The Crew Report met up with Captain Mike Hein of motoryacht Mea Culpa at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) and discussed the increasing issue of crew longevity, and what can be done to change it. “Just looking around the boat show you can see that there are a lot of boats and the order book shows that there are a lot of boats being built,” notes Captain Hein. “Even if you have terrific crew, a great training programme, chances for advancement and all those things in mind, if somebody builds a new boat and they’ve seen your steward and think he’s terrific – they offer him a month raise and he’s gone. And the same thing happens across the board; the superstar crew just get poached and they go on the new boats and no matter how good the system or plan is, the grass always seems greener on the other side.”

“We have to be careful with such a small crew; if you bring one individual that doesn’t fit, it can destroy the whole mix."

Captain Hein believes that there may be another reason for the amount of crew jumping ship to join other yachts. “With the advent of how much global information there is, everyone is able to keep in contact and know everything that is going on worldwide instantaneously,” he explains. “People learn about opportunities everywhere and there doesn’t seem to be as much loyalty anymore. I don’t know if it is the money. I think crew are looking more towards where the boats are going and if the boat is a charter boat. So the trend that I see the most is that there is not a lot of longevity of individuals who are coming to apply for jobs.”

In light of this, Captain Hein tries to avoid high crew turnover on board Mea Culpa. “I am very happy to take young crew – people who are eager – and we have had plenty of them and we have trained them,” Captain Hein explains. “We have a 90-day trial period; no harm, no foul in 90 days and if it doesn’t work out then they fly home. In 90 days you can figure out if you’re going to get along, you can figure out if they are the type of person that when a meal is finished they wait for someone to clear up their plate, and if they see the bin is overflowing if they take the rubbish out.”

Mike Hein (left of picture) at the American Superyacht Forum 2013.

For those crew that do stay on, Captain Hein tries to encourage them to stay for a period of at least two years. “We’ve had pretty good success,” he says. “We have to be careful with such a small crew; if you bring one individual that doesn’t fit, it can destroy the whole mix. It could be a powerful link, it could be a weak link, it doesn’t matter- there are so many different options, and depending on how you change the crew dynamics, you can see it backfire.”

And Captain Hein believes that this is a main factor in the success of running Mea Culpa. “We try to get the right crew, try to offer a good programme and our boat is very exciting,” he explains. “It has a terrific owner who uses the boat and likes the boat; loves to travel, likes the adventure, likes to go where other boats are and isn’t afraid to spend money on fuel and is happy to pay the upkeep that’s necessary to keep the boat looking like a superyacht.”

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