A summer working in a bar in Marbella when he was just 17 led Charlie into his career working as super-yacht crew after he had acquired some qualifications with Flying Fish
Now in his second season as a deckhand, he is working onboard the motor yacht Lady Marina, a 64 metre Feadship owned by a Swiss businessman, with a helipad, a crew of 16 and cabins for 14 guests. He is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the exterior of the yacht, including washing down, polishing, painting, sanding and varnishing, and for handling lines and assisting with anchoring, tender operations and mooring.
“We’ve just left Monaco, where she has been berthed for the winter season, and are currently in Gibraltar, where we’ve refuelled ready for the busy summer season and are awaiting the owner’s arrival,” Charlie reported to Flying Fish on Tuesday. “On our summer itinerary, we’ll be calling at the Balaeric Islands (Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza), and harbours in Spain and the South of France.”
His first season, in 2012, was based on the French Riviera and Italy where, he explains, “I spent lots of time doing relief, temp and day work on various motor yachts to build up my experience until I was offered a permanent deckhand position onboard the Lady Marina. I joined her at the beginning of February as a relief deckhand / second engineer for three weeks to cover crew leave and was offered a full-time permanent position two weeks later.”
Ironically, Charlie’s route to such a glamorous life at sea was via that most humble of standby jobs for those unsure of what they want to do when they leave school – as a part-time glass collector in a local bar.
“From there, I worked my way up to bar back / maintenance guy. As soon as I turned 18, I was promoted to bartender, and I then trained to become a certified cocktail bartender,” he explains.
It was while working in Linekers Bar in Marbella during summer 2009 that he realised his ambitions lay in yachts. “I was based right next to the world famous harbour of Puerto Banus, and all the super-yachts I saw there impressed and intrigued me,” he says. “So when I returned home to the UK, I started to research the yachting industry and what kind of jobs were available.
“With my hospitality experience and qualifications in scuba diving and as a lifeguard, I knew I was already well equipped to enter the industry,” says Charlie. `’So I then researched what yachting qualifications were needed to work as crew on a super-yacht.
“I looked at a whole range of courses and talked to people from different training centres. At the 2011 London Boat Show I met the guys on the Flying Fish stand, who were really friendly and helpful. I followed that up by going to a meeting with them a few weeks later, which explained a lot more about the industry and the courses available, and I was made to feel really welcome. So I decided to do the STCW 95 Pro Yacht Crew six-week training course with Flying Fish, to give me the basic qualifications to start working on super-yachts >>
“My deckhand training with Flying Fish was very enjoyable because it’s a small, personal company, everyone is really lovely and the trainers and instructors gave their time to share their wealth of knowledge.”
“During the busy summer season when the owner is onboard a lot more, or we are on charter and have guests, we are always on standby but not always working: we work on a fair rota system,” he says.
So what do you like about your job, Charlie?
“Ha ha, where do I start? I could be here all day on this one! Let’s just say we work hard – which means we get to play hard on our time off: we ski, snowboard, scuba dive, jet-ski, or simply chill on the beach. For example, we just had two days off after a four-day journey from Monaco to Gibraltar, so we hired a car and drove to Marbella, checked into a hotel and spent two days on the beach in Puerto Banus. Two weekends ago we had four days off, so some of us went snowboarding while others went to Turkey.
“Being super-yacht crew grants you access to some of the most beautiful and secluded places on the planet (and you're getting paid to be there!) We live rent-free on amazing multi-million pound yachts, we have private chefs to cook for us (even on their days off they leave prepared food for us to warm up) and the stewardesses do our laundry for us. Being able to see the world from a super-yacht and getting paid for it is a dream job which doesn't even feel like a job sometimes!”
“Being away from my family for long periods and at Christmas,” Charlie admits. “I do miss having my own bedroom – being able to shut the door and be on my own. And some home comforts. And I really miss my dog and my mum’s roast dinners! Other than that – nothing else, I love my job and my life.”