TW: This blog post mentions acts of domestic abuse and violence.
After the release of last week’s blog post, “Yachtie’s string of violent crimes get brought to light”, the post started to gain attraction, and numerous people have since spoken out with their own personal stories working onboard. This subject is such a sensitive one, but these stories must be heard to drive change. The rise of cases of sexual assault and predatory behaviour towards women in yachting is becoming rapidly publicised within the industry. The rise of cases publicised is most likely linked to the fact that there are more available platforms for people to speak freely. Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that there has been a recent spike in cases per se.
Understanding the work conditions within the in yachting industry.
The yachting industry’s hush-hush approach is notoriously well-known and has been expected for so many years. Thus, everyone within the industry has had a high level of expectation in regards to keeping everything, including work conditions, top secret and completely classified. However, the new age of social media, especially Facebook, with uncountable pages and groups where people can educate, inform and warn others about the going on in the industry, has caused a shift in this pattern for the better. Therefore, in a short time frame, social media has significantly impacted the ability of female individuals to fight against social injustice within the world of super yachting.
Gender discrimination in the yachting industry.
Unfortunately, it is not unheard of in the general workforce to be discriminated against because of gender. Statistics in the US show that about “42% of US women have faced discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender.” (Teamstage.io, 2022). Plus, a whopping “…8.2 million UK employees report they’ve been discriminated against on the grounds of their gender.” However, discrimination towards women seems far more prolific in the yachting industry than in many other industries, with 77% of women experiencing problems onboard (Yachtcrewhelp.org). Crew members only have to read through Yachtie-based Facebook pages/groups to see the detailed unethical behaviour in the industry. The superyacht industry’s blase attitude towards discriminatory behaviour has been the catalyst for the self-destruction of its glorified reputation.
A female crew member's story:
“I joined a boat on a freelance basis and ended up getting involved with the mate. I was under the impression from something he told me that he had undergone a background check during the hiring process. It was either a lie or the background check was not thorough.”
“I found out later he had multiple arrests and felonies (including assault/battery) and a family member had a restraining order against him. If the yacht had conducted a proper background check, he never would have been hired and I would’ve been spared an abusive relationship.”
“That’s why I’m so glad CrewPass exists now. Hopefully, we can make the yachting industry safer and protect crew from circumstances like this.”
Another crew story:
“We had a deckhand who was wanted for attempted manslaughter and had a range of historical violent incidents. He held a knife to my throat in the crew mess one night on charter, witnessed by Chief Officer…he was fired…I went on vacation…he was on the dock (rehired again) in St Marteen when I flew in.”
“He then did the same again to another stew onboard. He would try to break into my cabin at night. Repeated requests to Captain ignored. I left the yacht soon after. Next yacht, he dragged his stew gf across a dancefloor in front of all her crew (all from a well-known yacht) and smashed up all the pot plants on a rampage one night close to the IYCA. The various management companies ignored repeated requests by crew to stop hiring him on yachts as crew were in danger.”
“We had an audit onboard, and I had to say something as my interior was pretty scared. It was followed up, but still, nothing happened. CrewPass would have been essential as it turns out his checkered history in the UK with an attempted manslaughter charge, amongst other things, would have popped up. Last I heard, he’s still in yachting.”
“Just to give more concern about my story, the managing agent I walked into to place a formal complaint was *a well-known managing agency* in Fort Lauderdale. I had a crew member on a well known 68m, who was ex RN and went to hit me in my office. I laid several complaints of the abuse received by myself, soa manager who refused to be in a room with him on her own and 2nd stew was the same. Constant babysitting crew with fear. *A well-known managing agency* did nothing. I was in their office for another reason, and they threatened to blacklist me if I did anything further or if I quit or any of the HOD’s quit.”
“The crew member has a historical background of abuse of his wife and was also a boxer (none of us knew). He had some sort of AVO in UK. Chief Engineer on a very well known 74m verbally abused myself and several crew and hit deck crew on a night out. He hit another crew member on another night out. Constant assault that reached my office – Captain wasn’t interested and did nothing when reported on several occasions on behalf of the crew affected. Turns out the CE has a historical background of violence – another ex-RN UK. He was discharged from RN due to violent behaviour. Complaint to Captain after interior felt unsafe – nothing was done. The new Captain (my former CO on one of these yachts above) has tried months to hire the ex-Chief from the 68m. I went straight to the owner. It puts his reputation, crew, and family at risk. Mates club over a legal implication – disaster…”
“It is so common I dealt with the dangerous conditions right throughout my yachting career until 2 years ago. I feel what you do is so essential as the problem of violent behaviour is still swept under the carpet, and proper checks are avoided to get crew onboard with urgency – huge complacency.”
Resources for women in yachting
This blog post tells an important message, brings to light unknown stories and brings awareness to a broader audience. We only want to educate our audience, and if you have been affected by anything mentioned in this post, we have added a few resources that may be able to benefit you.
Association of Women in Yachting – “…the Association of Women in Yachting provides a platform for professional women in the yachting industry to network and surround themselves with like-minded industry leaders.”
Yacht Crew Help – “Yacht Crew Help is a free and confidential multilingual helpline for professional yacht crew available all day, every day.”
SeaCode – “SeaCode is an anonymous platform for seafarers and those working in the Merchant Navy, superyacht and cruise industries to raise awareness about some of the problems they face at work. SeaCode offers a safe space for victims and survivors of abuse (including sexual abuse), bullying, harassment (including sexual harassment) and discrimination – along with any other challenges faced at work – to share their stories, learn about workers’ rights, and provide a community of mutual support.”