Captain, crew!…and management – who does what?

iStock_000007859394XSmall Unsure of the different roles of the captain, crew and management? Here’s an overview…


Yacht management hires the captain and crew on behalf of the boat owner. Management might also arrange maintenance when the motor yacht is in port and arrange delivery and moorings year-round.


When the yacht is enroute, the captain has ultimate command of the vessel. Everything about the yacht is the captain’s responsibility. A captain must be licensed – a master’s license like that held by Captain Stuart Carter allows the captain to operate worldwide.

The captain maps out the route, taking into account whether, channels and any other factors. The captain must comply with customs and immigration laws, so it is up to the captain to maintain the vessel’s certificates and complete all documentation.

As well as navigation and documentation, the captain’s role includes management of staff, cargo, cash and inventory. The crew all report to the captain. The captain is also responsible for the cleanliness and seaworthiness. In rough conditions, the captain’s priority is the personal safety of captain, crew and owner by keeping the yacht safe.


There are a number of different crew roles, but they all ultimately report to the captain. The captain is usually responsible for choosing the boat’s crew, however a relief captain or delivery captain often works with the vessel’s fulltime crew. Whilst all boat crews vary in their make up, the most common crew roles are:

  • First mate, often called chief mate or chief officer, reports to the captain and is in charge of the deck crew and cargo.
  • Deckhand assists with the daily running and maintenance of a vessel. Deckhands’ tasks are variable depending on the vessel.
  • Coxswain reports to the captain as a senior, licensed crew member responsible for navigation. not all vessels have a coxswain.
  • Steward/ess is an unlicensed crew member who reports to the captain and does stocking, cleaning and assisting with preparation and serving of meals. A Chief Steward is the senior unlicensed crew member who is responsible for meals and cleaning.
  • Cook or chief cook is senior unlicensed crew responsible for preparing meals and maintaining the yacht’s galley.

If the captain, crew and management work together, it’s “smooth sailing” for the owner of the motor yacht!