Busy Vs Productive – Which Are You?

It’s a busy world these days, trying to be successful at work, keep an exercise regime, maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep hydrated and the list goes on! Time flies and before you know it the end of the day has arrived and you haven’t accomplished nearly as much as you thought you would. The real question is… were you productive?

In our busy world today, many of us are good at being busy but not productive. Here are 7 differences between busy people and productive people. Which group are you in? 🙂

Productive is the difference between working hard and working smart.

Great work ethic is important, it gives people the drive to get things done. Busy people are always doing something because they have this drive. However, they work hard, not smart. Their focus is very linear and often they are too “busy” to consider a better faster way of doing things. Productive people first consider how effectively they can do something and then consider being efficient. They want to achieve their outcomes the quickest way possible.

There is a difference between being efficient and being effective. Effectiveness is finding the best way to complete a task whereas efficiency is just going through the steps of completing a larger task as quickly as possible. To be as effective as possible, try automating some of the steps you need to take or eliminating them altogether if they are not wholly necessary.

Keep your eye on the big picture as well as the details

Busy people get caught up in the details. Don’t get me wrong, details are important, just not every detail of every task. Sometimes getting caught in the details will be counterproductive, you’ll be running behind, you’ll get stressed and then get even less done. Sometimes it’s more important to make a decision or get a task done and refine it later.

For example, choosing between layouts of a home page of your website when you first start out could be agonising, because they all have different draw points. Choose one, test it and refine as you get feedback! There are going to be scenarios that details are, however, extremely important to pay attention to. For example, getting your logo designed. It’s something that represents your brand in my different settings. The trick is to focus on details that will affect your outcome, if it’s going to affect your end goal, then you can be a perfectionist. If you can, outsource the rest, follow the 80/20 rule or just get rid of them!

Busy people say yes to everything. Productive people say yes/no mindfully.

You may be familiar with this one…you can just never say no! Your schedule ends up being full of things that are keeping you busy, but not necessarily adding value to your life.

Busy people never say no: they say yes to everything. As a result, they fill their schedules with things that keep them busy but don’t change their life. Productive people are very mindful of what they say yes to. Everything that is said ‘yes’ to, takes time, and that time is taken away from another possible value-adding task. Constantly saying yes to the right things, will lead you down the right path, and the one to success. The same thing for constantly saying yes to the wrong things, don’t get sedge-wayed but the shiny stuff! Stay focused on what will serve you.

Don’t get caught up in the trends

Busy people will jump onto every business trend. They hear you can make money blogging so they immediately jump into a blog. Everyone is adding an app for their business, so they get busy with this too. Productive people understand that trends are actually market movements and will come and go. They consider how much value it will add to their business before deciding to buy-in.

You are given endless choices in this day and age, but it’s important to analyse them in your context to determine if they are worthwhile. Weigh up the pros and cons, the cost analysis, and most importantly, if you actually NEED it.

Busy people don’t seem to have any time. Productive people make sure they have time to focus on the important things.

For example, setting and re-valuating your goals is just as important as working towards and achieving them. Time is a construct and hours and days of the week are labelled in order to communicate and collaborate with others accurately. Your day fills up with “to-do’s” and often others peoples “to-do’s” fall under that. You need to actively choose what you are letting into your day otherwise your time will be taken up with unproductive tasks. Productive people make time for the important things, even when they are busy.

Sometimes the thing you’re putting off the most will be the thing that has the biggest impact on your life. In business, for instance, setting and evaluating your Q2 goals is something that everyone puts off but is so important for your companies achievements.  MAKE the time.

Productive people understand that using the right tools and resources enables them to do their job effectively. Busy people try and do everything themselves.

Working on day-to-day reoccurring tasks, especially when you don’t have the expertise can be draining of both your time and mental resources. Having to learn new skills and try and do everything yourself can be extremely unproductive and disallows you from concentrating on the high-level, core tasks.

Hiring can be difficult in terms of finding the right person to do the job. However, with platforms like Fiverr, Upwork and People per Hour, outsourcing has never been easier! Read our article “The Ins and Outs of Outsourcing” to get up to speed!

The right technological tools and platforms are also extremely important. Using social media planners such as Hootsuite and Planoly or email automation such as Zapier enable you to plan ahead and execute while you get on with other work. With regards to overhead costs when running a business, these are minimal costs and enable you to maximise your time.

Busy vs Productive

Now you need to ask yourself, do you want to be busy or productive? Do you want to be effective and efficient or running around, directionless and stressed? Take a breath, analyse and reset. Just because you aren’t doing EVERYTHING, doesn’t mean you are doing nothing. Time is precious and a finite resource. Use it wisely and productively. Check out our article on Time Wasters for more tips on how to manage your time more effectively!

Luke Humphries

Captain Luke Humphries – On board Superyachts

Luke is an  Australian Master Mariner with 25 years in the game (time flies when you’re having fun!). He began in 1995 as a Deck Officer cadet in the Australian Merchant Navy spending 8 years on a variety of vessels from Tankers and Container Ships to Ferries and Bulk Carriers. This lead to time in the Oil and Gas Industry which he also continued during periods of relief work in the early days of his yachting career. For the past 17 years, he has worked in the Yachting Industry on reputable Charter and Private yachts cruising extensively worldwide. Today Luke enlightens us about his experience and journey on board Superyachts.

