Crew Compass: by Lauren Loudon
Stepping into the yachting industry is a whirlwind for anybody, no matter how you got here or how prepared you were – or weren’t – for the ride. We say goodbye to regular work hours, our land-based relationships take strain, and we have to just accept that our living space is always going to be shared by others. For some, it’s difficult to accept that we may miss family milestones, Christmas becomes non-existent and the very word “home” becomes void.
We don’t quite realize at first that accepting a job on a yacht means making an unconditional vow to wear a smile slapped on our faces no matter how exhausted we may be, that we must commit wholeheartedly to more work than we can ever handle and it is essential that we devote 100 percent of our lives for the foreseeable future to our job. The sooner we come to terms with the fact that we will genuinely never know where we may be tomorrow, let alone next week or next month – and accept that there’s no point in even thinking about next year! – the sooner we can relish the new life we’ve landed.
We trade in these things for unexpected encounters with our fellow crew members, formalities with our bosses (whom we prefer referring to as “our owners”) and, sometimes best of all, the bewildering charter guests we meet.
My first year on yachts was spent chartering in the Caribbean. My days were long and communications were sparse on the islands, so much so that I gave up even bothering to answer the FaceTime calls from friends and family back in London. I was sick and tired of our catch-ups being a to-and-fro of “can you hear me?” … “are you there?” … “hello?” So I warned them they may go months without a proper conversation with me, and they fast knew that as long as they still saw some vague activity on my social media, they could assume I was safe, alive and happy.
We then make friends, of course, with our fellow yachties, who must by some account be just as whacky as we are to continue on in this crazy industry that’s so far from “real life.” We instantly bond over our current location, the position we hold on board, the size of our boats or, most likely of all, a mutual friend. We are constantly surrounded by people, and while these friendships we make may not always be lifelong soul connections, we can rely on always have a network of people around in any of the yachting hotspots, be it to catch up for a drink, do a spot of yoga, or rant about work (yes, we all do it!). At the end of the day, it takes a certain type of person to live this life, and the best part of all is that, despite the sacrifices we make, we all have each other.
Lauren Loudon has worked as a yacht chef and stew for more than four years. She hails from Lancashire, England. Comments are welcome below.