Interview with a Stewie

How did you get your start in yachting?
When I arrived in the South of France I kept being told “everyone gets a job eventually”. It took me six weeks but it was an amazing six weeks of hanging out in a crew house (basically a 30 person hostel for yacht crew) with some absolutely amazing people from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Europe mostly. Lifelong friendships were formed!

The first job is traditionally hard to get and then it becomes easier as you become more experience and are vouched for as hardworking by other boats you have worked on. Average wage for an entry level stewardess is around €2500 a month, plus tips (if it’s a charter yacht). I know people who worked on charter yachts whose monthly tips exceeded their wages!!

I got my first job on a private yacht, but the owner’s friends would tip the crew generously on many occasions. The owner even took us out one night as a ‘thank you’ for our hard work. We were treated to magnums of Dom Perignon … and a few of us had some very, very sore heads the next day!!

As an example of yacht tips, the owner lost his mobile phone somewhere and when we turned the yacht upside down searching for it (I found it in his dressing gown!), I received a big hug and a €500 handshake!!

I think because I did a Stewardess course I was more prepared and knew what to expect, as we learned from an experienced stewardess trainer who gave us a lot of excellent tips and clues about what can happen and how to handle things.  I was totally clueless in hindsight.
You have to look presentable with no visible tattoos (some yachts won’t allow any tattoos at all) however I have friends who have tattooed hands and feet and still got jobs.  I guess you’ve just got to find one that’s OK with it. Four out of the eight crew on my yacht had tattoos, some visible too, so it’s becoming less of a big deal.

Obviously you have to have a “professional” relationship with the guests as you’re their glorified servant on their floating palace. However my yacht was a special one – the owner was absolutely lovely (albeit a party animal!) and made sure we were looked after. If we threw really good parties for him he would sometimes decide that he was the steward and pour us a glass of wine!

What has been the most exciting place you have visited (through yachting)? Why?
My yacht was based in Ibiza for two months – so every day that we weren’t working we were spending our money in the clubs! Our captain had a Pacha membership card too so he could get us in for free. It was the third time I’ve been to Ibiza but we saw a lot of my favourite DJ’s play over those months! And Fedde Le Grand was even a guest on the yacht!
Ibiza

Also on yachts you get to see landscapes that you would never normally get to see – for example we went to the magical rock Es Vedra (the third most magnetic place on earth) and you normally would have to go there by helicopter.

Tell us a little about your average day?
As a stewardess, my average day is anything from 9 to 18 hour day. When there are guests on board it is usually an 18 hour day including multi-tasking serving meals, cleaning cabins and the interior of the yacht, accompanying guests on sightseeing tours and running the laundry. En route to the next destination ‘underway’ every crew member does night watch keeping (in pairs) to ensure the yacht is on the correct course and will not collide with any other vessels out at sea.  Days off are rare during the season – I haven’t had a day off or sleep-in for over two months!  I am looking forward to the end of the season where I’ll get all my days off in lieu. 

Might do some sleeping!  and then hit the shops!

Why do you do this kind of work?
The travel, great crew members and the fact that you are able to save a large sum of money each month makes it a great job. I am extremely lucky to have the most generous, down-to-earth, kind-hearted yacht owners as well. The USA East coast season is coming to an end in the next few weeks. We will then be doing maintenance work throughout November before heading down to the Caribbean for a charter season.

What are the best bits of your job? And the worst?
The best bits include regularly meeting a lot of great people, seeing a new destination every few days, earning tax-free money, being out at sea and being able to play with toys (wake-boarding, snorkelling, cycling etc.) and the work can be exhausting but is relatively easy. The worst bits include getting sea sick in rough seas, not having your own personal space (as you share a cabin), as well as not having evenings and weekends off when you want them.

So, have you ever wanted to throttle anyone on the yacht?
Yes - every yacht crew member has – and it’s usually about another crew member!  Even though you are exhausted and stressed you still need to maintain a cheerful ’stew smile’ for guests despite any troubles of the day – and there are some frustrating moments. I call it ‘advanced character building’.  

People have quite different experiences and some are negative but most are positive!  In any case it’s an interesting life but probably not suitable for everyone – you’ve got to have the right work ethic and personality to like it and to be successful.

What experience or qualifications do you have for this position?
You need to do an STCW Basic Safety Training course which includes Fire-Fighting, Personal Survival Techniques, Personal Safety and Social Responsibility, First, Aid and Security Awareness. You also need an ENG1 Medical fitness certificate to state that you are fit and healthy for the job. There are also other courses that you can do such as a Stewardess course which will give you an advantage in the job stakes. 

Some people just went with their prior service experience but then wish they had done a Superyacht course as it would have made it easier to get a job. There are a number of things you just don’t know and it is quite a learning curve.  

How did you find your job?
When I started in France in 2012, I walked the docks every day for a month, did lots of day work and then found a fulltime seasonal position.  After signing up with the many yachting agencies, I applied to numerous job adverts. After a couple of interviews, I was very lucky to find the dream yacht job!  

How much did you earn?
Yachting salaries are either paid in euros or dollars and are tax-free as you are off-shore. Another plus is that you have no living expenses as you live on board, are fed well and are supplied with uniform and toiletries. You’re covered for medical emergencies as well.  As a third stew I was on €3200 which is quite respectable.

Are you doing the job for love or money?
I am working on a Superyacht for the love of travel and the love of easily saving money and I totally love meeting so many great people – guests as well as other yachties!  But I should tell you that in a job interview if you ask me that question I will say that “I love working at the top of my game providing the highest level of service to the guests and gain enormous satisfaction from their enjoyment of their holiday and smiles of appreciation for the services I provide”.

Story supplied by  www.superyachtcrewinternational.com
Superyacht Crew International