Where There is a Market, There Will be the Means…

| Having a Laugh | Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 2.05.37 PM

Moneghetti, MONACO

Despite the tense waiting period for registration transfers, insurance, legal and financial issues to be resolved post Monaco Yacht Show. One Junior Broker was able to score a coup with his assigned squadron of mid size Motoryachts. Unable to close the sale of Kamchatka, an Azimut 100, he instead managed to sell the entire crew.

While not unheard of, the sale of an entire crews contracts to a new owner is surely a sign in the rapid changes in the yachting market place and might just be the first step in the secondary crew resale market that many have been keenly anticipating.

“It’s kind of surprising, honestly. They gave me a handful of old Azimuts, probably a year or two off their next refit and I was just moving people through as best I could. But it was funny, having this Spanish gentlemen who was on board and he seemed more interested in the crew themselves.”

The 5 person crew in question have been working on the yacht for the last 9 months. While their cohesion in the face of a particularly busy Med season is certainly remarkable, some in the Industry are speculating this might be the first instance of what the optimal deployment of Human Resources onboard actually is.

The Yachtie was able to obtain excerpts of a crew analytics work up conducted as part of Yachting Unlimited Partnerships newly formed Econometrics section. Rumored to have existed for the last year, the outfit might just be beginning to put the data and the numbers to the old truism that the crew make the yacht and the charter. With the continued influx of aspiring yachting professionals, having a template or set of rules and guidelines might prove to be the definitive gauge of crewing decisions:

“Captain is an experienced professional with many years in the industry, a South African build from the mid 70s, he’s plenty of life and with EU residency via Spain offers many options for a Palma de Mallorca based owner. The same for the Chef, an English national with extensive fine dining experience up and down the Riviera, though it is noted that his drinking habits can exceed moderate levels depending on the Charter cycle. However, his “gregarious manner and habit as raconteur” make him the perfect addition to the owner looking for a drinking companion who can still cook at the end of the night. Despite having an American Mate, his wife, a former stewardess based in Germany gives him location independence and clarity regarding tax issues. This in conjunction with a proven indifference to anything other than work might be the optimal employment of US nationals within the industry…Anchoring the interior is Delphine, a mid 80s build who passed her 5 year survey without incident. Fluent in English with passable Arabic, her lack of significant relationships is rooted in an aspiration to work as a personal assistant to a financier. Culturally amenable to discrete encounters with guests and/or owners. On the Engineering side is the pack horse of the crew, Clive, a late 50s build of robust construction. Drinking moderate to negligible. Health food practitioner. Excellent delegation and negotiation skills with contractors. Able to work within a wide range of budgetary constraints. Has been known to produce bodge jobs comparable to others best efforts.”

While the report was tentative in any conclusions, the sale of the crew in question has raised much criticism on what makes a good crew, an industry insider noting that, “it’s not like you can go out and find these people. Crewing up is like making sausage. You take whatever you’ve got on hand grind it up and hope no one gets sick…”

As the crew agency model continues to suffer, the prospect of an alternative means of evaluating and deploying crew can offer the tantalizing possibility of finding the perfect mix of yachties. In the age of big data, smartphones and social media, this reality might finally be arriving.

Regardless, the outcome of the transaction is surely to be followed over the coming year. Despite a sizable commission on the sale, the Junior broker was sanguine: “I’m not really sure how I feel about selling people, but I guess that’s what a contract is isn’t it? If the owner and the crew don’t mind what’s it matter? I don’t know. It’s a brave new world. But like the partner said, ‘if the market will buy it, we must supply it.’ Whatever it is next year…”

Free eBook on yachting!

| Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 Welcome Abroad - Anonymous

Below Deck may not be the most realistic portrayal of yachting but it’s reality tv. Yet if there is one thing everyone knows about what you see on the screen, the book is always better.

We were advised by Counsel to call it fiction but that’s just a disclaimer and in a way the only real fiction we’ve delved in.

