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Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 7:35 PM

Is there a legitimate need to grease the palms of every Tom, Pedro and Jaclyn in the new millennium? Captains hand out cash tips to random people and are very generous with the boat credit cards whenever they do “Boat Business”. From where I sit the difference between a kick back and a gratuity is perspective. I see no difference between a Captain being given a white envelope and a Dock Master receiving one? I think its pretty funny how CAPTAINS NETWORK THEMSELVES with OTHER PEOPLES MONEY and all other CREW are UNDER the MICROSCOPE whenever they spend a cent of boat money.

Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 12:12 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1061

Is there a legitimate need? Yes. Does it get out of hand? Yes again. Gratuities to dock masters and other service providers is how we assure that we get a high level of service or that slip that the owner/guest asked to be in at a particular marina. It also establishes a relationship so when the owner or guest decides to change the itinerary and wants us to go someplace that is full, the dockmaster may arrange for a vessel that is just standing by there to clear the slip for me (I'll also cover the costs of the vessel that moved for me). I've done this very thing thing at Atlantis before and gave my guests their "Dream Trip". I was able to do this because I have a track record in the places I go. I tip well, and I account for the tips I leave. If I am getting an extra level of service as I mentioned above, I will explain to the owner or guest the process and let them know what it is going to cost and inform them (charter guests) that that is above and beyond the normal charter fees and will be added to the miscellaneous costs if they still want that to happen. I run a completely private boat now, so I don't have to go through those issues anymore. I don't have a set budget either, so I just let the owner know what it cost and it goes in the end of the month accounting. I am not extravagant with the owners money and I always try to get him the best value for his money, but he knows the game. Luckily in Indonesia the expectations are low and a lot of goodwill can be bought with a T-Shirt. I feel that as long as I am upfront with whomever is supplying the money, and that none of that discretionary money goes in my pocket and serves to provide a result that the person providing the money is seeking, I am doing nothing wrong. BTW, I am networking in the furtherance of the vessels business/owners interests. I may gain personal good will as well, but that is an ancillary effect, not a causal issue.
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 6:23 PM


Well said, but alot in the business are not as honest as we all would hope for. I have been in this bus fir 21 years and have always lived by the motto" take good care of the owners and they will take good care of you". That is why my wife and I pull in 2K per ft. Honesty and integrity will always prevail.


Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 6:45 PM
Really? Is this practise any more outrageous than owners who think that charter gratuities count as part of overall pay?
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 6:59 PM
Joined: 10/10/2009
Posts: 5

Seems strange that the complainers post Anonymously. If you have a complant why not stand up and be counted. I for one captain give a tip so the service is there, my guests don't like to wait for linehandlers & boatmen to berth. And they want a berth when we change our plans, for that they are willing to pay for it. If I wasn't running a boat do you think I'd get any benefit of the passed tips.. Doubt it. So you work for you salary etc. don't worry about what the captain gives to others. That's part of their pay (dock people etc.) in many places.
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 7:06 PM
Joined: 22/06/2008
Posts: 18

Henning, fantastic reply. If I could just add that the tip is not for this trip, it is for the next time you come in. Impress the dockmaster now, he'll help you impress your guests the next time. If it means taking an island hopper to the next island to chat to the dockmaster about a berth over Christmas/New Year, then so be it. You have to look at the big picture. Try docking a boat on your own because the last captain didn't tip the dock guys.....

Just my .02

Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 8:03 PM
Joined: 09/10/2008
Posts: 134

The anon guy who started this post would perhaps be less outraged if the tips the Captain gave out got him a tip at the end of a charter.... What is the difference between a dock tip for prompt service or a charter tip for crew that have performed to a great standard? Sounds like another inexperienced crew member bitching about something about which he/ she has no clue. I was always taught to button it until I understood every aspect otherwise it only makes me look stupid.... The only bright thing about the post was that they posted anon (or maybe that was just an accident!).
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 8:19 PM
Joined: 27/07/2008
Posts: 96

Amen to all of above answers, the biggest problem with tipping is the untraceable nature of it, I hate submitting any expenses without a receipt.

Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 10:31 PM
Joined: 11/04/2009
Posts: 13

Anonymous, perhaps you too, may one day reach the top branch of the apple tree. Then you will truly be able to reflect upon your comments, in an unbiased/qualified manner......

Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 11:15 PM
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 3

I spent two years as first mate and learned from my Captain the inner workings of such position. ten years after, as Captain, I have the thrust of my employer about the boat expenses and more about discretionary expenses, I earned that thrust and I intent to keep it that way. I'm talking about ethics. Anonymous: Watch and learn, spend the time getting your yacht clean and polished while getting paid whatever you are earning. if you decide to be in the industry long enough, you may also be a Captain yourself; then you can express a more objective opinion about this topic. Greetings. Alfredo Cortes - Captain for 18 years.
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 11:49 PM
Just like to say  thumbs up to all the replies so far, I am British  and we do find tipping, less normal shall I say,  but I do tip  when I think the people deserve it or if it means we will get good service down the line.

  I would hope the green man  who started this  turns on brain before hitting the keyboard in future.

 It took myself and my wife twenty five years to earn the trust and respect that gives us a higher than average the industry, I am offten appraced by agents and others  offering "incentives"  to visit this yard or use that broker..  my tip is  don't be tempted..  the world is a small place  with green eared people looking on!

Posted: Saturday, September 4, 2010 5:36 AM
Joined: 21/05/2008
Posts: 14

Well brtish anon, the first reply to your quiery was spot on. My own practice starts with the owners and or charter prinicipal. When I start a job or charter one of many questions and standards established is what are they comfortable with me giving out as either tip or gratuity. I give tips when I want To Insure Prompt Service and a Gratuity as a measure for being givne good service. I have them establish what is common practice for them and decide what is the correct amount to be given to the dockhand, dockmaster, fuel dock person or the delivery person. Maybe it is to the vendor who just jumped through hoops of fire to get to us the late notice service or products. Once established then I have to account for each one with a hand written receipt to be turned in with my Cash Accounting each month. Some clients have esstablished standards they have for thier corporate executives when they are traveling on company business and we apply those standards. Sometimes it is subjective and at other times it may be in direct proportion to the invoice or service provided. This is done in service to the vessel and many times makes the difference of how the vessel is received the next time it pulls into the dock in the future. You stiff the waiter at a restaurant and then go back and wonder why you don't get the service the table next to you is getting. Try this angle, ask the person whose money it is you are to be held accountable for how they want thier money spent and run with that. Nice work Henning
Posted: Saturday, September 4, 2010 9:04 AM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1024

I work for a Nationality who does not naturally pay people additional money on top of the invoice . Tipping a vendor ? Not practiced. The best way to cultivate good service from a vendor is by making them a prime supplier, observing PROMPT payment and staying out of vendor pockets with kickback requests. When a captain leaves a big tip in return for a blank invoice , this is corruption. Tips for line handlers , harbormasters and port services are legitimate are recommended and directly benifit the owner. . Port workers make very little salary. It is up us on the yachts to top up this wage if we expect the same hard working port workers to continue working the waterfront year after year. This familiarity with port personalities is what allows captains to operate efficiently to an owners schedule without the need for costly middle men and AGENTS. . Last week the dockmaster of a prime port reurned my call, long distance, on his personal mobile phone, at his expense, to advise on current port conditions and confirm my ETA. The water mini tanker truck was on the dock when I arrived. This is first class service and warrants a meaty tip. Concerning the original post. Im not familiar with how other captains handle money , but on this yacht crew spend the bulk of all petty cash when the yacht is in action. Naturally Im anxious to ensure that crew are honest and on the same wavelength as the owner when spending his money. Naturally I expect crew to tip when appropriate, develop their own working relationships with port service providers and deliver best value. Are the crew honest ? I think so because this quarters accounting favorably mirrors last seasons petty expenses and the season before and the season before................... Is the level of tipping consistent ? all tips are written in a yellow receipt book and at 1,947 euros for the past quarter, the yellow book looks about the same as always to me . What does a tip look like ? First week August, tender propeller rubber hub clutch rock damaged, crew limped ashore, ask a fisherman for a Yamaha dealer, fisherman piled crew into his car, drove 15 km to a dealer, crew got the prop and the fisherman got a thanks, plus 100 euro for car gas and lunch. Is it necessary to discuss this fisherman tipping event with the owner ? On a private yacht I don't. The owner either accepts my mode of operation and the service I provide or he can look for someone else who can provide it cheaper. Tips are insignificant in the overall picture.
Capt Kaj
Posted: Monday, September 6, 2010 11:02 AM
Joined: 05/08/2008
Posts: 83

Sadly tipping or bungs are a facet of yachting. I HATE tipping for work that someone is paid to do when you should be getting the service regardless. Tips are a thanks for good work done, or as some have said, tips are sometimes for the next time you want that faster service especially when the owner or a charter are onboard, there´s nothing worse than waiting for someone on the dock with guests looking on waiting to get off the boat.

