If you're involved in the yachting industry long enough, sooner or later you're bound to fall in love with the owners and family of a yacht on which you work. And if you're truly lucky, you will become extended family, and you'll be there for the family when the owner passes away....
For anyone who's worked on board when the owner does pass away (whether on board or off), this is truly an immeasurably difficult situation that undoubtedly causes much stress, grief and anxiety in knowing how to deal with the situation professionally yet sensitively. Take some time, deal with your grief and be ready for change.
Fortunately for some, the owners family keeps the yacht and you continue to care for the extended family just as you did before. For others, even though the crew-family connection remains strong, it simply may not make sense for the family to keep the yacht and they may decide to sell. Be prepared for this as more often than not, the owner may have been the primary income-earner and without this income, it doesn't make sense for the family to keep the yacht. The cost of running a yacht is roughly equal to 10% of a new replacement cost.. and it only gets more expensive as the yacht ages. It takes months sometimes years to sell a yacht, especially an older yacht, but be prepared for some immediate changes.
- you may end up cutting crew back to the minimum needed to run the yacht.
- you may lose access to funds so be prepared to stop projects or contract work until you know the situation. Pay your outstanding bills immediately to be sure they get paid properly.
Take some time with the remaining family or business decision-makers and help map out a clear route that makes sense for them. For those of you who have gone through this with decent, amazing yacht owners, remember it's business and often it's a difficult decision for yacht owners to decide to sell (maybe partially because they care a great deal for their crew). Did you know, for many crew who experience the death of a yacht owner, this is the closest person to pass away in their lives to date, as they spend so much time away from their own family or loved ones?
If you ever experience such an event, may it make you stronger and may you continue to have a life-long relationship with the remaining family members.