By Dorie Cox
Stew Stephanie Wahnish said she incorporates the beauty of yachting two ways with her Ft. Lauderdale-based cleaning business, Bikini Boat Wash. She uses attractive blue bikini-clad women to beautify boat exteriors and interiors.
Before Wahnish started the boat detailing business, she said she started at the bottom in yachting.
“I walked the docks for daywork and cleaned toilets with a toothbrush,” she said. “I thought, ‘well this is what this job is.’ “
Fortunately for Wahnish her next job as a cook/stew offered more experience and boosted her confidence as interior staff. She has also worked as a deckhand, but her career took a turn when a subsequent captain told her to clean the exterior.
“It was hot and I had on a uniform and a polo shirt,” Wahnish said. “I said, ‘I wish I had my bathing suit’ and he said he did, too.”
That was when Wahnish saw an opportunity. She realized her bikini could be the key to a new business. Wanting to stay near home in Ft. Lauderdale, Wahnish started cleaning boats in her swim suit, making $4,000 a month and going home in the afternoons.
Wahnish was the only employee for two years, but about 10 months ago she got a full-time job on a yacht and realized she could no longer do it alone. She hired more women and started to build the Bikini Boat Wash business. The company now offers boat management, charter crew, party services and provisioning.
Wahnish hires crew with boating and yachting backgrounds. Scuba diver and instructor Alex Kasdan is one of the women who wears the signature blue bikini while she works. As a diver, she once spent about 22 hours cleaning the hull on M/Y Diamonds Are Forever, a 200-foot Benetti.
Washing boats in the South Florida sun can be challenging.
“We have to stand in tight spots and scrub, and some of these are high and dangerous, like a sportfish,” Wahnish said. “It is hard work. I’ve fallen off a boat.”
“Some people think we don’t know what’re doing, but we’re experienced and capable,” Kasdan said.
“When I approach, I dissect the job and come up with a game plan. I figure out which way the water will flow, think about how to manage the job, account for the wind and things like that; a game plan of attack.”
Their image has caused some problems for the women.
“I had a guy call to ask what came with the bikini boat wash,” Wahnish said. “This is not a joke. This is nothing creepy or weird. I’ve seen companies that use suggestive, slow-motion videos where they’re not really cleaning. We’re serious. And seriously fun and cute.”
“Yachting is about image, beauty and detail, and that’s what we do,” Kasdan said.
And as to comments from passers-by?
“We keep it fun,” she said. “We’re easy going and we don’t get offended. We just remind them that we are working.”
For more information visit bikiniboatwashcrew.com.
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.