If you've upgraded your yacht beyond what you can handle comfortably by yourself, or with the help of family or friends, then it's time to staff up. But finding someone to whom you can entrust your yacht is no easy task. Where to begin? To get the right crew, start at the top. "Hire a captain whose skills, experience, and personality are in line with what the owner expects of his yacht," says Ian Pelham, director of The Crew Network, a division of Fraser Yachts. "By the owner giving this serious thought, and clearly communicating these expectations to the captain, the chance of hiring the right captain goes from a coin-toss to an almost certainty." The owner puts the yacht in the captain's charge, so it falls naturally to the captain to choose the crew with whom he'll work. Check multiple references for every potential hire. "The most important consideration in hiring crew is that they have the correct certification for the vessel," says Deborah Blazy, crew placement division manager for Camper & Nicholsons International. "All crew should have STCW 95 Basic Safety Training as a minimum. If the yacht is registered commercially, various other deck and engineering certificates will be required, dependent on the gross tonnage and engine size of the yacht and the navigational area." Safety training means that each crewmember will be equipped properly to help out with first aid and firefighting, while the other certifications may be critical depending on the service the vessel will see. But the right captain can take care of all of that, as long as he is given a free hand, and determine his staffing needs based on his view of the tasks at hand, including maintenance of the vessel and her level of complexity, and also the level of service and the number of guests expected. "On vessels already built, crew size is limited by the number of berths, regardless of the owner's expectations," says Pelham. "This is why the role of a good broker is critical. The owner must be assisted in purchasing a yacht that meets all of his expectations, and this will include enough berths to house the right number of crew." The right number of personnel helps, but they have to be the right personnel, too. "I think the most important criteria is attitude," says Blazy. "Bear in mind that the yacht effectively becomes your home and the other crew members are like your family-you spend many long hours working and also living together in cramped conditions. Tolerance, teamwork, and happy personalities are not always written into a training course, but they are the essential ingredients for a successful crew."
Image courtesy of Camper & Nicholsons International.