What A Captain’s Watch Says About Them (Or You, If You’re A Captain)


Beyond being generally inscrutable, a Captain’s taste and decision-making process is especially well-hidden behind the depersonalization of a uniform. It’s often only when seeing a captain disembark for the airport that crew will receive a rare window into who this person is, allowing glimpses of indicative garments such as a linen suit (open to profitable drug deals), shiny new dock shoes (definitely not open to drug deals, regardless of margins), or an extremely loud Hawaiian shirt (will be smashed by boarding time). But apart from these rare glimpses there lies a daily clue to what makes this person tick in plain sight. Their watch.

Editor’s Note: The following will only apply to a vessel’A  Master who has chosen and paid for their watch themselves. If their timepiece was gifted to them or they found it in their drawer and just started wearing it, this may not apply.


Make: Rolex 
Most Commonly Sighted Model: Oyster Perpetual Submariner
What It Says In A Word Or Two: Company Man
What It Says in A Paragraph: This skipper is established (or at least has been at some point). He appreciates quality (and advertising), and believes that this timepiece allows him to play the part and look the part and know what time it is to the uncorrected microsecond. Win-win-win. If you’re having trouble breaking the ice with this master try a discussion about the Forex markets or taxation. He values established and verified quality, so most likely works on a vessel made in Germany or Holland, drives a German car, and if you are below the rank of officer forgot your name before you told him. A stakeholder in the established status quo, onboard he isn’t just drinking the kool-aid; he made it.

Value In A Liferaft: +/- (Variable). This entirely depends on the behaviour of his investment portfolio prior to the incident that landed you in a survival situation. If the markets were trending upwards, or he was sitting on a stock and was just about to unload when the vessel sank, you’re in great hands. He’ll move heaven and earth to reach safety and access to his E-Trade account in time for market close. But if he recently lost his shirt in a large correction, sinking the vessel may have taken away the last of his lifeforce. Don’t let him volunteer for sea-anchor duty.


Make: U-Boat
Most Commonly Sighted Model: The one as big as your head
What it says in a word or two: Unsubtle
What it says in a paragraph: This captain was a huge Public Enemy fan. Now that he has the money he has chosen to pay homage to Flavour Flav and his clock necklace by putting a timepiece of similar dimensions on his wrist. And that’s about the nicest thing we can say about that. By wearing an overpriced watch that was purposefully designed to look rugged, and has been strategically branded to appeal to the market of people who think you can buy toughness, this captain is saying a lot of things. One of them is not, ‘solid decision maker’.

Value in a liferaft: – 100. This is not the person you want to be stepping into anything bright orange with. In related news; he is the most likely person with which you will do this. If you find yourself awaiting rescue with a master wearing 4 kilos of Italian marketing ingenuity on his wrist, stay calm and do whatever he says. Not just because he’s in charge, but also because there’s an actual Beretta handgun built into these things.


Make: Suunto
Most Commonly Sighted Model: Core (All-Black Military Ed.)
What it says in a word or two: Redundantly capable
What it says in a paragraph: This watch is all business, and so is your captain. These masters value reliable information (overload) and can tell you where South is from directly under the polar ice cap whilst holding his breath and wrestling a russian polar bear with a black belt in Muay Thai (the polar bear not your captain, he’s just hard). The good news: If you’re ever in trouble and he’s on your side, he knows more chokeholds than you know words. The bad news: If you’re ever in trouble and he’s on the other side? Same.

Value in a liferaft: That’s classified

cc-Matt-Neale-casio-390x285Make: Casio
Most Commonly Sighted Model: F-91W (Known as a ‘Casio’)
What it says in a word or two: No frills
What it says in a paragraph: This captain values function over form, to the point of obsession. This watch tells him the time for $19.99, same as your Rolex, and for a car or two cheaper. Often a former engineer – though minus the ‘former’ in his own mind – he works logically through problems and gets frustrated with anyone who complicates things with unquantifiable values like feelings. He insists on holding onto aging machinery long after their working life, leading to frequent mid-voyage breakdowns. But he’s also the one to patch whatever is broken back together with parts salvaged from the crew mess dishwasher, often before you knew there was a problem.

Value in a liferaft: +10. This guy is as even-keeled as you get. His facial expression in a liferaft is the same as on his day off: professionally bored. He’s getting you to safety with or without your emotions because that is the logical end to his advanced training in getting shit done. The only thing he’ll need to ask you for is the time, because his watch got wet.

Next month we look at laptops, and what a personal choice in these says about your Chief Engineer, or you, if you’re a Chief Engineer.

