“We’re not being mean, you’re just green!’”
As another summer season comes to a close, we’ve had the chance to reflect on the season we’ve had here at Quay Crew and to take a closer look at the interior crew coming and going.
Everyone has different wants and needs from their yachting career and there is certainly a yacht out there for everyone but with the influx of crew joining the industry every year it certainly feels like perhaps new crew aren’t doing as much research as they should be!
This year we have heard of and seen a large number of crew joining yachts (some amazing) and then jumping ship for a marginally better offer or the belief that the grass is greener! For the most part however, it appears that the crew are joining yachts without any concept of the work required or the environment they will be in.
The following is a brief overview of what to expect when you start out. This is by no means an exhaustive list and of course you should do your own research before setting sail!
- Hard work: Yachting is certainly not a glamourous industry to work in! Sure, you get to visit some amazing places, meet some high flying people, live onboard a super yacht and earn great money but to achieve all of this you have to work bloody hard. Often you will be working 7 days a week with limited down time and a few breaks snatched here and there. With guests on you won’t get your evenings off and you won’t have a weekend of relaxing after a hard week of work. Feeling a bit run down or hungover? Well you won’t get the luxury of a day off sick. Ever…
- What the job involves: Regardless of your job title, Stew / Nurse or Beautician, Masseuse or PT etc 90% if not 95% of your job will involve mundane tasks which have nothing to do with the 2nd part of your job title. So get your head around that fact. Not infrequently you will be cleaning things you wouldn’t have thought you would be cleaning in your nastiest of nightmares. If someone back in the day had told me I would be cleaning with toothpicks and cotton buds, I’d have probably given it a 2nd thought so I just wanted to share this reality with you.
- Being given orders: Sounds obvious but many people entering the industry aren’t prepared for being given orders. Time is often tight so it won’t be explained to you why you have to do something a certain way. Sometimes you will be given them in a curt manner. Often your instructions will appear excessive and unnecessary to your untrained eye. But you have to do it to the letter. As an ex Chief Stew nothing is more frustrating than someone ignoring explicit orders.
- Port holes: Most of your life as a stew will be spent looking out of a porthole at a distant shore. You will often go days with barely a glimpse of the sun. This job does not involve lots of sun bathing on deck, drinking cocktails in between hopping into the Jacuzzi. You work on the boat, you aren’t the owner.
- No mobile: As a green / junior stew there is no reason for your mobile to be on your person in work hours. Be prepared for it to sit in your cabin for hours on end and for dozens of whatsapp messages to go unanswered before you can reply. This isn’t a normal job where you can send 50 messages throughout the working day.
- Close living quarters: Gone are the days of your luxury double bed, your own en-suite bathroom and the ability to come and go as you please. You will be sharing a cabin with another crew member, who may or may not snore…. You have to be clean & tidy at all times as well as being respectful of each others very limited space! If you are a person who needs their own space then maybe this isn’t for you.
- Getting ready: You can’t take an hour to get ready in the morning. You are sharing a bathroom and you should be naturally made up with the emphasis on natural and minimal. Caked in make up is not an appropriate look.
- Constant tiredness: On a busy yacht, once the season is underway you will be constantly tired. You don’t get the opportunity to catch up on sleep and have a couple of days to recharge the batteries so expect to be operating on empty. Everyone is in the same situation and no one wants to hear constant moaning about how tired you are.
- Freedom: Your life is now pretty much under someone else’s say so… You will have a watch list to abide by, curfews inflicted on you and even perhaps someone telling how far you are allowed to travel away from the yacht. This is an eye opener even for the most prepared and certainly something to consider when applying for yacht jobs!
- Being super smiley ALL the time: You may have guests on board for weeks, sometimes months on end and you will be required to have your smile permanently in place at all times! Despite the fact that you dislike one of the guests for refusing to say please & thank you (ever), you can’t let any of that affect that smile!
- Sore feet, dry skin and achy bones: I can still remember back on my first yacht the shock of how much my feet hurt after the first few charters! This is something that becomes normal over time though so stick it out and your body will get used to it!
- Tears at morning, noon and night: Don’t be surprised if you have a little cry on a regular basis during your first charter/charters! All completely normal! Speak to one of your fellow stewies on board and I’m sure they will reassure you!
- Contacting home: Running on from the above you will be a little isolated from your family and friends as they will be in another country. Different time zones, long work hours, patchy internet means you might not get many opportunities to have a lengthy chat during the season.
This seems like a pretty negative list however, it is the reality and should definitely be noted! There are of course a hundred positives to working on yachts too! Not least, the life long friends you will make and the incredible memories you will hold on to that only a small percentage of the population will ever have. However many of you entering the industry only seem aware of the positives and seem to have a pretty limited understanding of those even.
I loved my career on board but I do wish someone had given me a complete heads up before I got on a yacht. I think I would have been so much better prepared for the hard work!
Good luck to everyone starting out their careers and fingers crossed you all survive the above!
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