Your career has been long and exciting, can you tell us a little about your background and where you’re from?

I’m Australian and grew up in Tasmania spending much of my youth in a little fishing town called St Helens on the East Coast. At school, I was a jack of all trades, master of none and had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. In year 11, I saw an advert in the Australian Newspaper for ‘Careers at Sea’ with a Global mining company ‘BHP Billiton’ where they were offering cadetships for Deck and Engineer Officers, and so I started looking into it. The idea of travelling the world and training as a Deck Officer caught my attention. I would be responsible for navigation, fire, safety and medical care all whilst being paid for it! At the end of year 12, I applied to a shipping company ‘ASP Ship Management’ and was accepted in their cadet intake for 1995.

Coming from the Australian Merchant Navy, what did you find appealing about making the move to on board Superyachts? 

The change was huge, I’m not going to lie. I had worked on a variety of Cargo and Passenger ships as well as spending time in the Oil and Gas industry. I worked my way up to Chief Officer but yes, yachting was a little different. Friends of mine who I studied with as Engineers found the yachting industry a few years after we graduated in the late ‘90s. They would come back to Tasmania and tell stories of Fort Lauderdale and Antibes, the money, travel and lifestyle. They were doing extremely well and some of them were working as couples with their girlfriends from college days. My girlfriend at the time (now wife and partner of 19 years) and I spoke about the idea a few times and it was really her idea to take the plunge. She was finishing University that year and so we packed up and headed to Fort Lauderdale the following February. The original plan was to spend two years working on yachts to travel and save money for a deposit to buy a house back in Australia. As you can see the rest is history!!

How would you describe your favourite part about a career on board Superyachts?

It’s the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen next, who you will meet, where you will travel. Also the exhilaration of pulling off the most amazing and impossible plans for the guests at the drop of a hat. It’s one of the most satisfying things for me, knowing you’ve played a part in bringing it all together by providing a special experience and blowing them away! It’s amazing!

You’ve been to some incredible destinations in your time, can you tell us about your most memorable/favourite destination and experience?

One of the most memorable was diving with a previous Owner, a drift dive on a reef shelf in the Los Aves Archipelago off the Venezuelan coast. The Archipelago was amazing, totally uninhabited and the dive spectacular in itself but, as we were diving, we heard a pod of dolphins calling nearby. We didn’t see them until almost the end of the dive when they came out to see who was playing in their backyard, amazing 🙂

What challenges do you face when travelling to remote destinations on board Superyachts?

Logistics is always so key in planning successful trips in remote locations. Typically you’re on your own so you need to think of the worst-case scenario for pretty much everything, communications, provisions, medical aid, transport, stores and spares etc. The key is having an experienced team on board who can brainstorm and draw on their collective experiences to work through and mitigate the issues as best as possible. Curveballs will always come but if they didn’t, it wouldn’t be yachting now, would it!?

As a Superyacht, what additional pressures do you face for navigating during COVID?

COVID has been extremely tough on everyone and the world is no longer the same as a result. The biggest challenge has been managing the crew during long periods away from home and listening and supporting them as much as possible in dealing with the issues the pandemic has brought to each one of us. It’s easy to forget about COVID when onboard in our ‘yacht bubble’ and in many ways, we are very lucky, however, we all need to be reminded now and again not to get complacent on board or at home in order to protect our work colleagues and families, and to manage the owner’s expectations. I feel that we are not out of the woods just yet and will be feeling the after-effects of the pandemic for years to come.

What would you say has been the most rewarding aspect of your career on board Superyachts?

I would say it’s being in a position to mentor and following the rise of the careers of those who have worked with me previously. Seeing them grow and develop from green crew to senior crew of the highest calibre and knowing you’ve played a part in that is the biggest reward.

What has been your drive for your career on board Superyachts? Did you have a mentor?

We all know that yachting is infectious and my experience is no exception. I never expected to be in it for the time that I have, however, 19 years after first dock walking in Fort Lauderdale, here I am! I have had a couple of mentors over the years and they know who they are. The one thing I will say though is that you never stop learning, every day is different and everyone you meet can teach you something.

Given the opportunity, what advice would you give a green deckie starting out in yachting who dreams of Captaincy?

Take your time, listen well, work hard and learn your craft. Soak up as much knowledge as you can from those around you, be respectful, stay true to yourself and enjoy the ride. Don’t rush and aspire to the dizzy heights before you’re ready because the easy part is getting the job, the hard part is keeping it!

And finally, what’s next for you?

The pandemic has meant extended periods away from home the past 18 months, so trying to balance work and family life and reconnect with family and friends is at the top of my list 🙂

Luke Humphries

Luke’s proven track record for successfully exceeding expectations is reflected in his history as a sought after Captain who is admired by all of those who know him, however, this is not something he takes for granted. Bringing enthusiasm, positivity, professionalism, and drive to the forefront, Luke takes pride in maintaining a vessel and her extended operations to the highest of standards. A plethora of in-demand qualities, a role-model to many, and a true industry leader; this is a Captain to aspire to.

