You might be interested. This was printed in the January, 2007 Triton. http://www.megayachtnews.com/index.php?news=1221
The Bridge is a roundtable discussion each month.
Bridge Jan. 2007: Captains find crew the old-fashioned way
In addition to brokers, business people and media walking the docks at St. Maartenís boat show were crew looking for work. Some went down to volunteer for the show, hoping that if they hung around enough, they might find some day work. Others came to find full-time positions.
Walking the docks is a bit easier in the Caribbean than it has been in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. So that got us wondering if captains in need of crew follow the same, haphazard way of finding crew in the islands as they do in the states. With pressures high and the next charter right around the corner, how do captains find crew in the Caribbean?
As always, individual comments are not attributed to any one person in particular so as to encourage frank and open discussion. The attending captains are identified in a photograph on page A20.
"You look down the dock for unhappy crew," one captain said, only half joking.
A discussion ensued about how captains often discuss with each other their crew who are not the right fit or those looking to move up and unable to do so on their current boat.
"The previous captain on this boat was notoriously stiff on rules, so if they made it through him, I know Iíve got a solid crew," a captain said. "Itís tough to teach crew the business of charter yachts. The charter doesnít start and end at noon, like the contract says. It starts the day before, when you are loading provisions at 11 oíclock at night and ends when youíre cleaning the boat at 5 in the morning, ready for the next one."
So if you donít have an already-trained charter crew on board, where do you find a new crew member when you need one?
"There are a lot of resources down here," a captain said. "Iíll use the agencies and go to the crew houses. And youíre always meeting people on the docks."
"Networking is important," another said. "Iíve changed mates three times. I can find a mate tomorrow if I need to."
"Itís pretty easy to find temporary people to fill in in a crunch," said a third. "You always know of someone whoís looking."
Whatís hard to find, they agreed, is the experienced charter crew member.
"In the Med, it used to be easy to find a woman ashore who was willing to go out for a week or two, but you canít do that anymore," one captain noted.
"Boats are getting so busy now that people are making their money and getting out. It used to be a full-on life. Now its 16 hours a day when the owner is onboard and four or five weeks without a break. You can see your crew get fatigued."
"The trend in the industry is that people are working short-term," another said.
One captain said that in interviews, he often asks why the candidate wants to work in yachting. "Because I heard you can make a lot of money," they say.
"Thatís not so bad for them, but itís bad for the industry," he said. "Who do we expect new crew to learn from? There are chief stews out there with one season of experience."
Another captain said when he interviews crew, he looks for people with goals such as buying a house, because they are motivated to work hard and, yes, make money.
There was a lot of discussion about scheduling time off during the season to give crew a break.
"If we have a lot of charters scheduled for the season, we schedule some time off," one captain said. "If a charter comes up, we wonít take it. But if a charter comes up and we donít have a lot booked, weíll talk about it. You have to make hay when the sun shines."
Youíll turn down a charter? Even if the owner wants you to take it?
"Owners need to be trained, too, just like crew," another captain said.
There was also some discussion about the reasons some crew members fail (too much partying prime among them) and what sort of rules and guidelines captains impose.
"I treat them like professionals," one captain said. "You have to be able to perform the next day. If you canít get up, you know you canít party like that."
"After your first charter, you know who your problem children are going to be," another said. "Thereís no drinking on charter and when weíre tied up at the dock, they can drink in moderation."
When the drinking rule gets abused, one captain said he has imposed a no-alcohol-at-all policy.
"That just hurts the ones who can handle it," another captain said. "Youíve got to give them some latitude for crew morale."
As for finding crew in the Caribbean, none of the captains used online crew placement services and only occasionally called back stateside for help from an agency there. Most preferred the old-fashioned way of meeting crew ē on the docks."
Well, I found it interesting. And informative.