Having worked with literally thousands of engineers and crew over the years I do find that yachting attracts the best and most talented people, and I find it a privilege to work in this industry. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on a few people I have come across which at the time can be stressful and caused the highest of raised eyebrows looking back they become part of anecdote and folklore. The aim of sharing these stories is so the industry can learn, and crewmembers can hopefully gain a better of understand of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour in the recruitment process.
"The first and last time I’ve heard of an engineer not allowed in the engine room"
One guy who really stands out for me is an engineer who first had the minimum of qualifications but wanted to work in the industry, I wasn’t able to help him when he first contacted me as he didn’t demonstrate the skills required and I suggested quite a few courses. He would, however, call me quite often, always seeking work and gradually he did achieve a Y3 ticket as an engineer. I had never placed him as I just didn’t get the feeling that he was going to cut the mustard.
Before any pleasantries could be exchanged the engineer said he was so exhausted from travelling that he could hardly stand and needed to sleep – not the best first impression I had heard.
Anyway, years passed and a captain contacted me urgently needing a Y3 engineer for a charter, and as it was very short notice I suggested this particular engineer on the caveat that it was as a favour and I couldn’t recommend him in any way. In desperation, the yacht flew him out from London to Nice, picked him up and took him and on board up to the bridge to introduce himself. Before any pleasantries could be exchanged the engineer said he was so exhausted from travelling that he could hardly stand and needed to sleep – not the best first impression I had heard. In bed mid-afternoon to a stunned crew and captain, he duly surfaced the next day and proved to be so ridiculously incompetent that the captain banned him from the engine room and just had him helping on deck. The first and last time I’ve heard of an engineer not allowed in the engine room.
"He was arrested and put in a Panamanian jail - it was still the responsibility of the captain to get him out"
Another guy sticks in mind of a commercial II engineer who hadn’t worked in yachting but wanted to give it a try. Everything checked out and I was just looking for the right opportunity for him. He flew out eventually to a relief job in Panama for a 40m Benetti – just a babysitting job. On arrival he proceeded to drink heavily and then went on a bender ashore. The captain, horrified but also stuck because he needed the ticket on board, hoped the guy would see sense and start playing his role. This continued for a week when I got the call and, equally horrified and amazed at the captain’s tolerance, was able to quickly replace him. Even worse, he was taxied to the airport and put on a plane by the local agent but then proceeded to get roaring drunk in the departure lounge and then on board his behaviour stopped the plane from leaving and he was arrested and put in a Panamanian jail. It was still the responsibility of the captain to get him out and back to the UK – what a nightmare.
Look out for our industry column on the attitude of crew in issue 73 of The Crew Report - out April 2015.