Owner’s View: Peter Herm
In reading some of the appreciated comments on my columns online, it dawned on me that some crew must be sharing The Triton with yacht owners. Here is one you will want to pass on.
While the crew’s stated job is like that of airline flight attendants: “We are here for your safety,” I believe it is more involved. The definition of quality crew is not just about safety, it is about myriad other tasks. Owners ask our crews to be maintenance managers, service experts, management gurus, subcontractor police, auditors, tour guides, babysitters, IT nerds, toilet repairmen and much more. This is not the easy job in white uniforms, as depicted on TV.
In this season of thanksgiving and holidays that remind a lot of big boat owners how lucky we are, I thought I would write a paean (yes, I Googled “paean”) as to why I love my crew.
First and foremost, I think they really want to do a great job, defined as whatever pleases us most. I truly feel that their No. 1 priority on the boat is to make me happy. Happiness is defined in many ways when you have an involved owner, and other ways with owners that are not, but my crew makes me happy.
I am really happy when my crew thinks ahead with a proactive, preventative maintenance plan to keep things from breaking and ruining trips down the road. It still happens, but proper maintenance makes it happen less. I love the fact that my crew stocks spare parts that will keep the icemaker icing or toilets flushing when we are anchored someplace 1,000 miles from spares.
My wallet and engines smile when the captain operates at 9.5 knots, not 12 knots. (See my previous column on the benefits of going slow!) Happiness is when the teak decks sparkle and the gutters are clean. I am even happier when the beer is ice cold and there is no mildew in the lazzarette or bosun’s locker. I confess to enjoying the crisp sheets and the spotless bathroom about 30 seconds after I am out of my stateroom.
True happiness is when there is always lots of ice and the cheese selections are my favorites. The eggs Benedict with the smooth, not the lumpy, hollandaise is also highly appreciated. The Admiral (wife) is happy when the fruit selection is fresh and the yogurt is her favorite, even though it comes from some far away country with goats. She also gets great pleasure in knowing our stew is neater than she is.
Happiness for me is a captain who gets multiple bids from good contractors. A captain who does not give the job to the lowest-price player, but to the few who actually show up on time and do a great job – the ones you can still reach after the work is completed. This makes me smile as I don’t feel violated, like many owners do during yard periods.
I love that my captain thinks about the weather and waves, and suggests, strongly, that an alternative destination or departure time would be better for those guests with tender stomachs. I also love his sense of humor. It is amazing how dry humor can take all of the moisture out of the air and make me laugh as though we were cruising in Vegas, not the Rio Dulce jungle.
My captain and crew have rough hands. There is a hint of grease under the fingernails. That makes me happy as it means their callouses are from touching the problems, not from pushing buttons on the iPhone to get someone else to do it for them.
I am also happy about how they tell me the choices. Me: “We need two new autopilots.” Captain: “Why? The ones we have work most of the time.” Compromise: One new autopilot, one antique kept as a spare.
My captain and crew spend my money as if it were theirs, and so it will be at bonus time. No, I am not giving them a bonus equal to all the money they saved me by using their heads, but we will share a chunk. It is a bargain to have crew you love. If you have a crew you love, share the love.
P.S. To my crew, before their heads get too big: We still have yet to catch any big fish. This is the season, guys!
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. Comments are welcome below.