Are your radios up to scratch

This spring there was an incident in Barcelona where a yacht’s radio interfered with a local rail network and resulting in a police investigation.

This example is just one instance of a far larger problem; companies are fitting radio systems on board superyachts that are in direct breach of international law, these breaches are considered criminal offenses and may carry a maximum sentence of eight years in jail, although to date, there have been no convictions within the superyacht world”. Superyacht News See full article

The upshot: Always have your maintenance and commissioning work done by a specialist marine radio company, using specific equipment and training.

Net Logic in the UK can remotely check that your equipment complies and works efficiently. For more details contact Jack Robinson

New SOLAS Requirement from the 1st July 16

LR 05/2016 – New SOLAS requirements for carriage of portable atmosphere testing equipment for enclosed space entry will enter into force 1-Jul-16. They will be used to test enclosed spaces from the outside to make sure that they are safe to enter and will cover, as a minimum, the following gases: oxygen, flammable gasses or vapours, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide. Suitable means must be provided to calibrate them.

STCW Refresher training: Advanced Sea Survival (non-STCW)

For those applying for Yacht Certificates of Competency or revalidation:
Ref: MIN_520

For yacht Certificates of Competency only, Non-STCW Advanced Sea Survival may be accepted in lieu of Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats. However, your Certificate of Competency will be endorsed with the following limitation: ‘Not for use on ships equipped with davit launched lifeboats’.
Non-STCW Advanced Sea Survival must be updated every 5 years in line with Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats.
However it is recommended by the MCA that all seafarers hold an STCW Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats Certificate. This is due to potential problems of Port State Control Officers outside of the UK not accepting non-STCW Advanced Sea Survival.
STCW refresher training: update for those with older CoCs
MIN 520 clarifies the requirements for updating courses. Anyone holding a valid UK issued CoC can take refresher STCW training in the current format and will NOT have to complete the full STCW safety courses again, even if the CoC dates back to the time before STCW safety courses became mandatory.

The 5 Screening Questions You Should Always Ask

Is your interview technique all about having a bit of a chit chat or do you have a plan?
We‘ve put together a list of key interview questions to help you weed out the bad apples.

1. “Tell me about your ideal job?”
What you’re listening for: The balance between positive or negative points. This is an easy introductory question that gives the candidate a chance to open up. It can also give you a valuable insight into how positive this candidate’s attitude is towards work.

2. “Why do you think this position is for you?”
What you’re listening for: This will tell you what the candidate’s key motivators are. You can then check this against the reality. Unrealistic expectations soon result in low morale and a high crew turnover. Compare the candidate’s answers with the answers they gave to question one. This will help you decipher whether the candidate is driven to find a yacht that fits their requirements or simply going through the motions.

3. “What can you contribute to our team? Or Why should we hire you?”
What you’re listening for: This is where you find out what your candidate sees as their key strength. Consider how it will fit with the strengths of your current team. Listen for specific details or examples of previous positions. Knowing what the position/team needs will help you identify candidates with the appropriate strengths.

4. “What attributes are you looking for in an employer?”
What you’re listening for: Personality match. In order to find out if a candidate will survive/ flourish on your yacht, you’ll need to see whether they’ll get along with the person who’ll be managing them. Listen for specific attributes the candidate states as important or not important. A good clue as to whether or not the candidate is likely to be a positive fit for your yacht is hidden within the things they mention as good attributes. Be wary of candidates who list a bunch of things they hate about employers.

Note: Big complainers in interviews are bright red flags for recruiters.

5. What you’re listening for: This is another way to approach the classic “What’s your greatest weakness?” question without directly asking the candidate to reveal their flaws. By imagining they’re speaking from the perspective of a former captain, candidates will usually offer more honest feedback on their previous boss’s criticisms .

Attracting top talent starts with your Job description

If you’re only looking for top-tier talent, writing a focused job posting will filter out most of the unsuitable applicants.

