Global Study Concludes Yachts Create ‘Prisoner’ Mentality In Crew

3029429307_4c6c2ec7d1_zThe Johnny Depp Foundation For A Better Life has released an unprecedented study, summarizing findings gained after thousands of hours spent observing yacht crew working and living onboard over the past decade. Their principle conclusion, while not unexpected, has created a stir in industry circles.

The study was conducted across 58 vessels, with over 500 crewmembers being observed. With varying levels of permission to conduct the research – ranging from open invitations to absolute denial of access – a combination of researchers posing as guests, researchers posing as crew, and guests and crew posing as researchers were used.

“We found that the equivalent social environment which comes closest – on a comparative basis – to that of the life of yacht crew, is that of a prison.” Says Johnny Depp, founder of the foundation and general Good Liver. “It’s a really nice prison, that goes interesting places, and looks great on social media updates – as opposed to real prison which carries a general stigma – but it is still a prison.” He says, punctuating his point by gesturing with his cigarette holder.

The study notes that many behaviors traditionally associated with prison life are also found onboard yachts such as counting down days till freedom, fighting over which channel the television is on in a communal space, constant complaining about the food, and the forming of gangs and alliances of mutual benefit for survival.

“The forming of gangs was a particular observation that stood out and made myself and the other researchers say, “Hey this is pretty fucked up.” Mr. Depp states in unvarnished language. “There was a distinctive pattern to the progression of a newly arrived crew member – with neutral allegiance – to one who aligned themselves within an existing social construct, i.e. ‘Deckies’, ‘Engos’ or ‘Stews’. In each of these primary divisions there were additional sub-groupings such as ‘young kids’ and ‘oldies’, or ‘couples’ and ‘singles’.” Depp went on to explain that which allegiance played a primary role in an individual crewmember’s actions was found to be highly variable, often switching daily and sometimes multiple times within an hour. This was noted especially in the raucous social environment observed when crew went out for drinks immediately following the end of a charter. “The similarities between the behavior of the crew and that of prisoners during a cell-block riot was marked.” Said Depp’s lead researcher, Tomas Gummbs, looking noticeably twitchy and still bearing a number of facial scars gained in his field research. “The only substantial differences were the inter-mixing of genders not commonly seen in a prison, and an absence of homemade weaponry. Apart from that a number of key metrics were identical between these two situations, including the profanity-to-word-count in utterances made during the event; number of injuries per person per hour (I/P/Hr) increasing the longer the event was allowed to continue, and the event generally culminating with an authoritarian intervention by senior officers.”

Depp and his researchers attribute the pressures of onboard life to the forming of hierarchical ‘groups within groups’. The study concludes that regardless of having entered into a contract voluntarily – which sees them being compensated for their work and time onboard the vessel – the daily lives of crew are effectively not their own, leading to tensions similar to that of serving time in the big house.

“Here’s the kicker man.” Depp throws down.” It doesn’t matter that the incarceration is voluntary, because before too long there are significant social, financial and emotional ties holding a crewmember in place onboard. These bonds have the capacity to restrict freedom as surely as bars, and quite possibly longer. Remember, brother, in this case good behavior doesn’t get you out early.”

As a long time yacht owner himself, the inevitable question arises of how he justifies implicit participation in this dynamic. After stroking his moustache for some time Depp thoughtfully replies. “I think life in general is a prison, man. Commuting every day to a job you have to keep because of your mortgage isn’t exactly freedom, is it? Being onboard at least offers crew variety, convenience, and a healthy dose of escapism. The food really isn’t all that bad, consensual shagging is an option if you find someone who’s up for it, and you don’t have to worry about getting shanked.”

13 thoughts on “Global Study Concludes Yachts Create ‘Prisoner’ Mentality In Crew

  1. There have been times when my job has demanded too much from me. 16 hours a day for 115 days straight, is just one eg. During this time, the boat was refered to as a floating prison and the word “slave” seemed a much better wag to describe myself and 3 other crew members than the word “human”.
    Abusive behavior on behalf of the owners of yachts is what defines the boat as a prison, not the boat itself.


