The importance of recruitment | The importance of being thorough

As you can probably imagine I talk to Captains on a daily basis about a variety of subjects. They mainly revolve around recruitment obviously but lots of topics are covered. Something that comes up consistently is the most challenging part of a Captain’s job which is managing the crew. Some of you may find that hard to believe but I can assure you it is true. Unbelievably, a significant percentage of crew are a pain in the arse to manage. I know, who would have thought…

This can range from an attitude problem to being nice but crap at the job, alcohol and/or drug issues, or just generally spreading bad vibes around the boat. The list is endless and can have far-reaching implications which makes it all the more surprising that so many yachts don’t prioritise the recruitment of crew. A good crew is integral to the success of a yacht, the happiness of the owner and it makes everyone’s lives easier.

To be clear I’m not talking specifically about Quay Crew’s clients as many of them do an excellent job but rather of the industry as a whole as I regularly see and hear horror stories. I see crew being employed repeatedly who should never work in yachting again and great yachts offering really good packages employing average crew as they have limited options by the time they prioritise filling the role.

I think there are a few key points to making your recruitment as successful as possible regardless of whether you are using an agency, word of mouth, a job board or Facebook. This is a relatively brief blog but I will cover how to interview in far greater depth in future ones.

1. Work out exactly what you need and what you can offer.

Take some time to work out a few things. What exactly are you looking for in your next crew member? That may sound obvious but what specifically does the leaving team member bring to their department? What are they lacking that you would like to bring in? These don’t necessarily have to be a skill set, it could be a personality trait.

Then you need to be a little self-aware. What can you offer a good candidate? Again I’m not talking about salary and time off. I’m talking about what makes your yacht appealing. Why would people want to work on board? There are lots of things that can be done which don’t cost money. A good atmosphere on board, good longevity amongst the crew etc are all appealing. If you can’t think of anything particularly appealing about working on your boat then you need to reassess a few things as you are probably having to do a lot of recruitment.

2. Don’t leave your recruitment to the last minute.

Start the process early and give yourself time to find a good candidate. If you know someone is leaving on a set date then start looking 6 weeks before then. That gives time for the interview process to unfold and time for someone to work their notice period. Don’t think you have weeks to sort something out, the clock is ticking and suddenly you’ll be in danger of facing a last-minute nightmare because your options are limited.

Recruitment should be somewhere near the top of the priority list. There are always things that are more immediate eg the audit/survey, the upcoming charter, the interior refit and recruitment slides until all of a sudden you need someone in 10 days. Then you only have those that are immediately available or crew who are prepared to stitch up their current job which doesn’t bode well or speak highly of them. I appreciate that things can be extremely last minute on occasion in which case you are limited in what you can do.

3. Don’t cut corners.

Do things properly. An interview should take at least 30 mins in my opinion and no longer than an hour. You should be prepared to put aside in total ½ a day to a day to recruit for one role. Have an interview sheet of standard questions you work your way through for each candidate and make sure you have some different questions to ask that aren’t just the boring norm. If you need some suggestions for good questions just drop me an email.

Interview a few candidates, not just one you like the look of and try to interview face to face where possible. I know that often isn’t feasible but skype at least. For more senior roles I would recommend you interview the candidates you like twice and, where relevant, have a Head of Department or the Captain interview the candidates too.

4. Get in touch with references.

Do your due diligence before you make an offer to anyone. Call all of the references on the CV and have a chat with them. Try and speak to the Captain who isn’t on the CV as well. Do some digging and see what comes up. As a crew agency that does things properly, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of verbal reference checking. This is what will save you from employing the wrong crew member and all the issues and costs further down the line that can entail. Even better speak to us and find out why Quay Crew is different to all the other crew agencies out there and how we can help you crew your yacht.

5. Don’t hang around.

Be quick! The best candidates don’t last long. If you don’t have something incredible to offer crew then they will be looking elsewhere. Once you have identified a good candidate then make them that offer and get them secured.

As a side note if you waiting for that perfect crew member then it could be a long wait. Finding someone who ticks all the boxes can be impossible so don’t ignore the strong options you have in front of you. This is even more applicable if you don’t have a massive budget for salaries, rotation etc.


To sum up: Prioritise recruitment. It is the most key (quay 😊) thing you can do to ensure you run a good boat. Literally, everything else is a by-product of what the people on board produce. As all who have worked on a boat know, you only need one crew member who is a bad fit to disrupt everyone else. Good luck with your recruitment and don’t hesitate to contact me if I can assist in any way at all.


From 2006 to 2007 Tim was lucky enough to spend two years as a deckhand on MY Sai Ram and MY Leander, two excellent charter yachts. Quay Crew was formed in 2013 and is proving to be a great success: Tim covers the deck department predominantly working on Captain and Officer roles.

+44 (0) 7760 202610 | +33 7810 12245 | tim@quaycrew.com

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