crew safety: the education gap



Riela Yachts Safety & Compliance Manager

My Safety Experience

As a former Seafarer who has experienced different aspects of yachting, from roles in the Deck and Interior Departments to shore side (Safety and Compliance Manager). I can confidently claim first-hand, that there is an education gap when it comes to safety management practices in yachting… and it’s about time we fix it.

When training for a career at sea, you will be awarded Certificates of Competency (CoC) as you progress through your professional development. Whether this is for entry-level, Engineering or Deck. However, there is a noticeable absence within the training industry when it comes to the effective application and implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.

When I first began my training for a UK Officer On Watch (OOW) CoC, I, like all others following the Deck/Navigation route, took a number of courses which varied from General Ship’s Knowledge to training in Electronic Aids and Navigation. More recently additional leadership aspects have been added via the Human Element, Leadership and Management (HELM) courses. However, despite part of the oral exams covering safety management and the requirements of the ISM Code, the record-keeping requirements, best practices and most importantly how to scrutinise an SMS and ensure it is fit for purpose, are not covered in sufficient detail.

When I was at sea, no one explained or described to me the benefits of having a relationship with maritime safety and compliance staff ashore. I wish they had, as shore staff are there to help you (if in your experience they are not, then changing them should be considered). The staff in these roles are there to support you, by answering queries, clarifying issues and to promote and assist the onboard safety culture.  They should be considered an extension of the crew, aiding with environmental protection and contributing to ensuring that you, your fellow crew and all those on board keep safe. This is the day-to-day job of maritime safety and compliance staff, and their success is yours. I know first-hand because this is what I now do, and I love it. Like many, I took this safety education into my own hands, but the same cannot be said for everyone. Particularly if you have not been shown why it is so important to have this safety knowledge in the first place.

Why We Need to See Change

Safety education for Crew, based on the ISM Code and associated conventions and other codes is, I believe, important for several reasons:


  1. It allows Crew to understand actions and recognise consequences, this should also bring a more professional experience to Guests and Crew alike.
  2. It prompts and assists in compliance with rules and regulations in relation to ship safety and the environment.
  3. Most importantly, it will reduce common incidents. Through education and reporting, it will help mould the future safety culture for all at sea.


By writing this article, I hope to encourage an in-depth level of discussion within the early stages of Crew training in the areas surrounding safety management education. However, in the meantime, it is worth highlighting that there are alternate ways to achieve this goal. As discussed in my previous post, most Crew and Captains tend to start their careers on smaller vessels. Therefore, becoming familiar with and taking advantage of the tools provided through a Mini ISM system is the ideal opportunity to learn more about how to manage safety onboard and put best practice into place.

Secondly, many people will routinely use the label of ‘HealthandSafety’ as if it was a single word, where the situation in question is predominantly related to Safety OR Health.

Ask anyone if they want a workplace that is both safe and healthy and they will most likely say ‘yes’.  But offer them some training in Health and Safety or issue a new set of guidelines and the reaction will be less positive.  Working on board a vessel certainly carries more risks than your average office environment, but we can cite many examples where crew are working in an environment where safety takes a back seat and ‘getting the job’ done is the first priority.  The good news is that with a bit of forethought you can usually have both in equal measure.

In part 2 of my blog series we will take a look at how straightforward it can be to make this happen and how a culture of high performance can co-exist with a safety culture, but at this stage we want to leave you with two thoughts:

  1. If someone at work suggested you were acting in an unsafe way, would you be more likely to thank them or curse them?
  2. Next time you or someone else says ‘It’s because of HeathandSafety…’ Ask – which is it, Safety or Health?

Personal Development of Crew

In addition to the many benefits of increased safety compliance, yacht Crew safety education will also assist in personal development of the Crew. For example, being taught the concept of a safety culture onboard will help it become second nature when navigating the seas. The Mini ISM system can assist with this when working on smaller vessels, as the similar skills used to follow the intuitive system are in parallel to that of larger vessels who adhere to the full ISM Code. Therefore, and in the absence of any mandated training, adopting a Mini-ISM could be the best way to bridge the education gap often experienced in Crew training.

