The Money Dock: by Bosun Alex Kempin
For certain ranks of yacht crew, job security comes in several forms: either the constant threat of rain for the weary deck crew or the fierce onslaught of laundry suffocating the interior team. Battling rain and laundry will always remain staples of yachting work. At least, as my captain says, the repetitive nature of our work provides job security.
However, what happens when guest trips are cancelled, boats are unable to travel and crew are laid off?
Unfortunately, the once-joked-about job security is not so funny and job losses are a reality. Worldwide, we are experiencing mass unemployment at the hands of COVID-19. Perhaps not surprisingly, tourism and hospitality industries are feeling the brutal effects of the pandemic.
Arguably, yachting slots somewhere between tourism and hospitality and, as a result, has failed to escape the effects of the pandemic. Travel restrictions not only limit the movement of yachts but similarly the movement of people to yachts. Subsequently, a portion of hard working crew are no longer required to maintain and operate yachts.
Poignantly then, my question to the reader is, would you be financially secure if you lost your job? Given the volatile nature of yachting jobs, I would expect crew to be able to absorb a job loss and remain unemployed for several months without experiencing financial strain.
However, it seems for the most part that I am wrong.
For an industry to which so many are attracted by the money, there exists a gaping discrepancy between salaries and savings. It’s common for wannabe crew to live off their saved money whilst trying to secure a full-time gig. It’s clear then, that the savings mentality is there yet it seems to disappear as soon as gainful employment is found.
We would all agree that yachting is highly volatile and jobs are quickly lost and found. This being the case, yacht crew should realize the importance of an emergency fund.
Now more than ever, an emergency fund is a powerful component of a crew member’s financial world; for many, it's taken a pandemic to realize this.
Depending on lifestyle and risk level, yacht crew would ideally have 6-12 months worth of real world living expenses. This means the cost of rent, groceries, insurance, etc., basically the traditional expenses of a landlubber.
An emergency fund is just that, it’s for emergencies. Losing a job, falling ill, prolonged unemployment, bills, hotel stays, last-minute flights or even posting bail. This fund should be totally separate from existing accounts so as to avoid it being spent, yet it must be accessible within a few days.
This is quite literally the first step toward financial freedom as it allows crew to live, spend and invest how they choose, armed with the knowledge that they will always have backup if needed.
Bosun Alex Kempin has worked on yachts for more than three years and combines his passion for personal finance and his degree in psychology to share personal finance information for yacht crew at themoneydock.com or themoneydock on social media. Comments are welcome below.