In last month’s article I briefly touched upon the subject of communication with guests. It’s incredible that interaction between people on board yachts isn’t being studied more by psychologists and sociologists. It can go from very unusual but funny to very unusual and downright insane but it is always “interesting”. Sometimes situations arise through unclear communication but quite often through clashing personalities. From my career I recall some funny and less funny situations. The one my wife and I still bring up often at dinner parties is the one of the “ornithological mistake”.
This was when we asked our Polish guests on the first night of a week’s charter on a 65ft yacht: “What time would you like to have breakfast…”. A very relaxed answer came back: “Oh, we really are night owls..” To which I replied “Of course, you are on holiday, you like to sleep in..”
We set our alarm clock for 07AM. The next morning we woke up to the noise of people in the galley at 06:45. In a complete state of panic we jumped in our uniforms. Later on I mentioned something about the night owl quote from the night before. “Did we say night owls? Oh, we meant early birds.”
Less funny was the job I was sent on “..to keep an eye on the captain..” I strongly advise anybody to refuse assignments like that. For some reason the owner had become unsure of the captain he hired for the maiden trip of his brand new 3 million Euro yacht. I could say exactly what was wrong with him once we were in the Bay of Biscay. We had 35kts of wind on the quarter, a bit fresh but good conditions for this heavy cruiser. However, both the main and genoa were seriously over-sheeted and the engine was on, full throttle and the crew wasn’t allowed to touch anything. When a fishing boat came straight towards us we broke the captain’s rule and eased the sheets so we could safely bare away. That night the captain told the youngest crew member that he would have to choose a side; either his or the mutineer’s. This was followed by the warning: “..but remember, I will shoot the mutineers!” The next morning we convinced our captain that the hardest part of the trip was done and that surely he and his girlfriend were capable enough to continue on their own.
The question that always remained was, where and how did this owner find this guy? Is the industry questioning crew candidates enough to make sure that they are the right material to live in the confines of a yacht without going loopy? Are they capable enough so they don’t make the rest of the crew go loopy? How did this guy get his hands on the helm of a brand new yacht? Did anybody ever test this guy’s abilities or personality? Isn’t it time we start digging a little bit deeper when we are hiring new people?