For seasoned sailors and regular charter guests, the role of the captain on a crewed yacht charter may seem self-explanatory, but for first time charter guests, everything is new. So, we thought we’d explain the roles. The captain is undoubtedly a very important person aboard a yacht, so what exactly does his or her role entail?
Safety of the guests, Crew and Boat
Let’s begin with one of the most important aspects of the captain’s role – safety. The safety of the guests, crew and boat is the captain’s top priority. This involves many things, like ensuring regular maintenance and upkeep of the boat and all her systems. Winter is when most major works and regular maintenance are done, so no – the captain/owner doesn’t just relax in the off-season, there is always something to do. We are proud that all the yachts in our fleet are kept immaculately by their captains and owners.
It is also the captain’s responsibility to ensure that all crew members understand and are trained in basic safety at sea, that everyone is competent in their roles and aware of all potential hazards at sea and on a yacht.
Last but not least, the captain’s priority to the guests is their safety. This may look like changing the sailing itinerary if there is bad weather. In this situation, the captain’s word is final. The captain wants you to have the best holiday possible, and sometimes this means staying in a marina to avoid unnecessary risk to the yacht and passengers – not to mention unnecessary discomfort. All these things impact the guest experience because how can you enjoy your holiday if you don’t feel comfortable or safe?
Itinerary, Route Suggestions
Naturally, navigation is one of the most obvious aspects of a captain’s role. All the captains in our fleet have years of experience sailing in Croatia, and many come from a long line of captains and seafarers. So, it is safe to say that our captains know Croatia better than the back of their hands! This is another thing we love about Croatia (and our fleet), that the captain and crew are local, and genuinely love hospitality and the Croatian coast.
Many of our guests arrive with their itinerary planned, but just as many arrive happy to put their holiday experience in the hands of the captain and his crew. We think a balance is ideal. At Otium Yachts, we will help you plan your sailing itinerary and make suggestions, and we also advise you to be open to listening to the captain’s recommendations – as they have their own secrets!
The captain will speak to you daily about the itinerary – if there are any changes due to weather or to check whether you have any requests and are happy with the plan. Nothing is fixed. Some guests like to leave early as they want to see more of the coast, others like to have a slow start and longer swim stops. Some guests like to be in port more, so they are free to explore more easily, others prefer to be on anchor. Everything is possible and the captain will speak with you daily and adapt the plan to ensure that you have your best possible sailing holiday. All our captains are approachable, so feel free to share any wishes, ideas, or concerns.
On many yachts, you may find that the captain, for the most part, is a ‘hidden figure’, choosing to remain at the helm and have little guest interaction. However, we can honestly say that all the captains in our fleet are personable and happy to chat with guests – whether about the itinerary, sailing or life in Croatia. In fact, many of our captains are ‘quite the character’ and guests immediately fall in love with them and feel very much at home. This personal touch adds another layer of experience for our guests.
Another unique feature of all the yachts in our fleet is that they are all equipped to sail! From the smaller gulets to luxury yacht Acapella which was built by two passionate brothers, who were adamant on building a luxury yacht with real sailing capabilities. As we said, all our captains are experienced and passionate sailors, given the chance, most of them will raise the sails during your sailing holiday (if you wish). Just note that hoisting the sails is also up to the captain to assess the risk or possibility depending on the wind and itinerary.
Managing the Crew
The captain is usually the one to hire the crew. Something else that not many people think about, is how important the crew are to the guests’ experience. A good crew make the difference between a good and great sailing holiday. At Otium yachts, we are extremely passionate about the people we work with and have chosen the yachts in our fleet based on the quality of the yacht AND crew. All our captains have years of experience and understand the importance of their crew because this has a huge impact on the atmosphere, which in turn impacts the guest experience. When choosing the crew, the captain is looking at the whole picture – do they fit into the team? Every yacht has its own character and vibe.
Following this, it is also up to the captain to ensure each crew member understands their role and everyone is working as a team. Overall, there are never any major issues among the crew, and most of the yachts in our fleet are families or feel like family after working together for years. However, the captain is always paying attention to the dynamics between the crew and will step in if necessary. The biggest part of ‘managing the crew’, is maintaining a positive atmosphere and keeping team morale high. Halfway through the charter season, small tensions can easily arise, or fatigue can kick in. A good captain will notice this and do his best to lift spirits or give the crew a break where he can.
If you want to learn more about the captains and crew, read our ‘meet the crew’ blog series. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Otium team.