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  • Writer's pictureMeeli Lepik

In the complex dynamics of new-build projects, the role of yacht crew is often shrouded in mystery. To shed some light on the topic we reached out to Meeli Lepik, an industry expert and Purser/Chief Stewardess who has worked on some of the world's most prominent yacht new-build projects, ranging from 85m to 146m.

In this article, she shares her insights into the specific responsibilities of yacht crew members and the skill sets necessary for a successful build project.

Roles and Responsibilities of Senior Crew

In the early stages of a new-build project, senior crew members such as the Captain, Chief Engineer, Chief Officer, AV/IT specialist, Purser and Head of Interior are typically the first to join. Alongside the Owner's Representatives and Owner's team, they play a significant role in managing the project's timeline and supporting other parties from an operational perspective.

Heads of Departments are engaged in a wide range of activities, including drawing approvals, on-board inspections, designer meetings, FATs, yard progress meetings, owners' supply and warehouse management, HATs and final commissioning of their areas. In addition to that, the HoDs are also responsible for the budgeting and purchasing of the supplies, preparing the administrative side of the operation with all the relevant documentation, procedures, SOPs, guidelines etc.

Another important task to be part of is managing the crew. This may involve working on the crew recruitment and cabin arrangements, negotiating the salaries with the management company and establishing a precise timeline of the joining schedule and training the team for new operations.

Especially on the larger builds, the Purser holds a great responsibility in managing the crew in the yard by taking care of the shoreside accommodation and transport arrangements, yard contracts and preparing the project for VAT clearance and initial survey.

Tasks for Junior Crew Members

For junior crew members like Deckhands and Stews, typically the more junior the position, the narrower the daily scope of work tends to be. The tasks tend to differ from the usual Deckhand and Stew jobs since being on a new-build offers an opportunity to be exposed to the project from a perspective that is not possible in operation.

The experience can be actually quite transformative, introducing the industry in a much wider angle and making one realise how much human effort actually goes into building a yacht. Having their input and being part of the creative process of everything coming together will create a special caring connection towards the yacht and establish a special bond between the build crew members.

The Importance of Timing and Build Stages

As the build progresses, the timing and the awareness of the stages of the build prior to delivery become vital. For example, builds of 100m+ would need gradually about 4 to 6 Senior Interior crew to be part of the build from 24 - 6 months prior to the delivery.

In the later stage, the Junior crew need to be safety trained and be present for handlining the supplies and assisting in moving on board. Without sufficient staff, these last months before the delivery will become a highway to burnout but in the not-unusual case of the build being delayed, we can end up with a lot of people with no clear purpose, so timing the crew joining becomes a real challenge.

Additionally, in the interior department, tasks such as sea fastening, selecting uniforms, supplies, maintaining the interior, and choosing decorative accessories require attention and careful time management. If these tasks are neglected or underestimated, it can lead to a chaotic yacht delivery and unnecessary costs for the owner.

Understanding the nature of working on board new-builds

The skills required during a new-build project differ significantly from those required during operation. In operation, the approach is reactive, addressing the immediate needs of the guest, crew, and vessel. In contrast, a build stage requires strategic thinking and future planning.

Contrary to what one might think, extensive operational experience doesn't automatically translate to success in new-build projects. Building a yacht is a process that demands different skills, akin to an office job, heavily reliant on tools like Outlook and Excel.

Rather than relying solely on build professionals who have been out of the operation for years, the new-build industry needs operationally experienced crew members who can bring recent, end-user perspectives to the build.

Skills Needed for New-Build Project Success

While thorough knowledge of a similar-size operation and a comfortable-sized industry network are essential, additional skills can significantly enhance a crew member's contribution. These include proficiency in Excel, PowerPoint, graphic design, IT, branding, basic engineering, accounting, budgeting, and project or event management.

Furthermore, exceptional time and data administration skills, fluency in the local language of the shipyard, and an international driving license can also be highly advantageous.

Are You Interested in Working On New-Build Projects or in Need of Crew For Your Yacht?

If you are a crew member looking to work on board a yacht, or a Captain or HoD looking for high-preforming crew, get in touch with our expert YPI CREW recruitment team. They are masters of placing highly-qualified crew on board yachts around the world and will be happy to assist you with your recruitment needs.

If you are a crew member looking for work you can get in touch with us by logging into your YPI CREW profile.

If you are a Captain or HoD looking for crew for your yacht, you can get in touch with us by filling out the form on our website.

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