Safety is a facet of yachting within which the education is never complete – there is always more that can be learned and more people who should be learning about safety on board and at sea. Safety training for crew is sufficient and a good crew will have high levels of understanding about the dangers of being at sea and what to do in an emergency. But when it comes to owners and charter guests, what level of involvement should we be seeing in safety training?

Should owners be taking part in this type of training? Credit: Justin Ratcliffe

Captain Salvador Villerias-Eckart of motoryacht Azteca believes it would be to the benefit of all on board if owners and guests took part in stringent safety training prior to a trip. “I believe owners should participate with their guests in the drills," he says. "This happens in the cruise industry, as they have to have several drills within twenty-four hours of departure, so why not on board yachts? On one occasion there was some swell hitting under the beach deck, provoking noise and vibrations all over the ship. The owner and owner’s friend were having dinner and they thought we ran aground. Even though the chief stewardess asked me to reconfirm and assured them everything was OK, he did not care and went to the bridge to find out what was going on. His wife and friends were still convinced we ran aground and the kids wanted to disobey instructions given by the crew. These people are often used to giving orders, not receiving them from an employee, and they should know and learn this.”

For Amy Beavers, managing director of Maritime Professional Training (MPT), the acknowledgement of the need for safety training at all is its own hurdle. “The problem is that no one wants to believe that bad things can happen on a beautiful boat designed for recreation and pleasure, but the fact is bad things do happen and it would be a tragedy for the proof of this to be a real case where we lose an owner, a gust or a family member due to them not knowing what to do or where to go," she says. "This needs to be done tactfully, but let us not have a loss of life due to the ‘ugliness’ of having to talk about the possibility, however unlikely, of an emergency.”

"Let us not have a loss of life due to the ‘ugliness’ of having to talk about the possibility, however unlikely, of an emergency."
- Amy Beavers, managing director, Maritime Professional Training (MPT)

And while some yachts do conduct safety drills when owners and guests are on board and even though the safety benefits are indisputable, the very nature of yachting provides a few bumps in the road, as Geoff Moore, general manager of yacht management at Royale Oceanic explains. “I have had the experience of conducting full safety drills while owners and guests have been on board on a handful of occasions and each has been very well received," he recalls. "The children love to see the crew dressed as fire-fighters and see the hoses set off, and the adults quietly watch and hopefully gain an understanding that the crew are not only there to serve but also to protect." But Moore is unsure whether this should be a regular event. "While yachting is a professional industry, it must be remembered that to the guests on board it is a leisure industry," he explains. "They do not generally witness their pilots or chauffeurs conduct training; owners pay for professional, competent and experienced employees, and for the short time they are on board they should not have to partake in safety drills other than their initial ISM required familiarisation, in the same way passengers on cruise ships are inducted.”

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