work on a yacht

Deciding whether to work on a yacht

Deciding to Work on a Super Yacht?

Prior to leaving England on that cold wet day in September and embarking on my new adventure I spent a year considering the idea of working on a super yacht. I even spent a week in the South of France, chatting to yacht crews and others looking for work, all to help me decide if this was something I wanted to do. I vividly remember sitting on a beach in Antibes just off the harbour, writing out what seemed like an endless list of pros and cons…

The main problem with making the decision was that I seemed to have two voices in my head. One I called “Mr Sensible” and the other “Mr Adventurous” - both seemed equally logical and plausible depending on my mood, and were often influenced by the people I was surrounded by.

Mr Sensible would regularly tell me “you are in a well-paid secure job, have a nice apartment and all your friends around you. Why risk it all to work in an industry you have not experienced, to live in a small cabin, sharing with others, away from loved ones and may never even get a job on a yacht.” All plausible reasons which moved the reality of my super yacht adventure further away. 

The other side was Mr Adventurous, whose approach was much more exciting, maybe more risky but equally appealing. He would regularly say, “why stay in a job you don’t like, while you have no commitments… explore the world, travel, have new experiences, save more money than you possibly could in your current job, meet new people, L  I  V  E!!!”

Both would present highly convincing cases and my mind, for that year, felt like a high court case with the defendant and prosecution fighting to win. My mind was the jury.

Those I talked with also influenced my decision. My parents naturally opted for the safe and secure option, to stay in my current job, which was a sensible idea and a highly credible option. My friends encouraged me to “go, go, go” “what have you to lose”. They would see more of the fun side of the adventure (travel, hot climates) and they all added support to Mr Adventurous.

I spent a week in France to help my decision and on arriving back in the UK headed straight to my work place. I met with my boss and told him my thoughts. On discussing my options he rightly said “what have you to lose.” With no dependents, mortgage or ties he encouraged me to make the most of the opportunity He also reassured me my job would be there for me should things not work out. With that in mind I spoke to my family, who agreed with his sentiments and were equally encouraging. I realised where my heart lay and that I had a deep routed desire to give the super yacht world my best shot, stepping out of my comfort zone (something that I had not done for a long time) and challenge myself on this exciting yet unknown new path. 

The decision was made, the jury in my mind quietened and a calmness came over me before the magnitude of my undertaking dawned on me. My mind buzzed with excitement, so much to sort and plan before leaving, courses to attend and tasks to complete, the first being my letter of resignation… this was really happening!

I handed in my notice the following morning giving four weeks notice. The month flew by and before I knew it I was sat on the tarmac at Bristol Airport in an Easyjet plane bound for Nice in the South of France.

I wish I could say I never regretted the decision but there were times when I did, on that plane, on first entering my crew dormitory, my first dock walk and many other occasions when Mr Sensible would question, “what are you doing?”  I did have moments when I wondered if I had made the right decision; with people telling me how hard it was to get work and how I had left it too late to come to France. However, looking back on the whole experience it was certainly not the wrong decision and it has provided me with so many opportunities and memories that would never have happened had I not decided to take the big step that turned my career and life in a completely new direction.

Decisions at times can be very testing, and it is hard not to be influenced by the views of others, or the need to impress and please. Sometimes the easy decision is not necessarily the right one, leaving us stale and uninspired. It may seem more comfortable, certainly easier, though may not always bring happiness. Often the harder one may be worth making, taking you a little further out your comfort zone than you are comfortable with.
The power of one decision over another can have enormous consequences and change the path of your life in so many ways. I often wonder how my life would have been had I not chosen to take the chance of this great opportunity. It is hard to say, but I am sure it would not have included as many incredible sights, beautiful beaches, ports and towns, glorious sunsets and sun rises looking out over the sea, captivating wildlife, making friends and memories to last a life time. 

I hope that in my twilight years I will remember some of the incredible moments from my time working on a super yacht and the happy memories and experiences gained. As for my office job… well I think I will have enough to relive without dwelling on this. 

There is only one life and I sometimes feel we trade too easily our memories and moments at the expense of a pay cheque. Remembering time is finite and the need to appreciate every moment of each day may just help to create a future and past that you can look on with fondness and happiness.

Make the right decision; live, love, see, feel…enjoy a life you want to live and create your future as you want it. 

Next blog: Dockwalking

Written by Ben Proctor
For more information read Work on a Super Yacht: The Beginners Guide by Ben Proctor 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become
— Steve Jobs
People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost
— Dalai Lama

The top three highlights of my time on a super yacht

My Top 3 Highs of Working on a Super Yacht

1)    Watching dolphins bow riding the yacht’s wake.
Being out in the vastness of the sea and hearing the call on our radios that dolphins were around always brought a sense of urgency and excitement to the crew, even the more salty sea dogs. Watching these incredible creatures bow riding the waves with such effortless ease and grace, darting left and right, diving deeper and then breaching the white wash, was always an incredible sight. Their almost human-like facial expressions and deep dark eyes would captivate us whilst they graced us with their presence. It is a picture that I often think of and will stay with me as one of those very special life moments.

2)    Time on deck alone when underway. 

I worked with some incredible crew and am not a social recluse, however living with people in relatively close living quarters, to have time on your own can be magic. Some of my highlights were leaving the South of France en route to Corsica when on anchor duty and we left our anchor spot. The foredeck was empty and on the horizon sat the most perfect golden sun as it slowly descended. I had wind in my face and the sound of the yacht’s bow slicing through the waves. As I sat there I savoured every moment as the sun drew a close to another day. 

