By Captain John Crupi
It doesn’t make a difference whether you need one or ten boat crew, the difficulties surrounding finding and keeping them are the same. Where do you start the search, how do you know which one to choose, what makes them stick around for the long term?
There are many outlets and resources to finding crew both in sportfishing and yachting. Whether it’s word of mouth, publications/websites, crew agencies—they all have pros and cons. Whatever route you choose it’s important to have clear expectations and provide detailed job descriptions to the potential candidates. We all know too well that each and every program is different and it’s easier to find the right boat crew when all parties involved are forthcoming in the beginning.
Over the years I’ve had the best success hiring crew when I have the time and ability to lengthen the interview process to involve daywork, multiple interviews, and to include socialization both with management and fellow crew. How well you get to know the person can help determine the best candidate for the job and also compatibility with other crew members. I prefer to do this research before heading off on extended trips.
There are no guarantees but putting the effort into the hiring process has proven to be more rewarding than any other method. My record with hiring “on the fly” through phone interviews and Zoom calls is at the bottom of the leaderboard. In my opinion, you always get the answers you want during the initial interview and only see what they want you to see. It takes time to assess the real individual and decide if they are right for your vessel.
Define the Relationship
The ocean is always bluer on the other side certainly relates to crew—they are always looking for the next best thing. It is important to define the program and how the crew member fits into it on a daily, weekly, monthly and long-term plan. Most crew are looking for a program with opportunities for growth and advancement, although it seems a lot of the younger crew want to be captain now. It is proving harder and harder to find individuals who want to learn, put in the time and work their way up the ladder. When I started, the fast track to the bridge was five to ten years with lots of bloody fingers from twisting wire and sore shoulders from waxing. Now, mates buy dredge rigs and won’t take a job if the boat doesn’t have a SpotZero.
Finding good boat crew will always be a challenge, but once you have them make sure to acknowledge it on a regular basis and remember that a compliment can go a long way. Plan your schedule to allow for rest and time off after travel and give the crew the opportunity to enjoy each destination if time permits. Reward hard work and commitment if your goal is to keep the good ones around. No matter the business, humans are the most difficult to assess, manage and keep happy.