Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon
I’m writing this column from beautiful Sag Harbor on eastern Long Island in New York. This once little fishing village has become a major yachting stopover on the northeast circuit. There is an impressive lineup of yachts on the docks, and then a whole other group out at anchor. The summer season is winding down at this latitude and soon all the megayachts will be gone. For captains and crew, it can be a time to push through the last of what was probably a really busy summer. It helps to have some physical and emotional gas left in the tank.
The summer season can be quite demanding, depending on itinerary and circumstances. The towns and harbors are packed in the northeast, demands on a crew’s time have been high, and stress also can be high. That’s why it’s imperative for folks in this industry to take care of themselves. A little self-care can go a long way to supplying that reserve for the tank down the home stretch.
Sag Harbor is set up pretty well in this regard. There’s a health club, yoga studios and massage therapists, all within walking distance of the docks. On the flip side, there is also plenty of alcohol flowing and a yachtie favorite late-night hangout right up the street.
Now, we all know yacht crews tend to be on the younger side and many do have a need to get out and “unwind,” shall we say? Some crew can hit it pretty hard some nights, but as it gets toward the end of this season, we have to watch out for how we’re feeling. Watch out for the summer grind starting to take a toll.
It’s always good to maintain a balance. Balance the nights of debauchery with some self-care. Utilize that health club or yoga studio or massage studio. Maybe get a healthy smoothie – anything to keep functioning and feeling good.
Relationships on board also can be challenging toward the end of a season. Maybe there have been some issues or challenges that have needed to be worked out. Hopefully, nothing is simmering within anybody. If so, it’s time to let go.
Sometimes we need to give ourselves a talking to before we direct our words at another. However, if conversations need to be had, have them – but have them calmly with the intention of making things better. Honest conversation is almost always better than confrontation. It’s all part of the art of living and working together.
It isn’t always easy, but if everybody is considerate and conscious of their role and behavior, things should work out. It’s an art, so why not try to get better at it. Working on one’s craft is always a worthwhile endeavor.
Working on our empathetic skills, or lack thereof, is also a good practice. We have to take care of ourselves, but it’s also important to look out for each other, especially in an industry like yachting. People are separated from family and friends. One can feel isolated and lonely, and that can make everything a little harder.
While some take to this lifestyle and thrive in it, others can struggle at times. Maybe they decide this isn’t for them at some point – but they’re here now, and if they need a kind word or hug, lay it on them. It’s never a bad thing to be there for mates, because it’s a team, and a team needs to flow in the same direction, sharing a common purpose. And that can feel good, when all is said and done.
So carry on and call on those reserves that are hopefully there to ride on to the shoulder season that’s ahead. Watch your habits and routines. Are they serving you well? Watch your thinking habits as well. Are they serving you well? Set up a nice balance and appreciate this time, because sooner or later everything will change.
Enjoy the voyage.
Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments are welcome below.