1. Write an Informative Job Title
The job title is the very first thing a job seeker sees.
Aim for 25–50 characters in length – this is the sweet spot. It’s long enough to be descriptive but short enough to be read at a glance.

Key components
● Position: Captain, Stewardess
● Type: M/Y, S/Y, Private, Charter,
● Yacht Size: 50mt
● Duration: Permanent, Seasonal

2. Describe the Position’s Minimum Requirements
The minimum requirements/qualifications need to be clearly defined. Beyond the obvious qualifications, most yachts have additional requirements. These are often subtle but need to appear at the beginning of the job posting.

Avoid ambiguity. Clearly state the specified level, and explain that it is a strict requirement.

3. Selling your position to the right candidates
Remember you’re writing an advertisement, not a description. To attract the right candidate, the ad should convey some sense of your yacht’s culture and plans . The following is a list of points that could be included:

● Specific Captain or Owner requirements
● Yachts rough Itinerary
● MLC compliance
● Size of yacht
● Number of crew
● Cabin arrangements
● (For engineers) Engine/Gen Make,Type and Year
● (For chefs) Specific cooking styles

Mediocre or generic job descriptions won’t lure top talent away from their current positions. You have to introduce a dash of color and excitement to your copy and link it seamlessly to solid details about the job on offer.

4. It’s all in the formatting
An effective job advertisement is brief, clear and to the point. What’s more, it should be easy to read, no matter where it’s published. Many of your prospective candidates will be job seeking on their smartphones and tablets, so make sure your formatting works across all devices.

5. Keep out of the SPAM box
Remember that in many cases candidates will receive your job posting as an emailed. To avoid ending up in the SPAM box, take note of the following:

●­ Don’t use ALL CAPITAL letters – it looks like you’re yelling at the job seekers.
●­ Avoid the use of symbols purely as a means of grabbing people’s *!$%ing attention without substance!
●­ Don’t – and I do mean don’t – repeat words in the title.

5 Steps to Building an Effective Training Program

In the corporate world, studies show that employers tend to place greater emphasis on training new and entry-level employees. The same is true for training crew in the yachting world. No one would argue, however, that training less-experienced crew is not important. In fact, research reveals that training programs at all levels have a significant impact on employees’ morale, productivity and long-term performance.

The Impact of Training

Beyond the obvious safety and legal flag state requirements, I would like to highlight two other important considerations.
Redundancy –Ensuring that more than one crew member can cover a role in the safe manning document means you have backup in the event of accident or illness.
Improvements in morale –Proper training will have a beneficial effect on the morale of your crew. A well- trained crew will take pride in their abilities and thus gain job satisfaction. Training also provides an excellent opportunity for existing crew to add another string to their bow—not only expanding their personal horizons but also increasing the longevity of the crew as a whole.

1. Assess Your Needs

Before you develop a training program, determine whether or not your crew’s skills and interests align with your requirements.
● Your yacht’s overall goals, strengths and weaknesses. These include cruising plans, employee manuals, orientation guides and HR policies.
● Your crew’s roles and responsibilities. Look at crew members’ job descriptions as a basis for the type of training required.
● Your crew’s performance and behaviour on the job. Performance reviews can highlight skill gaps and the need for refresher training.
● Your safe manning and other flag state requirements.

2. List Your Goals

List the things crew members should be able to do after completing the training. For some training programs this will be clear cut—passing a powerboat Lv 2 for example. However, for others you may need additional information. When putting a steward on a humidor cigar course, you may want to ask the owner if there is any particular brand of cigar he is interested in.
● List your goals and make sure trainees understand that this is what they should be aiming for.

3. Training Agreements

A training agreement ensures that the expectations of both parties are clearly defined. Here are some of the many good reasons for generating a training agreement.
● Clear understanding of how and when the training is being paid. Is the boat paying 100% up front or will the crew member be reimbursed after an additional 6 months of service?
● Is travel, accommodation or subsistence paid by the yacht?
● Is the time spent training regarded as holiday or paid.
● Failure: In addition to outlining the training goals, it’s important to state what will happen if they are not met.
● Audit trail. Finally, a training agreement generates a paper trail to track annual training budgets.