Pick up a free copy! You don’t even need a kindle, if you have a tablet or just a plain old computer you can get the app and get aboard.If you’ve read Welcome Abroad and wondered what happened to the nameless narrator or how the business of trying to be yourself and a yachtie ends, the Bight is your answer. It’s nearly two years later and he is back in the Caribbean starting another cycle. It all feels routine, until he meets her…

Excerpt from the Bight…

| Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ays

Just in time for Yacht Show season. Monaco is underway, FLIBS is coming but there is one burning question in the back slapping free for some:

WHEN DO HEAVY HORS D’OEUVRES CROSS THE LINE BETWEEN a courteous alcohol absorbent and a free meal? It’s a reasonable question watching all of it shuttle out onto a crowded saloon: Foie Gras Canapes, individual rack of Lamb popsicles, Maryland Crabcakes, Iberico wrapped Scallops, Gruyere Gougeres, Avocado and Prawn Endive boats, Duck Confit stuffed Mushroom Caps, and all the other fringe benefits that come with people assuming you are a somebody. Only the thinnest of justifications are necessary on anyones part, the crew knows their role, it’s the brokers and that magic of theirs that make the scene, leveraging every sociable moment, every conversation utilized toward the next sale, time is just another investment right up there with the Bentley lease, the penthouse rental and all the other paraphernalia of business expenses inching to the feat only one of them has managed to pull off; a broker so rich he has his own megayacht.

Yachting is the province of the truly elite, or at least that is the narrative everyone floats around on, along with a keen sense of being privileged to serve the truly privileged. Yet eking ones existence from another’s vanity can have some strange side effects, a complacency people refer to as owners syndrome where the line between employee and servant is dissolved to bragging with the pride of an owner about a new tender or deriding some poor crew that only has two jet-skis or just finished a yard period and was sprayed with the wrong brand of paint.

I stop by Geoff at the shoe check, a massive pile of: Tod loafers, several garish pairs of deck shoes, every variety of ‘of the moment’ stiletto, a few pairs of Church’s dress shoes, white bucks, saddle shoes, suede brogues, and a few pairs of luxury flip flops, if such a thing can even exist; all lined, ticketed and waiting. We really should have put down the protective mats and just let them wander about but all those yards of new cashmere carpet need to be shown off, don’t they? It is exceptionally soft underfoot, though.

I relieve Thom on the QD and manage most of a quiet hour practicing tonight’s basket of parting pleasantries: ‘Most enjoyable to have you aboard.’ ‘A good evening to you both.’ ‘I will relay that to the Chef.’ ‘We look forward to having you again.’‘No, it was our pleasure…’
No one is leaving and it seems the critical mass has been hit, only the clock watching and a little relief in the mess to look forward to. I catch a gaggle of voices up the dock, one piercing through as a soup of chemicals starts leeching out.

Stand sharp and stare off to the other side of the basin as if any person in the world should walk by. There is something mildly pleasing in the  dutiful indifference. She’ll be on her way soon enough. It’s not me. No. It’s not even us. It’s the job. It’s always the job. The yacht gods giveth and the yacht gods taketh away! Or worse it will fester online far past its expiration date, another entry in the string of back up boys she probably keeps, hedging that the right circumstance might throw us together again, a little chemical bonding to wipe away the crass opportunism of the whole affair…

“Been busy,” the Captain asks?

“Quiet, more or less. I think we’ve peaked.”

“Who’s on after.”

“I believe it is Geoff.”

“Well, go ahead and knock off 10 minutes early. Get a water or something and pitch in with Steve for a bit.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“Ah, none of it. Off you go.”

Read more here

Broker Sells Listing Twice in One Day

| Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 12.21.11 PM

Port Hercules, MONACO

As the Monaco Yacht Show enters the closing stages of its 24th edition, the race to finalize sales is entering a fever pitch to capitalize on the most exclusive gathering of yachts and buyers in the world. Despite the global financial turmoil of the last few years, the global elite have been pursuing bargains and shoring up the resale market in recent years.

An already strong show has managed to standout from years past at least for one unnamed broker who managed to sell a Motoryacht to two different purchasers in the same day.

M/Y Miasma, a custom build from upstart yard Schlock and Shiine was listed at a steep discount and had been attracting keen interest from many of the new entries into yachting. A deckhand onboard joked about the asian invasion with good humor. However, the Second Stew was less enthused, explaining over cigarette on the far side of the Condamine, that they’ve been “trying everything to get the smell of ginger and garlic out of the guest accommodations.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 12.20.49 PM

A source familiar with the story spoke to our correspondent: “This kind of thing happens all the time. The owners usually love it. The lawyers can get involved sometimes but usually everyone’s too worried about looking crass. It’s just bad form isn’t it?”

Despite the growing complexity of transactions, foreign corporations, registrations and tax avoidance vehicles, the essential core of the business has operated unchanged for decades. The Yachtie was able to track down the broker in question who spoke under condition of anonymity: “I was freaking out when it happened and didn’t tell the office. I was just dreading going in the next morning. I mean how do you explain it? It was a super busy day….”

“But when I got in the next day for early start, they knew all about it. There was champagne waiting and even the lead broker stopped in from his Villa. I mean it’s unreal, going from what feels like a career killing fuck up to the man of the hour.”

