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On Course: Invest time in newbies

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On Course: by Clive McCartney

Earlier this week I enjoyed one of those episodes that refreshes the mind and resets the attitude. Here at Bluewater we held an “Introduction to Yachting Open Evening” – 45 new crew members, eager and excited to discover what their next step would be along the path to yacht crew-hood.  

If you’ve ever been to the Bluewater training center, you will be familiar with the cavernous showroom, which also now serves as the social area. This space acts as an echo chamber in which 45 people sound like 500 as the conversation gets going, with Bluewater staff from both the training and the crew placement teams in attendance.  

I was interested to hear some of the background stories for these newbies so, armed with a few stock questions I joined the throng. Where are you from? How did you hear about yachting? Have you completed your basic STCW safety training?

Here are a few snapshots of the answers I heard:

Where from? Panama City in Florida, Tampa, Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Maryland, Idaho, California, China, Colombia, Zimbabwe. Probably about 75 percent of the group was U.S., the others a veritable United Nations.

Why yachting? “My friend’s cousin did it and I wanted to try,” “I came from the corporate world with a degree in PR and advertising and needed a change,” “I want to travel,” “My brother did it,” “Managing hotels back home earning $600 per month wasn’t going to last.”

The vast majority indicated they had already completed their basic STCW training, which tells us that as an industry we are doing something right.

These snapshots, however, do not convey the energy, the enthusiasm and the connections being made. These people were mostly strangers to each other, but as they joined the queue  (sorry, the “line”) for the photographer to get their headshots, they were engaging with each other and with us, sharing their stories, eager to get information from the Bluewater staff and each other. A few already had jobs working on yachts, others were anticipating picking up day work through FLIBS, and still others were actively looking, including one who took a call with a job offer while she was at the event.  

Speaking as one who is generally “glass half empty,” this was assuredly a “glass full” event and we can draw inspiration from it – not only to harvest and mirror the enthusiasm of the newbies, but to encourage and lead them well, ensuring that their efforts are not wasted or discounted for their inexperience. Take time to get to know their stories, build a relationship, ask specific questions regarding the advice and guidance that they need, set them on the right path and invest in their journey.  

With thanks to Rhonda Darling & Matt Carroll who put the Introduction to Yachting event together, as well as to Ami Ira, Sue Price, Terry Haas, Holly Fisher, Edie Guzman and Shalom Weiss from the Bluewater team.

Clive McCartney is vice president of maritime operations and business development at Bluewater Management & Crew Training USA in Fort Lauderdale. Comments are welcome below.

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