Time to Improve


The never changing game of who has the best or largest yacht will only increase the size and technological sophistication of future yacht design. With a young generation who value experience more than ownership I expect a future with more charters and yachts solely operated as a business.

This affects the demand in numbers of crew as well as the roles on board. Already facing a shortage, solutions must be found to cope with this, reaching beyond just the supply. What are good and effective ways to recruit crew? How can we entice them into the industry? How can we keep them? Should the role of a Captain be split into a navigational Captain and a Captain for the management and administration of the yacht? Is a future with remotely operated engine rooms a solution?

The common aversion towards this UHNW world is changing now the potential crew see and realise the opportunities the industry offers. A good example is The Netherlands implementing the Yacht Code 3, wanting to become a flag state like the U.K. With a renowned yacht building status, the government also realises their limited involvement after the yachts build stage and launch.In order to introduce a fresh stream of competent and professional crew into the industry, working conditions must be improved. I’m surprised these low working conditions are still excepted within the industry. It’s incomprehensible that there were crowdfunding campaigns to pay the medical costs for the last three crew who died due to an accident on a yacht. There’s a reason why on-shore employers are responsible for deducting and paying social security. Not many think about the consequences this difference can have, even after crew have left the industry.

Improving working conditions also entails paying someone according to the time worked. The ‘slavery’ stigma still exists, which is not strange if there’s no difference between a month’s pay with no guests on-board working 8 hours per day and a month with guests on board working 14 to 16+ hours per day. Arguments such as having no personal expenses such as rent and food and receiving tips are dismissible. By not having any expenses whilst living on a yacht, crew are also giving up the freedom of living on-shore where they go home after work. Even though the tips might be high, crew are not paid in tips. This doesn’t necessarily have to result in a (significant) increase in payroll, but does require working in a different way.

Laws and regulations or the enforcement thereof are becoming stricter to ensure better working conditions, especially in the EU. Still far from the harmonised union they strive to be, some laws and regulations are/ will be incoherent or won’t make sense. It can be difficult to know what applies or even how to comply due to the many countries a yacht has to deal with. For the Netherlands, implementing the Yacht Code was hopefully the first step towards recognising and adapting to the yacht industry. These next 10 years is the time to supportively work with governments ensuring that current and future laws & regulations are suitable for future of yachting.

We must be ready to meet the current and future demand for crew. Change is certain, and taking part in that change is better than following it.

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