When you're aboard, everything is out of your hands. You and your family and guests are called to meals, the yacht runs like a top, and the only question that's posed to you is "Where would you like to go next?" And on the day you have to head back home, you start counting the days until you'll climb aboard again. Why is your yachting experience so fulfilling? That's easy-you've hired the right crew.
A good captain and crew take care of things, so you don't have to worry. But those uniforms aren't filled magically. Look for hires with the right qualifications and make your needs clear, and you'll start out way ahead.
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 entrusts the yacht to the captain, 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 crew member 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. The captain will 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."
Sky's The Limit Step aboard Blue Sky, a 103-foot Cheoy Lee built in 2002, with seven other guests and enjoy a marvelous blend of deluxe accomodations and economical range. Contact Bill Sanderson of Camper & Nicholsons at (561) 655-2121 or visit www.cnconnect.com.
Sojourn, So Good Sojourn, a 130-foot Gambol Industries build from 1999, refit in 2007, has been there and done it all, from Alaska to Maine. Contact Rick Baker or Rick Weisenberger of Fraser Yachts at (949) 673-5252 or www.fraseryachts.com.
Blue Beauty The speedy 127-foot Baglietto Bellissima has a 5-stateroom layout and decks for outdoor entertaining. Not available to U.S. residents. Contact Michael Selter of Fraser Yachts at (619) 265-6906 or visit www.fraseryachts.com.