What made you decide to embark on a career on superyachts? When I finished uni I knew I needed to earn money for travelling, and I decided I could have more fun/do more/see more working on a yacht than at the local pub, and I certainly wasn't ready for an office job.
What were you doing before? I was studying Spanish and English at the University of Leicester. Between my last two years of uni, I worked on a 22 metre motoryacht just in the Med summer season (before I had ENG1, STCW etc.) We were three crew.
Why did you choose to train with Flying Fish? I live on the border of Kent and East Sussex - I googled all the centres near me and Flying Fish was the best one with a course tailored for deckies/stews as well as providing accommodation. I was really unsure about whether I should just do the STCW'95 Basic Safety Training or pay the extra money for the deckie course so I spoke to someone on the phone and was persuaded that the two week course would really benefit my career, even though it's above and beyond the mandatory tickets I needed to find a job.
How easy/hard was it to get a job after the course? I had the best luck!! I joined every online agency imaginable while I was staying in the FF accommodation, I checked in online every day for two weeks and with no results, I decided to just book a (return) flight to Antigua for 10 days and see what the vibe was like.
I was utterly convinced I wouldn't find work and that there would be no boats there as the boat show had ended about five days before I arrived. The day I arrived I went to a yachtie bar "Skullduggerys" and met loads of friendly yachties who all promised to keep an ear out for any opportunities for me. The very next morning I went dockwalking at 7am. By 8.30 I found a boat looking for crew and by 9.00 I had an interview!! There were so many stories from everyone I met about how long it takes to find work, and how you could be dockwalking and dayworking for weeks or even months before finding work, yet I had found work within 24 hours!!
I arrived with a totally open mind, knowing opportunities would be few and far between, and prepared to accept work on motor or sail, as deck or stew, and I was offered a trial with Deniki as 3rd stew. My trial went equally well- I spent the morning detailing a cabin and the afternoon helping to set up for a dockparty (I could not believe my luck at this point!) I then had the diplomatic task of having a great time at the dock party but always making sure I was more sober than the captain!
Tell us about the boat you're on The boat I'm on is the MY Deniki. She is a Dutch Amels 171, 52m, stunning motoryacht. I share a cabin with the 2nd stew, and from what I've seen of other boats we're pretty lucky. I know of crew who share three or more to a cabin... and sailing yacht cabins are much smaller. The crew mess is nice and comfortable, but don't pass out in there or you're fair game for practical jokes and marker pens.
Becky on board
How many crew on the boat? We are 11 crew at any one time. There are two rotational captains, working two months on, two off; then two engineers and two chefs - all rotational. There is a 1st mate, bosun, two deckies, chief stew and two other stews. Interestingly, our sister ship Lady Nag Nag has five stewardesses compared with our three on interior!
What's the captain like? The two captains are both very reasonable and the crew has a lot of respect for them both. One is a DJ and encourages dock parties (we were having up to one a week in Antigua last winter ..!)
Becky and MY Deniki crew make the front cover of Dockwalk
What does a typical day involve?
Off charter - tidy, clean and restock the crew mess and do the laundry and ironing, then after that there are various tasks like set the table for lunch, clean and reorganise cupboards, detail guest cabins or clean the captain's cabin. More interesting tasks have been going to the supermarket, making photo collages to decorate the crew mess, making fancy-dress outfits for the inter-crew raft race, family wash-down (everyone on deck).
On charter - if you're on earlies you have to be up before the guests, clean the guest spaces and set for their breakfast, then clean crew mess and do laundry until the first guest cabin becomes available- then you become a maid and you change their sheets, dry the shower, replace the towels, quick tidy and clean then onto the next guest cabin. You help the chief stew with service at lunch and dinner and inbetween times you rotate between being available for guest needs (making smoothies, entertaining children etc) and laundry, ironing bedding etc.
If you're on lates, you serve the guests until the last of them goes to bed, then after you tidy, clear away table decorations, take out the rubbish, turn off all lights etc. Sometimes you 'have' to go out drinking with the guests!!!
Do you get many tips?!! Tips! It's all for the tips...!! With the charter boat I worked on in the Med, the best tip I got was 2000 euros for two weeks with a Spanish family (five of them, plus some friends came and went.) Worst tip was no tip at all, from an English guy with eight people plus small children (we were three crew) unimpressed!! On my current yacht, I have had tips of 2200 dollars and 2200 euros for 11 day charters.
What is the worst aspect of working on a superyacht? If there is someone in the crew you don't get on with, you're stuck with them 24/7, breakfast lunch and dinner, in work and out socialising. Also some yachties can be quite arrogant and spoiled from living such a lifestlye - for example they buy very expensive watches and gadgets and like to show them off, and some of the boys have no life skills because the girls do everything for them (I have had some really anal laundry requests!!) And the amount of poo you come across is astounding!! In my four and a half seasons as deck/stew then 3rd stew, I've had to clean up every bodily fluid there is!! You name it, we've cleaned it!
And the best aspect of your job? There are so many!! The travel is wicked, though when we've got guests on board we don't always get time to see places. Having money in your pocket and not paying tax, rent, bills, toiletries, food etc is great so you save a lot - but another great aspect is the social side, the dock parties etc. For me, my crew are my family and we always want to go out together. They have been my life for the last year and we will always be a family.
What's your fave place that you've been to this year? Antigua has a very special place in my heart, and we were there for long enough to get to know all the locals and all the other yachties. From a beauty point of view, Portofino is pretty stunning and Monte Carlo for the grand prix was so impressive! Before I joined the boat had been to Antartica and Alaska - so I'm gutted I missed that!
heading into Portofino
Any any advice for people thinking about coming into the industry?
Network and socialise as much as you can to get your name and face out there, there's no point sitting around in your crew house/ at home online staring at agency websites. Newbies should dockwalk!