Not all crew unions should become couples

Feb 14, 2017 by Melissa McMahon

Crew Compass: Melissa McMahon

In yachting, it seems like every boat can be the love boat. No matter where we go or who we work with, crew romances are everywhere. After all, we were put on this planet to attract others and be attracted to others, so it just makes sense that when you put groups of young, energetic people together, the coupling begins.

But crew couples onboard can affect the yacht’s atmosphere in a whole host of ways. They can be beneficial, or they can be downright calamitous.

Relationships onboard a yacht move remarkably faster than those on land. What might take weeks of chance encounters and coy text messages takes just days on a yacht. And it doesn’t help that everyone in the yachting industry is quite good looking.

Yachties find it easy to pair off because we have similar interests. We can relate to each others’ crazy schedules. We all believe that life is too short, and we take that sentiment to heart. And we have an addiction to traveling.

When both partners are in it for the right reasons, a yachting romance can lead to a euphoric ending at sea. I have met many married yachting couples who are extremely happy and say the yachting industry indeed brought them together. They are grateful for it; they say they couldn’t picture their life any differently.


A strong onboard relationship can influence both partners to work harder, become more disciplined, and enjoy their life out on the water. Having a partner onboard can make all the difference. Instead of wishing you were somewhere else, partners onboard can share their work, their time off, their problems and keep an eye out for each other.

Then there are the unfortunate crew hook-ups, those less-than-serious, purely physical unions that aren’t meant to turn into lifelong relationships but are somehow forced in that direction. Instead of being happy with the physical part and leaving it at that, some crew hook up and expect it to last. When it starts to fray, some crew resist, and the troubles begin.

Those kind of crew couples onboard affect the entire crew in a negative way. I’ve been around some crew couples that would drive the rest of us crazy with jealousy, untrue rumors, or distrust. Arguments were constant, emotional breakdowns usually affected the workload, and there was always an icky awkwardness in the crew mess.

I joined yachting to have the experience of a lifetime, to travel and meet people from all over the world, to provide the best possible service for guests, and to work hard and save some money. Most of us don’t join to witness high school-level drama.

So are crew romances worth it? I’m 50/50 on this. When I think of those drama couples, I’d say heck no; it just makes life more hostile. When I think of those veteran couples who have explored the world by each other’s side, I’d say heck yeah.

Age makes a huge difference. The majority of 20-somethings aren’t ready for a serious relationship; people in their 30s probably are. An individual person’s level of maturity plays a big part, too.

Still, that special someone can pop into our lives when we least expect it, regardless of our age or readiness. Creating a relationship with someone we see 24-7 takes a special sort of person, and a special sort of couple. I won’t date anyone unless they share the same passion for the ocean as I do. My chances of meeting that guy while working ashore is pretty nil; my chances of finding him in the yachting industry is pretty high. And I am a big believer in trusting time; the universe will get me where I need to be when I’m ready.

Enjoy Valentine’s Day, whether in a relationship or single. My advice about love is to do what makes you happy, and be around people who make you happy. Whatever floats your love boat.

Melissa McMahon is a stew from Long Island, N.Y. ( Comments are welcome at


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