During a candid discussion between captains at this year’s American Superyacht Forum, the subject of shipyards and their responsibility towards crew was raised. It emerged that many captains are struggling to find crew able to maintain and operate a superyacht to the correct standard. “I can’t remember the last time I hired someone that knew the meaning of seamanship," Captain Glen Allen of M/Y Harle explained, "That’s pretty sad.”

Martin Redmayne agreed that, “There are a lot of guys out there who don’t know how to run boats properly,” and suggested that this was backfiring on shipyards. “They deliver a boat and there’s guys running it that aren’t completely capable of maintaining, or repairing, or operating systems,” Redmayne explained. “It’s becoming a nightmare and I think the warranty claims on a lot of new builds are down to sometimes crew error.”

Captain David Clarke of M/Y Laurel explained one of his solutions to this problem: “I have and I am sure that a lot of captains have a programme on their yachts that establishes a work procedure on board. When you have new crewmembers come on, you want to have established from the beginning how they are going to operate because they need to meet a certain standard. A lot of big yachts especially have that process already there.”

"Crewmembers gravitated towards Feadships because they were built, they were quality, everything just lined up, it was a beautiful product to work on." - Captain David Clarke

While on board training in this area could help to remedy the problem, should the shipyards be taking more of an active role in training crew to the standards that they should work to? Captain Clarke provided the example of Feadship doing just this. “During the 80s and 90s, Feadship really came out with a product that crewmembers loved to work on because it was easy to work on," Captain Clarke continues. "Crewmembers gravitated towards Feadships because they were built, they were quality, everything just lined up, it was a beautiful product to work on. Feadship got a great name through crewmembers working on they and enjoying working on them. They gave ability to get crewmembers involved in their product."

The panel speculated whether other builders, especially US builders, should start a better programme for crew, to increase the standards that yachts are operated to across the industry. “A lot of the shipyards do support crew in a good way in the states but I don’t this they have ever done it to the extent that Feadship did,” added Captain Allen. If shipyards were to put more effort into educating and training the crew on how to take care of the yacht, it would help to increase the quality of seamanship that the industry is lacking.

For access to the transcripts from the American Superyacht Forum 2013, please click here.

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