It takes all kinds of people to work in yachting, those who have saltwater in their veins, those who tripped over a line somewhere along the way, and those who fell in love (with boats and/or humans). And everyone has a story on how they started.
Wandering around the show yesterday, I asked crew about their start. Although many crew stumble upon the industry, many of the crew I met yesterday took matters into their own hands. After hearing about the industry, they researched it and moved to Ft. Lauderdale, determined to walk the docks until they found a job.
I was lucky enough to help a young woman get a few tours of yachts yesterday, too, and may have just tempted her enough to join the industry. Hopefully, she’ll soon have her own story to tell about how she got her start in yachting.
Chef Steven Strenkert
M/Y Mea Culpa
130-foot McMullen & Wing
My first job was on a big classic schooner. I came to Ft. Lauderdale and walked the docks until I found a big boat. That was 15 years ago, when a 120-foot boat was a big boat. I did two trans-Atlantics on that boat.
Capt. Pam Pulaski
M/Y 4 Mal
Wow, that’s a loaded question. I was working on cruise ships in 1990 when someone told me about yachts. I got a deck job and worked my way up to captain. I’m old school and I’m still working hard.
First Mate Justin Lassetter
My uncle owns the yacht so I sort of got grandfathered in. After a year, I still have a lot to learn but I can see it as a career. I’ve had a lot of other jobs and this is by far the hardest. Everything I’ve done up to now helps with my job in yachting.
Capt. Ross De May
M/Y Prestige Lady
I bought a new build to run as a B&B, but the company went under and took all my money. So I went back to work in construction, but I had my captain’s license, so the company I worked for had three yachts and I started by doing deliveries with them. One thing lead to another … it took us a year and a half to find a job, but we’re really happy with this owner.
Stew Marta De May
M/Y Prestige Lady
I blame the captain. I was a dental hygienist before I met him and fell in love. When our kids were grown, we went to work together.
Mate Jason Stone
M/Y Continental Drifter III
I moved to Ft. Lauderdale. My first job was posted on the wall [at a crew house] so I called. It was daywork on a 120-foot schooner refit. It’s been seven years now.
Capt. Peter Dery
137-foot Palmer Johnson
I was racing sailboats in Long Island. The guys who own racing yachts also own motor yachts, so I transitioned with an owner.