What Mistakes Do You See Younger Captains Making?

Avoid these pitfalls

collage of four boat captains
Four professionals relate their thoughts on common mistakes made by young captains.(from left): Courtesy Capt. Glenn Clyatt, Courtesy Capt. Dwight Mooney, Courtesy Paul Anselmo, Courtesy Capt. Jimmy Werling

Capt. Glenn Clyatt

Capt. Glenn Clyatt
Capt. Glenn Clyatt, HMY Yachts, North Key Largo, FloridaCourtesy Capt. Glenn Clyatt

The misuse of social media. Young men and women are running multimillion-dollar operations and the responsibility is much greater than perhaps they ­realize. Research finds that 70 percent of owners use social media to screen candidates, and up to 40 percent check up on current employees. Posting accomplishments are worth celebrating, but filling the cockpit with water or posting another’s misfortune diminishes credibility. Many young skippers are accomplished fishermen, but their responsibility also includes the safety of their owners and guests. Act accordingly, and the possibilities are endless.

Capt. Dwight "Moon" Mooney

Capt. Dwight “Moon” Mooney
Capt. Dwight “Moon” Mooney, Viking Yacht Service Center, Riviera Beach, FloridaCourtesy Capt. Dwight Mooney

I was very fortunate to work for some of the finest in the industry when I was starting out. I had to show up early, stay late, always be on deck, and be able to find something with my eyes closed. Rank and order are a must in this game, and a big mistake I see these days is a captain’s lack of involvement. If you’re being paid, involvement is your job. It’s your duty to be present and on top of it all—and know the answers to the questions you’re asked. We all refer to it as “my boat,” but remember, it’s really the boss’s boat, and keeping it ready to go at a moment’s notice should always be priority No. 1.

Paul Anselmo

Paul Anselmo
Paul Anselmo, Smith-Merritt Insurance, Pompano Beach, FloridaCourtesy Paul Anselmo

Good captains come from a pedigree of smart mates who work for savvy captains while waiting for their turn at the helm. I think the biggest mistake many young captains make is not taking time to gain a solid understanding of the machinery and systems that are on board the yachts they run. Today’s captains should be able to perform general maintenance, but the ability to troubleshoot problems or accomplish simple repairs often seems to fall out of their scope of experience. The longest-tenured captains I know are the ones who went that extra mile to learn these skills when they were mates. Cutting this corner won’t go unnoticed by the boss, especially when the yard bill shows up.

Who is the competition? Read about it here.

Capt. Jimmy Werling

Capt. Jimmy Werling
Capt. Jimmy Werling, Plane Simple, Cape Canaveral, FloridaCourtesy Capt. Jimmy Werling

One of the biggest mistakes is not being on the same page as the owner. This job is more than just catching fish and placing in tournaments. It’s also about entertaining the boss and his guests, having a good attitude, and most importantly, maintaining the owner’s investment. You must match your job intensity with the boss’s wishes. While all of those things are important, what means the most to him? If you need to ask yourself which one, then you probably aren’t on his page at all. Lasting jobs are those where the captain and owner are consistently on the same page; if not, it usually won’t last.