During the Monaco Yacht Show I sat down with some of the new bluewater team. Only recently, the Med-based training school, with facilities in Antibes and Palma, partnered with Fort Lauderdale’s International Crew Training (ICT) and Crew Unlimited (read more on that here). Sitting in Stars and Bars (where else?) with bluewater and ICT last week, we got onto the topic of the seemingly never-ending tirade against training schools in the superyacht sector.
It’s old news now, that crew get frustrated at training schools ongoing addition of courses to their repertoire – and despite reminders from training schools, from yacht managers and from ourselves that in most cases these are regulatory necessities, the crew aren’t happy about an increasing number of courses being available.
If in fact crew are asking for some sort of reaction to these complaints, why are the training schools facing accusations of not only offering something that crew are required to have by law, but of offering something that, it seems, the industry is begging for.
Yet at lunch Brian Luke pointed out something he said he found particularly frustrating: crew are actually asking for these courses. I can’t count the number of times I speak to captains and they tell me that there’s a lack of skilled crew out there, and that the basic seamanship skills are going down the drain – it happens so often. And in comes the Efficient Deck Hand (EDH) course, mandatory under the 2010 Manila Amendments. Then there are the complaints about crew climbing the ladder too quickly without the relevant management experience – in comes Human Element and Leadership Management (HELM), also part of the Manila Amendments. And how about those who get frustrated that their senior colleagues think they know it all but haven’t actually practised putting out a fire in 20 years? In comes the Manila Amendments’ refresher training.
So if in fact crew are asking for some sort of reaction to these complaints, why are the training schools facing accusations of not only offering something that crew are required to have by law, but of offering something that, it seems, the industry is begging for.
We need to remember that the Manila Amendments and the STCW Code are applicable to all seafarers, not just superyacht crew. But the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Professional Yachting Association (PYA) are doing their bit, especially the latter, to represent yacht crew and make these courses as applicable as possible to our niche sector. The Monaco Yacht Show announcement of the PSCRB Restricted refresher course (the normal PSCRB but without the lifeboat element) is a great example of this, not to mention the Royal Yachting Association’s Tender Operator Course, a response to myriad complaints of Power Boat Level 2 not offering sufficient training relevant to the superyacht industry.
Perhaps these courses aren’t quite what the crew are asking for when they’re complaining about various aspects of training – or lack of – in this industry. But if that’s the case, those crew complaining need to be clearer in what they want from the industry. After all, I’d imagine the training schools are getting a bit fed up of offering courses that crew ask for, only to receive criticism in the aftermath.