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  • Writer's pictureLisa Frost

The subject of rotational roles is always a tricky one and is something that I, as a Captain and Officer Recruiter, have my own opinion about. I appreciate that of course some of you have families and need to balance the time and the job and I am quite sure if I was in that situation, I would not want my partner away for more than 2 months at a time.


My primary concern arises when the newly qualified OOW’s with the shiny new certificate in hand immediately ask me for a rotational role. A certificate in hand is only the beginning of the process to become a fully responsible, safety conscious Officer who is able to competently lead a deck team. I have so many officers who have 'done the time' and deserve the rotational position as part of their professional career progression. Nothing beats time and experience on deck and in the bridge to steadily build a successful career.


Bearing that in mind, I have asked 2 of my Officers and 2 of my Captains for their opinion on this topic, I hope the below information is useful.



Calvin Zeelie - 2nd Officer OOW 3000:


As a newly qualified officer myself, I personally am not seeking rotation as I am aiming to achieve my master 3000 ticket as quickly as I can and rotation would delay that. A decent 60 days paid leave per year suits me. I know a few newly qualified officers that seek rotation solely to allow them to spend more time with their partners and kids etc., which I back. But hoping to slot straight into a rotational gig just after passing your oral exam, over other experienced officers, can be a tough ask and you might be waiting for a while! In a way, it feels like It's been a bit easier for me to find a job as it seems like I'm part of the few officers who aren't looking for a rotational position.




Tristan Najbicz – Chief Officer CM3000:


Rotational Jobs are obviously the sought-after positions crew are looking for and for reasons, we’re all familiar with. We get it, we’ve all been there, the sacrifice of being far away from family, friends, and loved ones starts to take its toll after a couple of years in the industry. However, after passing my OOW, I started pushing for rotation onboard the vessel I was employed on (a 75m Motor yacht), both Captain and Chief officer onboard promised that rotation would be coming, but they weren’t sure when (It took just over a year before rotation was approved).


In the meantime, they suggested to sit tight, hone my skills in the second officer role and become a wholesome, experienced, and well-rounded 2nd Officer, which turned out to be invaluable to my career. In the eyes of a Captain or Chief Officer, I believe a newly qualified OOW who gains a year of experience without rotation would be far more valuable than a rotational OOW that’s been working on the same vessel.


The industry is changing and adapting for sure, with more vessels going rotational, but I believe it’s still a very small percentage of yachts offering the full package. Rotation is a privilege and benefit that all crew aim for, but you cannot expect time for time to be offered to you on completion of your OOW, and even more so when you’ve only been in the industry for a couple of years.


My first rotational position came after 7/8 years in the industry and compared to some highly experienced and qualified Captains and OOWs, I'm still considered the new generation, so imagine how they dealt without rotation for 10-plus years.






Andrew Smart – Captain Master 500:


Over the last twelve years or so the industry has evolved in many ways from the number of yachts launched annually to the style of yachts and to the way they are managed and certified, but one of the biggest changes that affects the yacht crew of today is the lure of rotational positions.


When I joined the industry rotational positions were a privilege afforded almost exclusively to the engineers, this was basically in response to the offshore oil and gas industry and to commercial cargo shipping industry which only operates on a rotational basis. These days rotations of one sort or another are offered across the whole crew spectrum and for most this is a positive thing.


This has though led to a belief system within the yacht crew community that rotation is the only way to go, but there are some drawbacks to rotation that many are unaware.


For young officers the 2/2 rotation is the most common and most desired. If money is the goal, then it is often found that the wage package is a little lower because the yacht employs two people for the same job. It is also worth noting that a 2/2 rotation can in certain cases be unnecessary, for instance, a SOF based boat is only in season for around 6 months or so and so there is plenty of time on the dock throughout winter period.


The main drawback with the 2/2 rotation with regards to young newly qualified officers is that most of these young men and women are all aspiring to become captains in the future. Yachting is like a sport and all crew from all departments are trying to find their way to the top of their field.


Like a sport this takes hard work, dedication and of course practice. Someone on a 2/2 rotation is basically there half the time and so therefore only practicing half as much as someone that is there full time. This of course will have an effect on how long it takes the officer to reach the top spot. I am not trashing the concept of rotation, I have many friends on rotation and some of them would not work without it, especially those with families but the young newly qualified officer should consider that they are not necessarily entitled to a 2/2 just because they passed their exams and also that it can delay their future captaincy.



Phil Huntridge - Captain Master 3000:


In my opinion, Officers who take full-time positions will fast-track their careers, they will gain more sea time and experience to reach the top of the industry in a shorter time frame. The harder you work the easier it gets, put the time in when your young, get the sea time, do the yard periods.


Learn from your captains and fellow crews' achievements and mistakes. Be curious to analyse what went well and what you've learned. If you not learning move on. Know your worth and learn to negotiate a good salary. Leverage this industry to your advantage, set yourself up for the future. Buying a property to rent is a great example, the compounding interest shouldn't be underestimated.


Sit your exams and take time for yourself between jobs. I would recommend to save the rotation for once you have a family, this is the time you will need it and also the time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.


Remember, the harder you work the easier it gets. Look at the bigger picture rather than the immediate one.

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