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Crew Compass: Shore leave for schooling is bittersweet

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Crew Compass: by Melissa McMahon

When entering the yachting industry as a “greenie,” most of us don’t really know what to expect. We have heard it is hard work and long hours, but it all comes down to experiencing it for ourselves to see if we fit the position.

I have had a fair share of moments when I was absolute loved the job, as well as times when I doubted whether it was a good choice. Times when I loved being a stewardess, and times when I was jealous of the deckhands because my love of watersports is strong. I would be cleaning the toilets and showers and gazing out the porthole, seeing the boys bringing in the Jet Skis or cruising on the tender. I’ve had co-workers tell me they started out as a stew, but then went back to school to study culinary arts and became a chef onboard. Everyone has different interests and skills, and it is very important to know what you love and what you love to do for work.

In this industry, we all have the opportunity to be certified in more than one area. Which is one  reason I love working in this industry, because it can constantly change and boredom is rare (unless you are doing a crossing). I had decided to give the stewardess position a try for roughly a good two years, but knew a change was needed.

I decided to fly back home and sign up for more schooling. I am someone who loves to be creative and stay active. I have gotten certified in personal training, and now I’m enrolled in cosmetology school to give myself the chance to one day be a hairdresser and/or personal trainer on board, alongside a stewardess or deckhand position. It will force me to take a year off from yachting and cause me to have withdrawals, but I know in the end it will be worth it.

Here are some of the things I miss most: having your friends near you 24/7, countless mornings of waking up to see the ocean bright and early, the smell of that salty air when going out on deck, the excitement of seeing a new place for the first time, getting to talk to family and friends about what awesome adventure you had that day, capturing the best GoPro pictures, being able to put a smile on the faces of owners or guests, and meeting people from all over the world.

I know it is only a temporary absence, but it is hard for someone like me who cherishes the ocean and loves being out on the water. As the Jimmy Buffet song goes: “I follow the tides, give me more big blue rides and that’s the reason I will never lose my smile.”

Melissa McMahon is a stew from Long Island, N.Y. (www.longislandmermaid.com). Comments are welcome below.

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