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Captains and personalities

Discussion in 'YachtForums Yacht Club' started by chuckb, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. chuckb

    chuckb Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Maine
    I am continually amazed at:

    The quality of knowledge the senior members have,
    Their willingness to share it,
    The breadth of topics discussed,

    and.....

    The speed at which topics get unravelled by human nature and egos.:eek:

    Which brings me to the point at hand. Skippers have a huge amount of responsibility... they juggle running a small business, providing outstanding customer service, ensuring safety in all sorts of situations, keeping a small village happy, and so forth.

    My experiences in business (I own a small high tech company, 31 years in business) is that the best managers are experts at delegating and empowering, they create team atmospheres where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That said, there are times when command authority is required and appropriate, and these same managers need to be able to take control and be followed without question.

    Most senior members here have got to where they are in this industry because they are successful managers in addition to being skilled mariners. Generally, they must have a good sense of appropriate personal interactions.

    But we all know the captain/boss/owner/coworker who has their bad days, or facets that are less than admirable. Everyone is human, no one's perfect... but it can be an issue. I've let highly skilled engineers go due to poor social skills, and social skills have to count triple on a yacht.

    My guess is that most of the senior folks here are great to work with, and a pleasure to deal with in person. It seems that when people are on the internet, social courtesy can go down a notch.

    So here's my question. Once someone has reached a point where they have all the tickets, a wealth of experience, and a demonstrated track record of success, are their personalities changed from the average professional? Is the "Sea Lawyer" behavior something that comes with the territory? Some of the posts I've seen on this forum make me wonder...:rolleyes:
  2. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    I hope that when, and if, I get to that point my sensitivity, charm, wit, and tolerance will not have diminished.

    But to try and answer as objectively as possible, I think that by the time one has reached a certain point one has experienced, observed, subjected others to and suffered every condition of human nature and bull****tery known to man and perfected by mariners in particular.

    The old sayings about not having just fallen off a turnip truck, born yesterday, or "don't BS a BSer" certainly apply. When you are at the "top" so to speak, the view is fairly clear and you tend to recognize the scent and appearance of BS not matter how it is packaged or where it's coming from. You also get pretty good at knowing which direction the backpedaling will take.

    Once you have seen, read, and heard a certain number of ways to ask something you know pretty well what lies behind the question. If you read enough CVs you know what omitting certain things while stating certain other things in certain phrases probably means. It gets progressively easier to spot the difference between underdeveloped literary skills and targeted obfuscation.

    There in nothing "sea lawyer" about that, it just comes with experiencing human nature and performance. A great engineer can hear and smell things that tell him things about the machinery that a merely good engineer wouldn't know about until it broke. That doesn't mean the merely good engineer is worthless or deserving of contempt but it does mean that when he tries to put lipstick on a feed pump and call it a pig he has earned whatever ridicule comes his way.

    As far as grumpy responses, some days you have more patience for pretenders than other days. Some days you ignore them, other days you poke them with a sharp stick.
  3. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I think things have changed with Captain's and crew in the last decade, and it has gotten a lot of well established Captain's frustrated.

    Back in the day when I started,it was more of a tight nitch industry. There was only one crew agency on 17st in Fort Lauderdale, not dozens all over the internet and the jobs you got from there were usually on boats nobody else wanted to work on, either due to the owner's attitude, the condition of the boat, the pay, or a combination. Everything was word of mouth and you REALLY had to pay your dues to work on yachts. If you didn't have a really good verbal recommendation from a Captain that knew the Captain that was hiring, chances are you weren't even interviewed. I remember back then, I got a phone call from a Captain looking for a mate, and he basically said I have your resume from so and so, this is what the job entails and pays, come to the boat on Monday and let me know if you want the job. I never even sent him my resume or applied for the job. The job paid extremely well, the Captain was a world famous SF Captain having won many top tournaments, and the boat and job was cream of the crop. I took the job. Back then paying your dues meant a lot of washdowns, a lot of crap work that nobody else wanted to do, you had to really prove yourself, be 100% responsible and that you had a vested interest in being in the industry long term. Back then, you really cared about the boat and making it look as nice as you were capable of and really went above and beyond. You didn't jump from boat to boat either, because there weren't as many opportunities available and jumping from boat to boat on your resume was really frowned upon back then.

    Then you had the explosion of the megayacht industry in the early to mid 2000's, a much larger demand for crew, the internet, and such come along. Now, you have a bunch of kids who look at it as a quick way to travel, make easy money, and party hard. Most of the newbies have no intentions of going above and beyond, most of them are in it for a quick buck for a year to finance college, finance a year surfing trip to Costa Rica or any other childhood dream. Most of these crewmembers have a list of demands a mile long, have no skills, have no respect for the Captain's authority, and then argue with you when you ask them to do something. I remember, one time we were stuck in the boat yard for 3 days in the middle of a trip, I asked a newbie to clean and wax the boot stripe with this and that on a 75' MY, and then he was argueing with me about it. It was a simple job and would've took 1/2 a day and that was his only job for the day. It gets frustrating trying to train someone that doesn't care enough to retain what you're teaching them, because they don't care about their job just the money. The newbies have no "man skills" whatsoever, and trying to train someone that's never changed a lightbulb in their house, or doesn't know what an adjustable wrench looks like can get frustrating also, and then have a new crew member argue with you or talk back about a very simple and straightfoward request, I guess wears your patience thin at times. The stories I could tell you about some outrageously stupid things I've seen new crew do, would have you falling out of your arm chair, however it's not very funny when you're the one in charge of the situation.
  4. chuckb

    chuckb Senior Member

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    Thanks for the thoughtful responses!

    Interesting comments about "pretenders", lack of professional experience, and basic absence of pride in one's work. All look similar at first glance, but are truly different beasts... pretenders being deliberately created trouble, lack of experience being innocent (albeit sometimes very annoying) trouble, and absence of pride just being a basic affliction of parts of our society.

    There's the sayings "Life's too short to:", "drink bad wine", "own an ugly boat", and so forth. To me, life's too short to deal with twits... so unless I see good reason to react to pretenders or do-nothings, I just move on and ignore them. Of course there's always situations where response is appropriate. A saying that's worthy of mention is:

    "When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself."

    I think there's some truth in it... for example, calling out a pretender can be a good thing in that it establishes/reenforces authority... something needed in forums and elsewhere. Likewise, recognizing "lack of experience" and tactfully addressing it shows both expertise and class. But I also recall the co-worker who constantly belittled a subordinate without real cause.... that said more about the co-worker than anyone else.

    Within this forum I find I'm learning more about the "senior members" that jump in with judgemental comments than those they direct such comments toward. Not that this is always a bad thing... but I have to say the value I place on opinions expressed are influenced by who the author is and whether I think they're on an even keel in the personality department... and all I have to judge that by are their interactions with others within the forum.

    Well... that's my 2 cents.... thanks again for thoughtful responses!
  5. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I agree and do see some very colorful responses from some of our senior members (2 immediately come to mind), a little too frequently than I think should. I'm sure a few of my posts were colorful, although I like to *try* to stay on topic. I think part of it is the varied nationalities of our posters......a statement that might be a joke in the UK, would be taken differently in the US (for example.)