It was an absolute pleasure chatting with you, we wish you the very best on the rest of your journey on board Superyachts!

Outsourcing

The In’s and Out’s of Outsourcing

The Ins and Outs of Outsourcing

Outsourcing essentially refers to the function of getting tasks or jobs completed outside of your organisation. It has been seeing an upward growth trend since 2014 with the market size for global outsourcing reached $92.5 billion before the pandemic. There are many different types of outsourcing and a great deal more benefits.

More than 93% of organisations are considering or have already adopted cloud services to improve outsourcing. Cloud technology allows companies to become more flexible and responsive to their markets, enabling faster global communication and growth. Contrary to popular belief, the main motivation for businesses making this move is not to lower costs by cutting jobs but to be more competitive and increase innovation.

There are many different types of outsourcing including multi-sourcing, knowledge process outsourcing, IT Outsourcing, but one of the most common being Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). This refers to outsourcing the more mundane business activities such as administration, correspondence, scheduling etc. Customer service and lead generation are also useful tasks included in BPO.

There are so many great things about outsourcing for both companies and contractors alike. It offers flexibility in terms of services provided, they can be tailored to exactly what the company requires and they are paying for those exact requirements. Flexibility is also great for contractors because although they are working within deadlines, they are often able to create their own working hours.

It is also easier to access expertise through an outsourcing company as they have vetted and screened all their employees already to ensure that they possess the correct qualifications, skills and competency to match the clients’ requirements. Although generally cheaper, this has nothing to do with the quality produced. Reduction in cost related to full-time employee expenses such as benefits. Outsourcing companies rely on their reputation and positive client reviews to remain successful in attracting future clientele so they are fully invested in creating top-quality output.

It is believed that outsourcing is only an option for large corporations, when in fact, the opposite is actually true. Outsourcing allows employees to focus on their core business operations while contractors take care of area’s they may not be experts in. Sites like Fiverr have allowed small business owners to access expertise at a fraction of the cost. With the focus being directed at core functions, there is an increase in productivity and an opportunity for company growth.

Another misconception is that businesses are more prone to data breaches if they outsource. The truth is that every major corporation is at risk. Outsourcing partners take extreme care to protect their clients’ information, often adding layers of security and constantly updating their protocol. With NDA’s, anti-virus software, cloud storage and modern tools such as YubiKeys, small outsourcing businesses as just as secure when handling sensitive information.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is not only economical and adaptable, but additionally, it promotes the opportunity for rapid growth. With cloud-based technology, it is more accessible, affordable and safer than ever. It really is a no-brainer solution for small and large companies alike.

Time Wasters

Time Wasters And How To Avoid Them

Time Wasters and How To Avoid Them

We are all about organisation! In order to get organised, you have to know where to start. There are endless tasks we have to accomplish during the day and knowing what to prioritise when can overload our decision-making thought process. Not to mention all of the distractions we experience throughout the day that derail our perfect plans. We’ve put together some time wasters and how to get around them for a more efficient and effective day.

Time waster no.1 – No time boundaries

Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time allotted for its completion.”

Remember when you had a deadline to meet and you put it off constantly. “I’ll do it tomorrow”, and tomorrow comes but you’ve got another week, right? So you leave it for another day and suddenly it’s due the day before next. You’re in a panic but you work hard and somehow manage to finish on time (and nail it!). This is because we usually don’t give ourselves enough credit and can often complete tasks faster than the time you allocated for it.

There’s a handy technique called the Pomodoro technique wherein you break up your tasks into 25-minute blocks and take 5 minutes of rest after. If your task ends up taking more than 25 minutes, evaluate your process and start again, adjusting for the next 25 minutes. You can also always set your time and challenge yourself, it makes the work exciting!

Time waster no.2 – Touching things twice

Ever heard of something called a holding pattern? You have now, and let me tell you, it’s a waste of time. Have you read a text and not replied? Opened an email or an invitation and left it for later? The time it takes to close your “task loop” is the holding pattern, and here’s what you can do about it:

Apply the 2-minute rule. If it’s going to take you 2 minutes or less, get it done there and then instead of putting it off until later. Otherwise, automate, eliminate, delegate and carry on going!

Time waster no.3 – Holding on to the past

We’ve all had that thought, “Uggg I should have done it yesterday!” or if only I had done that a week ago. It goes without saying, living in the past or the future, means you’re not here for the present.

This one goes without saying: being stuck in the past prevents you from living in the present. Immersing yourself in unnecessary drama and complaining too much won’t get you where you want to go. Dwelling on the past is literally wasting time so as much as possible, acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on.

Time waster no.4 – Indecisiveness

Taking the time to make decisions is a grey area and of course, it really depends on what kind of decision you are making! However, have you ever been out with a friend to a restaurant, you are starving and they are taking forever to decide? The longer they take, the later your meal will arrive! Same concept when making decisions in life. The more time you take to decide, the longer it will take to see results!

