Captain Tom Crockard

Captain Tom Crockard

Captain Tom Crockard

Tom was thrown (almost quite literally) into the deep end of sailing life relatively early on in his career. Having circumnavigated the globe on a sailing yacht, to now Captaining a super yacht, there are no waters he cannot charter. Tom shares his early journey at sea and the highs and lows that come with, as well as some sage advice for our green crew.

Tom, you have had a long and exciting life at sea – could you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from?

I was born on a Sunday, 18/01/1987 in London, UK.  My parents are Northern Irish but moved to London after graduating from medical school, primarily to get away from the worst of the rain and somewhat to get away from the conflicts taking place at the time in Ireland.

I lived and attended school in Highgate, north London up until the age of 18, where I founded and subsequently ended up being the ‘Captain’ of the schools sailing team (the sailing team consisting of all the kids who didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t run, jump or participate in anything involving a ball).

I was introduced to sailing by my father Alan, who had sailed as a child on Belfast Loch.  Dragged unaware from my comfy bed, I was stuffed into a wetsuit at about age 7 or 8, plonked into a Topper dinghy, and shoved hastily off the quayside in Christchurch Harbour in Dorset being told to ‘learn to sail or swim home!’.

Growing up sailing and racing – could you tell us about that and what it is about yacht racing that excites you?

There are many elements to racing especially those that are exciting. I moved to Cowes, Isle of Wight when I was 19, which is the hub of the UK yachting & racing scene. There is the ‘team’ element to large yacht racing or the individual challenge in smaller dinghies and always a battle with the elements and conditions.

You circumnavigated the globe back in 2012 (correct me here!!) – what was your most memorable moment on that trip and why?

Almost correct, I joined an Oyster 655 ‘Sotto Vento’ as a skipper in 2012 in Hamble, UK, having been put forward for the job by the owner’s daughter who was a Yachtmaster Student of mine at the sailing school (Flying Fish) in Cowes where I was working at the time.

The yacht was all signed up to participate in the first ever Oyster World Rally – a 15-month circumnavigation westwards from Antigua to Antigua, departing in January 2013.  We departed the UK in August and headed south to join the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers)  and subsequently the Oyster fleet in Antigua for the start.

The entire experience as a 24/25-year-old, setting sail around the world and visiting places that I never even knew existed and/or certainly never thought I’d ever get the chance to visit was amazing.  People always ask where was your favourite place and it’s impossible to pick one – from the remoteness and desolation of Ascension Island to the thriving, vibrant Polynesia Islands. The scenery, experiences, and comradery made the entire trip memorable.

Could you tell us about your studies and career progression? What advice would you give for balancing work with studies?

There wasn’t so much of a balance for me.  I have never been lucky enough to find a boat that would offer to pay for my studies, courses, or training and as such I have had to quit my job in order to further my qualifications and find new employment once qualified.

I think more and more boats are now offering training incentives and with the move to online oral exams for CoC tickets finding that balance is getting easier. I gave our Chief Officer two weeks of study leave prior to her OOW oral during a quiet month in the Seychelles last year, which has been rewarded by her committing to staying onboard for another year!

When hiring crew, what attributes do you look for? And what makes someone stand out to you?

The main attribute I interview for is personality and a willingness to get involved and offer assistance to other departments. Basically NO EGO! I find it tricky to gauge professional capability over the phone and one must take an element of risk by assuming qualifications are earnt and not bought….

I have typically been on boats with small crew numbers and as such being able to get along socially is paramount. One rotten apple can be much more destructive when there are only five people!!

If you could offer any advice to a Deckhand, hoping to climb the ranks, what would it be?

Don’t be hasty – Too many junior crew are chasing titles and promotions too quickly.  Get good at your role, be an expert in your department.  Being ‘lead deckhand’, ’bosun’ etc. Is meaningless if you’re no good at your job.

The promotions will come, the salary will increase and then you’ll probably wish you’d stayed as a deckhand because you were having more fun with very little responsibility.

And lastly, I know you’re busy submitting your NOE for your Master 3000, which is a huge feat, congratulations! What’s next on the horizon for you?

Since we last spoke I’ve actually received my NOE so the next step is to book and pass the oral exam! I’m going to put off a little until 2024 when I can take some time to actually focus on studying.

Captain Tom Crockard

Congratulations Tom! We are certain that you will pass the oral with flying colours and we will certainly be rooting for you.

Mairin Hunter

Chief Officer Mairin Hunter

Chief Officer Mairin Hunter

Mairin Hunter is part of the 3.9%* of female Chief Officers in the yachting industry today. She’s forged an incredible career and shares with us her experiences, hopes, and dreams. Her tenacity truly shines through, contributing to her success at every turn. 

