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Mental Health onboard- from both sides of the coin, crew and Managerial...

Updated: Jun 19

Dearest Reader....

(Yes, I'm slightly Obsessed with Bridgerton at the moment)


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Imagine, living in your office on the 18th floor of a high-rise building in central London with ten of your colleagues that you eat, sleep and share all of your living spaces with, can you imagine how you would feel…Have I got your attention?


Living on a yacht is a little like this, only often you can’t leave the office to go for a walk because you’re at anchor for the next week.

The life of a “Yachtie” is incredibly rewarding and unique but it also has negative impacts on an individual’s mental health daily. Life onboard is fast-paced which often comes with high stress. When an environment is high stress, is when we can see the worst in the people around us. Not cleaning the coffee machine is a small thing which can be the breaking point for the crew member on late duty at the end of an 18-hour shift that was thirty 18-hour shift in a row.

Sounds extreme but when sleep deprivation, no time for yourself, for exercise or to call home. It can make the filthy coffee machine at 23:00 feel like the worst thing in the world.


As yacht crew, we are resilient it’s part of the job but sometimes it gets a little too much and quite often a crew member struggling can hurt the rest of the crew, the atmosphere can change easily and you start to notice the following…


·      Withdrawal from social interaction

·      Isolating themselves

·      Out-of-character emotional outbursts

·       Lack of appetite

·      Brain fog/ lack of Focus


How can we support each other’s mental health onboard?


The more gentle and friendly the approach the more likely a successful outcome…


1.        Open door policy onboard to ask for help and speak about how you are feeling without judgements.

2.        Give crew downtime, as much as possible, Charter guests off for lunch, and “All crew on the swim platform for a swim?” the little things make a huge difference.

3.        Approach those struggling with kindness and care, approach with a cup of tea and a willingness to listen.

4.        Make the most of every good moment and encourage a laugh and a smile.


As crew we have to support each other, our crew often become the family we acquire.


Shaped by the Sea xo

Recently, Shaped by the Sea has partnered up with the lovely team at ahoy crew...

Working along side Tatiana and Maya as they grow their recruitment company. I've been busy promoting their social media accounts and creating joint writing editorials on specific topics in the yachting industry such as mental Health, Cv Writing and other hot topic's around the crew mess.

Here's Tatiana's article on Crew Mental Health,




It was, it is, and it, most probably will be…


Crew mental health is generally at risk due to specifics of living onboard, sharing small space 24/7 and having zero privacy.

Add a stressful moment with a teammate during the day, imagine the need to meet the same mate at a meal and multiply it by the perspective of going with your emotions into the same cabin for a night…


The Yachtie lifestyle put one’s mental health on probation every single day, that of oneself and of others.

That is why mental health awareness is and should be in the focus of every owner, yacht manager and captain.

Not many though even realise such an issue exists.


“They earn a lot, they get the tips on top, they get the food and clothing provided, they do not have to pay their rent, they see the world for free… what mental health are you talking about??”  …. This is often the perception of yachtie’s life by an outsider, by this is not the case in the crew mess.


If the yachting lifestyle is “So Great” then why is the crew retention rate a drama on so many boats?


The equation of crew longevity onboard is not similar to a 2-component epoxy, for sure, it has many important variables, each of which deserves a separate long read.

However, stats do not lie in yet assigning the major role to crew dynamics as the driver of crew longevity.

It is natural for a human being to leave the environment he/she is not feeling good in their own skin. So they leave.


Why so?


Healthy crew dynamics evolves as a symbiosis of each crew’s mental health and is a volatile compound if we talk chemistry.  Its balance is fragile.


Mental health is one’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. Being low on battery in terms of mental health affects how one thinks, feels, and acts. It also determines how one handles stress, relates to others, and makes healthy choices.

Combined with the limited space the crew lives and works in, the mental health issues of one single crew member can easily intoxicate the whole crew and create a threat to crew longevity. Due to the 24/7 exposure such negative dynamics can evolve erratically fast.


What is the remedy then?


For the employer:  have an open ear and an open mind for crew mental health issues; invest time and attention into building a trusting relationship with your employees so they share and open themselves to you; support and intervene earlier than later to protect the overall team mental health level; motivate individuals to work on their mental health to contribute to the team’s one.


People are the heart of the Yacht. Focus on people!



Tatiana Kurbatova Lueders

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Going forward I hope to post more regular and relevant blogs capturing more of my voice as the posts where in the beginning but until then keep smiling Laughing and Loving the Sea. xo


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