Sometimes it’s even better to deal with fixing a decision that was the wrong one, than never making a decision at all. What you can do is take all the important information you have RIGHT NOW and make a decision that way.

Time waster no.5 – Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking was once thought of as a skill to be revered, it was the ultimate way to get things done. Recent studies show that this isn’t the case. Switching from one high-level task to another takes your brain up to 20 minutes to refocus and identify thought processes necessary for the new task. It is both an inefficient, ineffective way to get things done.

A better method for handling your tasks is called batching or scheduling. This is when similar tasks are grouped together that can be done in sequence or at the same time when possible.

Now that you’re more aware of what can actually waste your time, you can implement these tips to help you and you’ll become an organised ninja in no time! Remember, time is the one commodity you can’t get more of in life so use it wisely!

Yacht management explained

Yacht management explained


A yacht is so much more than a rather expensive floating asset. The shiny investment comes with a whole lot of responsibility. Superyachts are essentially businesses, becoming increasingly elaborate and time-consuming, demanding a diverse team with varying skills and experiences.

Modern yachting requirements, paired with the complexities associated with global operations can be overwhelming. Evolving captains have realized that they are not the only one with the perspective to meet the owner’s needs. Why go at it alone? Outsourced yacht management provides access to a wider set of expertise than is possible to have in a crew. With various approaches to yacht management, the consistent key to success remains unwavering focus towards the clients’ best interests.

What is a yacht management company?

Envision a triangle; the three points representing the yacht owner, the yacht management company and the yacht captain/crew. Always functioning at the top, the yacht owner will determine the hierarchical dynamic between the shore-based management company and crew. A yacht management company can be a valuable partnership between the vessel, the owner, and the captain. Providing a fresh outside perspective, the management company should enhance efficiency and improve the overall guest experience. The team of experienced professionals offer support, by providing complementary knowledge, advice, resources and solutions. Not only reducing stress, a yacht management company also mitigates both financial and legal risk. Depending on the vessel’s requirements, most companies will tailor their services to management needs. Typically, the shore-based mechanism supports yacht operations with respect to accounts, technical interventions and compliance with legislative requirements.

What is yacht self-management?

Simply put, self-management is the scenario whereby the captain works directly with the owner and/or their team for all aspects of the yacht’s operation. Self-managed yachts will vary depending on the amount of detail the owner requires and how particular the captain is. Back in the day, this was the original form of yacht operations. However, with tonnage and regulatory intricacy increasing, there is a point where this model reaches a limit. Not to say it isn’t possible, however, strong caution must be exercised with this management method. Realistically, this approach is probably only an option for small or very mature operations. If engaged, a recommended external operations/management audit (above normal compliance) should be undertaken annually.

Why the need for a yacht management company?

The ownership and operation of a yacht gives rise to a number of legal, fiscal, financial, technical issues and contractual relationships. All of which require careful planning and consideration. A luxury yacht is an increasingly complex business that could land you in hot water should important responsibilities be overlooked. Not a legal requirement, but a yacht management company will take care of the headaches that come with owning a luxury yacht. Some of the hassles include safety, crew, maintenance, insurance, audits, class, flag regulation, compliance and… the list is never ending when it comes to maintaining and running a superyacht. That’s why a management solution is worth considering, taking care of the million and one tasks occurring behind the scenes on a daily basis.

What is a Flag and how do yachts decide on a Flag?

This is probably one of the most important decisions a yacht owner will have to make. Not simply a matter of patriotism or aesthetics, the flag state will dictate the law of the land, or sea in this matter. Defined, the flag state is the country or governmental entity under whose laws a vessel is registered or licensed. The chosen flag will directly impact the vessel’s privacy, taxes, exposure to liability, boarding, and overall commercial success.

The owner could choose country of residence, however the more popular choice in the superyacht world tends to be an offshore flagging. The offshore ship registry involves selecting a country whose laws are attuned to the complexities of ownership and charter operations. A good starting point is determining Good vs Bad Flags. Good flags will be on the White List maintained by the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU). Flags on this list excel in the areas of safety, security and environmental protection. As a result, they aren’t on the radar which means fewer inspections from the port officers. The Paris MoU also maintains Grey and Black Lists, where the risk of ship boarding and detentions is higher.

Not to be taken lightly, choosing a flag is a matter best undertaken under counsel of a maritime attorney. Sailing under a particular flag can be a complex decision that involves sound knowledge of international maritime law. The flag state is authorized to enforce regulations related to periodic inspection, certification, and pollution prevention. It will also determine the number of days per year that the vessel needs to berth in its place of residence.

What is Gross Tonnage?

Tonnage is an important topic in the maritime and yachting industry. Significant, because it forms the basis for numerous items, including safety regulations, manning scales, registration fees and port dues.

Initially used in reference to weight, nowadays it is a measure of the volume/size or cargo capacity of a vessel. An International Tonnage Certificate (ITC), issued by the flag administration, is necessary for vessel’s greater than 24m on international voyages. The certificate exhibits tonnage, length, breadth, and depth. For vessels below 24 meters, it is at the discretion of the flag administration whether to issue a comparable certificate or document, such as a Certificate of Tonnage or National Tonnage Certificate.