Mairin, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you were lured into the superyacht industry?

I grew up on Terrigal Beach on the NSW coast of Australia. I became a surf lifesaver at a fairly young age and always had a love for the Ocean, then I just had to find out how I could make it part of my career. It was actually my school friend in Australia that told me about yachting. I followed him out to France about a year afterward and we both still work in the industry today as Chief Officers. 

You joined the industry back in 2010, that is quite the stint! What has been your secret to staying in yachting for the long haul?

I don’t really have any secrets, it’s a tough job at the end of the day. One that takes you away from loved ones for extended periods of time in completely different time zones and missing some major life events. It’s about being able to accept those days and appreciate the good ones onboard and the experiences you are having and the knowledge you are gaining whilst working. I personally, love the everyday challenge of this job. Not one day is ever the same and being at the mercy of Mother Nature most days means you are constantly thinking on your feet and still having to maintain the standard of the yacht, motivating the crew, and if on a trip, maintaining the guest’s experience.

We’d love to hear about your journey from a Deckhand to a Chief Officer, did you find any significant challenges along the way?

I didn’t really have any major challenges, the first few months attempting to be a female deckhand with no prior experience was tough. I was like every other green deckhand arriving in France, male or female, not having a lot of actual yacht experience it took me longer to land something. When I did eventually get something, day-working for 6 months in a shipyard on a 30-year-old Feadship, stripping everything back and putting it together again. I stuck it out. I soaked up everything I could and had a great team who were willing to teach me. Things only went up from there to a new build 90m Feadship in 2011. There are always challenges, and I don’t believe they will ever stop, and if they do, I should probably stop!

Did you have a mentor or a role model that supported your career progression?

I have been lucky to have had many mentors and some great role models, good and bad, throughout my journey. My very first ‘Big Boat’ captain has always been a sounding post for me and continues to be to this day and someone who I have great respect for. I believe everyone I have worked beside has given me something, positive or negative, to take away and shaped me in some form into the person I am today. 

Having a significant amount of New Build experience, can you tell us what’s the most challenging part of your role as Chief Officer with a New Build?

I think the overall management of the yard relationship and getting the most out of the final product would be the biggest and most time-consuming. Knowing which battles to pick and which to hold on to. I love seeing the project come together and making that maiden voyage, it’s a great sense of achievement. The final stages of the build are chaotic and you need a good team beside you. 

I have had some great companies assist in builds that have an extensive naval architecture background, this has definitely made the experience slightly easier at times and taken some of the pressure off. 

You have an impressive resume, what have been some of your career highlights?

It would have to be the circumnavigation I completed on Plvs Vltra in 2017-2020, incredible owners, crew, and itinerary. I am not sure that trip could be re-lived if I tried. We had some incredible challenges and made memories I will cherish for a lifetime. 

Other than traditional yachting courses – has there been any other training that has helped you in your role today?

I completed and Senior Leadership and Management course last year. I met some great people on it and we shared a lot of experiences. I took a lot away from this and believe that all senior crew should take some further form of this course as it’s something that’s missing from yachting. We learn about the nautical and scientific side of yachting but not the management and leadership of the people and the running of a multi-million dollar asset. 

What advice would you give to young crew who are looking to follow in your footsteps?

Be motivated in learning and taking the tough jobs and making the most out of them. Not needing to progress too quickly, the more experience you have in the junior and middle levels, the more rounded crew member you will be when getting to those senior levels. 

And finally, where to next for you?

Hopefully another new build and then a drive of my own in the future. 

Mairin Hunter

Thank you for sharing with us Mairin, we wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

*According to She of the Sea 

The Value of Recording

The Value of Recording

The Value of Recording


As entrepreneurs, we are constantly striving for growth and self-improvement. Whether it’s streamlining processes, expanding our businesses, honing our skills, or working on personal development, we are always looking for ways to become better versions of ourselves. However, this can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if we don’t have a clear direction or a set path to follow. But fear not! There is a simple yet powerful tool that can help us make progress on all of our goals: recording EVERYTHING.

I remember during my first sales job (highly recommended if you are going to start your own business as you are always in sales!), we had to record our calls with potential clients and listen back to them. This was, as you can imagine, an extremely painful experience, especially if you hate the sound of your own voice. The point was not to torture us believe it or not but to evaluate ourselves and see how many of the points we were being taught were being implemented and where we were going wrong. Often our perception is quite distorted so listening back sounded completely different to when I was in the actual conversation. This was quite surprising and it was hard to ignore flaws when you are confronted too aggressively by them.

Needless to say, I learnt a lot. This first lesson is to record everything; everything is measurable.