But unfortunately tipping has a very different aspect in the Med´where horrendous tips are handed out. It is extremely sad that the biggest tip and add to that, the biggest and best reputation for tipping, gets you into the best most sought after marinas over summer. Some say they have changed this procedure, but I haven´t seen it. It has been many years since you could merely ring up for a port booking and be told on the spot yes or no. "Oh, Captain, send us your application and we will be in touch"...

I much prefer to tip for work done at the end of the work and not before. Tipping has also become a very much accepted pastime here in the Med´, I even had a couple of dock workers ask me for a tip in Sicily last year even before we had water and electricity hooked up!

T shirts are a great way to give out instead of tips for dock workers or provisioners, however be careful because you get the others from the office also asking for a T shirt because the worker has just shown it off to his mates in the office. I have also found that when in a foreign country some wines from the home port are great to give out, I take a selection of bottles with me now to hand out, these are always well accepted.

My suggestion is not to go wild as it makes life difficult for other Captains who pass by after you have left, keep it in perspective and be realistic and not over generous.

Capt Kaj

Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2010 7:46 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1061

yachtone wrote:
Amen to all of above answers, the biggest problem with tipping is the untraceable nature of it, I hate submitting any expenses without a receipt.

It's not optimal that's for sure, but then, in the greater scheme of owners money that I spend, the tips are a decimal fraction of what I spend. If the owner doesn't trust me when I say "I tipped that guy $200 for arranging what he did", then I need to find a new job.

One of the high factors in my getting this job is that I have references from multiple owner operators who I have been doing delivers LI-NY to SoFL and business and family trips and such in the Bahamas for for years and the fact that I have credit cards from each of them that just stay in my wallet for "next time". If the owners can't trust me with a credit card, how can they trust me with their multimillion dollar boats not to mention their and their friends and families lives?

The Captain/Owner relationship has to be one of total trust or it won't be enjoyable for all parties to say the least.

Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2010 8:11 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1061

I think some people are being a bit rough and a bit hasty to judge the original poster in this thread because you don't know what he's seeing. His observations may very well be of situations that are, shall we say, less than scrutible. Anyone who has been in this business for any length of time has seen abuses where portions of "tips" are kicked back to the captain. Yard and contractor bids include a 10% captain's kickback, "tipping" dockhands who come back with a eight ball of coke... other things of that nature. This business is as full of crooked captains as it is owners, contractors, brokers and everyone else. The fact is, many of the people in the marine industry across the board (pretty much the same across all sectors) are what would be easily classified as "low lives" if not complete scum bag m***** f*****s.

The mere fact that he noticed and had reservations about what was going on kinda shows his eyes were open and brain was engaged. I know people who wouldn't notice their pants were on fire. If you see someone taking kickbacks your second day on the job, you shouldn't have to wait around for a year to figure out if that is right or wrong. It's as wrong on your first greenhorn day as it is the day you retire or die.

As I said in the first reply, "Is there a legitimate need? Yes. Does it get out of hand? Yes again." It is not cut and dried, and as someone posted earlier, it is about ethics. If you operate ethically, you will still end up spending tip money. If you operate ethically that money comes back in service to vessels needs which include those of the owner or guests. It is just a matter of establishing value and cost for value as to how much one does tip. If the money comes back as cash to the captain, then that in my opinion is unethical. If I want more money, I'll ask for it.

Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2010 7:45 PM
Joined: 18/08/2010
Posts: 2

I have been in the business many years. Tipping has been a part of it from the beginning. I give a good tip to people who deserve them, not usually to buy them. Most dock attendants, dockmasters, or any other provider do something for the tips that they receive. By showing gratitude from the owner with a tip, gratitude is usually given back to the entire yacht. It's not just captains who benefit but the owners and crew as well. When the girls need help lugging stuff the boat marina staff run to help them knowing their help will be appreciated. It goes up and down the line with engineers and deckies. These tips help EVERYONE! Don't forget that.
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