Let’s find out how captain Dario Savino (an experienced skipper on international racing boats and a blogger), Maurizio Amato
(who runs a social network group)
and captain Nichi Palma of Captains Routes,
a LinkedIn group with more than
a thousand contacts and growing fast
Dario Savino, experienced captain.
Why a blog?
The blog is a reaction to a defeat. There’s no unified representation in Italy for the world of seamen and despite a very complex maze of regulations there’s no clear, institutional channel of information. The blog
is a simple response to a need, a way of informing and giving voice to a sector that’s changing fast and has been swimming in a sea of regulations for 10 years, after the changes to the sailing qualifications.
How many visitors
do you get?
In a year and a half the
site had more than 100,000 visitors, with daily averages of 300. Users are mostly Italian, though there are a lot of international contacts.
What are the most common topics?
Sailing qualifications and other things. Generally there is a need for information, in Italy it’s unfortunately hard to find consistency in the application of regulations by the authorities and sharing information is a necessity, also to overcome a certain
endemic tendency of seamen not to look for information themselves but to rely on other people’s experience. Also because often it’s
hard to get unambiguous answers. Everything’s got more complicated in the past ten years: just think that at the start of 2012 Italian sailing qualifications weren’t recognised abroad: the profession is much more precarious and confused, with the loss of jobs and professionalism.
What are the weak point?
The lack of ability to discover one’s rights and get them respected and a very complex system with little communication.
How important is the
internet in ports?
Today the internet is used to talk to your family, to find solutions, companies,
book tickets, get information on the territory.
Today the internet is as essential in a port as water and electricity, but it’s still not supplied by the port system
in a simple way, connections, passwords and payment often drive you to use the boat’s satellite connection in port too, though it’s slower and more limited.
How are we placed on the digital front?
There is a trend but still few concrete examples. One is the new myvessel programme from Aimut Benetti, where documentation is increasing digital and you can send Isps requests via cloud computing.
And on line training?
It’s interesting and evolving, some like MCA are putting some training modules on line, e-learning for those who can’t attend courses or leave the vessel.
Maurizio Amato, blogger.
Why a blog?
Because it’s a medium you can’t do without if you want to talk to a number of people simultaneously and interact in real time, which you can’t do with e-mail.
How many users?
250 mostly captains.
What are the websites you know best?
There are sites dealing with the sector: marittimi del diporto, the blandina blog, the amadi site, the ‘‘quelli che lavorano sui yacht’’ site, crewnetwork and marineria.
What are the commonest topics?
Mostly job hunting, then,
a long way behind, all the rest: problems concerning professional qualifications, exchanges of opinions on berths and ports, work problems and finally everyday conversation to reduce loneliness
on board. Obviously with the crisis that’s hitting us, people realise that
such tools as Facebook, associations and groups are￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼very important in a job like ours, where word of mouth has always been the best recruiting medium, so you increasingly feel the need to have a lot of contacts.
How important is the internet in ports?
It’s fundamental, for captains who use it to get forecasts, to communicate with suppliers, agencies and colleagues. But it’s also fundamental
for owners who can follow their business from a distance while on holiday, without forgetting the crew that can find entertainment other than TV through
the internet. But it must
be said that the internet is
so important that owners
and captains can’t risk
being without it, so often
they use their own prepaid connection. Connection in port is mostly paid wi-fi, though recently an increasing number of ports are offering it free. Obviously you use satellite connection at sea and when you really can’t do without it, but it’s expensive.
In my case, my owner has often used it for work. What use is made of the internet?
Captains, especially the younger ones, use it a
lot, mostly for forecasts
and communicating with suppliers, agencies and technicians. It’s also used a lot for Facebook, not just to communicate with family and friends but also to exchange views with colleagues on experiences, continually evolving regulations and jobs offered and wanted.
Our association uses the web to help seamen in their day- to-day difficulties, certificate renewal, courses, professional qualifications, regulations etc.
Then there are pages like ‘‘quelli che lavorano sui yacht’’ where the chat is much softer and generalised, then pages like crewnetwork and marineria that deal exclusively with job hunting, though in the past year, thanks to the crisis, job hunting has been the main topic in all these blogs.
Nichi Palma, captain.
How important is the internet in ports?
I think very important. We live in an age where rhythms and communication have become very fast. Today you can’t do anything without
the internet: mail, banking, international and national phone calls. On a small
scale, only a help service
from one end of the world
to the other can be handled via the internet with mail, attachments, photos… so you can solve a problem almost as if you were there but from a distance. Encrypted software sent from one part of the world to another and remotely installed…
How do you connect?
Free, cable, wi-fi?
It depends on the port. Generally wi-fi, so you need
a suitable computer or a wi-
fi pen and you can connect. Connection may be free but anyway with username and password (to limit the number of users, otherwise it becomes
very slow) or on payment, when you access through a hot-spot run by a telephone or other operator.
Do people look for or check out companies for on-line repairs?
You may have to explain
step by step how to carry
out a repair or how to use a system, sending attachments perhaps with instructions
and photographs. Once when working for a local boatyard
I had to send to Finland instructions with photos and explanations for the use of a general electrical control panel. Or to explain again how the
air conditioning plant works, which had perhaps been explained before the yacht
was delivered. A colleague of mine had to handle in this way problems with a Chinese crew in Hong Kong. At the same time there are integrated systems
on board where checks can be carried out remotely (and so from a long way away) and you can have global monitoring of the vessel.
What would you like to see on line?
As regards our profession, there are very few sites specialising in job offers for yachting crews. The same is true of job offers in boatyards. I think, whether the offer is there or not, there should
be a portal for seamen with IMO certificates with offers of jobs on board or in boatyards because today, to work in this profession, it’s important to renew these international certificates (which translate our profession and enable it on international markets) every five years, and in that period you must by law have worked for not less than 36 months. It’s become difficult. F
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