My Top Three Lows of Working on a Super Yacht.
I always found this a difficult time to be away from home and believe most crew would agree. One especially stands out… Christmas morning 2011 on a crossing from St Maarten to St Barts, a call came over the radio for a deck crew member to go to the bridge deck. Hoping it may be a Christmas treat I rush up only to be greeted by a large area of vomit on the yachts pristine teak decking. I clean the deck, scrubbing and rinsing down, while the yacht gently lurches from side to side, spreading what was already a sizeable area into an even larger one. Rinsing it down I feel a small sense of satisfaction as I near the end of this less than appealing task, only to notice in the scuppers (the drains around the side of the decks) that some of the larger chunks are too big to enter the drains. With plastic gloves, kneeling and clearing chunks of vomit, I decide this is not one of the high points in my life.
2) Missing my brother’s first child being born.
I was delighted to hear that the baby had been born safely but it was difficult not being there for my first niece coming back to our family home with everyone there. Having met her three months later it was clear she would have no idea who was around at the time of her birth. However it is one of those special events to share with your brother and be a part of. My sister-in-law reassured me I was seeing her at a much more interesting stage three months later which was of some comfort. It was always one of the things I found hard to accept, putting the yacht, an innate object, ahead of family and friends, controlling your life. I also missed close friends’ weddings when we had guests on board and were not permitted leave. It is one of the sacrifices that comes with the job and though I learnt to accept found it very difficult. For many crew it is the one thing that pushes them away from this industry.
3) Working hard on a charter and not receiving a guest tip.
This sounds very spoilt and ungrateful, and I nearly omitted it here as so many people do incredible jobs with no tips and deserve them more than we as crew ever did. However I wanted this to be honest so included it being a genuinely low point for us all, despite working the hardest and longest hours of any prior trip. For one reason or another we did not receive a tip. It sounds awful but money does become a big part of life working on a yacht, probably too big, with some putting money above everything else. But the rewards compensate for the hard work, long hours and sacrifices made and becomes that carrot at the end of a stick making up for the less appealing side of the job. These three weeks were hard work and to make matters worse it was over Christmas and New Year, a time when we all wanted to be at home with loved ones. In reality we had been anticipating something in the region of £4000-£5000 but it never materialised. This had a really bad effect on crew morale and relationships, and people started blaming others for not getting the expected reward. I feel guilty to say but this was one of the low points, especially when there are far more significant problems in the world and others doing such worthy works without financial incentives…maybe it just shows what a focus money had become to us all.
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Written by Ben Proctor