Rotational Vs Full Time Engineers
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Rotational Vs Full Time Yacht Engineers
As the Superyacht industry standards shift towards crew rotation for all members aboard vessels in both the merchant industry and in the world of private yachting.
The benefits of having a yacht crew on a rotational schedule have been documented extensively. There are measurable improvements in crew performance and in the retention of experienced and quality crew members. This can be seen most clearly in the positions of Captain or in the multiple levels of seniority of the Engineering roles aboard the yacht.
It was both the captains and chief engineers in the private superyacht world that began to move the standard of crew rotation from the merchant shipping industry to the yachting industry. To the best engineers in the yachting world, the issue of a rotational schedule is non-negotiable: a full rotational schedule will be implemented for any vessel they are contracted to work on, or they will find one that does offer rotation. Both captains and engineers began demanding that these schedules be implemented, which left many inflexible or stubborn yacht owners without any qualified captains or engineers available for their vessels.
This demand isn’t just for the engineer’s benefit. In addition to providing time for the engineer themselves to have a life away from the yacht, it also ensures that the captains or engineers that they rely on or have to delegate duties to are rested and in peak condition to perform those duties. A tired or unhappy engineer will not do an optimum job and any yacht on which the engineers are not performing optimally is an unsafe one to be on.
You will likely never find a superyacht engineer, all the way from 3rd engineer up to chief engineer, who would not prefer a rotational schedule for their position. There are simply too many technical duties to be performed that require a crew member to be focused and rested in order to perform them correctly. Taking time off to further studies, renew STCW certificates or spending time with family is essential to running a high caliber yacht these days. As one of our second engineers said recently.
“The older I get the crazier it sounds to be living in a bunk bed all year round."
"The older I get the crazier it sounds to be living in a bunk bed all year round. Without rotation, I could no longer have the work/life balance required to operate at such a high level of service. The change of of an engineering team onboard with the right procedures in place can be seamless and go unnoticed even mid charter.”
Downtime for the crew is of utmost importance for the safe running of a yacht. It’s also better to have an experienced, solid team onboard for years to come than to have to go through the recruitment process every season as the crew is burnt out.
Little by little, these standards have made their way from the commercial world to the private yachts, and little by little they have made their way from the positions of captaincy and engineering to all of the rest of the operational crew members of a yacht. There may still be a few people out there a seeking steward or deckhand positions to whom a rotational schedule is not of the utmost importance and for those unwilling to sacrifice pay for rotation or looking to build up sea time. But as time passes, fewer and fewer potential crew members will accept any schedule other that one with at least a minimal crew rotation implemented.
The industry standards are getting higher and higher each year. Crew without rotation suffer from fatigue, in turn, leads to poor performance. The crew dynamic suffers, standards slip and crew either jump ship or give up and get let go. Back to back seasons, heavily chartered yachts travel far and wide and there really is no escape, no walk in the park, no popping down the shop to buy a newspaper, going for a run or catching up with friends and family over a nice meal. Garbage run can be about as exciting as it gets during a busy charter yacht. Sometimes yacht crew just need to get away from it all and recharge those batteries. The answer in the merchant industry for engineers is simple? Rotation. Luckily the transition to yachting is quite well across the board. However, we do see positions that owners just don’t want the crew to rotate. E.g. they want familiar faces, interaction with guests is becoming more frequent and less behind the scenes as technology is ever evolving. The 50/50 rotation schedule will never sync with the owner’s requirements or yachting seasons and the time spent preparing for a trip can often be the most crucial so what’s the answer. Still rotation – it just needs some justification and explanation as to why coming from the Captain/Management team.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us know here.