The Triton

Boat Show News

Couple takes right-hand turn on life to join yachting


By Lucy Chabot Reed

Newport — Sometimes, taking a chance pays off. Take, for instance, the first time Stew Cami Vago visited Atlantis in the Bahamas. It was her first job on a yacht, her first trip on a yacht. On her day off, she put herself and her husband, Mate/Eng. Chase Hunter, on a budget of $20 to spend in the casino.

Hunter asked a casino employee where the hot seat was, and he pointed to a bank of slots “over there”. Hunter felt the seats and picked a warm one, indicating someone had played there a while, which might mean it would hit.

Ten minutes later, it did, for $1,000.

Sometimes, taking a chance pays off, just as it has for Vago and Hunter, both 31 and married eight years. A year ago, they were living in Tampa, working corporate jobs. But Hunter’s brother had been tempting them with photos and stories of his adventures as a mate on a private yacht. And over a few years, they would take their vacations in South Florida, taking week-long classes to get their STCW certification, ENG1, interior training and, for Hunter, his 100-ton USCG license. (He owned his own 22-foot center console and had experience running and maintaining a boat.)


Stew Cami Vago and her husband Mate/Eng. Chase Hunter of M/Y Reflections joined yachting less than a year ago and are enjoying the career change. (PHOTO/LUCY CHABOT REED)

But by day, Vago was a manager at Bank of America; Hunter was a master technician with BMW. And like many couples in their early 30s, they owned a home (actually, they had three properties) and a couple of cars (actually, they had three).

Still, about a year ago, they decided to take the chance, apply for a couple’s job on a yacht, just to see what might happen. They had nothing to lose, except the pay-off if it worked.

“I don’t want to look back on my life and say I should have done this, I could have done that,” Vago said. “I want to look back and say I experienced life and did some things. If we didn’t get anything, that would have been OK, too.”

Before long, they were offered a job on an 85-foot Pacific Mariner, but the opening was immediate. And for two professionals in the corporate world, they had to honor the standard two-week-notice rule. So they declined.

A couple months later, the same boat was looking again, and this time, agreed to wait the two weeks for them to start. In August, they joined the yacht, she as stew, he as mate.

In that two-week window, they sold one of their cars, sold their boat and a boat lift, sold one of their condos, and put most of their stuff in a bedroom of their other condo, padlocking it shut and renting the rest out to a colleague.

That was 10 months ago, and they are still with the owner, only now on the 107-foot Christensen M/Y Reflections.

“It’s a lot of work,” Hunter said. That first boat included a transition between two captains and then taking the boat to another level. “The one thing you need to learn right from the beginning is the chemicals to use, which ones work, and which ones don’t.”

Vago noted that the hard work is easier when shared by a committed couple.

“It’s been nice to work together,” she said. “We’re happy to help each other. When I’m done inside, I come outside and see if there’s anything I can do, and when he’s done, he’ll come in and help me.”

And as the charter season begins in the U.S. Northeast, she said she’s still enjoying the ride.

“Taking it one day at a time is something I’ve learned in this industry,” she said.

Hunter would like to be a captain one day so they are busy learning everything they can.

“I started as a teller, and Chase started cleaning cars,” she said. “We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up. Hopefully, this is long term, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s OK, too. We can always get back to the jobs we had.”  

The best part so far? The people, she said.

“You get to meet a lot of interesting people,” Vago said. “The guests are just amazing. They make me feel like I’m part of their family. The last group of guests we had were crying when they left.”

She scrolled through her text messages to share selfies the guests took with the crew, and notes that said “Miss you already.”

“You don’t get that working in a bank,” she said.

Sometimes, taking a chance pays off. Big time.


Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of Triton Today. Comments are welcome at

About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

View all posts by Lucy Chabot Reed →

Related Articles

New multi-sensor camera aids navigation

FLIR Systems has added a new camera to its M-series platform – the FLIR M500 multi-sensor maritime camera. The cooled mid-wave, 640 x 512 thermal camera’s ability to detect small temperature …

Sea to Shore app launches

MedAire launched an app to deliver medical and travel safety information to yacht crew and their destinations.Users have access to hundreds of yacht destination information including medical and …

Monaco19: Scene around the show

Monaco19: Scene around the show

More than 500 exhibitors from around the world filled three large tents and more than a dozen dockside areas in the 29th annual Monaco Yacht Show yesterday, featuring all manner of critical, …

Iridium Certus satellite system launched

Iridium Certus satellite system launched

Successful beta- and field-testing of the new Iridium Certus satellite system was recently reported by Calgary, Canada-based Network Innovations, an Iridium service provider that conducted the …

Uncertainty is here to stay in the life of yacht crew

Uncertainty is here to stay in the life of yacht crew

I recently had a conversation with a crew member of a private yacht who was having some difficulty with the yacht’s unclear itinerary. When she spoke with the captain about it, he had only limited …

Yacht crew miss Uber in South Florida’s Broward County

Yacht crew miss Uber in South Florida’s Broward County

I’m sure many crew have heard of the loss of Uber in South Florida’s Broward County. The ride-sharing company has been great for myself and our crew, and I find that we all really appreciate both …


Editor’s Picks

ABM gives Bahamas update

ABM gives Bahamas update

Joe Dargavage, vice president of the Association of Bahamas Marinas, gave attendees of last week’s Triton Virtual Networking event an …

New lift coming together at Derecktor Fort Pierce

New lift coming together at Derecktor Fort Pierce

It’s happening, and it’s going to be big. That’s the sense one can get as they see the buildout of the new Derecktor Fort Pierce …

COVID, fires, lawsuits, obituaries among top stories of 2020

COVID, fires, lawsuits, obituaries among top stories of 2020

Yacht captains and crew -- as well as other yachting professionals -- found lots of news of interest on last …

Ending weird 2020 in the Exumas

Ending weird 2020 in the Exumas

At the beginning of this pandemic, I went into panic mode and pondered what my options were, seeing as I expected this to totally stall …