Fewer Staff = Fewer Problems?

Any super yacht will always require a yacht crew to operate and maintain her. For some time there has been a drive to reduce the number of crew on board – “Fewer crew, fewer problems?”.

Technically, many systems can be automated. However, service on board and in the villas of today is about service and it comes in many forms. It is not only the “hotel” staff that makes a yacht function, there are a number of crew who’s efforts remain largely unseen and are equally important to a yacht’s operation.

For example, the engineering and some of the deck department work behind the scenes to keep equipment running and tenders and toys ready and clean for a real +7* service and 24/7 availability. It would be unfair to say that one department is more important than another. Ultimately, the operation relies on all of them working together – like clock work, every cogwheel counts. The whole crew/ staff is an integral part of this single, giant, integrated system. They are the owner’s and guests’ user interface to the functions of the yacht. It makes sense to approach the crew issue in such an objective way because it helps in selecting the right type of crew in much the same way a set of tires is matched to a car. That sounds impersonal but it will define the selection process and highlight the kind of training regime that should follow.

There are two key elements that produce the crew’s performance on board, Skill and Attitude. The ship as a whole, her equipment, tools, crew and hardware combined, all of these components have to be chosen to achieve the expected performance. But also, as with any system, maintenance is required to ensure the levels of performance can be delivered consistently and indefinitely up to maximum rated continuous output (where “rated” is a key word).

The crew (system) maintenance comes in the form of training to maintain hard skills and soft skills – from safety drills to correct conduct. Essentially the system has to work in a wide set of circumstances so, it has to remain flexible. The only way to achieve such flexibility in the system is to employ the right number of individuals who have a broad set of applicable skills and a willingness to engage fully.

A crew can be bonded together into a cohesive and specialist unit through their common interests and with effective training. They must be individually responsible, accountable and challenged. They must be given the possibility to execute their tasks in a timely manner. To make this happen, excellent leadership, proper crew/ staff numbers and a organisational system is required.

Employing a minimum number of random individuals with the required certification can only produce a mediocre result at best and only deliver minimal service. A modern super-yacht is anything but mediocre; her crew should reflect that in their skill and attitude. This is however, a two way street and an excellent crew cannot exist without an excellent owner.

About Lars van Dinther

Lars van Dinther is an experienced Captain, Project Manager and Owners Representatives building yachts from 40-140m.Lars has served as deck crew and captain over 30 years on the most prestigious yachts cruising in Europe, the Caribbean, USA, South Americas, Mexico and Japan.His expertise, diplomacy and focus excelled the new build-, refit- and design projects he was involved in for a variety of demanding clients.One of his projects have also been honoured with the Refit Award 2013.With a lifetime in service of UHNWIs, excellent people skills combined with a broad technical and engineering knowledge he will bring great expertise to your project.

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