy and inspire me to buy next. This boat-in-the-Med thing is fun, but I am missing the Bahamas this time of year, so maybe a second boat is in the cards? (If I could clone my crew, I might consider it.)

Still, I never know what I might find until I look. And the same is true for crew.

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 2016

I go on any boat they will let me on. In the worst case, I will learn something new, which I do on every boat I tour. As just one example, I was admiring a stunning paint job on a Feadship several years ago at the Miami show. The captain said it was done by an obscure yard and was exceptionally inexpensive. I have remembered that moment and contacted the captain recently to refresh my memory for a friend of mine who is planning a yard-agony period.

The best time to tour boats is when the show is not busy. That’s Monday. There are few boats a captain or potential buyer cannot tour on Monday. Yes, brokers and crew are tired from smiling for four days, but most accommodate me when I ask nicely. This is a great way to meet more brokers and learn new tips and tricks.

Captains and crew heading into a refit should look for boats and crew who have been through a similar upgrade and ask lots of questions. People like to tell their stories and generally will be happy to provide information. Bottom line, get on as many boats possible.

To learn about what is new and upcoming, leave the brokerage part of the show on Collins Avenue and head over to the accessories tents. Under the new Miami International Boat Show layout, this is harder than past years, but worth the trip. For those captains and crew not working the show, the best time to do this is VIP day, Thursday. Visit with the equipment vendors to discover what is new, what has changed and what is coming in the future. This knowledge is invaluable to the owner you work for.

Over the years, I have gained a wealth of knowledge talking to the manufacturers’ representatives at boat shows about all the new electronics, paint formulations, engine maintenance tips and a world of other boating-related knowledge. Their sole reason for being there is to educate us. Sure, they want to sell something, and in due time they will. Again, be friendly, outgoing and ask questions. This is where to find the answers to virtually any boating related question.

It sounds obvious, but over the years I am always surprised at how few crew I see in the vendor areas. Enjoy the show and learn something new at every one.

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.

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