Posted by: yachtcrewsing | March 22, 2015

Giethoorn, Netherlands: A Dutch Masterpiece

   It’s a place where majestic storks roost overhead, where old wooden bridges and footpaths weave over top of intersecting canals- a place that seems almost borne of a painter’s imagination. 

   One hundred and twenty five kilometers to the north east of Amsterdam, nestled amongst fields with thatch crops waving in the perpetual breeze and along winding canals, is the town of Giethoorn. 

   It’s moniker “Little Venice” evokes a minimal sense of the place, with waterways and history being the only real points of comparison between the two towns; Giethoorn could never be mistaken for anything other than quintessentially Dutch. The Flemish-gabled houses with box gardens and bicycles leaning against their red brick, the punt-like riverboats and the small yet majestic church at the junction of three waterways all seems to belong strictly to this distinct country. 

   While apparently bustling with tourists in the summertime, in the present spring it is quiet. Ducks serenely paddle around the canals disturbed only by the infrequent passing boat. Strolling families occasionally encounter cyclists on the town’s countless wooden bridges. Otherwise, one is left to wander unhindered and to wonder uninhibited. 

   An abundance of wonderful restaurants and cafes offer traditional Dutch meals, good coffee, delicious appel koek (a ubiquitous and worthwhile treat) and genuine hot chocolate (for this I would recommend Grandcafe Fanfare).

   The sleepy little hamlet has an ineffable charm that draws, enchants and gives the feeling of homeliness. If you have the time and means when visiting Holland, make the trip to this truly “aww”-inspiring location. Rent a small boat, bring a picnic and some wine and spend an unforgettable afternoon in this magical town. You won’t regret it.

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | November 13, 2012

Palma de Mallorca

 20121112-202121.jpgWalking down the Passeig de Born in Palma de Mallorca, one could easily imagine themselves to be strolling the exclusive Champs Elysees in Paris. While the small Spanish isle of Mallorca is generally saddled with the epithets “tacky,” “touristy,” and “resort-y,” it is anything but. The port town of Palma contains old walled fortifications encircling the city, gorgeous little cafes and bars, beautiful beaches in the city centre, and predominantly free galleries and museums hidden throughout the old town. Through this and much more, Palma exudes an undeniable sophistication and charm.

Wandering along the backstreets of the charming old town one is liable to get exceptionally lost, and in the process discover a plethora of unique, exclusive clothing shops and outdoor b20121112-202203.jpgodegas serving delicious local vino tinto (red wine) accompanied by an array of tapas. Every Tuesday the old town comes alive with university students and residents emerging for cheap tapas night. Going from one bar/restaurant to another to another amidst the charged atmosphere of the evening, sampling a creative array of foods, wines and locales is undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience the vibrant nightlife culture of the island.

While it is easy to be entranced by the charms of Palma and remain in the city centre, it is 20121112-202152.jpghighly rewarding to explore other points on the island. For example, a further testament to the area’s rich history lies amongst the monasteries that speckle the landscape, some of which are easily accessible and some of which require an insider’s knowledge and cliff-side driving expertise. The monastic experience may also extend past daylight hours, should travelers wish, as many of Mallorca’s monasteries offer accommodation.

Venturing to the West of the island one can chance upon the town of Deià, peacefully nestled alongside the mountainous costal roads. Deià offers stunningly picturesque views of the ocean below and provides a charming little village to wander, as well as fabulous accommodation options (such as the breathtaking and historic boutique hotel La Residencia). A narrow downwardly winding road can be navigated to reach quite arguably the best reason to visit the small town- a stunning little cove with crystal clear water, a small beach and a ramshackle cafe perched on the rocks serving delicious fresh seafood.

From quaint to classy and from rowdy to refined, Palma and Mallorca have a lot to offer. Throw away your preconceived notions, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised!

 Valldemosa Monestry Mallorca

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | September 10, 2012

Summertime in the Hamptons

Summer has now wound to a close, simultaneously signifying the end of my summer 20121021-165718.jpgworking in Long Island and the start of the yacht down-season.

Long Island, and more specifically the towns of Southampton, East Hampton and West Hampton which comprise the elite collective of ‘the Hamptons,’ is a bizarrely inexplicable place. Small clapboard cottages, tiny farms selling delicious fresh produce from ramshackle roadside stands, hundreds of acres of polo farms, extortionately expensive designer retail stores and some of the priciest mansions in the entire United States all define the region. Driving down the meandering wooded lanes, one feels as if they are in rustic cottage country… Until encountering shops solely dedicated to ‘cashmere,’ ‘polo,’ or ‘tennis.’