What services do yacht management companies provide?

Every owner is different and has different requirements, so the management company often offers bespoke services. Typically, yacht management duties may include:

  • Liaising: This ranges from shipyards to designers and brokers.
  • Updating documents: The company ensures legal, regulatory, technical, and financial aspects are current. In the long run, this can save valuable time and unnecessary expense.
  • Yacht registration: Often, the superyacht management company advises on the implications that location has on the yacht’s commercial success and finances.
  • Accountancy: This includes budgeting and reporting. A superyacht management company can provide a dedicated financial professional who understands the nuances of yachting.
  • Assisting with finding and employing crew: This lets your captain focus on his or her priority: the safe and smooth operation of the superyacht.
  • Identifying and securing berths.
  • Ensuring safety compliance: Certainty it meets international standards.
  • Planning and managing maintenance schedules: This includes full refits.
  • Assisting with insurance: For the yacht and crew.
  • Advising and/or managing charter operations.
What is a mini-ISM?

Nothing mini about this concept, the remarkable plan could mean the world of difference. Both a requirement of the MCA and Marshall Islands commercial yacht codes of practice, a mini-ISM aids to prevent disasters and impending lawsuits. Applicable to all yachts over 300 tons, the Safety Management System (SMS) should be relative to the vessel’s requirements. Many smaller yachts will also be liable in accordance to their flag.

A Mini-ISM consists of a simple plan to:

  • Check and maintain all the safety and critical equipment on board.
  • Train the crew for the more likely emergencies that yachts can have.
  • Familiarize new crew on safety awareness and duties as soon as they join.
  • Have checklists for hazardous events, such as bunkering and leaving harbor.
  • Encourage safety awareness.
  • Ensure that those who drive tenders, watercraft, or are charged with bridge watchkeeping really are qualified and know the idiosyncrasies of the equipment they are operating.
  • Document what you do and plan to do, ensuring bases are covered ahead of an investigation.
What is a yacht/fleet manager?

A yacht/fleet manager is the primary point of contact for yacht owners to report the essentials. They are in charge of significant decisions and the overall functioning of the yacht. The following attributes and skills are vital for a yacht/fleet manage,

  • Team player
  • Good leader
  • Multi-tasker
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Solid experience in the field, ideally either a chief engineer, chief officer or a master mariner.
  • Acquainted with ISM, ISPS, Port State Control and SOLAS codes that cover safety measures and rules and regulations regarding marine vessels.
  • Well versed with the flag state laws and regulations.
Do fleets operate virtually?

2020 fast-tracked the shift from local to remote quicker than anyone would have anticipated. With the technological advancements available today, working remotely is not only easy, but also considered the “new normal” and with it comes endless opportunity. This is no different in the yachting industry. Over the last 10 years, yachting has come a long way, with an obvious shift towards a digital way of operating. Working on-board yachts, crew are now accustomed to virtual communications and technology bridging the gap between the vessel and shore-based parties.

Yachts have been operating virtually for quite some time, communicating through email, whatsapp and VSAT whilst cruising. Uniformity is key when it comes to fleet management. Secure programs like Dropbox and Google Drive ensure operations are safely speaking the same language. A virtual knowledge base also assists with accessibility and is great for sharing latest guest preferences, changes in SOP’s etc.

The pros and cons of working with a fleet?

Fleet yacht management embraces an integrated approach, combining a plethora of resources, which could boost revenue and productivity. Some of the pros and cons include,

Benefits

  • Resources: Replenishment of stock/supplies from nearby fleet.
  • Recruitment: Interchanging of crew, should a replacement be necessary, avoiding the lengthy recruitment process.
  • Support: The larger team means access to the expertise of other captains and senior crew members.
  • Emergencies: Nearby fleet could assist in the event of an emergency.

Disadvantages

  • Conflict: Different leadership and management styles may lead to conflict among captains and senior crew.
  • Decisions: Multiple personal preferences could result in delays.
  • Logistics: If fleet are not in close proximity.
  • Disgruntled crew: Insight to other work environments could result in job role comparison.
  • Loss of information: With so much communication occurring, some information tends to get a bit lost.
How can Virtual Pursers assist with yacht management?

Not a yacht management company; Virtual Pursers are an extension of your crew and act as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. The administrative pressures faced by yacht owners, captains, management companies, and even full-time Pursers, can be difficult to keep on top of. Virtual Pursers “get yachting” and understand that time is a precious commodity.

Fulfilling the role of a Purser, just virtually, the team perform a wide range of services, including; vessel and crew administration, accounting, logistics, provisioning, itinerary planning and guest concierge. With over twenty years combined experience, working for an impressive array of yachts all over the globe, the team of industry experts provide a specialized service built on the foundation of practical knowledge. To name drop, the team have worked with fleets such as M/Y Anastasia, M/Y Nirvana, M/Y Barbara, M/Y October, M/Y Tatoosh, M/Y Meduse, M/y Hampshire II. Offering remote assistance to superyachts just as ‘virtual’ becomes the standard, Virtual Pursers provide a bespoke shoreside solution with the mission to save time and alleviate stress.