While it might seem a shade untoward, the Confederated Union of Nautical Tourism and Sales’ Broker Code of Ethics does not cover the issue explicitly but advises in cases of market anomalies to “close the deal with haste.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 12.21.00 PM

This sort market anomaly while not all that common is actually a rite a passage for a junior yachtbroker, an industry veteran explained over drinks: “It’s almost the professional equivalent of getting laid for the first time when you get down to it. It’s a real milestone, something to celebrate.”

When asked about the consequences of the double sale, “Oh, that’s nothing. We’ll probably give them the transfer, regulatory issues, I’ve got a friend in from the Cayman’s, just give them a little sit down, how we’ve got the inside line on something or other or you just explain to them you sent in your low key marine surveyor who made a cursory look and is worried about galvanic corrosion. They usually go for it and feel like you’re helping them dodge a bullet. I mean there’s plenty of yachts out there and it’s not like they really know what they want anyhow….”

Who Is Adrienne Gang?

| Featured | 2 Comments

 

 

AG II

Is she really a lesbian? It’s a fair question after Season 1 with the charm turned up to 11. Is she a pillow queen, a lug, a chapstick, a futch or a hasbian? But what does any of that matter between consenting guests and a Chief Stew? Or is she just a chameleon like so many other yanks, who ever she needs to be at any given time? We might find out more tonight yet somehow even less.

In the twittersphere, there has been a love hate relationship with the Season 1 Chief Stew. In interviews she is unabashed at being painted the villain or as she has stated: “the person who gets things done.” This trait is vital to any leadership position and under the stress and deadline of a Charter Yacht even more so.

 AG III

Everyone loves a strong independent female as villain, girls never need a reason to have a field day making swipes at each other but a particularly willful female can even bring the guys into the fold as well. As a reality tv character, Adrienne filled out the role with a blend of professionalism and pushiness, managing to pull together the Charters and offer entertaining television.

Yet Season 1 was characterized by a friction that doesn’t easily fit into the “she’s not inspiring us,” “she’s not leading us,” vein that almost always slides into those generic and necessarily vague critiques of a person’s style. No, if anything, it’s a bit deeper than that, an enmity driven more by the seriousness with which she took to the role.

In a way she reminds one of the Helen Mirren character from Gosford Park, a head of household explaining with cold satisfaction that she is the best at her jobs because she knows the manor and its occupants better than they know themselves, everything is prepared before it even occurs to them to ask and every need is anticipated and exceeded.

There is a chilling mastery to it, that will to power over an environment and in a way the people paying to be there. It can certainly be a bit discomfiting for yacht crew to witness. It chaffs at the necessary ambivalence in the guest/crew relationship, that an inherent conflict between maintaining a high level of service and not losing oneself in the role. It’s a line that is usually walked with an easy humor to whatever absurdity is dished up, leavened with a familiarity that breeds contempt. Her seriousness was a sharp contrast and maybe even a clue.

 AG I

In a way she is in the endgame of yachting, a lifer; admitting in an interview, of her earliest days, that she “was a Sam, wondering who are these people making me do this crazy stuff….then I got through that and I was Kat, drinking and meeting boys. I’m now at the point where I see it as a career….”

But the real question is who will show up for tonight’s episode? Will she gauge the service and make the perfectly timed request? Just waiting for the right moment for a gilded spanner to be thrown into the works. Or will it be her getting into context, guesting it up with her soft butch bestie? There’s a certain quality in seeing some Hughes Hughesian OCD as she sneaks out to inspect the table settings, keenly looking for a fingerprint on the wine glass. And a little sexual innuendo never hurt the ratings of anything, ever.

For many crew, what next is terrific struggle but Adrienne managed one of the more clever answers we’ve heard of or seen. The Crew to Guest jump.

There’ll probably be plenty to read about online  after tonight’s episode and the only thing we’re certain about is that the real Adrienne Gang, whoever she is, will be laughing from Ft. Lauderdale all the way from to the Grand Banks.

They’re Not Like Anyone

| Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 9.21.24 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida

In a quiet conference room just off Clematis Street, negotiations are winding down for a multimillion dollar divorce settlement. If the number of legal boxes scattered about the room are any indication, things are far from settled. Yet instead it is a legal curiousity. The houses have been divided, the investment properties, the portfolios, even the offshore accounts, but it falls down to their 50m Motoryacht. Although agreeing in principle to split the proceeds of a sale, it has become an issue of contention that the work contracts of the Chef and Chief Stew are to be divided as well.