Next Generation Yacht Design Unveiled, Hosts Crew Gym, Theatre, Pool, And Daycare For Crew Children


The innovative, and groundbreaking, and innovative yacht design firm of RU4Real have today released plans for an entirely new generation of yacht. One which puts the needs, wants, desires, fantasies and complaints of crew first.

“The crew are the heart, brain, and bollocks of a yacht, let’s be honest.” Says lead designer Ian Jophais from his ultra sleek office high above the Eiffel tower somewhere. “The boat should really be all about them, because without them there would be a different crew, and without them a different crew again, and so on and allez. Tu es get the idea.” He says, slipping effortlessly between English and some other language.

The plans are nothing if not striking. While keeping with the yachting tradition of guest spaces aft, and crew accommodation forward, RU4Real have truncated the owner areas down to the minimum size necessary, and expanded crew facilities in their place. Essentially the yacht is all bow. “To the wow,” as Jophais puts it, smashing his third glass desk of the week with a skull paperweight made of solid pewter.

A 5-deck forward superstructure allows for such crew amenities as an indoor squash court, full gymnasium with yoga platform mounted on a gimbal for sessions underway, a sound studio, an Apple Store, and a theatre, as well as a sitting room and office in each crew cabin.  Furthermore there are onboard childcare facilities for crewmember’s little ones, or locally adopted babies should there be none onboard.

“Vous gotta look after the crew.” Jophais explains as he walks The General Alarm through the plans, before interrupting to attend to his receptionist. When he returns 20 minutes later, after fixing her a rose petal tea and dashing out to get her flowers for her date that evening, he answers the question playing on the entire industry’s mind; what about the owners?

“The who? Ah oui, le ownair. This is not a problem. There is a small but functional swim platform, a perfectly adequate main saloon with a couch and a TV, and a small section of the sundeck reserved for the use of the guests, except when the crew want to play tennis, and then of course the partition is removed and the lounges stacked on the side. There is also a guest galley, where they can fix toasted sandwiches and help themselves to a very well-stocked bar at any time of day.” When it is pointed out that this seems to be very little for the expense of owning such a vessel he nods amiably. “I agree. I doubt they’ll come on all that often.”

He goes on to explain that while he hasn’t included plans for a guest tender per se, he and his design team are certain that the owner can catch a lift ashore with the crew who run a scheduled hourly shuttle in one of two state-of-the-art limo tenders, manned by dedicated teams of three deck crew, at least one of whom is always an A-list DJ. “But”, he adds, “The problem of getting to and from shore isn’t likely to come up very often.” When asked why, he seems taken aback that something so obvious has to be asked.

“Alors. The In-Ter-Net is a-shit at sea. This yacht will be connected to the dock entirely by fibre optic cables as thick as your thigh (no need for docklines) down which will stream internet so fast it will require a 24/7 fire-watch in case a cable starts to burn.”

The order book for M/Y CREWD AWAKENING (suggested name only, buyer can rebrand as desired) remains empty. Interested parties can contact IanJoPhais@RU4Real.fr for further information.

Global Income Tax For All Seafarers To Be Introduced


Protests turned to riots in a number of major ports over the weekend as the United Nations announced that after years of debate and international diplomacy, an agreement has been reached that will see all seafarers taxed regardless of status in their country of residency, or amount of time spent therein. The plan will take effect on Jan.1, 2016.

The agreement consists of a process of pro-ration, in which a seafarer’s income will be taxed according to how many days in each nation they have spent while on duty, pro-rated to that country’s particular rate of taxation. It will also include days at sea, with days spent within the territorial waters of a nation counting equivalently to a day onshore there. For days spent in international waters the seafarer will pay tax directly to the United Nations at a set rate of 41% of net earnings. Seafarers that already pay income tax to a given nation will also have to adjust to the new system, as the agreement intends to tax them at whichever rate is highest.

“There are no free rides.” Says Emmanuel Bendovar, head of a new initiative at the UN known as Operation Tax Everyone. “Seafarers should have to pay tax somewhere, to someone at some stage in some way that means something. A commonly held misbelief is that as a seafarer is often not in their home country to use infrastructure, they should not have to pay into it. That is bullshit. They are in someone else’s country using someone else’s infrastructure, and when they are not they are at sea and that costs money. To rescue them for example, or to speak to them on the radio, or to spy on them for a long time from a long distance. This is not cheap and it costs money.”

What makes this complicated scenario possible is the development and mandatory adoption of an AIS (Automatic Identification System) at sea, and the now near-global ability to receive and track this data. With each commercial vessel now obligated to transmit their location, shoreside monitoring stations already in existence can easily follow vessel movements. They then correlate this with the crew list registered in the vessel’s last port of call (also visible on AIS) and tabulate the information in a global database created for the task, known as the Global Income Tracker Servicing Untaxed Mariners (GIT SUM).