While the Hamptons’ pretentiousness almost borders on theatricality, the rest of the main and surrounding islands abound in small-town charm. Ferry hopping from island to 20121021-170036.jpgisland on small car-accommodating boats, one is liable to encounter normal people who are not necessarily A-list celebrities (my housemate having been shopping at the Southampton CVS pharmacy along with Justin Timberlake).

If you are interested in visiting the Hamptons to experience the prestige and fame that surrounds it, then it will surely not disappoint. But do remember that as its luxurious reputation suggests, in the Hamptons nothing comes cheaply.

See also:

The Great Gatsby and Polo

Grocery Shopping in the Hamptons

 

 

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | August 15, 2012

Engine Failure and a Change of Plans

If the occupation of yachting were to be ascribed a tagline, it would most certainly be ‘unpredictable.’

Last week we were happily sailing/motoring along with guests onboard when the boat shuddered and the fire alarm went off. Having been well-trained to immediately respond to such situations, we all mustered and had our engineer and first mate go and check the engine room to see what the source of the problem was. The response was unexpected.

“It appears that our engine has exploded.”

This is the death sentence to any mariner. It is not immediately fixable (or, as in our case, not fixable at all), and brings to a halting end any plans that were made for the immediate future.

In a flurry of phone calls lasting under an hour, our captain organized a tug boat to pull us back into harbor, secured a berth in the Newport Shipyard for the next few month, got our management team to looking for experts and our insurance company to inspect the damage, organized an alternate route home for our guests and cancelled our entry in the Newport Bucket Regatta (also entailing the cancelling of our race crew’s flights and hotels).

Thankfully as a sailboat we were able to arrive in the mouth of the Newport harbor under wind power, and after that had one tug boat pulling us from our bow and one directing us via a line from the stern. We skillfully slipped onto the dock which will be our home for an indeterminate period of time, theoretically 3-4 months.

And so, once again it has unquestionably been proven that there is no such thing as stability and certainty in the field of yachting, merely surprises and unforeseen adventures at every turn.

 

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | July 15, 2012

How to Get a Job on a Yacht

How to Get a Job on a Superyacht

Working onboard a superyacht can be, for some, a dream job: crew are paid to live onboard a luxury vessel and travel to some of the most exclusive and beautiful places on the earth. The majority of fellow crew in the industry are fun and adventurous people from a vast array of backgrounds and nationalities who are united by common interests and work ethic. The working days can be long and exhausting, but they are balanced out by the free time provided to explore tropical islands and expand upon one’s social and geographical horizons.

Does this adventurous and excitingly unpredictable lifestyle appeal to you? If so, here are the rudimentary steps necessary for making this seemingly illusive dream a reality.

Crew Positions

So you have decided that you may want to give yachting a try, but which position best suits your skills and goals? Here is a brief summary of the entry-level crew roles and what they entail:

Deckhand: this person works directly under the first mate (in the case of most superyachts) or the captain (if there is no first mate). On a day-to-day basis the dHow to Get a Job on a Superyachteckhand is in charge of keeping the deck clean, polishing the superstructure and stainless metal and making sure the exterior is operating correctly. In addition to these tasks, when on charter deckhands drive the tender and entertain guests with water sports such as snorkeling, diving, water skiing and tubing.

On a sailing yacht, the deckhands are additionally responsible for helping with all of the aspects of setting, trimming and maintaining the sails.

Deckhands spend all day in the sun in perpetually hot climates, so for this position you need to enjoy manual labour and working outside.

After working as a deckhand for a few years and getting further certifications, one may move up to the position of first mate and then possibly captain.

Stewardess: this position is typically female-oriented. Usual day-to-day tasks include maintaining pristine cleanliness on the interior (think Q-Tips and every possible type of household cleaner), stocking all necessary service items and shopping for crew and guest drinks and snacks (if not the job of the chef). On charter, the days are invariably long and full of serving drinks and food, cutlery polishing, table decorations, cleaning cabins, washing and ironing, and generally catering to the guests’ every needs. (These everyday and on-charter tasks seem mundane in print, but in actuality the role of stewardess is very dynamic and generally enjoyable).