“I’ve never seen anything this passionate,” an attorney familiar with the case explained. “Usually someone keeps their maid or the valet and they flip a coin over the Chef.” M/Y Iolanthe has been sitting for the last 6 months pending the outcome of the negotiations. Though neither side anticipates going to court, “the term of these negotiations is definitely unexpected.”

“I don’t know what these people are on. They fired the rest of the crew and I’ve been grabbing dayworkers just to keep shit going for the last 6 months,” the Chef noted under condition of anonymity. “I had a dream job working with my girlfriend as Chief Stew and now it’s hell and from what’s slipped down to me it’s all because of that Lobster stuffed pastry we served them…”

The couple had apparently ended up in a spiral since last years Carib Season. While the infidelities and rampant drug use did not figure into the negotiations, models seconded by deckhands on his part and prescription drugs on her part. There was a consensus that the real conflict was the exceptional napkin folding skills of the chief stewardess and the culinary talents of the chef.

“I mean I get the trading up young wife thing. And he’s got that. They’re hanging out in his Condo in Miami. It’s just putting us on hold,” the chief stew added incredulously.

The attorney familiar with the proceedings when questioned about the lobster recipe was hesitant to answer in fear of breaking attorney client privilege. “I know this seems a bit nuts. And maybe it is, but it’s a hell of a dish and I’ve had it myself, actually.”

Yanks and Yachting

| Featured | Leave a comment

 

yankee

One of the greatest departures from reality on Below Deck is the crew; with the exception of Chef Ben, they are entirely Americans. While this is only natural for a tv series geared to a US Audience, it is by far the exception within the great white fleet of yachts.

The vast majority of crew come from around the world, but in the upper echelons, a who’s who of the British Empire is assembled, whether Australians, New Zealanders, South African’s or the Britons themselves.

Except for US flagged yachts, foreign crew have been the norm. It’s partly a tradition of expatriotism but also dab of globalization. A yacht is like a Multi-national Corporation, they’re even registered in the same places, Bermuda, Cayman’s, Isle of Man, etc. It’s partly skirting regulations but it’s mainly just an MNC being an MNC, operating between borders where labor costs tend to go down.

Granted, there are Americans working on foreign flagged yachts but there aren’t many and they are hardly the preference. We would argue that this is in many ways a cultural notion; that Americans have a tendency to invoke laws and rights. There is a reason why it is one of the most litigious societies in the world, arguing over the law and rights is something of a national past time and in this week’s episode that much was apparent.

A Chief Stew and a Chef arguing over the dinner service may be another he said, she said and if it did go to court  weeks could be spent determining the facts. But it’s not a courtroom and the only fact that matters is that the guests perceived the service as slow. Which brings us right to the point, Kate almost instinctively invoking labor law.

For the longest time, yachting operated in a grey area in regards to working hours. There’s now a Maritime Labor Convention and maybe at some point a regime of enforcement. She’s in the right and there is something innately American about it; making the legal argument and taking the rules seriously, maybe even with a certain reverence. It’s only natural if you’re entire country is based on a system of guaranteed legal freedoms. It’s practically in their DNA. When you compare the States with the Commonwealthers, they didn’t grovel and throw a fit and wait for the British Empire to give them permission to be countries did they?

But what about Ben? It has often been said that cynicism is the hallmark of a true Briton, but in this case it comes off more as realism. He knows the only rule or law on a Charter is the Tip and thereby the guests. If it requires a week of 18 hour days in contravention of international law, so be it.

It’s tempting to see the irony in that, an Englishman embracing what for many has become the popular characterization of yanks, a people motivated only by dollars. If anything, there is something innately rebellious about them, chaffing against even the slightest abridgement of their rights, wanting something that cannot be bought but demanded and earned. It’s not exactly what the 0.1 percenters want to hear from their crew is it?

Of course, it’s less and less of a problem and Americans haven’t walked away from yachting entirely, they just prefer to be owners and guests.

Yachtmances: Amusing Fling or the Thing Itself?

| Featured | Leave a comment

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 4.06.36 PM

It had all the ingredients for one of those Jim and Pam, Ross and Rachael will they won’t won’t they’s that tend to keep people tuned in. The Kelley and Jennice thing could have been just the story line though this is reality tv so something might come of it anyway. There is the Ben and Kat thing but that’s only a portion of the reality.

If you cram a dozen or so persons together in confined quarters, give them a high stress job and douse it all with a little alcohol, there is bound to be some sort of emotional, touchy feely, why the hell not’s going down. It’s inevitable and it usually goes one of two ways.

Light hearted opportunism or far far worse, the illusion itself.

