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Yachting’s Bipolar Nature & Our Pledge to Mental Health.

June is nearly upon us and I can say that in my 23-years in the industry, I’ve never experienced anything like this start to the summer season.

The world is once again opening albeit in a more sensible, more cautious, and more caring way. Employers in organisations outside of yachting, have recognised the impact of the last 16-months on their staff’s mental health and long-term job security and have acted accordingly.

As we return to a more normal world, we hoped these lessons learned would also transfer into yachting and define a new, long-term way of working.

We hoped that crew would be cared for, rewarded for their loyalty and hard work, their mental health and wellbeing would be made ‘the No.1 priority’ and long-term job security would be guaranteed, but sadly this seems to have been but a fleeting glimmer of hope.

Our fear is, that the hugely positive work and momentum built over the last year has been swept away by the industry in a new and unprecedented “tsunami” of sales and charters, as we see companies returning to the old ways of working and putting short-term financial gains over long-term human cost.

Encouragingly, we have seen several leading management companies taking direct action to alleviate crew stress, bring in new working practices and support structures which is hugely admirable and long may this continue.

Evident however, is the large percentage of yachts and crew who are struggling and are expected to go into a full-on summer season in the Mediterranean – all with little or no consideration for their mental health or the long-term effects of having to work in the bipolar post-pandemic yachting industry.

The hangover of this human cost will be long, will run deep and will hit home later this year unless those in charge take responsibility for their most precious asset “The Crew”.

Crew have shown incredible levels of resilience and loyalty to their yacht’s programmes and to their owners over the last 16-months and have also faced unprecedented levels of mental pressure – all without significant support or the training to better cope with these challenges.

Tragically, this is all too visible as in the last month alone, the industry has lost three incredible yacht crew to suicide. These deeply sad events are why as a group of companies we actively support Sail2Help to bring to the attention of crew the impact suicide has on family, loved ones and friends.

Calls to organisations such as The Crew Mess & the ISWAN Yacht Crew Help Line have increased exponentially. Challenges such as depression, work related breakdowns, divorce and addiction are just the tip of the iceberg.

The pressure on crew from Bridge to Keel has increased and working hours, conditions and expectations haven’t changed for the better despite the lessons learned through the pandemic.

Daily, we hear from crew who call to express their dismay and fears for their own mental health as they work in challenging employment conditions, where they are expected to do things that would be outlawed in any other industry and is just not tolerated in the modern workplace or society.

Our mission is to create happier, professionally trained yacht crew who in turn will build better teams under their own leadership.

Over the past 12-months, we’ve driven this mission forward through our leadership programmes as well as our promise to provide all The Crew Academy students, and crew placed by The Crew Hunter mental health awareness training free of charge.

Since September 2020, we’ve provided this free, accredited mental health training, to over 300 yacht crew including more than 80 captains – Something we will continue to do for every year to come.

As a direct result of the last 16-months, on June 7th, 2021 we are launching the Command and Senior Leadership Programme that is going to transform how leadership is taught and viewed in the industry.

You can also find out more on the Nautilus International website.

No longer a transactional process whereby you listen for a few days in a class and are then left to lead with no support, but a truly transformational and life-long journey built around a community of peers, mentors and trainers that will always be present in your leadership career.

Crew at all levels need this vital training and support and we’re dedicated to providing this through our training and recruitment companies that care about your welfare.

Please look after each other and be rest assured that there are people like Brendan O’ShannassyJoey Meen of GUEST, among a growing list of other amazing change makers, as well as organisations like ISWAN & The Crew Mess working for positive change in the industry, and supporting you through your journey in yachting.


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