The stewardess positions may be second or third in rank or laundry stewardess (on large motor yachts), all of which are under the command of the chief stewardess, or they may be sole stewardess or deck/stew chef/stew combination positions (on smaller vessels).

Chef: most yachts require extensive training and experience for the position of chef. Working on a yacht is completely unlike any restaurant or culinary environment on land. It How to Get a Job on a Superyachtis probably the most stressful crew position when on charter, with typically only one chef onboard (though stewardesses typically help out wherever they can). Yacht chefs are required to deliver gourmet, high quality cuisine to guests who have sophisticated and discerning palates. In addition to catering for the guests, the chef is also required to cook for the crew, both on and off charter.

The role of chef requires a person who is extremely hard working and mentally prepared for the challenges ahead (imagine cooking a 3 course meal while the boat is heeled at 15 degrees, everything is sliding on the marble counter because of the boat’s pitching and rolling… all while you are unbearably seasick).

Engineer: this is another position in which you must have prior experience and/or courses in a relevant engineering field. If you do not, you can always register with a marine training facility. Engineers ultimately have the most important task- that of keeping the boat afloat and running smoothly. It can be extremely stressful and demanding (when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong), occasionally requiring getting up in the middle of the night to fix system issues. The upside of engineering is that it is probably the most mentally stimulating of the roles onboard, and is typically very well-paid.

Prerequisites

It is a common misconception that to work on a yacht you need to have extensive experience with sailing or motor boats- this is not necessarily the case. While marine familiarity is a bonus, it is rarely necessary, especially for the position of stewardess or chef.

This being said, on sailing yachts (but not motor yachts), most deckhand positions require that you have prior sailing experience. If you do not, then don’t despair- there are many ways to gain experience. Firstly, often local sailing or yachting clubs have weekend races where many boats are happy to take on enthusiastic crew. This is a good way to learn the finer nuances of the sport and about sailboats in general (this knowledge will all be turned upside-down in learning how a superyacht sails).

Another option is to daywork on sailboats, thereby gaining new skills and meeting captains and crew who may prove helpful in your job search.

A further option is to find a crew job on a small yacht for a short period of time or to do a delivery (sailing the yacht from one place to another). Some of this type of work is unpaid but generally includes free room and board in amazing locations; think of it as an internship. The best website for finding this type of work is www.findacrew.com.

Certifications

To get a job on a superyacht (a yacht that is 100+ feet) it is first necessary to take a course called the STCW 95 (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping). This 5-day course covers both personal and crew safety at sea, first aid, and a day of hands-on firefighting (which is a surprisingly intense and unique opportunity). Although offered in a number of locations, the cheapest and best option is Fort Lauderdale, Florida where you can register with either MPT or IYT.

Antigua has also recently begun to offer a course in the winter time. (This is a good option for those who want to work on sailboats, as it is the main hub for sailing yachts during the months of December to April.)

The STCW costs approximately $1000, which may seem like a lot of money but in the long run it will be paid off within the first two weeks of your employment on a boat.  Unfortunately, this course is required by almost every superyacht. Not only is it a regulation for the rigorous standards of safety kept by most yachts, it is also a way to demonstrate to potential employers that you are serious about wanting a job in the industry.

The STCW is the only mandatory certification for those entering the field of yachting. However, it is strongly advisable for those looking for a position as a deckhand to obtain your Powerboat Level 1 and/or Level 2.

There are a host of additional courses that can be taken at MPT or other marine schools; check their websites for course offerings. Courses will only strengthen your résumé, and being formally taught may make it much easier, and make you more confident in your new job

How to Get a Job on a Yacht

Writing a Yachting CV or Résumé

It is important to tailor your CV to yachting, which is a slightly different format to conventional jobs. Firstly, your CV must include a photo of yourself. The yachting industry is highly service-based, and thus crew image is important for the guest experience (yes, this is a slightly subtle way of saying that the yachting industry is a bit shallow, but this does NOT mean that looks determine job prospects). It is best to have a photo taken of yourself in a white or black polo shirt with no jewelry or other visual distractions, clean-shaven (for boys) and against a plain background.

Here is a sample format that a yachting résumé may take:

Section 1: Personal Information

A yachting résumé should begin with vital information such as age, citizenship, language(s) spoken, current location and if you smoke or have any tattoos (otherwise, put “non-smoker, no tattoos).

