Posted by: yachtcrewsing | July 23, 2011

All in a Day’s Work

Although work times, tasks and demands vary in the extreme, there is nonetheless some semblance of routine in our work. This exists as two categories- when we don’t have guests aboard and when we do.

Here is a brief sample of my agenda without guests onboard:

7:00 am Wake up and debate the merits of going for a run on the beach (if we are in Florida), a morning walk (if we are in St.Maarten), sleep in (if we are in Antigua and have been out until 4am, as every evening prior), go to the gym, outdoor lap pool and spa (if we are in the luxurious Albany Marina in the Bahamas), or go for a swim and snorkel around the yacht (if we are at anchor off a tropical isle such as St. Barths or Mustique) vs. having a leisurely breakfast in the crew mess and reading online news.

Already it becomes apparent how little consistency there is in my professed daily ‘routine.’

8:00 am Work begins. Firstly I put on the laundry. In my role as veritable babysitter for 5 boys (note the conscious word usage, despite their ages ranging from 23 to 39) we the stewardesses do the laundry for all 8 crew. This can and will accumulate quickly. Our last deckhand would come home from a wild night out, throw all of his carefully laundered and folded clothes off his bed and then put them in the laundry bin as he couldn’t be bothered to fold them himself.

I digress. Next, I fill the water and beans in our technologically advanced and consequently highly demanding coffee machine. It forces us to ‘press rinse’ or ‘add tablet’ before reluctantly yielding any morning beverages. After that, I fill up crew snacks. We have an ENTIRE cupboard dedicated to every conceivable item fit for distractedly munching on. It contains a plethora of small chocolates, a massive jar of cookies which despite its size is require to be completely re-filled daily, almonds and other nuts, chips, popcorn, healthy snack bars and an array of crackers. Apart from cereal, the only other food-related department delegated to the stewardesses and not our chef is drinks. At our disposal is numerous brands of pop, vitamin water, juice, beer (typically Stella, Heineken and Corona) and white and red wine. The latter is kept in the impressive wine fridge along with approximately 115 bottles of expensive guest wines and champagne. These, along with the incredible gourmet meals provided by our chef, are all paid for by the boat. There is virtually no cost of living when working on a yacht, as predominantly everything (save liquor, but including toiletries etc.) is covered.

Beyond this, my day could involve practically anything- detailing a guest room, organizing the tea cupboard, ironing, researching wines online and creating a comprehensive wine list, making a photo album for a guest or our boss, organizing and reorganizing the cleaning cupboard, making a spreadsheet of medical cupboard expiry dates, dusting (the boat gets inordinately dusty on the interior), researching exciting new napkin folds online…

There is also a lot of shopping to be done, for guest and crew snacks, fun things like new napkin rings and serving plates, magazines for guests to read and other odds and ends that keep me and my chief stewardess out at least one day a week. Despite it possibly seeming that everyday interior upkeep would become mundane for 2 people, I am constantly amazed to find myself thoroughly busy.

Another aspect of a stewardesses job is to organize things pertaining to the super yacht races held twice a year in St.Barths and Newport RI. Primarily done by my colleague, it requires the organization of accommodation for all of the 20 plus race crew who fly in primarily from Europe, booking evening restaurants for the five practice and race days, ordering and designing two or three t-shirts for the race and compiling a comprehensive information pack. No mean feat.

10:00 am Tea time. Anyone who is British will be able to fully grasp the importance of this cultural ritual. There must be tea time to break up the morning and the afternoon. Missing it would seems as utterly absurd as missing the broadcast of William and Kate’s wedding.

I am not one to belittle others’ customs, thus I happily partake (and indeed rely) on this pleasant mid-morning tea and snack.

12:30 pm Lunch time. Our chef always creates an incredible and healthy lunch. All eight of us crowd around the crew mess table and we eat and drink yet more tea.

3:00 pm Yet another tea time. Yes, to North Americans this may and will sound excessive. I think that possibly the level of caffeine within the collective bloodstream of the yacht helps us all properly function on a day-to-day basis.

When my brother did 3 days of work onboard in June, I asked him what he thought of it. His initial comment was “my GOD you guys take a lot of tea breaks!”

4:00-6:00 pm We finish work. It all really depends on how much we need to get done. Sometimes we are required to get the entire boat ready, clean and the cabins made up on very short notice, and we thus work until 8 or 9 pm to get everything ship-shape (sadly, pun intended). Our two engineers are typically the last to finish, as the boat seems to consistently have something breaking down.

This finishing time also coincides with what we fondly refer to as ‘beer o’clock.’ This is exactly what it sounds like- we often all gather on the aft deck for a beer and snacks after a day’s work well done.

6:00 pm onwards After having breakfast, lunch and two tea breaks together, post-work beers and spending all of the working day together, we predominately spend our evenings together as a crew. Out for dinner, playing games in the crew mess, going for drinks, lined up on a sofa at a coffee shop…

It is a good thing that we all get along so well- a completely dissimilar mix of ages, nationalities and personalities who function as a family, co-workers and a group of friends.

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