Towards the end of 2022, I was feeling very sluggish and demotivated and it seemed like I was doing a ton of work but not really getting anything done. So in January, a month, we all choose to start our good habits over again, I decided to start recording my work – what I did, every moment of the work day. Well did this shock me – it opened my eyes to a whole new reality. I wasn’t spending my time as productively as I had thought. I discovered that I was spending my time inefficiently, getting easily distracted, and falling into bad habits like task-switching. However, once I became aware of these patterns, I was able to make changes and become much more focused and productive.

There are so many reasons why recording yourself doing anything is a good idea, whether it’s exercise, public speaking, your work or your personal life. If you want to improve then you need to track yourself and your progress.

Firstly, you need to establish a baseline before you start trying to improve so that you have a point of reference. You can also try out different strategies and come back to your baseline to compare which is working better for you.

When you start tracking yourself, you start to create awareness. For example, if you want to start changing your spending habits, you need to be aware of how you are spending your money now. Oftentimes things become automated in our lives and bringing back awareness is an important part of the change.

Keeping focused can be difficult over long periods of time. As with anything that occurs over time, your tracking might show ups and downs. Don’t let this discourage you as progress often isn’t linear. Often when you go through a lower point it can be motivating to pick up your act and gear up.

Discovering patterns or problems will also be a part of the process. Constantly recording information will easily reveal these over time. It can tell you if you are doing something effectively or not and get rid of anything that is distracting you or leading you off track.

Creating and working towards milestones is also an integral part of setting goals, so how do you know if you are close to achieving your milestone if you don’t know where in the process you are? Information is power and gives you the upper hand.

To summarise, recording or tracking yourself:

·        Creates awareness.

·        Allows you to discover patterns or problems.

·        Enables you to discover if you are using your time efficiently.

·        Helps you avoid distractions.

·        Keeps you on track for your milestones.

Trackers we recommend:

·        Habit trackers for daily habits.

·        Hubstaff for time tracking.

·        A personal journal.

·   Often banks integrate with budgeting tools – this is also great to make use of!

·        If you’re doing presentations record yourself on your phone.


It’s important to remember that progress is not always linear, and we may experience ups and downs along the way. But this is all part of the process, and we should not be discouraged by setbacks. In fact, these can often be motivating and help us get back on track. By recording ourselves, we can discover patterns and problems, get rid of distractions, and work towards our milestones.

The Value of Recording
Virtual Pursers Myths Busted

Virtual Pursers Myths Busted!

Virtual Pursers' Myths Busted

Ahoy there! The yachting industry is one that is constantly on the move, which is why at Virtual Pursers, we love keeping up with the fast-paced environment. As pioneers in innovative solutions, we understand the challenges that come with introducing new approaches to yacht support. We’re thrilled to have dedicated supporters, but we know there are skeptics out there too. So, let’s set the record straight on a few common myths about Virtual Pursers and our services.

Myth 1: Availability Restrictions.

We often hear people say that our services are limited by geography. Not true! Our team is composed of Pursers stationed across various time zones, giving us a global reach and ensuring that we’re always available for our clients. Our co-founders even reside in South Africa and Australia, respectively, so we truly are a worldwide service.

Myth 2: Management Functions.

Some people think we’re a management company, but that’s not quite right. Our team is an extension of the crew, providing support with administrative tasks so that senior crew members can focus on leading their teams and running the vessel. We take care of account management, destination management, crew administration, logistics, port clearances, and any other yachting-related paperwork, leaving the onboard team to do what they do best.

Myth 3: Security Risks.

At Virtual Pursers, we’re serious about the security of our clients’ information. We follow the same cybersecurity best practices as other third-party agents and suppliers, and our systems are cloud-based, protected by VPNs and Yubikeys, and all information is kept confidential through NDAs. You can trust that your data is in safe hands.

Myth 4: Ineffective Without Onboard Presence.

Some people think that we’re only effective when we’re onboard, but that’s not the case. We’ve been successfully operating for two years, and our communication with clients can be conducted through email and phone, just like with an onboard Purser. Our team is always available to ensure that administrative needs are met, no matter where we are.

Myth 5: Competition for Onboard Pursers.

Finally, we often hear people say that we’re trying to replace onboard Pursers. That’s simply not true. Our services are an alternative solution for those who may not have space for an onboard Purser or prefer a virtual support system. We’re here to complement the onboard team and ensure that administrative tasks are taken care of in a timely and efficient manner.

In conclusion, we’re passionate about providing the highest level of service to our clients at Virtual Pursers. We hope that by debunking these common myths, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to delivering quality support to our clients. 

Virtual Pursers Myths Busted

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re here to help!

