A view from the helmsmen

Friday 07 September 2018

In the run up to the world famous Monaco Yacht Show – which Equiom has exhibited at for more than 10 years - crewing specialists, Andy Limbrick and Dominika Thomas at Equiom Jersey talk about what it’s like working in crewing for superyachts, their expectations for the upcoming show and what’s in store for the future.

Major changes in the sector

Andy Limbrick (AL): Having worked in yachting since 2005, I have seen the industry evolve significantly. One of the major changes in my career was the introduction of the Marine Labour Convention (MLC’06). This legislation was introduced to protect the welfare of the seafarers on commercially operated vessels. However, many pleasure vessels have also adopted it based on best practice. With the introduction of the MLC’06 we have also seen a significant increase of grievances due to seafarers being better informed of their rights.

An interesting trend is that the size of the vessels has increased year on year which has meant dealing with larger crews and more complex salary requirements. One must also mention the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is impacting all industries.

Dominika Thomas (DT): Since joining Equiom in 2009, the biggest change I have seen in the industry was on 11 March 2017 when the French government issued a decree that will affect all seafarers resident in France. The original decree required all French resident seafarers on a non-EU yacht to contribute to ENIM (French Social Insurance System for Seafarers) from 1 July 2017. However, after several appeals and further considerations, there have been many changes to this decree and it is only now that owners and employers can begin taking steps to comply with the requirements.

The Monaco Yacht Show

AL: I have been to numerous shows over the years and every time I attend the Monaco Yacht Show, it feels like the first. I always have a buzz of excitement when I travel to the show. The vessels never cease to amaze me, not just in their size, but in the range of bespoke styles of interiors that clients choose or in the wide array of ‘toys’ that can be stored on board from a jet ski to a fully operational submarine. During last year’s show, Equiom acquired Carey S.A.M. to give Equiom a much desired presence in Monaco. This acquisition enables us to build on existing relationships with yacht managers in and around Monaco and also allows us to meet clients in our offices there. The memorable experiences over the years have been numerous, from stepping onto my first superyacht and realising I had a hole in my sock (not so glamorous!) to having a glamorous lunch on one of the yachts with a colleague.  

DT: With MYS 2018 being my first show I really don’t know what to expect and in a way that makes it even more exciting. I am looking forward to meeting the yacht managers and captains that we liaise with on a daily basis and also the crew members who we work so hard to support. It will definitely be a fantastic opportunity for me to catch up with existing clients and meet new ones and to advise on different aspects of our service. And of course there is the opportunity to see some of the yachts I have been assisting with over the last nine years.

The job of a crewing specialist

AL: If I had to choose what is most interesting about my job, I would say, all of it! The best thing about the job is that every day is different. You just don’t know what’s going to hit your desk in the morning. Even with remote email access providing a ‘heads up’ prior to setting foot in the office, you still can’t predict what will become of the day ahead. That is what I love about my job, the uncertainty and varied aspects of the industry. At Equiom Marine and Aviation Services (EMAS), we have progressed from employing 70 crew, when we first started operating, to employing over 1,000 crew members today. This is an incredible achievement and a true testament to the demand for this service.   

DT: Over nine years there have been considerable changes to our service offering, industry legislation and the Equiom team. Originally there were just two staff in the crewing department at Equiom Jersey. We have expanded significantly since then and now have 9 dedicated staff forming part of our European team of 30 yachting and aviation specialists.

With collective experience spanning many areas of the maritime sector we have a very knowledgeable team, which has helped us to  adapt quickly to industry changes and respond efficiently to changing client needs. It is always interesting to be a part of such a rapidly developing industry.

AL: In the crewing department, we deal with a number of staff related issues. Unpaid salaries and disputed seafarer terminations are still the most common, but the grievances raised by crew are becoming more complex to include matters like bullying, sexual harassment and claims based on local laws. Every case is unique and needs to be handled individually, but many require, to varying degrees, employer investigations, mediation processes and/or legal advice.

DT: While the main services I deal with under the crewing banner are contracts, payroll and certification verification we are continuously getting involved in legislation interpretation and international, local and flag state changes, crew grievances, banking challenges and technical developments, among others.

Looking to the future

AL: Crewing is a changing sector and there are a number of possibilities for future challenges and opportunities. What stands out for me is that with the introduction of the French decree for seafarers it will only be a matter of time until other member states follow suit and introduce similar legislation. This will be another challenge the sector will be faced with and an area we will be watching with interest.

DT: Crew are becoming more and more informed of their rights under international, flag state and local legislation. With the inevitable increase in crew grievances and claims, the employer will need to become increasingly proficient in mediating and managing disputes. I think this is something that is going to evidence itself more over the coming years and I look forward to diversifying my expertise to support this.

Learn more about Equiom Crewing Services 

Meet the crewing team