Inside Management with Christie Curphey
We have been fortunate enough to spend some one-on-one time with Christie Curphey in the work environment (a rare occurrence in our virtual world! ) and she is absolutely lovely! Christie works as Senior Yacht Management Administrator at Döhle Yachts, one of the industry’s most established yacht management companies. The relationship between management and crew is a very important one as everyone is working towards the goal of making the guest and owners’ experience as smooth as possible. Forming strong, openly communicative relationships are among the best ways to do this, as Christie reveals. We were so excited to get an insight into working with yachts from a management point of view!
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you became a Senior Yacht Management Administrator?
I was born, grew up and still live on the Isle of Man, which is a little island between England and Ireland that is only 33 miles long and 13 miles wide, but I am very well-travelled, and I have lots of plans to see more of the world now that we can travel more freely again! I started my career in yachting when I left school and it was by accident; I started at a corporate service provider which provided services to yacht owners. Over time, my role grew organically, and I gradually became more involved in the yacht management side. I was then given the opportunity to join Döhle Yachts and its Yacht Finance and Administration team… now here I am!
What are the key responsibilities of a Senior Yacht Management Administrator?
I am the lead contact for the day-to-day yacht management. I spend a lot of my day doing the following:
- Charter management – i.e. dealing with fiscal representatives, obtaining VAT registrations, charter licences (both in and out of the EU) and negotiating charters between broker and owner to ensure they fit schedules, cruising areas and most importantly at the right fee
- Ensuring the yacht is complying with the regulations of both flag state and the place in which they are cruising
- Assisting with the import and export formalities
- Liaising with Flag in relation to yacht registrations, changes in yacht registrations, and renewals of certificates on board
- Managing bank accounts and credit cards
- Insurance claims and renewals
- Working with owner and crew on budgets
- And everything in between!
Could you describe what a typical day looks like for you?
Every day is different, and I have no idea what could come my way at any time! Our team process all the payments for the yachts that we manage so that is one thing that I know is certain… payment authorisations!
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your role?
The ever-changing environment that we deal with around the world. COVID was a difficult time for the charter yachts and those on board at the time had many cancellations and postponements. We now have issues with the recent conflicts. This is on top of the changes in rules and regulations that are set by each jurisdiction. It is challenging to keep on top of it all.
What is your favourite part of your role?
I love meeting and building relationships with people, whether that be captain, crew, owner, or broker – I am very much a people person, so the fact I get to spend every day interacting with the most interesting people in the world is amazing!
What kind of vessel is your ‘ideal’ client?
One with a great captain and crew who communicate well with us, so that we can all work together as a team to provide the best possible service to our respective clients.
How important is communication within your role?
Communication is key and we have contact with the majority of the yachts we have under management on a daily basis. I also feel that communication with the family office is just as essential to good management. Yacht owners engage with us for our services to relieve the stress of what owning a yacht brings, so that the owner can enjoy the yacht without any headaches. In order to achieve this, we need to have a clear understanding of where the yacht is, where they are planning to go, who is on board, are they adequately insured, do they comply with flag state and class regulations etc. It really is crucial!
How much of your role involves working with onboard yacht crew?
We are about 50/50 onshore and onboard. Since we deal with a lot of the regulatory and fiscal side of the operations, we spend a lot of time liaising with professionals in these areas, as well as insurance, bank accounts and owner. The rest of the time we spend liaising with crew to ensure operations run smoothly.
Where can you see an area for improvement between the working relationship of onboard crew and yacht management?
It essentially comes down to having a good level of communication with those on board and we try to visit as often as we can to build a personal relationship so that crew feel they are able to raise issues with us. A lot of the time we are the ‘middle-men’ between the crew and the owner, so it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone is safe and happy on board.
What advice would you give experienced crew who are keen to move shoreside and to find work with a yacht management company?
There are so many avenues that you can go down with yacht management which would suit those looking to come onshore. There is finance and administration, technical, maritime compliance, ISM/ISPS, crew employment, and recruitment. You would find that your experience would be extremely beneficial, and your skills would be transferable. There are not many people or industries that service the kind of clients that we do.
I would also say that there are many success stories of those who have come ashore and started their own businesses. If you are particularly good at something and can monetise it, then go for it! Just like the girls at VP who are doing an excellent job.
Thanks Christie for your words of wisdom, compliments and insight into the day in the life of yacht management.