Chief Officer Nick Ward

Chief Officer Nick Ward

Chief Officer Nick Ward


At the young age of 9, Nick Ward embarked on his seafaring journey and has since become a seasoned sailor. In 2012, he entered the world of yachting, and over a decade later, he generously shares his wealth of knowledge, personal experiences, and future aspirations with us.

Nick, you’ve had a long yachting career thus far, could you tell us what enticed you into a life at sea?

At age 9, I joined a local sailing club and learned to sail on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. I was completely hooked at the first lesson. I remember not being able to sleep through excitement for the following day and being amazed at the concept of how boats float and how the wind and sails work in unison. I admired the sailing instructors immensely and after 3 years I became a sailing instructor myself. I taught kids on Friday nights and Saturday mornings as well as adults on Saturday afternoons.
At primary school, I recall going onto the Sunseeker website and requesting a brochure. I spent days and days looking through the pages with my friend in absolute awe – ‘one day’.
I was headhunted at age 12 to start racing dinghies. I raced Mirrors and represented Team GBR around Europe. I was paired with my sailing partner, Tom, and we had a very successful racing career. Eventually, outgrowing Mirrors and moved to 405’s and 29ers.
Tom and I were European Champions in the 405 class and trained with the current 49er Olympic gold medallists. Racing began to absorb my life and I was lucky enough to be at a college where they supported me through this time, leaving school early on a Friday to get to Weymouth Sailing Academy and coming in on a Monday absolutely exhausted.

How early in your career did you start planning to climb the ranks?

I climbed the ranks quite quickly – I progressed from Relief Bosun on an 89m to Second Officer on a 76m. I created a ‘3-year plan’ in my iPhone notes of the courses I wanted to complete in years 1,2,3 including my OOW exam and I stuck to them – it is such a great feeling to be able to tick them off one by one. I am lucky to have worked with incredible Captains and Officers during my time as Deckhand. They supported me through all of my courses and I was able to take this time off to complete them.

Can you remember your very first year in Leadership? And from that time, how do you feel your Leadership skills have changed?

When I had my first Officers job I was 25 and on a 75m private yacht – it was quite overwhelming. The HELM course helped me a lot – it is an incredibly important course and a favourite to date. It is crucial to be approachable and listen to your team. I very much stick with the ethos of firm but fair. I support and respect all of my team through their learning and progression.

My leadership skills haven’t changed a lot over the years. Through working as Second Officer on a 75m I am now Chief Officer on a 92m so the main difference is an increase of crew.

What’s been the most rewarding part of yachting for you?

The most rewarding part of my job is to stand back and watch the deck team work their magic boss on. I work very hard with the current Second Officers on training the team to work efficiently and effectively – through launching tenders, driving tenders, anchoring and general seamanship.

Have you noticed any significant changes in the yachting industry over the years?

I have. It is very apparent that rotation is a new thing for Junior crew which I completely agree with. It is important to have a work/life balance. Yes, initially it is more expensive for the Owner to agree to this, however, you will keep crew longer, reducing recruitment fees and they will be much happier and work harder – the Owner and guests see everything, be attitude or general vibe. In the long run, it is cheaper for the Owner and they will have a better experience on board.

What’s important to you when it comes to working in a yachting environment?

Arguably, the hardest part of working on yachts is to work and live with your colleagues. It is very important to respect fellow colleagues’ space and don’t forget to be patient outside of work.

What advice would you give a green Deckie who’s looking to follow in your footsteps?

Work hard, always be 10 minutes early and look presentable – everything is noticed. Ask questions if you are not sure. Do not forget those skills that will help you. I look for a crew who has those extra skills – drone flying, video editing, PT, medical, and tender driving. Unfortunately, ‘just having the qualifications’ isn’t enough.

And finally, what’s on the horizon for you?

My goal is to be a fleet captain working closely with the owner and management company. My priority is to manage the owners’ expectations whilst delivering unmatchable service.

Chief Officer Nick Ward

Nick, your journey has been truly remarkable, especially considering your young age. It’s always inspiring to hear stories of early success, as it reinforces the notion that with dedication and determination, anything can be accomplished. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours and have every confidence that you will achieve every one of your goals!


Disorganisation and It’s Effects

Disorganisation & It's Effects

In this article, we will discuss the effects of disorganisation on our mental health and work capabilities, and what we can do to combat these negative effects. Organising our workspace and work processes can have a significant impact on our mental health and work capabilities. This will lead to increased productivity, decreased stress, and increased motivation.

