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Important tasks for your crew this winter

3 December 2020

It’s that time of year in the Mediterranean and other northern hemisphere yachting locations when many vessels are lined up in ports for the winter whilst a portion of their crew stay onboard to undertake the important task of ‘winterising’, as well as other key maintenance jobs which didn’t get addressed during the busy summer months of chartering.

Whilst most crew recognise the importance of the maintenance and refit work that vessels undergo during the winter, many forget the importance of crew management, planning and team building.

In fact, the winter months are a great opportunity to reflect on the peak periods during the summer season and put in place new structures in crew leadership, management and wellbeing to ensure the long-term success of your team onboard.

Here are some key tasks to add to your winter schedule:


Has your leadership team completed HELM training?

The 2010 ’Manila’ amendments to the STCW convention introduced a requirement for management and leadership training for all ships’ officers. HELM training can be beneficial to all leadership roles onboard and teaches crew the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective team member and team leader.

Leadership structures and training

In addition to HELM training, Captains should use the winter to reassess the leadership structures onboard their vessel. There should be clearly-defined leadership roles and reporting structures onboard, so that all crew understand the management structure of the vessel. 

It’s also important that your management team is aligned to a unified leadership strategy and have the skills necessary to enforce this leadership strategy onboard.

Luxury Hospitality runs onboard or video conference leadership coaching for vessels and can teach crew the key skills to manage their team onboard.

Impact Crew can also work with your senior crew onboard to develop their skills and turn them into the leaders.

‘The leadership team must be united and equipped with the tools to deal with the challenges that crew throw at them, from dealing with discipline and conflicts, to being empathetic and supportive, all while being consistent and fair. Crew need their leaders to motivate and inspire them, as well as empower and help them grow. And then they need to be flexible to adapt to crew’s different ages, nationalities and drivers. Its not easy developing the culture you want, but it's most definitely worth it. With success comes your dream team! - Karen Passman, Impact Crew.

Conflict resolution 

We previously ran the ‘Leadership & Conflict Resolution’ webinar providing some guidance to leaders onboard. The winter is a great time to conduct annual reviews with your crew where underlying issues and conflicts can be addressed. 

To get some more tips and advice on conflict resolution, watch our webinar.

Crew Wellbeing & Mental Health

Crew mental health can often get pushed aside during the busy summer months, but it's important for leaders to use downtime to address their crew mental health and put in place some safeguarding structures which ensure crew wellbeing is maintained. 

This can include reassessing work/rest schedules to ensure that crew have enough downtime to recuperate from the high season and focus on their mental health. In addition, Captains should ensure all crew have taken their required holiday or have the ability to leave the vessel to visit family and friends.


Many crew can benefit onboard mental health coaching. ISWAN and The Crew Coach currently offer courses on mental health and wellbeing.

Team building

Captains can use the extra time during the winter to invest in onboard team building activities. This includes a range of activities, including taking your crew out for joint activity such as bowling, golf, skiing or simply a crew dinner. 

In addition, running onboard training exercises which boost team bonding and morale are incredibly valuable. We previously published some onboard training exercises from our Director of Training, Captain Rod Hatch. You can view these training guides here:

Surprise Fire Drills -How to Spice up Fire Drills Onboard

Onboard First Aid Training -How to Run Engaging First Aid Training Onboard


Captains and team leaders can also plan and prepare for new crew that need to be hired for next season. Defining clear job descriptions and hiring schedule with the help of specialised recruitment personnel can ensure you attract the best talent for your team next season.

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