Good Owner, Bad Owner

Good Owner, Bad Owner

Insider advice on how to keep the best crew.

By Kim Kavin — August 2003


Illustration: Charlie Hill
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Yacht Owners
• Part 2: Yacht Owners
• Part 3: Yacht Owners
• Salary Snapshot

 Related Resources
• Feature Index

The septuagenarian owner, his decidedly younger wife, and the three couples aboard as their guests gathered in the megayacht’s saloon. One crew member slid the glass-top coffee table out of the way. Another closed the blinds. The owner and his gentlemen friends lined up side by side, called for the captain, and dropped their pants.

By the time the captain had walked from the pilothouse to the saloon, the four wives were kneeling before their half-naked partners and preparing to hum “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in simultaneous performance.

The captain knew his cue. He walked along the line, epaulets gleaming, eyes averted. The men reached eagerly toward him, grabbing over the women’s heads like sugar-starved children.

The captain’s job, you see, was to hold the candy dish full of Viagra.

Though eccentric to the point of grotesqueness, it’s a true story, an example of the questionable duties megayacht owners sometimes demand. While it’s true that finding good crew is the biggest challenge many owners face (some even leave boating altogether out of frustration), professional crew say bad owners are the biggest reason they quit the profession. The behavior that drives good crew away ranges from annoying to insulting to illegal—from demanding a chef send meals to friends back home, to making lascivious overtures, to insisting a first mate overlook a drug-smuggling business. Beyond the scandalous details, though, each example is evidence of the same thing that sends good crew running: a lack of respect, appreciation, and trust.

“There are so many owners out there who have taken advantage of the situation,” says Joshua Simcox, who happily served as captain aboard the 95-foot Broward Independence before becoming a charter and sales broker at International Yacht Collection. “They look at crew as servants when in actuality they’re running a multimillion-dollar corporation. I don’t think the owners would walk into their companies and treat people the way they treat their crew.”

Capt. Raymond Young, who has worked for the owner of the 124-foot Christensen Wehr Nuts for 11 years and hopes to stay with this same owner until he retires, makes a similar analogy. “Finding a good captain is like finding a good CEO,” he says. “He knows I’m not going to hire just anybody to come on this boat. He knows I’m shopping for him and I’m not going to get hosed on prices.”

Next page > Part 2: Owners must work hard at being the team leader. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the July 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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