Increased Stress

The first and most obvious effect of disorganisation is increased stress. When we are disorganised, it can be difficult to find the things we need, and we often feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done. This leads to increased levels of stress, which can negatively impact our mental health. It can cause feelings of anxiety and depression, and making it difficult to focus and be productive. Additionally, disorganisation can cause us to feel overwhelmed and powerless, leading to decreased motivation and a lack of energy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that stress is a leading cause of workplace accidents. This can lead to decreased mental and physical health, decreased job satisfaction, and increased risk of burnout.

Decrease productivity

Another significant effect of disorganisation is decreased productivity. When we are disorganised, it is difficult to find the information we need, leading to wasted time and decreased efficiency. This can make it difficult to meet deadlines, prioritise tasks, leading to a lack of focus and decreased motivation.

When we are disorganised, it can be difficult to find the things we need, leading to a feeling of disempowerment and a lack of control. Additionally, disorganisation can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, making it difficult to feel good about our work and our abilities, negatively affecting our mental health.

Sleep Deprivation

Disorganisation can also lead to sleep deprivation and stress-related accidents in the workplace, which, according to the National Sleep Foundation, can lead to decreased alertness and increased fatigue, leading to decreased productivity and increased risk of accidents and errors in the workplace.

Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals are twice as likely to be involved in workplace accidents and that sleep deprivation can lead to decreased productivity, decreased job satisfaction, and increased absenteeism. Additionally, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that workers who get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night are more likely to be involved in occupational injuries.

How To Combat It

So, what can we do to combat the negative effects of disorganisation on our mental health and work capabilities? The first step is to take an honest look at our work environment and determine what is causing the disorganisation. This may involve decluttering our workspace, creating a system for organising our work materials, or streamlining our work processes.

Once we have identified the source of the disorganisation, we can start to make changes. This may involve implementing a new system for organising our work materials or setting up a schedule for decluttering and organising our workspace. Additionally, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a professional organiser, who can help us to create a system that works best for our unique needs and challenges.

Another key step in combating the negative effects of disorganisation is to focus on self-care. This includes taking breaks throughout the day, practising mindfulness and meditation, and engaging in physical activity. Additionally, it is important to make time for the things we enjoy, such as hobbies, social activities, and time with loved ones.

We make it our priority to be as organised as possible to ensure maximum output and effectiveness while still maintaining boundaries and self-care. We make it our business to stay up to date with the latest efficiency tools and systems to keep the work flowing as smoothly as possible because well as we saw above, we simply cant afford not to! Can you?


A Different Type Of Fitness – Mental Fitness

A Different Kind Of Fitness

We are all bombarded by influencers, personal trainers and gyms for ways to keep ourselves physically fit, but what about mental fitness? Just like the body needs exercise, so does your mind to keep in tip-top shape. Forbes defines it as “Your measurable ability to engage constructively in life and work every day, no matter what stressors you encounter. You can consistently respond to challenges with optimal performance at the moment and minimal recovery time afterwards.”

There are many benefits of keeping mentally fit. The obvious one is greater focus, improved memory and concentration and better communication. It also leads to increased mindfulness and the ability to be present which leads to developing deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Your positive emotions also increase, which allows you to be more compassionate, and reframe thoughts and it improves your general outlook and attitude to any adversity you face. Your self-esteem and efficacy (confidence) also escalate. There are also physical effects such as improved quality of sleep.

There are a few ways to increase your mental fitness but the ultimate exercise is meditation. Meditation is essentially the ability to observe and detach from your thoughts. Even ten or fifteen minutes a day can make a significant difference. Just a reminder that meditation doesn’t mean you need to blank out all thoughts completely but rather to observe and dismiss them as they pop up – it can be daunting but start slow and short and build from there. Let go of your expectations and run with the experience.

You can also try these five things to make a difference:

  1. Get physical – the mind & body are interlinked and physical exercise can relieve stress and tension. This doesn’t mean you need to run 10 kilometres every day but instead move your body in a way that feels good to you. Find something you enjoy doing and stick with that!
  2. Eat and drink to support your gut health – your brain needs water to stay hydrated and function properly and your gut plays a huge role in your mental health. The bacteria in your gut communicate with other systems in your body, notably the nervous system. Hence when you’re nervous you may feel nauseous or have butterflies in your tummy!
  3. Continue to be grateful – keeping a gratitude diary helps shift your consciousness into a more positive space which correlates to a healthier and more optimistic way of living. Writing down what you are grateful for comes from a place of abundance. If you’re focusing on the negative constantly, you will be coming from a place of lack which will automatically set you in a defeatist and pessimistic mindset, holding you back from any improvements and motivation.
  4. Be in a growth mindset – keep a growth mindset and step out of your comfort zone constantly. Think about when children start learning to walk. They have to try and try again as they get used to the sensation and practise the movements over and over. Failure teaches you resilience as you as in a state of learning, stretching and growing yourself to become stronger
    and more capable.
  5. Do your inner work – just as you would do physical exercise, do mental exercise by checking in with your emotions, goals and values. Take stock and make improvements in the way you interact with others.

