Years ago you used to be able to find crew very easily, and that was because it was just after the days where any long-haired kid with a skateboard and a backpack and were willing to learn would get a job. Then, when it had become much more regulated, people had heard about the industry but it was hard to get a job because the market was flooded with people looking for work. These guys had sharpened themselves up, got a haircut, taken that earring out and bought a polo shirt with a real collar on it. And then the docks were flooded with people like that.

Now these bigger boats, they take 40 or 50 people off the market, wallop, like that, and take a big bite out of it. And now it is hard to find quality, qualified crew. Flag states dictate qualifications, but where are the quality crew?


Lulu Trask interviews Captain Guy Booth on board Aurelia

It’s not just, have they got a ticket? It’s quality crew all round. For me it starts as part of their childhood education. How were they brought up? What kind of social skills do they have? What sort of confidence and inner strength do they have? And what sort of work ethic have they developed? Those things. That’s what I mean by quality crew. And it’s getting harder and harder and harder to find those people, it really is.


At the end of the day flag dictates tickets and that is all that can be documented and enforced with your minimum safe manning requirement. But how do you enforce personal characteristics?



At the end of the day flag dictates tickets and that is all that can be documented and enforced with your minimum safe manning requirement. But how do you enforce personal characteristics? Gone are the days of, ‘I want a good-looking, blonde haired, blue-eyed girl.’ It’s not about that. I want someone who has an understanding of numerous accounting packages, who has self confidence in customer-facing conflict situations, like being a maître d in a restaurant or front of house in a hotel. These are very real skills. There will always be qualified people around, but whether they’re quality or not remains to be seen.

And I still think that most young people around still fall into yachting by accident, interior crew in particular. They were doing something else and thought this would be good. Just like I did 18 years ago, and now I’m here. I used to be something completely different.

I really feel quite strongly about this. Young people need to be advised that this is a bona fide career path with real prospects, good future earnings and good long-term goals. This can come from educational programmes, community centres, high schools, going and talking talk to people in high schools and say, “You know what, you could be a yacht captain or a purser”, rather than hearing about the industry by accident. So many people say, “I didn’t know about this.” It’s not an option.


M/Y Aurelia; photo by Emilio Bianchi