Sensing the course of action most vessels would be likely to take given this method, Mr. Bendovar goes on to explain that “If a vessel turns off it’s AIS, the crew of said vessel will be taxed an equivalent amount due to every nation on earth for every day that they are untrackable.” When it was pointed out that this would be an extraordinarily high figure he confirmed this, saying, “Yes. It would be a shitload.”

Reaction amongst crew in the yachting industry, long known to be a business that plays fast and loose with tax regulations, has been effectively blind panic.

“Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.” Was the response of one stewardess on being told of the development and asked her thoughts. A young man who identified himself as the fifth officer of a nearby 88m vessel, responded that this did not concern him as his accounts were in the Isle of Man. When told this would have no effect, and that the new regulations would still apply, he repeated the location of his accounts 4 more times before breaking down in tears.

The ramifications of the new agreement are certain to be widespread, and will undoubtedly wreck havoc on an industry whose wages are in large part predicated upon an assumption of reduced or nil taxation. With protests-leading-to-riots planned for every port in the Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western hemispheres – and any overlap to result in combining of forces – tensions are building


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5 ‘Yacht’ Questions Crew Should Avoid

bored converse1

The following are conversation fillers that yacht crew use when speaking to other yacht crew in the frequency range of ‘often to way-too-often’ (O~WTO) because of a lack of: imagination, interest, sobriety, sleep, ability to concentrate, or having anything in common with the person with whom they are conversing.

Make it your personal challenge when next speaking to someone you: don’t care about, are seeing double of, can’t hear, or don’t ever expect to see again ever, to not ask the following:

  1. What’s your itinerary?
    There’s a reason the word ‘itinerary’ is generally used to refer to a typed, rigid, contract of conveyance of your person from one location to another. It is dry, boring and devoid of the joie-de-viva-las-vegas that your life should have. The only thing worse than asking this question is being under the illusion that you can accurately answer it. Also bad is having to ask it twice. It’s the funny thing about this particular question; no one ever listens to the answer.
  2. What size is it? (Referencing a yacht in this case, though a risky query in general)
    When it comes to the size of yacht other crew work on, any question that starts with: how big, how many meters, how long, how many feet, etc. comes across as you asking for a measurement that you are planning on using to build yourself a box of preconception with. Yeah, we get it, you input this crucial dimension into your algorithmic-answer-predictor (patent pending) to render the rest of the conversation meaningless. From that one number you already know everything you ever wanted to know about that person’s life. Further mouth-move-make-sound equals time-waste. Nice one Robochat.
  3. Are you private or charter?
    There’s a theme to this. If you are using short forms of questions that when fully sounded out are boring, than you are trying to (badly) hide that fact. For example this query, when expanded, is actually: Is the yacht on which you are employed registered with flag state as a Private or Commercial vessel with the respective privileges and encumbrances so entailed? Rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? Unless you are an ISM manager or a Port State inspector there is no reason to ask such a morbidly boring question, and even they should keep it to business hours (crisis situations excepted of course).
  4. Who is your owner?
    There are a couple of problems with this one. It’s the undisputed winner of the ‘Most-annoying-question-crew-get-asked-by-non-crew’ competition year-on-year for the last four decades. And yet crew will, in a desperate moment of dead air, occasionally jab each other with it. But beyond this, it is – again – a short form of a longer question. Expanded: Who is the owner of the yacht you work on? If you happen to have a good reason for needing to know this (the only example we can think of is a terrorist has strapped a bomb to your entire extended family and the password to defuse it is the name of the owner of the yacht the crewmember you are speaking to works on) than at least resist the laziness to shorten it to: “Who is your owner?” Resist it in the same way you resist the laziness to think of yourself as simply being ‘owned’. You do resist that right? Right?
  5. What do you do onboard?
    This actually isn’t that bad of a question. It’s simply the on-the-water equivalent of, “Sooooo, what do you do for work?” Except that since yachts are as much a living space as they are a workspace, a person who is asked this should feel free to answer it with complete and open honesty. “I run naked to the laundry to get my favorite underwear from the dryer on the chance that no one else is up yet.” Is perfectly acceptable. “I stare out the porthole and try to remember the last time I smiled”, while a piercingly sad answer, may well be accurate. Be honest. Always be honest.

    So lets agree that this particular question can still be asked, but crew so-asked will all try to answer it with more than simply: I’m the Chief Engineer. At least try: I’m the Chief Tool-Counter-And-Recoverer-Of-Missing-Tools-And-Giver-Of-Lectures-To-People-Who-Took-Those-Tools. That’ll also look better on your CV.

Have a question you’d like to add to the list? Send it in as a ‘comment’…

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.”