There are all the elements of the typical boy meets girl but in an environment where people routinely move along, time takes a far greater place. It’s painfully finite and having every moment of the day laid out for one, any instant outside of the routine takes on an intensity that feels almost middle school or the old truism of grasping at the ephemeral.

All it takes is that tiny ember, something, anything to pull one away from silver polishing, from the bilge cleaning, from the sponson care, the napkin folding, whatever. And then bumping into them on the dock or in the pantry for some reason? That little ember gets a whiff of pure oxygen.

It’s all the best parts of a relationship without any of the banal details one is usually accustomed to, message response ratios, dating venue progressions, symbolic leveraging and exit strategy. Add to this a bit of stress and the net effect is far greater than anything a person can stumble into out there in the non-yachting world. Every little moment you can steal away with the person is leveraged up to the max and with the threat of being caught, that much more enjoyable.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 4.09.05 PM

Kat and Ben realize this and enjoy it for what it is, both suspending the rules for a moment to enjoy the guests accommodations, availing themselves of an opportunity because when else does one get the chance?

But there’s another less jaded side. While the dating of co-workers seems to be loosening itself up as socially acceptable, there is still that space between the person in the office and one at home. One never knows the difference between the two yet spending 24/7 around a person is an introduction few people experiences. It’s an instant intimacy some people my seek but in yachting it’s the default.

There are no personas or poses. There is only a crew mate in their entirety, none of that compartmentalization people seem to enjoy, just the barest, truest version that in the real world has to be cloistered away and managed. It can make for extremely close friendships and in the case of a yachtmance almost a pure, helpless attraction.

One can layer a little cynicism over the top of it but it is the closest thing to the siren call. It’s so real because it’s so far removed from all the programming of normal, all the rules and the rest.

It’s that potent cocktail of intimacy, emotions and raw attraction, unleashing a soup of chemicals in the brain that shut out reason and for a moment reality itself. It’s an unknown peak, a great height that gives one that rarest choice of all, to chase ones senses to their fullest or let it float by—-like the rest of the world.

 

 

 

 

Yachting isn’t really a Profession. It’s 19th Century Style Service.

| Featured | 1 Comment

 

The yachting industry hides behind the notion of professionalism and every management cliche powerpoint can handle but nothing can change a Rock of Gibraltar truth: Yachting is an extremely stressful profession that requires incredible sacrifice by crew and it’s turnover and burnout rates are enormous.

It defies almost every notion of a labor market because that’s the reality when you have enough Captial, the Laws of Economics do not apply. (It’s more of a commodities market, anyhow.)

No. The only profession that it bears any practical resemblance to has deeper roots in the 19th century than any of the modern employments yachting would like to compare itself to. The shift from Employer/Employee to Master/Servant is not clever semantics. It is reality.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 3.05.22 PM

Of course, classic 19th century service usually brings to mind period costume dramas, exquisite rooms, impeccable cuisine, perfect table settings and people whose only worry is picking the right cuff link or finding true love among a clutch of distant cousins.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 1.39.09 PM

It was also the era of the Workhouse, mass unemployment and starvation, rampant prostitution, the rise of modern style criminality and even the odd cholera epidemic.

If one worked at the Manor it was indeed fortunate but the sheer economic pressures of the position made it little more than the choice between pride or penury, servitude or starvation.

While it’s not nearly as dire in the 21st, mass debt and a shrinking job market and in yachting’s case, a globalizing job market have shattered any traditional notions of employment, at least when you can hire the cheapest labor on the planet and use them without any consequence.

People have been writing about this new Gilded Age for a while but it’s always the big picture; Yet way down there at the individual level you can see a little piece of the 19th century making a comeback. It is the fealty that yacht crew seem to be cultivating.

While it’s not the classic Noblesse Oblige on the part of the owner, it’s got all the hallmarks with so many willing servants fawning about the new aristocrats.

Fealty is an archaic concept and doesn’t really exist if you are merely paying and employing someone. In the yachting world it has become the new currency an aspiring yachtie must offer to get aboard, let alone make it to Captain.

A professional brings skill and is defined by their product. A servant has skill but is defined by their unblinking loyalty.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 1.39.44 PM

While professionalism is rewarded, it doesn’t really keep a yachtie in place. Do professionals skirt the law so the owner can illegally anchor somewhere? Do professionals knowingly have someone work more hours than permitted by law?

That’s what is really being paid for, that power over a person who knows full well they can instantly be replaced and the lengths they can be forced to.

You try not to think about it when you’re out scoring coke  and the cash certainly helps. But it’s still there hidden beneath the veneer and rhetoric of the maritime professional.

