Ask Bugsy! Skorts, vegans and aspiring yachties

Oct 14, 2021 by Chief Stew Bugsy Drake

Editor’s note: Everyone knows yacht crew live an exciting life of luxury and travel, nothing but amazing people and smiles all around … what could possibly go wrong? Ha! Chief Stew Bugsy Drake “gets” it. In her 8-year career on yachts and two seasons on Bravo TV’s hit show Below Deck Mediterranean, Bugsy has proved that level-headed leadership is her forté. Send your questions to [email protected] with “Bugsy” in the subject line.

I’m a bigger girl and I don’t feel comfortable in a skort. I’m generally confident and I like who I am, but not when I have to wear these uniforms. Skorts are so outdated! Aren’t there other options?

— Sick of Skorts

The best advice I can give you is to have a one-on-one with your chief stew (or the captain if you are the chief stew), and let that person know you are feeling uncomfortable. A good tip is to enter the conversation prepared to present options. Make a strong case by doing your research on different styles that are available and will still blend in with the rest of the crew uniform (think color, cut, material and pricing).

If you don’t get the answer you were hoping for, you will have to try to embrace the skorts, at least for the time being. Maybe you will work your way up until you are the one in charge of the uniforms and can make the ultimate decision. Better yet, it could lead you to one day having your own line of comfortable and on-trend yacht uniforms that don’t include skorts.

Above all, keep being you and having fun! There’s so much more to the world of yachting than the skort you’re in!

I’m a vegan and our new chef seems to have a grudge about this. I suspect some food he prepares for me is not actually vegan, but I can’t prove it. What should I do?

— Hangry Herbivore

Wow! This could literally be me! I speak from experience when I say this is by no means a first-time situation of a chef seeking vengeance on an unsuspecting, dietary-restricted victim. As a vegetarian, I am a veteran at monitoring a chef’s movements when it comes to the game of “What Is Actually Going Into My Meat-free Meal.”

There are really so many ways you could go about this. Hide a GoPro in the galley. Or send a crewmate in to “help out” while secretly spying for you. Or try to catch the chef out by casually asking if the milk used in the pasta sauce was whole milk or 2%. Oh, the fun you could have! But let’s be honest, are you truly ever going to know if a bit of milk was secretly snuck into that “vegan” cake that was just so deliciously creamy?

The best approach is to take the high road and talk to your chef directly in a very calm manner. Ask outright if you have been served non-vegan food. Ask if there’s anything you can do from your side to help. Communication is always key. If the problem persists after you have had a candid conversation with the chef, speak with the captain — but remember, always try to resolve it first with the chef. Hey, a good chef should be inspired and excited about having a candidate to practice vegan cuisine on before the boat gets a whole bunch of charter guests wanting an eight-course vegan dinner!

I love watching “Below Deck.” I just graduated high school and I really want to get into yachting, but I have no idea how to get started. Can you help?

  • Caught the Yacht Bug

First off you need to know that yachting is not all fun and games. It is long hours and a lot of very hard work. You need to be able to think on your feet, take initiative, always be down to help out when you can, be a team player and strive to always be the hardest worker on deck. Yachting offers some amazing perks — if you are willing to put in the TIME & EFFORT!  Here’s some tips to get you started:

  • Get your basic qualifications done. This includes STCW certification and the ENG1 medical certificate. (Google is your friend in finding places to do this.) 
  • Make sure your passport is valid and you have all the required visas. (B1/B2, Schengen) 
  • Type up your CV with all your professional work experience and add a clean-cut picture of yourself — preferably in a polo shirt to look the part.  
  • TOP TIP: Always be honest on your CV!! 
  • Sign up to all the recruitment agencies and upload your CV. (Hello again, my friend Google.) You will probably be called up or asked to come in for an interview, so make sure you are always on your game! 
  • First impressions count! Dress the part. Arrive neat and smartly presented to any interview, whether it’s with a captain or a crew agent.
  • Networking is key! Get to know people in the industry. It might help you find daywork to build experience or meet someone looking for crew. 
  • Believe in yourself & NEVER GIVE UP!