With access to a skilled Purser, the benefits are far reaching and can also extend to establishing uniform operations for fleets, better preparing brokers for charter, or lending a helping hand to shipyards/marinas. No matter the size of the yacht or the extent of the need, as trusted yachting professionals, Virtual Pursers are readily available to support all vessels. Taking up no space on-board, a dedicated Purser without the overheads, Virtual Pursers are proud to offer the most cost-effective Purser solution on the market. This flexible approach is ideal for yachts that are fully crewed, have minimal space on-board, or who don’t necessarily require full-time support. Visit virtualpursers.com for more.

Efficiency and Operating Systems

Efficiency and Operating Systems

Operating Systems, the key to efficiency

Often overlooked, Operating Systems are fundamental to running a tight ship. Without which the crew are dead in the water.  Sound processes remove doubt, provide direction, and assist with seamlessly operating the vessel. 

Despite having access to world-class hardware and software, it is imperative for Yachts to stay abreast of technological advancements. Charter Yachts are essentially a business and not keeping up with the times could jeopardise success. 

Yachts vs the real world

Life at sea can be somewhat isolating. Without a spare moment, keeping in touch with life ashore may become an afterthought. Each day revolves around being on call to guests 24/7, regular tasks, safety drills and watch duties, making much else near impossible.

Yachtie’s are accustomed to a chock-a-block schedule with high demands, impeccable standards and tight deadlines. Which is why relentless preparation to manage expectations is so important. To avoid keeling over, skilled crew with the necessary tools and Operating Systems need to be in place to ensure smooth sailing. 

Deep Blue Soft, a complete and comprehensive Yacht Management Software

There are numerous programs out there, with more being developed daily. Virtual Pursers have found that none are as all-encompassing as Deep Blue Soft. This revolutionary yacht management software allows Captains & crew members complete transparency. The shared procedures encourage a harmonious and unified working environment whereby crew members complement each others work on board. Developed by yachting industry professionals for yacht operators, compliance with various regulations and security measures are taken care of. This complete and comprehensive Yacht Management Software covers all administrative areas required to run a vessel such as

  • Core Module: User profiles, Contacts, Shared calendar, Crew & guest lists, certificate management for crew and the yacht, technical documentation.
  • HRM module: Calendar, leave summary, scheduler, HOWR, payroll
  • PMS: Inventory, maintenance tasks, equipment, logbook counters, requisitions, work reports, purchase orders, spare parts & kits
  • Finance: accounting, reporting, budget
  • ISM: Dashboard, procedures, reports, records, contacts
  • Charter: contracts, accounting, APA, reporting, calendar
  • Fleet: Dashboard, management analytics

Worth mentioning is the HRM module. This tool allows the flexibility to either adopt stringent MLC rules or the opportunity to customise rules according to the yacht’s operational requirements. The HRM Module also allows for the activation of seafarer contracts under different standards, including rotational contracts and safe manning rules with different flag rules.

Other helpful tools to streamline operations 

Tools such as DS photo, Monday.com, Sortly, Hubdoc, Pinpoint, and numerous other applications are also worthwhile options to investigate. As useful as Excel may be, it is strongly recommended to consider a comprehensive industry relevant alternative when it comes to yachting operational requirements.

Virtual Pursers all about working smarter and these technological advancements are the way to go. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

Maritime Administration

Cyber Security IMO Regulations

Cyber Security IMO Regulations

Maritime Administration

Ignorance is bliss? Not when it comes to Cyber Security.

Technology plays a critical role in our daily lives. Technological advancements are blisteringly fast compared to previous years, which is why it has become an urgent topic of discussion. In this digital era of ubiquitous computing, organizations without Cyber Security are at risk. Land, air, water and cyber; it’s recognised as the fourth ground for nation-states. 

As the drive towards digital transformation continues to ceaselessly gather momentum, industries need to reassess their security strategies. By not properly protecting the attack surface, private and public sectors leave themselves exposed to possible breaches.

What is Cyber Security Management and why is it so important?

In short, all connected digital systems are prone to cyber-attacks. Expanding networking capabilities to all corners of our lives can make us more efficient, but more susceptible. 2020 catapulted industries online, with cyber security becoming a top priority for businesses. The pandemic has effectively become a catalyst for cyber security threats to rise exponentially, with all sectors being vulnerable. Connecting to the internet also means connecting to potential cyber threats. Attackers are always on the prowl to compromise systems. Generally, hackers are motivated by financial gain via corporate espionage or by acquiring personal data. Not having “top secret type government information” or “lifestyles of the rich and famous” does not make one untouchable.