  2. So the study is correct in the way of life on board but offers no solutions…owners will abuse the crew whenever they wish….crew will always ask for more money and time off only to be told “just stick it out for a couple of more months”. You either make it a positive experience or dwell on the negatives.


  3. Standing orders of “No touching” (each other) negates much of the injuries. Funny it sthe same order I use for very young children in shopping markets, usually strangers kids. The dissapointment on the faces after I clearly order them, “NO TOUCHING” is pricelessly sad 🙂


  4. If those in power are fair minded and respectful of the crew, their work and skills, and allows a Sense of Ownership – they will all have better experiences. People have abused power since we lived in caves but there are glowing examples of enlightened leadership. The best will find their way there.


  5. Before joining yachts I had the pleasure of depending a spell with her magisty and after reading “Mutiny on the Bounty” thought what better way to find employment than that of following in young William Blighs servant boy, roger the cabin boy. My dear no porridge & not on normal court exersise (NONCE) has led me often to think mutiny a dish best served on a yacht, any takers?


  6. As a former commercial master who came in to yachting: I can safely say that yachting is an exceptionally spoiled industry compared to that of the commercial world. The industry these days is full of part-time backpacking staff who have no experience or place being in a what we are trying to run as a professional business. If you have a professional crew with a good professional master, there will never have to be this prisoner mentality…..due to the expansion of the yachting industry over recent years and the high wages that are paid, it is full of people who want to make a quick buck who don’t spare much thought of the need to work as a “crew”….. the crews that work on commercial ships work far longer contracts with a lot less time off and for much lower wages……. if you feel like a prisoner on your yacht, then leave, and open the door for someone who wants a career at sea, someone who is not afraid of a hard-days work and is not a mummy’s boy!! (sorry Johnny!)


    • That is so well put , and as much as I love Johnny Depp , I think if he had spent more time at the hard edge of the Marine industry , he would also have arrived at the same opinion as yourself . I ve seen his yacht / Ship / Gin Palace , whatever you want to refer to it as , I don’t blame him in the slightest for having it , he’s worked hard enough in his own industry., but please dont make big sweeping statements about ships crews , when , as has just been said , hard working commercial crews bear little to know resemblance to Polo Shirt, Bermuda short wearing wanna be sailors . They are not in it for the sea , They are acting the part . Just like you Johnny ……. !!!


  7. I’ve been in te industry for many years , just remember what you signed up for the warnings were there and just remember you can always leave . It’s you’re choice


  8. I’m loving all these people commenting not realising that its satire.

    Yachting is far from prison. You have a choice to do it and can leave anytime you like.


  9. Good subject matter and good feedback people. I suggest looking at yachting with reality glasses on and nothing else. As a rule the conditions of service for crew are good. This is impacted by managers and owners to-boot, they are the law givers and the crew jump when told to like it or not by them.
    Currently Im onboard with an owner who is utterly ignorant, self centered and egotistical. Three and a half months with time still to go before he leaves. It is not a pleasure to be here, my job is difficult made more so by this man, his nasty character and his demands.
    Leave you say, the reality is this; I have been and seen more than most. I have had pleasure and pain from the best and worst people and environments. I was a naval engineering officer for many years. Im here, because I have terms with a bank for my house in which my family live.
    Who is the prisoner, Ill tell you who…its the sad little big man with all the money in the world who has no respect for himself, who has surrounded himself with yes men of no spine for personal depth. Who lives in a world where money is god and others around him confirm his belief and sacrifice all for hollow life styles and you my friends are nothing but servants in his lifestyle.
    Make no mistake, the elite will destroy this world without second thought because there is no reality for them, they will never understand what it is to be free, free of currency, and free of ego.
    They are the true prisoners in this tale, and the world around us is the proof of what I say.


  10. Pingback: Yachting – Prison or Freedom? | HourlyNerd

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