You tell yourself it is a privilege the real world no longer applies to you, just that little piece of the 19th century you don’t want to admit.

And at some point it doesn’t bother you that your owner can buy up a company, sell it off and put a few thousand people out of work because he might get a new tender for the yacht or send you somewhere exotic. Besides Phil is a nice guy. Phil makes a point of you calling him Phil. Phil even remembers your name. Phil gave you three weeks off. Phil gave you a Christmas bonus.

When you read the papers about how everyone is suffering, that’s not you. You truly are privileged. Weekend off in Greece usually will do it. You don’t live in that world anymore. It’s not your problem.

But what about that surprise reception for 50? That’s the end of the world because if it doesn’t go right, you’ll be right back out there…

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 1.42.21 PM

Phil might feel bad but he knows there are plenty more of you, where ever you came from down there…

Is Season 2 of Below Deck Hurting Yachting?

| Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 8.40.57 PM

Hardly.

The yachting industry does not cater to television viewers, it caters to the people who own tv networks, the owners of service providers who distribute the networks, and the people who invest in the networks. The only thing about Below Deck that might matter to them is the viewer numbers. Which brings us right to the point. It’s not a question of the image of the yachting industry. It’s the question of who is watching.

Even a cursory analysis of the series indicates that there are only two real types of Below Deck viewer. There are the people who watch the show from the guest perspective and there are the people who watch the show from the crew perspective.

Both seasons have provided ample entertainment. If you’re in the guest crowd, dumping on Kate’s lack of smile has a certain amusement as did Adrienne whipping the girls into shape. If you’re in the crew crowd, Kate’s cocksure towel folding skills were a laugh and the Jennice/Kelley thing is winching up the drama for next week.

There seems to be something for everyone and perhaps the show has spread its appeal too wide and too thin.

The only thing anyone who watches can agree on is that Chef Ben is always good for a bon mot and seems to have knicked an entire bottle of Je ne sais quoi from a wine cellar in Bourgogne.

If anything the current season of Below Deck is serving as the necessary yin to the season 1 yang. It’s offering some perspective, maybe even some reality on the toll that the yachting industry can take on a person.

And maybe this is what’s really going on; that despite peoples love of drama and the behind the scenes, in a world of going to hell with the middle east, the Euro thing kicking up again and even the great Chinese housing bubble, it’s nice to tune in and know that somewhere, somehow, someone is managing to get the drinks to the table and the food at near perfect plate to mouth temperature.

But that’s the thing. If it really were yachting, it wouldn’t be entertaining per se; it would be on time and everything you never knew you wanted right before you have it.

The BelowDeck gallery: “The Rocket Ship”

| Having a Laugh | Leave a comment

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 12.36.31 PM

While the net result and outcome of the PenisGate incident is still the truism that the cover up is often worse than the initial crime, the real question is how well did it succeed as a work in itself?

The “Rocket Ship,” 2013, Mixed Media: Towel, Bed, 47m Motoryacht, could be seen as both a performance art and a visual art but our analysis will focus mainly on the visual component. It is always difficult to separate the art from the artist but the “Rocket Ship” is first and foremost, sculpture. Traditional forms of stone and plaster while still the most common elements do not detract in the least.

“Fabric can be a difficult material to work with but it does have many advantages. It was a good call on her part to opt for a two dimensions rather than a more representative form,” noted Val Deferens, a Florida based sculptor.

“Her use of found objects particularly in the context of luxury yachting was a clever way of grounding her aesthetic. There’s a nice juxtaposition between the veinyness of a fully engorged member and the disrupting quality of the pattern. It’s working on many levels.”

Despite the rather explicit nature of the work, the Principal ultimately appreciated it as a humorous reiteration of typical lad humor, buoyed by Kate’s continued and ironic insistence that the “Rocket Ship” was indeed a rocket ship. Yet the episodes title of “Bitchy Resting Face” hints at a faint feminist critique of guest/interior relations.

While the photos of the “Rocket Ship” have not offered an easily scaled view, the Yachtie was able to provide a suitable photo for a more clinical analysis.

“Of course the average male penis tends to be between 5-6 inches in length. Judging from the photograph, the shaft to testicle ratio is rather small,” explained Dr. Richard Snuffleupagaus, of the Southern Florida Urology Center. “Who ever the penis model was he was below average length. The glans is well defined but it’s hard to say whether or not it is circumcised particularly at the meatus.”

