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Playing with fire

When young, outgoing and ambitious individuals are hired on superyachts, is high crew turnover really a surprise? …

Invariably, when one discusses the headaches of superyacht ownership, the topic that is brought up without fail is the issue of high crew turnover. Superyachts, by dint of the age and temperament of the individuals they tend to employ, are a melting pot of hormones and ambition. Any employer that hires young, attractive and outgoing individuals must surely expect passion, expressed both positively and negatively, and the desire for career progression. Why is it then, that the market still seems to be averse to hiring individuals that one might consider more stable and disciplined, in a career context?

Far be it from me to claim that every teen or twenty-something is sex-addled, prone to errors in judgement and unsure of where they will be in five-years’ time, but, being a twenty-something myself, I can confirm that many are. Is it any wonder that, when you stick a group of these individuals together in a dormitory-like environment, they get up to no good on occasion? A superyacht, at times, can become a petri dish for arguments, ill-placed promiscuity, boredom, ambition, misbehaviour and more, any of which can drive the need to move on. So, is it a surprise that crew turnover amongst younger people is so high? And yet, there still seems to be a serious stigma attached to older age in the industry.

The fault, I must hasten to add, does not entirely lie with the teens and twenty somethings. Very few people indeed can claim that they weren’t prone to the odd lapse in judgement during their formative years, be it personal or professional. Equally, it should be noted, the owner or employer is well within their rights to expect the highest professional standards to be adhered to at all times. However, if you play with fire, you will get your fingers burnt.

The energy and thirst for life that makes young crew members such a joy to be around and such an attractive prospect for employment is, at times, partially to blame for some of the misdemeanours that occur on board. Trying to fix human nature by way of additional training courses is a fruitless task. Yes, when completing owner and guest-facing responsibilities, training can be of great benefit, but what happens behind closed doors will not be altered by learning how to fold a towel into a swan.

In light of this, you would think that hiring older, more experienced crew members may be the solution to the problem. Why not hire an individual that is settled, both in terms of career path and life choices? Someone that isn’t still trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be? This is, I imagine, a conclusion that many others have reached and it would come as absolutely no surprise to me if there was a number of drama-less superyachts peacefully cruising the globe, catered to by crews that are older than average. Alas, the superyacht market is not alone in its struggle to tie young people down, any industry that relies on youthful vigour will suffer the same fate. 

My point, lest it be misconstrued, is not that owners and captains should stop employing young, attractive and outgoing individuals; discrimination of any sort is not something to be desired and youthful energy is as refreshing as it is unpredictable. My point, quite simply, is: if you are going to hire young, attractive extroverts, you all but void your right to complain about high crew turnover when exuberance and ambition are intrinsic – and anyway, who’s to say that high crew turnover doesn’t have more to do with owners and environments than it does with the crews themselves?

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Playing with fire


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