Every crew member has a story, of how they got here, why they stayed, what’s next in their lives. As the Antigua Charter Yacht Show wraps up today, here are just a few.
Danielle de Vere, formerly first officer of M/Y Mary Jean, a 167-foot (50m) Feadship, was promoted to captain a few weeks before the show, marking her first official post in command (though she’s filled in for former Capt. Will Givens before) and making her the only female captain in Camper & Nicholsons’ charter fleet.
She only just discovered yachting in 2006 after a childhood sailing around Australia’s Whitsundy Islands where her parents had charter boats. She studied marine biology but couldn’t bring herself to spend time in laboratories. She much preferred being out on the ocean so she worked on dive boats, and after six years had earned numerous credentials.
She met and worked for former yacht captains who had left the industry to come home.
“I started hearing about it,” she said, sitting in the main salon of her new command. “It was this whole other world, this elite thing I didn’t know anything about. A guy I worked with left to get a job on M/Y Huntress and I thought, if he can do it, so can I.”
So she went to Ft. Lauderdale in 2006 and made the rounds of crew agencies, putting herself forward for deck jobs. Then time began to pass with no offers.
“Girls in the crew house with me would come in and a week later have a job,” she said. “But I just knew I wouldn’t be happy as a stew.”
The hurdle, she said, is that captains weren’t sure she could handle herself on deck. She is petite and they wondered if she could physically do the work, if she was strong enough.
“To me, I’d been doing all that already,” she said. “I’d lift 60 dive tanks and carry them 100 yards down the dock every day.”
It took two months, but eventually, she landed a deck job with Capt. Steve Rodda of M/Y Corrie Lynn. If there were things she couldn’t do one way, she’d find another way. Her advice to other women on deck: “You have to be better than the guys. Find your strengths and play to those.”
She’s organized and has an attention to detail so she quickly moved into supervisory roles and accepted responsibility.
“You just have to not be afraid,” she said. “I have calloused hands and broken fingernails. You can’t be a girl. There have been hard days, but I’ve never wished I wasn’t here.”
The new first officer on board is Jacques Botes, who was promoted from bosun and who is also her partner of three years.
Capt. Givens and his wife, Chief Stew Julie Givens, have resigned to be closer to home. They will take over the 62m Oceanco M/Y Lady Christina based in France.
The crew of M/Y Lazy Z used their yacht hop on Wednesday night to raise money for breast cancer research. Decked out everything pink, they raised more than $2,300 with raffle prizes, a guess-how-many-M&Ms-are-in-the-jar game and donations. Crew members also plan to run 100km (each running 10km) in a fun run in St. Maarten this winter. They are thinking of setting up a Facebook page to continue accepting donations, and possibly competing crew teams.
Capt. Aeneus “Nee” Hollins has stepped off the 47m Perini S/Y Andromeda to work full time with the owner’s development company at Christophe Harbour in St. Kitts. Though the project started several years ago, it stalled when the hotel/resort builder pulled out. Now, Park Hyatt has committed to building a resort on their peninsula, with construction expected to begin in the middle of next year.
As marina agent, Capt. Hollins has already sold nine of the 12 slips available for megayachts. Construction is expected to begin in January.
Capt. Nick Line has stepped off M/Y Sequel P and M/Y Vabene to launch Anchor Concierge and Super Yacht Services to handle anything yacht captains and crew need in Antigua, including duty-free import of parts, customs and immigration, charter APA funds, crew placement and provisioning.
He’s established partnerships with several yachting companies around the world to offer specialized goods and services, including the Palma-based uniform company Deckers and the Ft. Lauderdale-based marine travel company ISSGMT.
“The whole point of having local representation here for us it to break into smaller boats that have crew and don’t necessarily know about our company because we don’t spend enough time here,” said Laurence Carlier of ISSGMT. “Nick will act as an agent for us and can handle everything for crew.”
Find him in the old marina office at Falmouth Harbour Marina or online at www.anchorcsys.com.