Crew, captain, hostess, chef, steward – all of the names for various roles on board a yacht may sound unfamiliar. Therefore, I wanted to briefly explain “who is who” in a yacht crew and what their responsibilities are. Therefore, you know what to expect and who to ask for what.
Let’s start with the definition of the crew. Generally, the crew means every single person on board - including you and your guests. That is why, before the start of your charter you are asked to fill out a “crew list” – which normally then needs to get submitted to the relevant port authority. You will be asked for the information such as Full name (spelled exactly as per your passport), date of birth, passport number, passport issuing authority and perhaps a direct contact detail for a contact person in your party. In addition to you and your party (unless one or many of you have valid sailing/yachting licenses), you are likely to have a crew. If you do have a license you most probably know everything that is listed in this blog, so I will only focus on a crewed charter assuming that what guests will have.
One question we often get asked is, "Do i need a crew for my yacht?" - and if so, how many crew are needed. The answer to this will depend on a few basic factors, including:
1) your own level of sailing experience, 2) the size of your charter yacht, and 3) the level of luxury and service you will be requiring.
Most luxury yacht charters come with a crew of between 1 and 6 members. Larger vessels, such as super yachts, often have a crew of up to 15 or 20 people. Each member of the crew has their own title and responsibilities, although they will often help out across different areas of the yacht.
Assuming you are looking for a crewed yacht charter and not bareboat charter, the mimimum you will need is a Skipper to sail and navigate for you. If you want to relax and not worry about preparing meals, or cleaning, then you might want to take some more crew members with you onboard your yacht, starting with a hostess, and perhaps a chef.
If you are chartering a large superyacht you might need further staff to look after your guests and the day to day running of the yacht. These might include First Officer, stewards, engineers and deckhands for example.
Three of the main crew members on a charter yacht are:
As a minimum, you will have a Skipper for your yacht charter. Meaning, a seasoned professional skipper, or captain, will sail and navigate the boat for the whole duration of your trip. A skipper is a source of beautiful knowledge – after all, he must have sailed or cruised the area numerous times, and he knows all the hidden stunning spots, best restaurants and beaches.
So even before you start – make sure you have a chat with a skipper, discuss what you and your group are looking for. And ask questions, tell them about your preferences and tastes! The skipper will be able to adjust your sailing itinerary accordingly.
One important thing to remember, however, is that the skipper's top priority is guests’ safety. So if you request a route that the skipper will deem dangerous (perhaps the weather has changed and you can no longer safely do the route) – it is his call and guests have to listen and oblige.
If you also have a hostess on board, his or her responsibility will include cooking simple light meals, serving your food and drinks and clearing up after the guests. A hostess will wash the dishes and keep the boat tidy. A hostess is also responsible for keeping stock of supplies on board, so if any of the supplies are running low it will be restocked accordingly at the next stop.
As opposed to the hostess, the Chef on board a yacht is expected to cook more complex, gourmet or speciality meals. You would normally discuss with the chef well in advance about your group’s needs and wants. Chef will source and stock groceries - so if you desire some fresh fish & seafood, it will be purchased in the local harbour and cooked extra fresh immediately.
Important to remember, that chef is not responsible for washing dishes after the guests or tidying up. So, if your crewed yacht charter or skippered catamaran charter has a chef but no hostess, it will be polite of guests to do the washing up and pitch in with keeping the boat tidy.
Overall, as a general rule being on a boat is a lot about teamwork and sometimes offering a hand. Unless, of course, you are on a massive yacht with 20 strong crew – but then it’s a whole different ball game.
Finally, one of my strongest tips will be to encourage you to leave technology behind. Do not use the Wifi on board, put your phone away. Leave your emails unchecked at least during the day (if you must, do have 30 minutes of dedicated time a day to check and respond to anything urgent). Use a traditional camera instead of the one on your phone – so you are not tempted.
Swim, relax, ask your skipper to teach you to sail a bit (if you are on a sailing catamaran or a sailing yacht) as nothing teaches mindfulness more than being at sea, sailing a boat and working as a team, watching stunning sunrises on a free anchor with not another soul around.
It’s truly precious to get away from all the noise. To feel the breeze, to jump off the boat into the crystal water, to dine al fresco, to sleep under the stars in the open sea. It’s a revitalising, a replenishing experience.