Section 2: Objective

Here write what position you are seeking, what type of boat you would ideally want to work on, and any other relevant information.

Section 3: Qualifications

Include things such as STCW certification, any marine courses, SCUBA diving certifications or other qualifications relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Section 4: Work Experience (you may even divide this into two categories of ‘Marine Experience’ and ‘Work Experience’ if applicable)

Here try to curtail your work experience to things that you think may be relevant to your job application. For example, manual labour jobs for deckhands and serving or hospitality jobs for stewardesses are always helpful.

Section 5: Hobbies and Interests

Obviously, be honest about what you enjoy doing in your spare time. If you enjoy team sports, this is always good to include as it shows that you have the ability to function as a member of a group, which is vital in a crew setting.

Section 6: References

It is best for these to be as recent as possible, but is also beneficial to include anyone from a marine-related job.

More in-depth tutorials on how to write a yachting résumé can be found on the websites of most major crew agent websites, for example at Yacht and Crew.

Once you have polished and completed your résumé, email it to as many crew agents as possible. If you are in the area, it is highly beneficial to visit the crew agencies in person so that they can meet and better place you in a job. When you go, ensure that you look professional and presentable (it is best to wear the yachtie uniform of white or black polo and khaki shorts). If this option of meeting in person is not feasible, it is best to call the crew agencies prior to sending through your résumé. There are hundreds of people looking for yacht jobs, and it is important that you try to positively stand out of the crowd.

Breaking into the Industry

After you have completed all of these prior steps, the last one you will probably have to undertake before landing a job in the industry is to get daywork. Dayworking positions last anywhere from one day to a few weeks depending on the needs of the yacht, and typically pay between $100-$150 U.S. per day. Boats hire dayworkers straight off the dock, so it is important to walk around the docks early in the morning (typically just after 8am) and be prepared for a full day’s work. The work provided is usually slightly tedious or undesirable, but it provides beneficial experience necessary for a résumé and is invaluable in meeting new people and showing your personality and work ethic.

If you are unsure of where is best to go to look for work, then a crew agent can advise you Working on a Superyacht(the main hubs are Antibes, Antigua, Palma, St. Maarten, and Ft. Lauderdale). Certain times of the year are better than others- if you want to work on a sailing yacht, then Antibes in early April is your best bet (there is a lot of daywork available at that time as it is before the May Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix). If you want to work on a powerboat, then the winter in Ft. Lauderdale is a safe bet.

If you are serious about working in the industry, it is important to go to one of the yachting hubs to work and make yourself known. The best way to do this is undoubtedly by walking along the docks and handing out your CV to different boats. Even if they do not have any available positions, they may know of another boat looking for crew.

When you are in one of these locations but are not yet working full-time on a boat, the best place to stay is a crew house. This form of accommodation is cheap, friendly and populated by like-minded individuals who are either looking for their first job or who have been in the industry for many years and are between boats. Either way, your housemates will be wonderful resources and sources of support, things which are incredibly valuable in starting in such a daunting industry.

Here are some crew houses that I would recommend:

Ft. Lauderdale: The Neptune Group (their website also lists available daywork)

Antibes: Grapevine (they also help to place people in jobs)

Antigua: Pineapple House

Find a more extensive list here.

Useful Resources

www.dockwalk.com: The industry’s largest publication with articles pertaining to all aspects of superyachting, for both sail and motor. They also regularly post job openings.

www.findacrew.com: The best source for non-professional jobs on a sailing yacht (it is free to sign up)

Crew Agencies:

This is just a short list of the many existing crew agencies:

Yachting Partners International (YPI) http://www.ypicrew.com/

Ship to Shore (more sailboat based) http://www.shiptoshoreglobal.com/

The Crew Network http://www.crewnetwork.com/

Dovaston http://www.dovaston.com/

Blue Water http://www.bluewateryachting.com/crew-placement

Luxury Yacht Crew www.luxyachts.com

Peter Insull http://www.insull.com/newsite10/crew.html

Crew 4 Crew www.crew4crew.net

Crew and Concierge http://www.crewandconcierge.com/Home.cms

Jane’s Yacht Services (Antigua) www.yachtservices.ag

Any further questions? Please post them in the blog’s ‘comment’ section and I will try to answer them as best I can.