Conclusion: Value Your Safety

If at this stage you are sat thinking: “this is me, I have no ISM training”.

Remember, there is always opportunity to learn.

Even if you only work on a smaller vessel, using the Mini ISM system, if you have one, still allows you to learn these practices on-the-go, allowing for the adoption of a safety and environmental culture onboard.

Due to the high frequency of serious incidents which occur at sea, as Crew, it is important to recognise your own responsibility in breaking this trend. You owe it to yourself and others around you to value your own safety.

The next time you are looking to join a yacht and its Crew, ask the question of whether the vessel has active ISM Code practices in place, when the SMS was last reviewed or verified internally/externally and most importantly whether its effectiveness is being monitored and how. You won’t regret the difference it could make!

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Yacht Manager

Alexandra Hernández is Riela Yachts’ Yacht Manager. As part of this, Alexandra is the initial point of contact for our vessels; working closely with our other specialists to provide support and service coordination. Alexandra supervises crew management and plays a heavy involvement in the development and maintenance of our award-winning electronic Safety Management System (eSMS).

Born and raised in Colombia, Alexandra completed her degree as a Lawyer, and she is on track to receive her diploma in Superyacht Management.

Alexandra’s legal background and experience within the Marine & Aviation industries cover a wide range of roles, helping to gain invaluable knowledge, develop communication skills and actively cultivate solid industry relationships to deliver the highest of standards in every project.

Jay Houghton


Riela Group Finance Director

Jay Houghton is the Riela Group Finance Director. Jay is responsible for overseeing the Financial Strategy of the Group alongside the financial reporting and control structure of the Group and its companies.

As a qualified accountant with over 30-years in the financial and service industries, Jay has built a wealth of experience in business analysis, investment appraisal, financial control and reporting.

Cameron findlay

Safety & Compliance Officer

Cameron “Fin” Findlay became a part of the Riela Yachts team in late 2021, initially joining as a Trainee Yacht Safety & Compliance Assistant. Fin’s commitment and dedication have enabled him to understand the intricacies of the industry from the ground up, leading him to being promoted to Yacht Safety & Compliance Officer in 2023. Fin is now a qualified Company Security Officer (CSO), actively contributing to the implementation of Riela’s Safety Management System across our fleet, working closely alongside Clive Harrison and George Self.

Christian Crompton Yachts

Christian crompton

Product and Development Lead

Christian Crompton is the Riela Yachts’ Product and Development Lead responsible for translating the requirements and operations of the Safety and Compliance team and implementing this into the forefront of the electronic Safety Management System (eSMS).

Since graduating with a first-class honours degree in Computer and Information Security in 2018, Christian has worked on designing and developing superyacht solutions using Laserfiche in the Maritime Software Industry.

With Christian’s security background and software experience streamlining business processes, Christian applies his knowledge into the Riela Yachts strategy and innovates new systems for both Riela and their clients.

Tony Partridge

Tony Partridge

Product and Development specialist

Tony Partridge is a Product and Development specialist at Riela Yachts where he will be working closely alongside Mark Bridson and Christian Crompton. Tony’s main focus is building an innovative client focused dashboard, whilst providing a new outlook and perspective to our current processes, policies and procedures.


Before joining Riela, Tony started his own web development business where he built applications and websites for a large group of different sectors, growing a strong and long-lasting clientele base. With over 10 years of experience, Tony brings a depth of knowledge and expertise to the Riela Yachts team which will be used to help progress the company’s development through the innovation and development of Riela Yachts solutions.

Robert Tobin

Riela Group Managing Director

Rob Tobin is the Managing Director of the Riela Group of Companies and is responsible for overseeing our business operations, our people and driving excellence in all we do.

Robert brings over 25 years of successful leadership and entrepreneurial experience across a range of industries including Family Office, corporate services, construction engineering, Superyachts, cyber security and information technology development to our Group, and to our customers.

In the past 15 years Rob has gained a prominent reputation within the Superyacht industry for his passion, integrity, innovation and achievements to date.

“Being part of an awesome, capable and forward-thinking team that have a shared passion for Superyachts, people and the environment is the highlight of my career and puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step every day”.