Maritime Cyber Security Risk

While the threat is very real, the yachting industry has been quite lackadaisical until recently. Reality is – the fancier the yacht, the greater the risk. Adding complexities to ensure an immersive, bespoke experience, has resulted in modern superyachts closely resembling an enterprise-grade network. Vessels are more connected than ever before. Despite the cutting-edge technologies to allow for reliability, efficiency, and safety, cyber security seems to have fallen by the wayside. A breach is troubling in any business; however, consequences could be far more serious in the maritime environment. Don’t assume to know what hackers want. Money may not be the only motive, terrorism is a scary reality. “A successful breach of a vessel’s control systems can potential grant the assailant the ability to take control of bridge systems and control the vessel’s operational functions from anywhere in the world, in real time”, Super Yacht News

IMO Cyber Security Regulations

“When we talk about cyber security, it is not a matter of if you will be attacked but when. In order to deal with that, you should have a risk management approach on it and this what the IMO is introducing.” Mr. Chronis Kapalidis, Cyber Expert, HudsonAnalytix

Because of the ever-rising threat of an inevitable attack, the IMO has put cyber security regulations in place for compliance by 2021. The MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3 guidelines enforce a mechanism for dealing with risk rather than listing controls that should be implemented. Not reinventing the wheel, the IMO decided to build off established international frameworks for cyber risk management, adopting five functions that represent a holistic approach to cyber risk management: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover. By taking this functional approach, captains and security officials have the flexibility to use their discretion to tailor a program that effectively meets the requirements of their vessel without becoming excessively onerous.

NIST Cyber Security Framework

Not industry or size specific, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (“CSF”) is a useful benchmark which the maritime industry can refer to when developing internal regulations and standards.

The CSF features five core functions,

  • Identify: Define personnel roles and responsibilities for cyber risk management and identify the systems, assets, data and capabilities that, when disrupted, pose risks to ship operations.
  • Protect: Implement risk control processes and measures, and contingency planning to protect against a cyber-event and ensure continuity of shipping operations.
  • Detect: Develop and implement activities necessary to detect a cyber event in a timely manner.
  • Respond: Develop and implement activities and plans to provide resilience and to restore systems necessary for shipping operations or services impaired due to a cyber-event.
  • Recover: Identify measures to back-up and restore cyber systems necessary for shipping operations impacted by a cyber-event.
Is your vessel ready for IMO’s Cyber Security compliance?

“It’s been decided that no later than the annual verification of each company’s Document of Compliance, the 1st of January 2021, all shipping companies will be mandated to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems (as defined in the ISM Code)”, Pelion Consulting

With a strong background in the yachting sector, Virtual Pursers recommend Pelion Consulting to ensure Safety Management Systems are updated and ready for audit after the deadline date.

Maritime Administration Virtual Pursers are not a yacht management company; we are an extension of your crew and act as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. As trusted yachting professionals with 20 years combined industry experience, we are here to help as well as to keep you informed on relevant industry related news and updates! For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World

Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World

High-profile owner and guest information is top priority and needs to be completely protected. Cyber Security attacks are generally aimed at accessing/destroying sensitive information, or extorting and stealing money. This is the last thing guests want to deal with whilst trying to enjoy a relaxing holiday. Many yachts lack the most basic security measures and yet, they need them the most. Crew also need to be educated on simple measures to protect their personal devices which may contain sensitive information pertaining to the vessel and guests.

Virtual Pursers understand the risks associated with Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World and have taken all the preventative action necessary. Our services have considered the top 5 cyber security threats.

Ransomware is a form of malicious software that attempts to scramble your data

An obvious but often overlooked form of protection against this type of malware is to back everything up. By merely backing up, you can, in large part, mitigate this risk. It’s also a good idea for business continuity for apparent reasons. Doing this with a cloud-based storage provider that automatically backs up your entire file system is best, as distributing your data as widely as possible makes it inherently more resilient to any loss. There are several providers such as iDrive and Backblaze, but it’s a good idea to shop around.

Phising is an attempt to gain sensitive information by posing as a trustworthy contact

This often comes in the form of a fake email in order to gain an urgent payment or personal information. At Virtual Pursers, we use G-suite and an anti-virus to mitigate these kinds of emails. Here are some points to remember when it comes emails:

  • Remember that email, on the whole, is completely insecure. Being the digital equivalent of a postcard, it’s easy for anyone to intercept and read. Never send anything commercially or financially sensitive via email, especially bank details, credit card numbers, etc.
  • Never, ever, click on any link in an email from an unknown source. Just one click can open you up to a considerable number of attacks, even if nothing seems to have changed/happened.
  • Do not open any attachments from anyone unless you are expecting them. Word docs and Excel sheets are especially risky, but viruses and other malicious code can be hidden in nearly any type of file, even images.
  • Be mindful of the email source, especially if a known contact suddenly says that they’re using another email account (personal, etc.) out of the blue. Always call to confirm.
  • Anyone’s email addresses can be spoofed (faked), so if a known contact suddenly sounds somehow different, then don’t be shy about checking that everything is ok and that it is them!

Data Leakage and hacking are two major problems in the modern-day working environment

There are a few simple ways to counteract these one of which is to use decent antivirus/security software. Whereas both Windows 10 and macOS are relatively secure, they’re both susceptible to spyware, viruses, etc. Even Macs, who people think are generally “virus-proof” out of the box, really aren’t. Installing good antivirus/firewall software is an absolute must for any laptop or desktop used in a professional capacity. Virtual Pursers prefer Norton, however there are alternatives such as BitdefenderKaspersky. Avast is the only trusted free software option.

