To the untrained eye, a career in yachting may seem to be one long holiday – but nothing could be further from the truth. Luxury Yacht Group’s Emma Batchelder offers some advice, and explains why being part of a yacht crew takes serious guts, mental strength and physical stamina.
I had some of the best years of my life when I worked on board superyachts in my early twenties, even though the exclusive world of white boats was something that I hadn’t been completely aware of until I spent a short summer holiday in the South of France. The thought of having a job on board a luxury ‘floating hotel’ while travelling to the most beautiful parts of the world seemed too good to be true. I later learned that is indeed the reality of the situation.
My friends and family would see the photographs I would post on my social-media accounts and exclaim how lucky I was to be seeing these places for free. We stewardesses would agree, but no one posts pictures of yourself sitting on the upper pantry floor at 3am, resting your aching feet for just 60 seconds in between mixing cocktails for guests who continue to party through the early hours of the morning.
Yachting is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible and surreal industries to be involved in, but it is not for the faint-hearted. Although it isn’t entirely accurate to compare yachting to the navy, there are similarities. Ranking of crewmembers, and certain disciplines or ‘standing orders’ that should be abided by at all times, are examples of this. This means yachting is not a career for everyone, as not everyone is cut out for it. It takes serious practice, focus and bravery to work on board these floating five-star hotels. Strong personalities will succeed, particularly when you get ‘knocked down’ by a higher-ranking crewmember, be it captain, chief stew or first officer, as it is critical to get back up and try again, to persevere and keep pushing on. Working on yachts is a huge learning curve, and a professional and serious attitude are essential if you want to succeed and grow in your career path. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a travelling summer holiday,.
Every crewmember has a specific role, and with that comes certain responsibilities. We are trained to understand the importance of survival at sea and what procedures to follow in the event of an emergency. All crew take the mandatory Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) course just to qualify to work on board yachts. The STCW is inclusive of firefighting, first aid and safety of lives at sea. We undergo medical inspections called ENG1s to ensure we are fit enough to work, and practise various regular safety drills monthly to keep up to speed for an emergency that could occur at any time, in any place. When the alarm goes off in the middle of the night while we are sleeping, we have a structured emergency plan in place.
You may go for weeks, or even months, without a day off.
As a chief stewardess on board bigger yachts, I had my fair share of responsibilities. My role sometimes felt very motherly. The connection you have with your crew runs deep as you experience many highs and lows together. When guests are on board, you work extremely hard, for long periods of time, with very little rest, especially if you are a department head. When guests are not on board, you still work hard to maintain the vessel to have it ready for the next trip. You may go for weeks, or even months, without a day off.
However, when the time does come that you are granted a day off, there is a great chance you will be in one of the most remarkable places in the world. Between trips you might very well be docked at some of the hottest spots that only A-list celebrities dream of frequenting, and in that moment you’ll get to enjoy living life at its finest – before getting back to the grind, of course.
Yachting is very rewarding and a uniquely special industry to be a part of – if you are the right candidate. It is a serious career choice for many and needs to be viewed as such. The perception some people have that it is a good option for a gap year is misconstrued. Setting yourself up for a career in yachting is an investment, and one that should be considered carefully and thoroughly enjoyed.
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