You may wonder why you would put so much effort into your mental fitness, there are many results that enable you to live a happier more joyful life. Imagine feeling like you’re gliding through your day instead of struggling through it. Increase your mental fitness and you will be more mindful and present in your interactions with others, enhancing your personal relationships.

You will have more control over your automatic reactions – you behave more rationally and less emotionally in most situations. Your focus, processing, memory, time management and a number of other mental functions improve with mental clarity as a result of increased mental fitness. Build yourself a mental fitness program so that you can maintain consistency and practise throughout your week, month, and year and eventually it becomes a habit that you can maintain for the rest of your life.

Be in a learning mindset, it keeps you young!

Chief Officer Stirling Mason

Chief Officer Stirling Mason

Stirling Mason is a husband and father of three with his Masters Unlimited. After his mother adamantly introduced him to the marine industry, he created a fantastic career at sea with many more successful years to come. Stirling is among the rising generation of leadership in the industry, advocating for open and honest communication and honing his leadership skills to set an example for his team and fellow crew members. 

You started in the commercial sector, could you tell us what that was like?

I actually didn’t want to come to sea originally, my mum took me to a maritime open day at the Dover docks in the UK and tried to palm me off onto chemical tankers at 16 years old. Of course, I was having none of it at this point. Then 2 years later, she took me back to this maritime open day where shipping companies were advertising for cadet deck and engine officers. This time I had completed my A-levels but still didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, this was an opportunity to travel and not end up in a ton of student debt. So I applied to be both an engineer and a deck officer and the deck officer application was successful so I was given an interview with the training company and placed on P&O ferries.

I loved my time as a cadet on ferries, I would shadow the ABs (able seaman) and do all mooring ops, loading and unloading of vehicles, anchor ops, and planned maintenance. As a very young and inexperienced 18year old it was a real eye-opener, deck crew was over 40 and so had a lot of job and life experience, the time was always interesting and some of my funniest moments came from the ferry days. After qualifying as a 3rd officer I had the opportunity to remain with P&O, which I did as it’s always good to get experience in your discharge book plus the lessons I learned from navigating the some of busiest shipping lanes in the world has given me so much confidence in my collision avoidance decision making abilities and a firm grasp of the rules of the road.

After about 6 months I really did want to travel and so I took a step over to cruise ships. This was an amazing experience, I really did get to travel all over the Mediterranean and we did a great cruise through Panama, into the Pacific and all the small islands, for me it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime that I took away from the cruise ships was the bridge team management skills. The operation procedures are so well written, the closed loop communication is ingrained into all the team, and there are constant training sessions onboard for all aspects of safety, but it’s done in a way that isn’t a drag but a positive learning opportunity.  This was also around the time the Costa Concordia capsized and so all cruise ships were really hot on all regulations, cross-checking each other and safety areas. It has been very beneficial to me and I would recommend it to any junior officer to try it out, not only the social aspect of it because cruise ships are great fun but the professional aspect, as they really do put a lot of money into training their officers and the transition from cruise ships to large yachts has been very streamlined.

How did you find your way to the yachting world?

After cruise ships, I went back to the ferries for a few years as I was enjoying the time for time rotation (week on week off/ 2 weeks on 2 weeks off) we had also had our first child so I was happy to be at home. However, while on the cruise ships I had always seen the yachts and was interested in what they did and wondered what it would be like to work on one. I tried through various agencies to get a job and only had 1 strict criterion, it had to be time for a time as I had a young family. Finally, I was given the opportunity to take a temp role with the prospect of going permanent which would have been time for time. It was a big decision because I was definitely in a comfort zone on the ferries and I had heard of all the horror stories from yachts. I absolutely landed a great boat, however, and have been there for the last 5 years.

What was the most difficult transition period in your career at sea?

Definitely having children. It makes going away so much more difficult, I have often questioned whether it’s a good idea to be going away, and what it does to the kids, I know it puts a lot of stress on my wife. I always try to justify it by saying I get quality time with the kids when I’m home and not a lot of dads get that.

Onboard, my most difficult transition was going from 2/O to C/O.  It’s a whole different ball game,  and communication is king. I’ve also struggled with the leadership aspect of the role. I’ve sailed with so many C/O and captains and tried to take their best bits and make a conscious effort to avoid certain styles. I had a tendency to try to please everyone but I’ve learned that simply can’t work. I’ve undertaken a really good leadership course and putting those elements into practice has been rewarding I believe I can see a difference in how the vessel runs.