Use two-factor authentication whenever you can 

This ensures that even if somebody gets hold of your credentials or passwords, they cannot log in to anything with additional security. There are various ways to do this and there are a few built in systems on some programs that send a code to your cell-phone, for instance.  Virtual Pursers use Yubikey’s, a physical USB key for both hardware and software access.

Be careful how you connect to WiFi networks and use a VPN where possible

Never, ever, connect to an insecure public WiFi network that does not require a password. If you have to connect to any network outside of your own trusted office or home network, then it’s vital that you use a VPN or “Virtual Private Network.” VPN services create a secure data “tunnel” from your device, directly through to another secure server elsewhere in the world. This makes you a whole lot more secure and prevents anyone from intercepting your data. There are several options out there, but ExpressVPN is a recommended one as they’re fast, reliable, and they offer apps for all major platforms that make it very, very easy to setup. 

Always stay updated to the latest version or the operating system

The moment a new version comes out, an army of both good and bad hackers try breaking into it. As soon as they find vulnerabilities, believe it or not, the good guys tell either Apple or Microsoft before the bad guys can exploit them, and patches and updates are released straight away.

G-Suite, the ideal Cloud-based ecosystem for Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World

Not only highly recommended, but Virtual Pursers prefer this robust cloud computing platform because of the archiving and collaborative abilities. G-Suite makes it extremely easy for both in-house and external clients to share and contribute. It’s also a reliable environment to keep all your documents, files, email attachments, etc. With G Suite data is kept away from local devices and potential cyber security threats. 

Cyber Security Regulations to be in place by 1 January 2021

With the assistance of International Maritime Organization, vessels can mitigate threats by adhering to the Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management. The recommendations are complementary and can be easily incorporated into existing risk management processes. By 1 January 2021, The Maritime Safety Committee require all administrations to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems (as defined in the ISM Code).

We understand the risk of Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World so you can rest assured knowing that your safety is our top priority. Virtual Pursers – The future of seamlessly, effortlessly, and efficiently navigating yacht administration. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413. 

 

Crew Portal

The Future of Yachting Administration

The Future of Yachting Administration

Crew Portal
The Purser you’ll never lose.

It’s an industry reality that a Purser’s career comes to a standstill when wanting to start a family. The unfortunate trend of wasting years of experience when moving life ashore is responsible for the birth of Virtual Pursers.

With over twenty years combined industry experience, the founders of Virtual Pursers identified a gap in the market for seamless yachting administration and sailed full steam ahead.

Coronavirus has revolutionized the workspace, forcing businesses into uncharted waters. Working 9-5 from an office is ancient history and businesses need to adapt or they will capsize. With the technology available today, working remotely is now considered the “new normal” and with it comes endless opportunity. Virtual Pursers have in turn revolutionized the yachting industry by offering practical, innovative and relevant shore-side solutions through reducing overheads and retaining skilled staff – introducing concepts such as “The Purser you’ll never lose”.  

Effortlessly and efficiently navigating yachting administration.

The team at Virtual Pursers used Lockdown to their advantage, concentrating all efforts to develop a thoroughly detailed business model. Adopting the EOS business model, Virtual Pursers have implemented development tools that businesses usually only consider years down the line. The forward-thinking model, focuses on instilling values that create a positive, growth orientated atmosphere both personally and professionally, all while maintaining job satisfaction and enjoyment.  

With seamless integration at the forefront, Virtual Pursers have ensured user friendly processes that are legally compliant. Having worked with different personalities, Virtual Pursers are aware of the importance to not have a one-size-fits-all approach. With access to numerous platforms, the team are able to tailor their business relationships to the Captain or Senior Crew’s preferences. Understanding the risks and concerns associated with virtualization, the team have made cyber security a top priority, working specifically with Gmail, Outlook, Yubikeys, Macs and Norton Anti-Virus Software.

The ideal solution for yachts ranging from 40 – 65 meters

Virtual Pursers are an ideal solution for yachts that need a Purser but are unable to accommodate a Purser onboard. The expert team are readily available and can easily fulfill the role of a Purser virtually from anywhere in the world. Alternatively, the team can also relieve pressure from Pursers who find themselves overwhelmed during the busy seasons, or whilst dealing with guests on board. From experience, Virtual Pursers are oh so familiar with the pressure associated with yachting administration as well as the importance of stress and time management. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Trusted and experienced yachting professionals

Our services fulfill the role of a Purser, just virtually. Without overhead costs, the experienced and knowledgeable team will free up time for you to attend to guests and to focus on running the yacht.  Whether it be a once-off project or monthly service, Virtual Pursers alleviate stress by taking care of excess yachting administration by allowing ALL vessels access to a Purser service no matter the size of the vessel or the extend of the need.

Crew Portal

Virtual Pursers – The future of seamlessly, effortlessly, and efficiently navigating yacht administration. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.