Turnover of crew is one of the biggest problems facing the yachting industry today. It is, quite rightly, often bemoaned by owners who step aboard to find a new set of faces in their house-on-water and recruitment agents who feel the frustrations of working to place a crewmember, only for them to jump ship in, sometimes, a matter of weeks. But little has been discussed about the impact of high crew turnover on the training branch of the superyacht industry – and more specifically, on-board yacht-specific training.

"One of the biggest problems I find is continuity with training, because you change crew a lot so you actually find you’re only at the very basic levels every single time."

Captain Sam Wolverson of motoryacht Alfa Nero recently highlighted the difficulties surrounding on-board training and the need to go back to the beginning each time a new crewmember arrives on board. “One of the biggest problems I find is continuity with training, because you change crew a lot so you actually find you’re only at the very basic levels every single time, and next time you come to start you’ve got another five new people, so you’re still at the same basic level.”

Moreover, at quiet times of the year crew numbers are sometimes deliberately cut, something Captain Philippe Dermauw of motoryacht Element noted: “On smaller yachts you will cut down crew during the winter, so you’re always having to change. There’s no choice.”

Tender training is one area that should see consistent yacht-specific training

One of the biggest effects of limiting on-board training for reasons such as those mentioned above, is the limiting of the owner’s experience, and as such, the crewmember’s experience. Geoff Moore, general manager – yacht management at Royale Oceanic, elaborates: “There can be no assumption that an experienced crewmember knows how to operate a yacht and deliver a specific service. Someone who has ten years’ experience on a variety of yachts may walk on board a yacht for their first day and find the operational practices completely alien to them. A competent tender driver or service stewardess will have a great foundation of knowledge, but they must be trained in the way of conducting such essential tasks in the way required by the yacht.”

And even in the face of crew turnover, this type of training and its contingency is paramount and will, added Moore, continue to benefit the industry as a whole. “All on-board training is depending on the workload of the yacht and the priorities of the captain. A counter argument to conducting non-essential on-board training is that of high crew turnover and rotation. You cannot underestimate the time and effort that goes into preparing and conducting training, whether it is a full crew safety drill one-on-one training on a specific operational task. The trainer must be committed and knowledgeable and there is nothing worse than putting all your efforts into something only for the trainee to be on board only briefly, therefore seemingly rendering your efforts ‘wasted’. However, this is not wasted. It is of benefit to the trainer, the trainee and the industry at large to ensure that standards are raised and knowledge is shared.”

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