When asked to speculate further on the originating or inspiring penis Dr. Snuffleupagaus suggested it was likely “an asian male with potentially a gonad disorder of some kind.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 2.34.58 PM

Judging from the Social Media response, the “Rocket Ship” was a success, but does it qualify as contemporary art?

The real answer is from the artist herself, at least in the Warholian sense. When questioned about her spontaneous use of the luxury yachting vernacular to passively convey an arch-feminist questioning of manhood to challenge the inherent patriarchy of the Guest/Interior relationship?

“It’s a Rocket Ship,” she insists, “It’s just a Rocket Ship.”

Is Below Deck a sinking ship?

| Featured | Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 12.10.47 PM

While there was plenty of justification for Season 2, the folks at Bravo HQ are doubtless sifting the numbers, the lead in factors, the demographic shifts, promotional sample spaces and all the other metrics we’ll save you the time of considering.

Everyone seems to know that there is a relationship between a shows loyalty to what is being filmed and its popularity but the Law of More Realistic = Less Appealing doesn’t entirely describe what is going on here. The real question is whether creating friction and nuance among the crew is enough to give the show its own momentum? Or put simply and plainly, was the show’s initial success based upon the novelty of luxury yachting or with the appeal of the crew?

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 12.09.04 PM

The vicarious thrill that undergirds any reality tv series always wears thin at some point. This is also true in luxury yachting, it’s not about the blue water, the perfect weather, the locale. It’s about the latest toys and diversions and the people fawning over guests.

The show has done a reasonable job in assembling a diverse cohort: The Captain, serious and to the point but with a sense of humor; the Stews: the down to earth good hearted girl, the carefree one, and the cold and imperious queen bee; the Deck department is filled out nicely with the jokey yet serious Bosun, the disciplined and capable Marine and a vaguely hippyish Tom-boy. Of course this leaves the Chef, who it should be rightfully argued best describes the average yachtie, traveled, seasoned, humorously cynical and most importantly, foreign.

Yeah. There’s something for everyone but not the something everyone wants.

It’s tempting to wonder whether the audience wants to see rich folks mildly ridiculed or outted as parvenus or prefers cold perfection and dedication to the role but this seems to omit a key factor in Season 1.

Supplementing the sheer entertainment value of Kat, there was something else at work. Characters making a jump from the screen, from reality tv to reality itself.

Unfortunately, tweets are not going to cut it.

What made the whole CJ and Sam thing so entertaining for people was not the story on board but the one back ashore. Her drunk driving mugshots cast about the internet and his bizarre girlfriend assault story. It’s all unfortunate but one cannot help but feel that the viewers responded.

Some of the more authentic aspects of yachting are slipping through in Season 2 and the show is entertaining but is it enough?

They have a few more episodes to prove it but just in case, we have drafted a wish list of real life events that could get the show back on it’s feet.

There needs to be a proper branded Bravo Crossover. Corporate types love the word synergy but never seem to really go for it. Bringing in a Real Housewives franchise for a Charter would have benefited both shows and introduced another narrative to sprinkle about. The tabloid social media echo chamber of the behind the behind the scenes could go on for months…

Someone on the crew has got to f**k up. Drunk driving arrest with video would be ideal but making a local paper for starting a fight in a VIP room could pull a nice tabloid jump. Some sort of pregnancy scare or a paternity fight could do wonders for whatever fledgling romance is set to unfold. One of the stews caught shoplifting high end merchandise could work as well.

As with so many media and reality tv projects, the innate promise of the show has been lost to the form, what made it a great subject matter doesn’t really seem to translate into the structure of tv with its legion producers, investors, insurance and the all encompassing legal issues. All the means to strangle something exciting in its own right.

Not that a luxury yacht is without its own insurance and legal issues but it’s disappointing to be reminded yet again that all the crazy stuff happens when there isn’t a camera.

It’s all pretty cynical to reduce the appeal of the show to mere publicity but that just might have been what gave the first season it’s appeal, it’s excitement, it’s frisson because it probably wasn’t yachting.

Yachtie Maritime Announcement: Labor Day Weekend Primer

| Clippies | Leave a comment

 

Another entry from the painfully entertaining trinity of Bassboats, GoPros and Bumpkins…

 

 

Notes on Yachting and the Bight

| Featured | Leave a comment

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 12.25.09 PM

 

We’ve noted previously that yachting is an industry of illusion, a performance of exceptional tourism even it’s most devoted participants merely indulge and one the people who order for those fantastic dream machines can but visit. To say that something is an illusion is not to denigrate it or its practitioners. In the case of yachting, many excellent crew reach a level of performance where they can appreciate their work as both a calculated science and an art with equal mastery. The problem is that this reality only makes for an “interesting” documentary. It’s not terribly exciting. Perfection never is.