4. Evaluate and Disseminate

It’s easy to train your crew, pat yourself on the back and think you’re done. But if you do, you’ll be missing two large pieces of the puzzle.

If your goal is to deliver effective training that changes your crew members’ skills or behaviour on the job—and this SHOULD be your goal—then you need to confirm that the training has been effective. PLUS you’ll also have the chance to spread that knowledge to other members of the team.
● Evaluate. So your junior deckhand got his PB Lv2, but is he competent enough to drive the owner through a rough sea to the Cannes film festival? You need to evaluate the skills learnt to ensure your goals are met.
● Disseminate. Use this recent influx of knowledge in team building and cross-training exercises. For example, you might ask a junior crew member recently certificated in advanced fire fighting to plan and lead the next fire drill.

5. Rewarding High Achievers

When tracking your employees’ progress and input, remember to recognize and reward them for their continued hard work.

Giving credit where credit’s due helps to create an environment that encourages future achievements and motivates crew members to strive for continued professional development, an important factor in the success and effectiveness of employee training.

Performance Evaluations: The Good, The Bad and yes, even The Ugly

Let’s get this out in the open. Everyone hates performance evaluations. The reasons are quite simple. No one likes negative feedback. We all want a decent pay increase. Truth is, performance reviews don’t have to be a dreaded activity.

Although the overriding goal of evaluations is to improve operational efficiency, the solid reasons behind them are as follows:
● Granting the captain a firm basis for proposing salary reviews and training.
● Providing the captain with a private method of redirecting crew who may be going astray.
● Giving crew members a formal structure to raise any issues or future plans.

5 Tips to carrying out evaluations

1. Crew Appraisal form

Prepare an appraisal form with the primary areas for review, these may include
● Work ethic
● Interaction with guests
● Interaction with crew
● Team player
● Sobriety
● Appearance
● Final conclusion (Personal recommendation – bonus, salary raise, rotation, leave, training)

2. Draft an initial review of the candidate prior to the meeting.

Use the ship’s log or charter reports as a memory jogger when writing the draft evaluation. This helps to generate a better picture of the crew member over time. From this you can highlight points to discuss.

3. How to conduct a review when there are issues to resolve

Start by discussing any problems you’ve observed with the crew member’s performance. Address each problem individually, and don’t bring up any new problems until you’ve thoroughly discussed the current one. Use the following framework to discuss each problem:

● Describe the performance problem.
● Reinforce performance standards.
● Develop a plan for improvement.
● Offer your help.
● Alternate negative and positive comments.
● Emphasize potential.

4. Turning a negative into a positive: 3 examples

During the performance meeting, use clear, non-judgmental language that focuses on results and behaviour. Notice the positive and negative aspects of these statements:

● “Your work has been sloppy lately.” (Negative: too vague)
● “The last two times you prepared the dining table for dinner the presentation was not up to standard.” (Positive: cites specifics)

● “You’re obviously not great at preparing sushi.” (Negative: focuses on the person, not on performance)
● “I know you’re capable of producing fantastic French cuisine, but I think we need to plan in some additional training for sushi.” (Positive: reaffirms confidence in employee’s abilities)

● “You didn’t check the chart before taking the boss into the beach. Don’t let it happen again.” (Negative: blanket demands)
● “Standing orders state that the chart should be reviewed before taking a tender away from the vessel. Would additional tender familiarisation help keep this procedures fresh?” (Positive: asks for feedback on improving performance)

5. Closing and Follow-Up

It is very important to end the session positively and clarify any questions or crew members’ comments.
● Agree upon next steps with the crew members, setting positive goals for the future and discussing any potential training that may be needed.
● Review notes and forms and complete documents from the conversation to refer to throughout the year.
● Provide copies of the evaluation for crew members so they can refer to them and follow-up if necessary.
● Consistently refer to goals and standards throughout the year and take notes for future evaluations.