Dockwalk - Job Security? What Job Security? Untitled Page

Job Security? What Job Security?

Jul 3rd 08
By Kate Lardy

There’s so much talk about the problem of crew turnover these days. Three months to one year is the shockingly-short average length of time that The Crew Network’s Ian Pelham has seen a crewmember keep a job.


The industry is rampant with crew who jump ship for no good reason and owners who complain about seeing new crew every time they come on board.


“Captains are desperate for people who make a commitment and stick to it,” says Pelham.


Yes, it’s hard to retain good crew but what about the other side of the story, the other reason behind these short job stints – the lack of job security in this business?







I knew something was strange about this industry when I got my first stew job. I replaced a stewardess who got fired for these horrible offenses: 1) using only white cocktail napkins, and 2) hanging up wet towels (rather than drying them in the dryer). Mind you, this was on an 80-foot sailboat, not a 200-foot superyacht.


Soon after I started, the mate was fired for walking too loudly on deck. I was soon gone after that. Me, Miss straight-A student, employee-of-the-month type who had never been fired from anything in her life.


It was a shock.


Pelham has an even more ridiculous story: the crewmember who got fired because he opened a brand new bag of frozen green beans when there was a entire quarter-inch left in the old bag.


Fortunately, it seems captains generally tend to stick up for crew when it’s an owner decision to fire – not, of course, by going against the owners’ wishes, but by being honest with the placement agencies about the circumstances and offering a glowing letter of reference.


When firing is not the owner’s decision, another top reason qualified (an important word in this sentence) crew are let go is because of personality or “clicking” issues with the rest of the crew. Some crew might be perfectly capable and pleasant, but if their style doesn’t mesh with the yacht, they might find themselves out of a job.


“Clicking” can be tough to ascertain in an interview and can put an unfortunate blip on the CV.


Living in close quarters, which puts a spotlight on any personality issue, and dealing with owners who are nearly impossible to please is just part of the problem; add the way yachts are bought and sold like stocks and you’ve got a great job one day and you’re on the docks the next. I, in fact, lost my second job on yachts when the owner determined that he just didn’t want to deal with the yard/warranty issues any longer and sent the boat back.


A couple of firings in the yachting world is no big deal I soon learned. Placement agencies are likely to overlook one or two (15, on the other hand…).


What’s the craziest reason you’ve heard for someone getting fired? Post your comment below and be sure to vote in our interactive poll.









Rating  Average 4 out of 5

  • The yachting industry is notorious for it's lack of job security and crew can be fired for any number of unjust reasons, as we all know, with very little, if any notice or recompense. If this is something you want to eliminate from your professional life in preference to a life of your own choosing, then contact me through my website and I can help you to make a transition from yachting to land life, earning an executive level income on your terms. Lynne Edwards
    Posted by Lynne P. Edwards 20/03/2009 18:29:16

  • I am for more than 8 years in the industry and got fired 3 times without any good reason. The first time was because the yacht was changed from private to charter. I and a colleage worked both as deckhands on a sailing yacht and shared the stew position when the owner came on. Now the captain wanted to hire a full time stewardess and I was let go in favour of the physical "stronger" male deckhand. The second time my contract was just not renewt and I was never told the reason for it. The last time I lost my job was because I was part of a team with the captain and he was replaced due to a new manager who placed one of his buddies on the yacht. Fortunatelly I had very good experiences in the industry as well. But it hurts a bit when new employers qualify you as "short termer" because you have "so many" yachts on your CV.
    Posted by bika 10/07/2008 11:33:00

  • My first legitimate crew job some years ago, the captain would fire stewardesses because he would get into personal arguments with them while off the job/not even dating just pettiness. I also was hired as chief engineer on a multmillion dollar vessel not fit for sea worthiness (really big boat) because the captain had pocketed a lot of payolla from vendors while overseeing boat build. The boat began to sink at about 300hours and the engineer I replaced saved it.
    The captain had nothing good to say about him when he moved on a year later. I lasted a month because I would not misapproriate repair funds or replace part a with part b, because he had an in with the vendor of b. The owner porbably lost ten million dollars and all enjoyment because of his choice of captains.
    Posted by ak 47 06/07/2008 21:35:55

  • Several years ago I watch a first mate sexually harass the the stewardesses, when one brought this to the captain she was very quickly dismissed.

    In time the mate was let go for drunken and less than perfect conduct.
    Posted by Dean_1 05/07/2008 16:09:04

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