Warning the industry for my seatbelt alarm!

Now I for one am not a fan of red tape and regulations, what I do like, however, is structure. I dare to say that structure is the one thing our industry is lacking.

Article in The Islander Magazine April 2016

It starts with education and the legal requirements.

Compared to industries such as aviation, the level of required training is extremely low. Anybody who claims to have sailed 2500nm can enrol in a yachtmaster course and two weeks later is entitled to captain a yacht up to 200 Tons. TWO HUNDRED TONS!!! That’s a big boat!

Of course common sense applied by owners, management companies and insurers makes it a little harder for a fresh YM to take command of such a titan, but still, the thought…

These qualifications are definitely valuable and necessary but by far not enough to prep someone to master a yacht as a professional.

Then there’s the competition between the different schools, mostly franchises of the same company. But how is it even possible that they have different prices? How is it allowed that there are two franchises of the same company in the same street? Even McDonalds doesn’t allow that, and if they did, they would provide the exact same prices at the same quality.

So if you are new to the yachting industry and a little bit switched on, you can already sense that you’ve kind of entered the wild wild west. You have entered an industry of perception. Shiny yachts, good looking crew and the best jobs go to those who master the game of perception, who look like they know what they are doing. If you think I sound bitter, guess again. I love this industry but I think everybody would benefit from more structure.

Longevity has down-spiralled over the last few years due to lack of commitment from both employers and staff.

Don’t ask me who let go first. The first professional captain I worked with had been working for the same owner for 13 years, now more than a decade later he still is, that’s unheard of nowadays.

Once again another acquaintance of mine is now jumping ship because the owner has decided to change the itinerary and go to a cruising area that would make this captain’s family life impossible. I am talking about a 45m vessel, it should have a decent budget. Would it be impossible for an owner who is happy with his captain to set up a structured, perhaps rotational, work regime so he can hold on to him? Did the captain raise the idea? Is there no possibility to negotiate a better structure?

The employers are mainly private individuals and the yachts are usually flagged by states with extremely lenient labour regulations. Generally people who will behave responsible towards their employers are also responsible and cautious for their own situation. Many mature and responsible people will wonder what will happen between jobs as the industry offers no structure there, apart from your own savings. So they are scared off.

Therefore the profile of crew we are looking for is: responsible and mature but at the same time adventurous and free spirited. Now that’s a rare breed.

Before I know it I will catch myself suggesting some kind of social security fund (!?!) compiled by cuts of the crew’s salaries. Now there’s a scary thought, right?

And this is why I’m not a fan of red tape and regulations because I believe they all stem from the lack of people’s ability to take responsibility when due. That’s why my car is now dictating me to put on my seatbelt with an annoying beeping alarm when I move it 40 meters from the street to the garage.

Jens Oomes – Blog feature in the Islander magazine issue of April 2016