When hiring a new crew member, what do you value most?

Again due to this leadership course, my perception of recruitment has improved a lot, it’s not just about what’s on someone’s CV. It’s so important to build up a background on the person, whether they will work well in the ship’s environment and whether they will get on with everyone. Are they hands-on or happy to stand back?

We just hired a new deckhand, with no experience in yachting but his attitude is what sold it for me, he came across as a guy that would get stuck in and not complain, he was very hands-on and mature. He knows how to handle himself in a social situation and is easy to work with, he’s been a great hire for the boat.

You completed an Iron Man in 2020, that’s quite a feat! How did you manage to train whilst onboard?

Haha, I wouldn’t recommend doing it how I did it! I gave myself a year to go from gym meathead to Ironman, so I’d not run anywhere close to a marathon before, I don’t even really like cycling but I’m a decent swimmer so I entered the comp. Fortunately, we have a well-equipped gym onboard with a treadmill but we only had a spin bike at the time and that was soul-destroying trying to keep the resistance the same and HR steady. I was 2/O at the time and I’m pretty sure my C/O had enough of me constantly in the gym training! It was a lot of hours of cardio and I’d have to sacrifice shore leave to get the training in but it was worth it to hear the words ‘you are an Ironman.

What advice do you have for anyone in the industry at the moment?

It’s all about attitude, that will get you far. Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, putting yourself forward or always being available to assist puts you head and shoulders over everyone else

Showing interest in your job role is as important as being curious, don’t just sit on the bridge at night and play games, look around, explore the equipment, go into settings come up with procedures, you want to improve what you have all the time. If you’re a deckhand, don’t just turn up, see what you think can be done more efficiently, on a well-established boat, they might have seen it all but there’s always room for improvements and a good boat will always trial it.

What would your ideal itinerary be?

I would love to go back to the Pacific Islands again and hopefully get more time ashore. I remember we went to 1 atoll in the Pacific and it didn’t have ECDIS for the area so we were literally using a hand-drawn chart from when Captain Cook visited, the cruise ship was anchored over a mile away as the sounding couldn’t be relied upon. It was incredible.

And finally, are there any specific goals you have for the year ahead?

I’m still doing my leadership course with the crew academy at the moment, I’m learning a lot about my style of leadership, how to implement certain techniques and how to motivate my team. I find the psychology of leadership and people fascinating so I’m really enjoying the course.

Otherwise, I’m focusing on building the foundation to step up as captain one day, learning from those around me. I don’t have a specific timeline to become captain, I’m still trying to become the best C/O I can be.

Thank you, Stirling! Fantastic advice and insights, and great work to your mum for giving you the push to start your incredible career.

Shaun Frith

Captain Shaun Frith

Captain Shaun Frith

Shaun Frith has a very impressive career at sea and is now facing a challenge a lot of Officers and Captains share at his stage – balancing life with a family! We want to offer our congratulations to Shaun and also delved into what life looked like before all of the responsibilities and how he hopes to continue life at sea.

Shaun, you’ve been in the industry since 2009, that’s quite a stint! Tell us about your journey so far.

Tell me about it, it’s flown by!
I started the Industry in Fort Lauderdale. I had studied IT and had been working as a programmer and had a travel bug that was eating away at me. My twin brother got wind of my investigations into it all and jumped on board with my plans to do the basic courses and head to the USA. He is now a chief Engineer with us both having started at the bottom and worked our way up. We even had a chance to work together on MY Laurel and MY Gladiator.

I did initially think it may just be a gap year and even had doubts about doing my OOW because the first few years were so much fun and a lot more carefree. That being said, I put my big boy pants on and completed my OOW in 2015 and my Chiefmate ticket shortly thereafter. From there my head was down with a goal in mind and achieved my Master 3000 in 2019.

You’ve been on both charter and private yachts, which do you prefer and why?

This is a tough answer, they both have their perks. The money on busy charter boats is great but the burnout is real and have I known people to be chased away from the industry because of that. You also don’t necessarily form a bond with your employer as you may only see them once a year and you kind of become just a number.

Private boats have their perks with attractive bonus schemes and forming of relationships with the owners but also can tend to sit still in places for a lot longer and not as much on the go as a charter boat. Each would suit different people in their different life situations. Right now charter is great with rotation and the tips help with the drop in salary.

You’re coming up to almost 2 years as Captain, what has been your most challenging moment?

It’s not so much a moment but a general area that always has to be managed. This is sometimes having to say no to people who are used to having everything they want right there and then. This comes into play when you see some guests get out of control at the risk of damaging the vessel they are chartering, and you have to draw the line for the owner you represent.