The struggle toward it can itself be exciting, the ingenuity that people manage, the keen sense of anticipation and that moment where the guests are completely astounded, offhandedly suggesting that a cold beer would be the perfect finish to an afternoon of waterskiing as you reach into the cooler in the tender and proffer an ice cold bottle. It’s rewarding when you’re in the midst and to the casual viewer is a vicarious glimpse into the very height of the leisure industry, a video post card in some sense.

The natural remedy (for entertainment purposes at least) is to instill drama, personal conflict, power struggles, imminent disaster and all the other tacks of reality tv. Not that certain yacht crews would ever need a script, let alone a camera crew; it’s all there if a little more subtle. Unfortunately, this obscures the truly fascinating aspects and conflicts of yachting under the Bravo gloss. Below Deck as a series may be maturing but it’s still fallen a little short of the real adventure. Which is precisely why we thought to write the Bight.

The Bight is not representative of the dedicated crew who make up the yachting industry, it takes its cues, a lot of humor and stories from yachting but a good story has to escape the folklore of the pub. A good story should endeavor to give reality to what the job really demands of crew. It should show what it is like living between extremes: not having a life then suddenly indulging what would normally have been impossible, living with a glamorous image that everyone enjoys against the gritty reality of it, the want of real connection when you may leave at a moments notice and be left only with skype, being a servant to the people who control the world and suddenly having a similar sense of control over your own life. So what happens to someone negotiating a struggle few engage and even fewer describe?

Yea, that’s what we thought.

The story of what happens when you remove yourself from normal and wander into the capital W world, to live and work with every variety of foreigner, to appreciate people for their innate character outside the game of culture, to have ones conception of the planet at once shrunken and exponentially increased?

It’s the stuff of great fiction, of people trying to forge lives between borders, languages, cultures, economies and the whims of the 1 percenters!

And it has to be done, because if there is one thing we learned from yachting, there is no such thing as No.

 

Below Deck might just capture the Reality of an Industry of Illusion

| Featured | Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 11.27.28 AM

It should be fairly obvious to even the most casual viewer of Below Deck that they will give money to anyone these days. While there is something reassuring to see the mildly wealthy are not that much removed from the typical self-proclaimed middle classer, it betrays something deeper.

This new class of moneyed tourist seems capable of only dipping their toes in luxury, never seeing beyond a dollar amount or most apparent in the show, the manner in which finely honed cuisine and impeccable service are delivered.

For many a crew this has created a rather amusing game, a sort of the guests have no clothes wherein a canny interior staff and the chef can exploit a guests desire and want for a luxury illusion rather than sophisticated and highly developed palettes  implied by so many pieces of paper. Throw in some camera crews and a national television audience and you’ve added yet another layer to what has always been a reality tv show. All that is necessary is a smile.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 11.26.42 AM

Chief Stewardess Kate Chastain is all too aware of the conceit and in sharing with the viewers has offered a refreshing perspective but also a worrisome symptom of too much time in the bubble.

Luxury yachting has been something of a show business on the water well before Below Deck, whether from the set dressing: cushions, flowers, table settings, the shoot schedule: planning their activities, watersports, shore excursion, beach day, the blocking: suggesting and moving the guests around, never being seen cleaning the yacht, everything magically appearing, or the performance itself, somewhat cloying, cheerful, upbeat and solicitous of the guests.

All this constant being ‘On’ in addition to the usual pressures of perfection and guests whims, slowly begins to wear on one. It sinks in as a sort of luxury fatigue, becoming painfully aware of tending to another’s dream and no longer clearly seeing your own.

Then Charter ends and you try to escape it but can’t. The tip makes up for it but at the same time you can spend or drink your way only so far. You’ve got the money but no normal, no tenable reality to fall back on. A good crew helps, but more often it’s a collection of inept mercenaries chasing excitement and creating it, ashore, below deck and everywhere they can.

Enough time in the yachting bubble and there is no longer a normal to return to. You’ve seen too much, experienced too much. And most galling of all, you know what’s going on out there at the top. You know what fantastic things are possible on this planet. You know what it is like behind all the lovely pictures in the celebrity gossip rags.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 12.06.52 PM

It all leads to the What Next of all What Next’s just as your own real life takes on all the dysfunction of a reality tv series. All those fantastic heights and once and a lifetimes suddenly become little more than the footage populating the Facebook or Instagram and the real work becomes your own sanity or the toil of trying to recreate or live what never was your own.

It’s certainly nothing to smile about.