Yachts are not normally designed with crew in mind. But the design of a yacht can have a significant impact on the operation and this in turn can affect an owner’s overall experience. The Crew Report has recently shared a report which exemplified how a badly thought-out design can cause serious safety hazards, bad designs have seen the safety of the vessel being jeopardised. We asked a number of crew their thoughts on the issue and whether crew should play more of a role in the design stages.

“Owners and charter guests will ask the crew which yacht is a good yacht and which yacht is a bad yacht,” Captain David Clarke of motoryacht Laurel explained. “They have the perception coming from the operators that are involved in the maintenance, the build operation, the on-going logistics and the efficiency of the yacht. Some yachts are really efficient and you can work on them and they’re great but other yachts are just a nightmare. They are designed inefficiently and they don’t function correctly; the water all runs the wrong way away from the scuppers and the doors don’t close correctly.”

“For crewmembers that's a nightmare,” Captain Clarke continues. “The owner really doesn't get a great experience because they're waiting around for something to happen. They've only got a certain amount of time; they come to the boat for a week and just every minute counts for them. It's a very tight schedule that they come on board for. If they have to wait around for a tender to get launched, which takes them an hour because it's up on the top deck and things are not designed correctly, and lunch takes forever to set up and break down, that's just wasting their time.”

"They are designed inefficiently and they don’t function correctly; the water all runs the wrong way away from the scuppers and the doors don’t close correctly." - Captain David Clarke

Joining the debate, one anonymous engineer commented that crew should be having more of an involvement at the design stage. “They are the ones who know every corner of the yacht,” he explained, “and from my personal experience I have seen too many engineering mistakes.” Another crewmember agreed, suggesting that, “the crew should be able to put their ideas forward with reasons why the design should be change and what advantages this would have.”

Joining in the debate, Captain Paul Brunton suggested that, “Experienced crew can add much value in their department’s design to make a vessel operate smoothly and efficiently. However, not all crew have the skill to translate that experience into practical solutions with a designer. Should a designer who hasn’t worked on a yacht have input – absolutely yes. Who qualifies as to experience and able to give good input needs to be scrutinised to achieve a satisfactory result.”

It seems that a concerted effort from designers working with experienced crew would be the best solution, as it is in the interest of crew, designers and owners to do so. If designers want to build a reputation in the industry, they need to work with the crew who will be promoting their yachts to potential buyers. Adopting this attitude will also be invaluable to operation and safety on board.

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