How many times have you heard boat owners brag that they have the most reliable captain on their vessel. Even with the best full-time skipper, there are times of sickness and leave when you need the services of a relief captain. In fact there are many reasons to hire a relief captain. It is certainly best practice in boating management to have a regular relief captain that you can rely on.
A relief captain fills in during times of sickness or injury, or during annual leave periods, or for specific routes. A relief captain may skipper your yacht for as little as a couple of weeks to several months at a time. A relief captain can also provide a “boat-sitting” service in times when you simply need someone nearby to keep an eye on your moored vessel.
Ideally, you should develop a relationship with a reliable relief captain who is both experienced and well-connected in case they need to refer you to another captain.
Recruiting a relief captain
Just because a relief captain is only onboard for a short time, does not mean that your recruitment and selection process should be any less rigorous than a full time staff member. You should advertise widely for a relief captain and be upfront with the fact that it is a short-term fill-in position. Be clear that there is slim to no chance that the relief captain position will become permanent.
Expect a written application from your potential relief captains. Even though it is a short term contract, a professional relief captain will be willing to prepare a professional application and resume. Once you have short listed a number of relief captains, you should interview them to ensure their suitability.
A professional relief captain
A professional relief captain is the ideal candidate for relief captain roles rather than a captain who is looking for a full-time position, but is prepared to settle for a short term relief contract. As well as the possibility that the relief captain may cause friction on board if they are aspiring to the permanent captaincy, there is the added problem that they are unlikely to be available next time you need a relief captain.
As a relief captain, I have been called upon with fairly short notice to relieve on a variety of vessels. From relieving a sick captain, to delivering yachts, I prefer short-term assignments. I am at a stage in my life that a permanent position is not practical, nor desirable, so there is never any conflict for the owners who hire me as a relief captain.