What do you think is currently missing in the yachting industry?

I would like to see more representation for crew. There are of course the social media communities and offerings of the PYA, Nautilus and even the Crew Coach. I think it would be great if there were one single hub specialised in yachting that incorporated all of the above. I want to say a union but it’s more than that with the offerings of managing crew mental health and legal disputes. Maybe there is but I have yet to come across such a hub/institution.

How do you manage balancing life at sea and home life?

Also, not an easy one to do but rotation helps and FREE mobile with their great sim card offering while on board for facetime. And even then, when at home it’s good to have a hobby whether you have a family or not. I think one just gets so used to being so busy that it can be a struggle to get home and sit still. As with everything in life, it’s finding balance and being mentally present in the place you are.

If you could attend any yachting event this year, which would it be and why?

I’d love to attend the superyacht awards ceremony. Always some big players there and a good networking platform with the top performers in the industry.

If you could give yourself advice as a deckhand all those years ago what would it be?

People are always watching, and this industry is smaller than one thinks. Always compose yourself in a way that would be respectful to others that you could end up working with one day. If not, just don’t advertise yourself as working on a boat and rather say you are on holiday.

What’s next for you in your career?

At this stage, I have a newborn baby and trying to figure that life balance out with this career while making sure all my crew and guests are still taken care of. Over and above that, hopefully, a bigger Dutch-built boat with my current owner.

Shaun Frith

We wish all the best for Shaun and his family and we can’t wait to hear all about his future adventures!

Fill Up Your Cup!

Fill Up To Overflow

Do you constantly feel drained? Do you feel like everyone is demanding a piece of you every day and you’re not sure how much longer until you cave to the pressure and completely crack? Ok, it may not be this dramatic for you, but you may have some feelings of exhaustion and general depletion of energy right?
What if I told you that all of that can change and you could possibly accomplish and give even more than you already are without those feelings? You could give more and feel energised and happy? What we’ll get into may seem counterintuitive but it is the best advice I have received so far and has completely changed the way I operate.
Let’s put it like this – everyone starts their day off with a certain amount in their cups. This cup represents your health, fulfilment, energy levels, emotional states etc. Everyone starts off with a certain amount and your interactions throughout the day each use up a bit of what’s in your cup. Desperation, anxiety, and stress all cost you coins too. Inversely, gratitude, love and positive experience fill your cup up.

The Foundation

Now in order to have a strong cup, with no cracks, you need to build a strong foundation and patch up any holes – you need to strengthen your mind and body. Sleep, exercise, healthy food and meditation are the four major components of a strong foundation. And yes, you have heard this a thousand times but everyone needs reminding right? If you can create even micro habits to allow you to get into a good routine incorporating just these four elements you’re setting yourself up for success EVERY SINGLE DAY.

The Filling

Contrary to how it feels, filling up your cup first is not selfish or self-indulgent. You aren’t being irresponsible, you are important too! You need to give yourself permission to look after yourself. Self-care comes first and everything else comes after – you cannot provide what you don’t have.
There are many ways you can fill your cup up but three simple ways to start are:

1. Positive self-talk:

We often don’t realise the amount of negative self-talk that goes on inside our heads. We also take these and subconsciously internalise them as our truth. Firstly take note of when you are speaking negatively to yourself, secondly, turn that around and be your own cheerleader and motivator! Picture you talking to your mother/best friend/sibling/partner – you would never put them down as you do to yourself right? So why do the same to yourself?

2. Practise Gratitude:

Being grateful does not equate to being positive. There are always going to be negativities in your life, that is unavoidable. Learning to redirect your energy to the things that make you feel good, for example, your accomplishments, or when you solve a problem, will energise you to accomplish more and give you the confidence to solve the problems in front of you. This is going to propel you into a constant forward-flowing motion rather than feeling stuck, despondent and helpless. Your gratitude will always be rewarded.

3. Set boundaries:

These are extremely important when it comes to prioritising yourself so that you feel good, rather than overextending yourself for others. Boundaries are there to protect you and help you care for yourself. Chances are high that you will encounter some resistance when you first set and communicate boundaries but eventually people will respect you for them. Remember they are there to keep those that you want in your life and those that are not meant to be there will leave.
It all comes down to what makes you feel fulfilled. What brings you joy? What do you absolutely LOVE doing? Give that gift to yourself.

The Result

If you keep on filling your cup, it will eventually overflow, therefore allowing you to give completely and freely to others without even a second thought of yourself. Not only that but it will come from a place of energy and abundance.  The amazing thing is that you can always fill up your own cup. Ensure that you give to yourself first and will always be able to give to others.