• Marine Services – From a Former Yachtie´s Perspective

Marine Services – From a Former Yachtie´s Perspective

In this interview, we speak with Joanne Tofts, who joined Trident Trust Marine Services in October 2022 as Client Services Executive. Joanne tells us how her experience as a former seafarer has been providing unique perspectives on the payroll administration and human resources work she carries out in Marine Services.

How It All Began 

“I started my boating career as a seafarer straight out of university and have experienced a broad variety of roles on both small and larger vessels. Originally, I started out as a deckhand driving tenders, then I moved to a stewardess role, and eventually worked as a chef for the latter part of my yachting career,” Joanne begins. 

“I began working on smaller boats, gradually moving on to bigger boats as opportunities arose - finishing my career on a 55-metre boat with a 12-member crew. As part of my responsibilities during my 25-year career, I have overseen recruiting, onboarding, and new staff training, as well as looking after guests when they were on board. I have also helped manage the crew’s tasks and assisted with concierge services, including booking crew flights when necessary. My experience in these roles gave me a deep understanding of the industry which proved to be invaluable when I started working at Trident Trust.”  

“In fact, in my current role within the Marine Services team, I keep carrying some of the administrative work I used to do on the yachts, such as amending contracts and doing payroll for the crew. Although still learning a lot about my new role and in particular about the specialist software used for processing payments and other HR functions, I am very familiar with the core tasks I work on daily and I can process contracts with ease thanks to my previous experience,” she adds.  

Creating Connections 

Joanne continues, “During my years aboard, I travelled considerably, which undoubtedly contributed to developing my perspective on the marine industry. My travels varied depending on the boat and the owner, but I was lucky enough to do many “Caribbean seasons” and to travel extensively around Europe, especially the South of France and the rest of the Mediterranean. Having been all over the world, I had the opportunity to make friends from all walks of life; this has given me some good insights on how to effectively deal with people coming from different life paths.”  

“The personal contacts that I have built up over the years spent aboard are beneficial to my role at Trident Trust too. Having a broad network of contacts in the marine sector is immensely helpful as you know who you are speaking to when you receive a request or who to contact in case you need something. This industry is now growing as more people have been seeking out careers in boating, but it used to be quite small and closely-knit and for that reason it was simple and natural getting to know all the main players. I often find myself dealing with the employees of some yacht management companies I met while on onboard; this is interesting and so good, as I appreciate the opportunity to stay in touch and maintain a relationship with old friends and contacts whilst working in my new role.” 

The Covid Pandemic and Brexit 

“During the Covid pandemic, I was on the same boat I ended my career on. The yacht was in the South of France, in the shipyard undergoing a refit when the pandemic hit. The shipyard workers doing the painting for the boat were from Greece and they all had to go back home. I used to cook for the crew at the time, and I still remember that purchasing food for the crew was a challenge as online shopping had not yet been properly set up in France. Fortunately, no one was laid off, but the associated paperwork and requirements for moving countries once lockdown was lifted created a lot of extra work,” Joanne comments.  

“When discussing challenges and complexities, Brexit also had a significant impact on crew operations,” she adds. "With the end of freedom of movement for British passport holders in the EU effective 31 January 2020, non-EEA crew members were only allowed to remain within the EU territories for 90 days out of every 180-day period without a visa. New joining crew members needed to go to an immigration office other than the one located at their arrival airports. Sometimes, the relevant office was not at the same port as the vessel or was only open a few hours a day or only ran by appointments, creating logistical challenges for both crew and management. Other times, local agent assistance was necessary to help deal with the requirements, causing additional costs and delays for both yacht owners and crew members.”  

“Adding to that, the rules allowing non-EEA crew to travel freely whilst being stamped out of EU and onto their vessel differed significantly from country to country, from time to time, and even from place to place within the same country.  Actions implemented for overstaying also differed variously, ranging from fines to banned entry.

For example, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece, and for a period the Balearic Islands would not stamp crew out of EU and onto the vessel if they had come directly from another EU country, which meant that they had to arrive from outside of the EU and immediately go to immigration. Failure to do this either resulted in using up a portion of their 90-day allowance, or the necessity of booking another flight to leave the EU just to meet this requirement. Italy would only stamp arriving crew out of the EU and onto a vessel if the vessel were imminently departing from the EU. Similarly, the Netherlands Authorities would only stamp arriving crew out of EU and onto a vessel if the vessel were imminently leaving the Netherlands. This caused some complications during the winter holiday period, as it restricted access to crew for seasonal maintenance work requirements. 

Through all of this, cooperation and continued communication with yacht crew is what helped me navigate these difficult waters and keep up to date with planning." 

Working at Trident Trust 

“Joanne’s background as a former seafarer has given her valuable insight into the industry, making her a great addition to Trident Trust’s Marine Services team. Her knowledge and expertise in marine services administration, as well as her experience dealing with the complex situations that inevitably come up in yachting, are an asset to our clients and the business,” comments Jonathan Harris-Lowe, Head of Trident Trust Marine Services.

“At Trident Trust, we are proud to have employees like Joanne, who have a deep understanding of the industry and bring unique experience and perspective into their roles. We encourage new talent to join our team and experience the benefits of working with knowledgeable professionals like Joanne. Visit our careers page or LinkedIn page to view our current roles available.”