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.

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. 

 

Stress and Time Management for Yachting Professionals

Stress and Time Management for Yachting Professionals

In the unpredictable and fast-paced world of yachting, it is critical for Crew to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Failing to do so will result in stress, burnout and a potential safety hazard. Stress and time management are essential when operating a vessel. However, stress is unavoidable when Pursers, Captains and Senior Crew find themselves overwhelmed by the ever-increasing yachting pressures.

No rest for the wicked

The human body needs rest to refuel and reenergise, similar to the need for food to function. “No” is not a word in the yachting vocabulary – anything and everything is possible. To go the extra mile, Pursers, Captains and Senior Crew often reprioritise for the sake of the Charter. Overtime becomes a harsh reality, forcing crew to falsify information regarding hours of work and rest.

In accordance to the MCL 2006, the minimum hours of rest for all seafarers are:

  • A minimum of 10 hours in any 24 hour period
  • A minimum of 77 hours in any seven day period

This is laughable to some crew as the minimum is a far reach on trips with demanding Charters and Owners.

Stress, a familiar friend

Lack of sleep, guest expectations, yachting administration, overtime, these are just some of the pressures associated with running a vessel. Due to the nature of the job, stress is a familiar friend for most Yachtie’s. Other than being extremely dangerous, stress also severely impacts mental health and concentration, hindering productivity and wellbeing. Not knowing how to deal with these pressures will result in a snowball effect and an inevitable downward spiral.  

Unlike any other occupation

ISS Captains Committee have identified a few problematic characteristics associated with crewing on a yacht. These unique features include

  • Living in an environment that must appear to be “perfect” at all times,
  • A lack of empathy from shore support network i.e. misdirected envy from loved ones, not understanding the yachting environment/pressures.
  • Demanding physical and mental working conditions,
  • Long hours of work creating high levels of stress and fatigue, and
  • Employment insecurity where the slightest perceived failure can result in being dismissed on a whim with all the attendant stress.
Simple changes to assist with Stress and Time Management

Virtual Pursers are the ideal shore-side solution to restore a healthy work environment. This is achieved through relieving pressure from Captains and Pursers who are unable to get through their daily administration. With 20 years combined industry experience, the team know first-hand the trials and tribulations associated with yachting. Virtual Pursers understand yachting pressures and offer a simple solution for stress and time management. It’s ok to hand over work that can be easily outsourced. In doing so, valuable time is freed up for both the Captain and Purser to focus on running the vessel. Together, Virtual Pursers and the vessels crew can work towards achieving the ultimate goal of keeping the client happy. It’s a win-win situation.

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.