In another email correspondence, Captain Jan Rogowski shared some thoughts based on Captain Guy Booth's column on quality crew, and, with his permission, we have published his comments.
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A few personal observations on Captain Guy Booth’s column, ‘Where are all the quality crew?’
I fully respect Guy as a captain, but it's worth remember those captains who can offer permanent contracts for their crew are very lucky. My boat was seasonal, then it did two years of the Med-Caribbean charters and then it was seasonal again. The owner never offered contracts longer than one season.
The boat was under management, and there was excellent cooperation with the management company, but we had to go to the owner when we needed bigger budgets.
When it came to crewing, we always had to find candidates via the management company or a recruitment agency. I do not take crew directly from the dock – I much prefer to use a recruitment agency.
My way of selecting candidates is to read their CV carefully; usually their objectives are the same, like they’ve done a copy and paste job. Then I do a personal phone or Skype conversation, then I check their Facebook.
I do not need "the best of the best' - just ordinary crew. "Very good” sounds sounds almost dangerous to me. I have said to my management company, “Everybody must have second chance; give me this crewmember”.
To create a strong team, usually I need two to three months, then we are like stone; one for all and all for one.
Of course, in the past it has turned out those less suitable crewmembers are usually recommended by friends, and in such a case there is no mercy, but in a period of five years it happened to me one time only.
What can I offer to my crew to keep them on my boat?
- My fatherly support
- 24 hours access – I am a good listener
- Some secret coaching tools I have created to help their personal activity, creativity, self-training and so on
- Discipline that is accepted by everyone on board
- Daily toolbox meetings at 8am, for 10 minutes maximum, so everybody can feel free to talk
- Happy to share my Merchant Navy experience
I work with my crew during charters, encouraging the hard-working interior team and trying to calm down my great chef
Many times my crew has come into to the bridge, and we just talk, talk and talk.
I also never complain about my crew to people off the boat, unless necessary.
You cannot keep the bird in the cage. All my crew became the best of the best and found, or will find, better and more profitable boats.
There are plenty of people talking about how to keep their crew, but it is difficult to keep my crew without permanent payment for the next season.
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