Clive Harrison

Clive Harrison

Operations Director

Clive Harrison is a Director at Riela Yachts and leads the Operations Team.

After a 22 year service as a Deck Officer in the UK Royal Navy, Clive moved ashore and is enjoying a second career, spanning over a decade,  in the yachting industry and relishing the challenges that this brings.

Clive brings a wealth of expertise and experience to our Company and has earned a reputation for providing a professional and pragmatic approach to the delivery of our services.

George Self

George Self

Safety & Compliance Manager

George Self is a Safety & Compliance Manager and responsible for the implementation and development of operational compliance for yachts at the company.

Accruing a 10-year service of sea time, beginning as a deckhand before respectfully concluding her career as a Chief Officer, George now contributes a wealth of first-hand practice and insight into the support she now provides to yachts daily. George also brings shore side experience from her time working at a number of established Ship Management firms on the Isle of Man.

Ken Hickling

Ken Hickling


Ken Hickling is a company Director at Riela Yachts (UK) Ltd.

Ken has spent over 30 years working in the Yachting industry at Boatyards and materials manufacturers, and more recently as a Specialist Business Advisor. During this time Ken has served as International Superyacht Society (ISS) President and is currently on the Superyacht UK Executive Committee. He also works as a project leader on the ISO work group focused on Superyacht Quality.

The experience that he brings to The Riela Group in optimising our internal business processes helps to ensure that the quality of service we provide to our clients is at the highest level.

Louise Gimson


Louise Gimson is a Director, Senior Administrator and in-house HR Manager and is responsible for the day to day running of the company and client accounts at the Riela Yachts.

With an extensive background in finance, Louise brings almost twenty years’ experience in accounts within the ship management industry to Riela Yachts, where she is dedicated to implementing dynamic solutions to benefit clients.

Louise has diversified her responsibilities by taking on data handling duties within the company and in 2016 began assisting the Operations Team with internal compliance procedures.

Matthew Roberts

Matthew Roberts

Head of Sales

As the Head of Group Sales at the Riela family of companies, Matthew leads the company’s sales strategy, execution, and growth.

Matthew has a successful record building trusted client relationship and delivering upon set expectations. An accomplished sales leader, he delivers a sales process that provides clients with the information and support they need to make the right decisions for their organisations and their constituents.

Matthew has significant experience within the maritime industry having previously worked across various sectors including insurance, security, satellite communications and managed IT. Matthew’s most recent experience encompasses almost 5 years spent with the leading satellite communications and managed IT provider in the maritime industry, focusing on their superyacht clientele.

Mark Bridson

Mark Bridson

Product & Development Specialist

Mark Bridson is a Product and Development specialist and responsible for the integration of Laserfiche within the company and the developing of an electronic Safety Management System.

Marks career started in the Royal Air Force as a data analyst maintaining Aircraft engineering records and the provision of Aircraft statistics.

Returning to the Island Mark spent the next 25 years working in IT for an aircraft design company. In this role he provided Computer Aided Design and document management support for offices within the UK and Europe.

Moving from the Aircraft industry to Maritime, Mark has spent two years with a Yachting software solutions company using Laserfiche to design purchase ordering systems for Superyachts.

Tina - Riela Yachts

Tina Dahn

Crew Officer

Tina Dahn is a Crew Officer and responsible for the administration of yacht crew contracts, monthly payroll and crew certification at Riela Yachts.

After a 12 year service in the Royal Navy undertaking various administration and PA roles, Tina began working for the NHS in 2001 and was responsible for duties including managing payroll, recruitment and HR administration.

Tina returned to the Isle of Man to undertake the role of Crewing Officer in the superyacht industry in 2011, where she oversaw a portfolio of clients whom she provided crew employment, administration and payroll services.

Christian goelz


Christian is involved across the Riela family of companies with particular attention to the technology businesses, Cyber and Tech.

Christian gained a postgraduate Master in Finance degree at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland and completed his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Before joining us, Christian worked for six years at Argosy Capital, an Isle of Man-based private equity and venture capital business focusing on early-stage growth businesses. At Argosy, he focused on managing investment companies, research and financial analysis and served as a director on several boards.