There were also times when I would sit on the top deck (it had three) and watch the sun set over the vast expanse of white wash created by the yacht. From this elevation it felt as though I had a bird’s eye view over its wake and the distant horizon and sunset. 

Other memorable times were standing just outside the bridge on the many night passages of an Atlantic Ocean crossing, hearing the waves running along the side and looking up to the most brilliant stars I have ever seen. This was an incredible spectacle, making me appreciate not only the vastness of the world but the incredible simplistic beauty that lies around us, something we so often take for granted. 

These were all magical moments experienced from incredible surroundings of the yacht, taking me to some of the most wonderful, and at times most peaceful places in the world.

3)    Swimming with turtles. 

This was a childhood dream for me and something I had always wanted to do having seen one in an aquarium. One of my crew located the turtles who seemed to be attracted to a some underwater grass. I first heard a chewing noise before seeing the dark figure on the sea bed. Slowly approaching the turtle I hovered above. He seemed weary of me but not scared and the distance between us seemed to provide him some comfort. Chewing the sea grass he would regularly twist his long aged neck to look at me as though checking out my intentions. I pushed my luck and dived down for a closer look and as the water flowed into my snorkel it made a bubbling noise causing the turtle to look up, and with a big swish of its large front legs it shot off. I followed, kicking my legs and flippers as hard as I could, but it glided away with such grace, effortlessly moving through the water. I kicked as hard as I could until I could hold my breath no more…as I came to the surface I saw the dark figure glide into the even darker abyss. It was an incredible sight to witness a turtle in its natural environment, this prehistoric looking creature that appears so well suited to living at sea but cumbersome when waddling up the beach.

I feel very fortunate to have witnessed so much wildlife during my time away, such an incredibly positive element to the whole experience and one I truly relished.
Whilst planning to only choose my top three experiences I felt I could not fail to mention some of the memories I made from time spent with my crew. Working closely with people in such an intimate way is a challenge for anyone and I was always so lucky with those I was fortunate to work with. There is certainly a mundane element to some of this work, cleaning a yacht can wear thin, but so often we would have some of the best laughs during these more mundane times. There was certainly a great camaraderie and banter. We had some fantastic meals out as a crew, went to several lovely beach clubs, spent some amazing days exploring new and exciting places and experienced many highs and lows together. It can at times be challenging and there will be disagreements, but it is people that make daily life more interesting and fulfilling, and working together in such close proximity has far more positives than negatives. I have some very happy memories and know they would not shine so brightly were it not for the fantastic crew I shared so many of these experiences with.

Next Blog: Christmas on a super yacht

Written by Ben Proctor

For more information read Work on a Super Yacht: The Beginners Guide by Ben Proctor 

Working on a yacht in the Caribbean

Working on a Super Yacht in the Caribbean 
The Caribbean is all you could image; beautiful sandy beaches, glorious clear blue warm seas and lovely weather and along with this the great cocktails and the sound of Bob Marley filling the air. There is some lovely cruising to be had in the Caribbean and due to the size of the islands there is always a nice secluded bay you can anchor.

This season certainly has a more laid back atmosphere when compared to the Mediterranean season. Generally yachts are less manic during this time, although tend to be busy for Christmas and New Year times. St Bart’s remains a very popular location for super yachts to visit for New Year, drawing the rich and famous to this relatively small island. 
Days off for crew offer a great opportunities to explore the islands, find a secluded beach, sample the numerous delicious cocktails and the fun night life, participate with some great diving, game fishing or wonder the streets to enjoy some local delights. This season can be a really welcomed contrast to the Mediterranean season, however often crew find that by the end of the Caribbean season they are ready to leave, crews often missing the culture of Mediterranean, the variety it offers and the easier access for travel from Europe to the rest of Europe and around the world. It is without doubt a very exciting season to be a part of and I hold a lot of happy times from my times in the Caribbean. Some of my personal highlights included swimming with turtles, watching a mother dolphin and baby dolphin playing at the stern of the yacht, visiting Richard Branson’s small island just of Necker Island where there is a small sand island with a palm tree on it (unfortunately it is a fake palm tree, but looks very real when cruising by, see above picture), trips to lovely beach clubs with the crew, watching some incredible sun sets and enjoying many a good expresso martinis, strawberry daiquiri’s and rum punch’s which frequently lead to an array of what I felt were great dance moves, but my crew would most likely disagree with this… I hope in your time in yachting you get to experience this season and beautiful part of the world.
Below is a typical summary of the Caribbean season on a yacht.

-    Yachts head for the Caribbean from October onwards
-    The main docks for super yachts are Antigua and St Maarten where yachts will generally pick up guests and owners from. Sailing yacht crews may have a more diverse itinerary, exploring more of the Caribbean Islands and also participating in the many regattas around the islands. Common itinaries for all yachts include Antigua, St Maarten, St Barts, the British and US Virgin Isles, St Kitts and some venture off to the Bahamas.
-    The Antigua Yacht Show runs at the beginning of December and draws a large concentration of super yachts. There is a very good atmosphere in Antigua as it is the start of the season and yacht crews have generally had a good couple of weeks detox during the crossing, so spirits are high as people return to land based fun again and socialising. 
-    This season ends in April then most yachts head back to the Mediterranean. Yachts will often stopping in ship yards before the start of the start of the Mediterranean season. 
Next blog post Working on a Super Yacht in the United States of America

Written by Ben Proctor

For more information read Work on a Super Yacht: The Beginners Guide by Ben Proctor