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | July 9, 2012

Tall Ships Newport

On the Newport waterfront conventionally inhabited by relatively new, expensive motor and sailing yachts, a place where the America’s Cup high performance boats raced a mere week ago, is a unique collection of old-style tall ships. Replicas and restorations of vessels that exemplified the golden age of sail, these ships arrived on Thursday as part of the Tall Ship Challenge.

Although they vary drastically in size, hull design, type of ship and original and current purpose, they all boast a dedication to the historic foundations of sailing.

The Peacemaker is a tubby but majestic barquentine which boasts stained-glass windows and an old-fashioned homely interior, a boat communally owned by a religious group. The Picton Castle is a barque vessel whose perpetual purpose is for sail training and exotic adventure tourism, where individuals can pay to accompany the boat around the world. The HMS Bounty is a replica of the eighteenth century British vessel, built for the 1962 film depicting the crew’s famed mutiny. The Pride of Baltimore is a lovingly created replica of a schooner heralding from the War of 1812.

All of these boats and more are participants in the annual Tall Ships Challenge, a two-part program of racing and tall ship education. Tourists may purchase tickets in order to look around the ships while marveling at acrobats climbing rigs and fiddlers entertaining on the decks. Guests are welcomed to examine the coils upon coils of rough lines, canvas sails and incredibly maintained woodwork; to look down into the (often) rudimentary galleys and sleeping quarters and to talk with the crew. Altogether, the experience provides an unparalleled notion of how men lived and sailed in the past, one which is equally delightful to the young and the old alike.

Jointly spending the day on these magnificent vessels and the beautiful yacht on which I am employed provides a fascinating contrast. It evokes the historic shift in the function of sailboats- from the warships and transportation of the tall ship era to the luxury and extravagant entertainment of yachts and race boats.

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | July 1, 2012

America’s Cup World Series, Newport

ImageThe fastest sail boats and the top crew from around the world have spent the past week racing in the 34th America’s Cup World Series in Newport.  Not having been held in the town for many years (after spending half a century based in Newport starting with the 1930 America’s Cup), the entire state of Rhode Island is elated to be hosting this prestigious event.

The exponentially advanced 45-foot multi-hulled boats have been racing a course off of Fort Adams and wowing spectators with their immense speed, maneuverability and precision; they are incredible machines skillfully operated by the best sailors in the world.

For the influx of tourists and sailing enthusiasts who have swarmed Newport, the races are not the only form of entertainment. The America’s Cup Village has been erected at the fort for information and events, and the entire town has been hosting ceremonies, parties and concerts as supplemental activities.

After a week of practice and racing at speeds of over 20 knots, the Oracle Team USA Spithill triumphed on their own oceanic territory, leaving Team New Zealand trailing behind in second place. Overall, a fortuitous victory in an exciting host of races.

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | June 23, 2012

Newport, Rhode Island Summer Events

Being back in Newport, Rhode Island for my third consecutive summer is nothing short of wonderful. When the fall melts away and warm temperates permeate the historic waterfront of Newport, the town comes alive with a renewed vibrancy; there is a seemingly infinite amount of events and activities in the next few months, each catering to a vast array of interests and tastes.

The inaugural event of the summer is the America’s Cup World Series, which brings together the best sailors from around the world and the wing-sailed catamarans at the forefront of sailing technology. Following and contrasting this is the arrival of the Tall Ships Festival, showcasing the majestic wonders of the historic sailing vessels.

For those whose interests do not solely revolve around seafaring activities, Newport summer also includes the famous jazz festival, international polo competitions, the folk festival and numerous other food, music and arts festivals.

To start off the Newport events calendar, I attended the charming and intimate Wednesday movie series on the rooftop of the Vanderbilt Hotel, featuring a spectacular view of the sunset over the bay, truffle popcorn, Adirondack chairs and wonderful cocktails served by attentive waiters; a truly fabulous experience, and unparalleled cinema venue.

With Newport, there is so much to experience that no matter when you visit in the summertime you are certain to be entertained and delighted by a variety of sights and events.

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | June 19, 2012

Dolphins Swimming Off of the Bow

Sometimes we have the pleasure of seeing pods of dolphins playing in our wake and swimming alongside the bow of the yacht. On our last sail, we had the most dolphins I have ever experienced- probably around a hundred of them jumping, swimming and squeaking in our vicinity; a surreal and incredible experience.

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | June 12, 2012

Sunrise Off Of Cape Hatteras

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