The Crew Report - Spring 2013 - Issue 62

The Crew Report - FLYING THE FLAG. Words By Captain Len Beck of Motoryacht Battered Bull
Captain Len Beck
Winner of the 2012 ISS Distinguished Crew Award, Captain Len Beck of 52m Motoryacht Battered Bull provides some words of wisdom about the nature of our industry and what crewmembers can do to move it forward in a deserving, professional light.
Words By Captain Len Beck of Motoryacht Battered Bull

This profession as a whole is judged by the leadership and various slices within the strata of personnel. We don't want to look like we're a silly group of people frivolously wasting owners' money, having a great time. It's perfectly acceptable to have a great time while we professionally make our way through the landscape of this business, but we really want to be viewed as an industry filled with integrity, intelligence and creativity.

When people see somebody like me, with a little grey around the edges, and they say, "Look at the grouchy old captain, he doesn't look like he's having fun", well, we certainly are, but we're doing it in a responsible, industry-minded manner. I feel I'm a custodian of the industry to a certain degree, so I want to help it grow in a professional light, but I also want to entice those professionally minded young people to continue to grow, to continue to explore the opportunities that are here and help create future opportunities in this industry.

Let's face it, this is a business where people are spending discretionary income. Who needs any of this? they could have aeroplanes, stamp collections, anything, but this is unique and anyone who steps into this should, in my opinion, be thankful it's even here. it's slightly disney-like, almost make-believe, nevertheless here we are. moreover, everybody counts their money much more carefully today than they did 10 years ago, so the responsibility element has grown exponentially in the past five to 10 years.

To keep the owners interested and thinking this is definitely a good thing to spend money on, it's up to us to keep the pillars of this industry standing straight, filled with integrity, and also create this avenue for the younger people to understand where they can go and how to grow the industry.

There's a self-policing element to the industry, and it's up to my generation to point out where we have come from, where we are going and the positive environment that lies ahead for those that choose to make this a career; let's give them something more as a target. When a new crewmember joins our industry we must immediately give them a very narrow definition of how they have to operate and what their ideology and mindset should be, and either we shake hands and get a divorce or they embrace what we're trying to do and step into it. People are always going to do what they're going to do, but we must tell them what it is they're expected to do.

The CrewMany people step into this planning on just doing it for a couple of years and then say, "oh my goodness, look at all the opportunities, I'm going to keep going. "But I realise this isn't the right business for everybody and I don't have a problem with the people that step in for one or two years. if somebody experiences this and says, "this isn't for me", that's ok; they had just better give everything they're asked of for that finite period of time. And it's not a matter of trying to lure potential owners into the industry, but we are creating a lifestyle for these people; we want other people of wealth to see that, want to be a part of it and want people like us to come into their lives and show them what they can do with a yacht, whether it be power or sail, and create adventure.

The new boat owner isn't always sure of his objectives, so in those cases it's up to us to show them what the options are. We have to, in effect, read the owner and, sometimes gently, sometimes with more persuasion, try to get them to experience new things. A boat is steel, aluminium and wood, but an owner is this flesh and blood person with desires and a mental model of how he sees himself using the boat, and it's up to us to try to figure out what that is and deliver.

This whole experience in the owner's eyes is either successful or not successful based on crew. you can have a wonderful new Feadship that rolls into the water and it might capture all of an owner's dreams of design and ability, but if you have an uncaring crew nothing can make up for that. The feeling an owner gets when he thinks a crewmember doesn't care about what he thinks is important far outweighs his disappointment that the DVD player doesn't work. The personal effect between owner and crewmember is much greater than any equipment failure, and likewise, a really solid crew can overcome most shortcomings of a vessel.

I keep talking about the boat owners. We can't forget them, because they're at the top of the food chain of what we do. It's not necessarily how the captain and crew measure success, but we have to always look back to the owner and say: does that guy or girl think it's worth it for them to own this boat? If we answer that with yes then we have the right mindset to keep our industry growing.

© 2022 - All Rights Reserved
Beck International Navigation Inc.
A Fort Lauderdale Florida Yachting & Marine Services Company