I used to be in the commercial sector as a chief engineer; we would get paid well with regular leave. And it was engineers who kick-started the whole rotation idea in the superyacht industry. When yachting was dragged kicking and screaming in line with the commercial sector, we suddenly had demands for big tickets, for which we had to enlist ex-merchant professionals because they were the only ones with the necessary qualifications. Why would they come if we couldn’t at least match their existing conditions? Thank goodness for this, as it’s now filtering through the ranks and is a much-needed development.
Twenty years later, I am now a captain on a full rotation – and have been for the past four years – on a large sailing yacht. We also have a chief engineer, first officer and chef on rotation, and we have all been here since she launched. In fact, the senior captain and chief engineer have been with the same owners for 22 and 12 years respectively. There is little doubt this shows that rotation can work.
The comments about owners wishing to see the same faces is a moot one because they still do – it’s just two faces per rank instead of one.
The comments about owners wishing to see the same faces is a moot one because they still do – it’s just two faces per rank instead of one. It’s also possible for one of the captains, for example, to always be on board during the owner’s trips, and then the rest of the year is carved up equally, with the other captain perhaps doing more deliveries, shipyard periods and charters. It’s important to be flexible.
I like the idea that rotation stops people ‘building empires’ as all-powerful individuals, keeping all the knowledge they acquire and using it for personal gain. This way there is always a checks-and-balances system going on, which is incidental but very desirable for an owner. If they work well together, the rotation team can make sure that nothing is missed. You also often find that each individual will have his or her own specialties, for example refits, logistics, safety or accounting, and that is a bonus for the yacht owner – two minds are better than one.
Find the full column in issue 74 of The Crew Report - out mid-June.