Generally the argument goes that the yacht in question doesn’t have the time or desire to develop a greenie to get them to a level where they are a competent member of crew. Obviously if you are a small yacht with a small team then it might not be feasible. Equally if the boss gets on tomorrow for 3 months straight then it isn’t ideal either. However on larger yachts I believe its more manageable than people think.
To clarify I’m not suggesting all green crew are great, because there are large amounts who aren’t. There are also plenty of crew with a season or two of experience who are useless and more trouble than they are worth. However I believe there are undiscovered diamonds in the rough out there.
So we are clear my definition of an undiscovered diamond is someone who brings something else to the table. A carpenter or boat builder or someone who has hospitality experience gained at Michelin starred restaurants / 5 Star hotels. Previous experience I look for in green crew include ex military, previous maritime employment, high end hospitality, event management and people with a trade (plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc) will have strong cross over skills and attitudes. I also love candidates who have worked for years in a dull, unglamorous job because that speaks volumes about their personal attributes. Backgrounds in the previous areas and a great, enthusiastic attitude and a likeable personality go an awful long way.
Below are a few points which hopefully will make some boats consider a green option.
Often yachts recruit another experienced deckhand or stew to add to the 4 they already have. If everyone has a year or two of experience then it is very easy to fall into a situation where you have too many cooks to spoil the broth. If all the team are ambitious or ‘alpha’ then it can create significant problems. Going with staggered levels of experience mean it is much more likely a natural hierarchy will exist.
If you are only offering an average salary or package your options are going to be limited. A standard contract with 38 days of leave isn’t that attractive to a strong crew member. You will need something else seriously appealing, for example if you are a busy charter you can have your pick of crew. If your package only attracts average at best crew then I would argue you would be better served choosing a green member of crew with a winning attitude. Especially if that average member of crew brings a bad attitude with them because they feel they deserve 3000 euros and 60 days of leave.
Once the season has started then time can be at a premium but if you are recruiting in March then you definitely have time to get the basics in place with one of the diamonds mentioned above. Alternatively if the season has started, someone who has done plenty of day work already should have a decent foundation in place. Another possibility is to get several potential options on for a few days of day work. Everyone has different levels of aptitude and the natural stew will generally stand out. As will the person with a great attitude and the person with a great work ethic. Someone with common sense is actually pretty rare too and is a much underrated attribute.
Hiring green crew with the right attitude will mean hiring someone who has the determination to prove themselves, work hard & most of all, commit. Green crew with the right mindset will want to gain experience and get some longevity under their belt, meaning they’ll stay with a yacht longer than an experienced but poor crew member.
Employing a green crew member who has a relevant background or extensive day work could save you some money. Whilst cutting costs isn’t always a good thing it can sometimes be beneficial. Save agency fees and some salary costs by going green.
We were all green once. It’s great to pass on knowledge and have a hand in training and developing someone to their full potential. It's key to remember that some of these green crew will go on to be our future Captains and Chiefs!
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback on this post, or want to know more about hiring the right Green Crew for your Yacht.
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