I’m a chef bunking with a crewmate whose schedule doesn’t vibe with mine. Never mind that she is messy and her stuff is everywhere, or that she never cleans up after herself. The main problem is that just as I finally fall asleep, she comes in and starts banging around the cabin in her endless routine of showering, drying her hair, opening and closing drawers, and then, once she is in bed, tapping away on her phone — every single tap is like a bird pecking away at my brain! It’s maddening. I’ve tried everything. She says she is doing her best to be quiet. There is no chance of ever getting a good night’s sleep. I’ve asked to switch cabins but was told no. Help!
—Bunkmate Driven Berserk
Dear Bunkmate Driven Berserk,
Crewmate-inflicted insomnia is no joke! I always find the cabinmate situation an interesting one, as just like with family, we don’t always get to choose who we room with. It could be someone who has no concept of how to live with another person, who snores uncontrollably, who talks in their sleep, or is just super unhygienic. (I have experienced all!!)
Always remember that in yachting, being a considerate crew member is a big part of being an awesome crew member. I don’t think people always realize just how important this is to a happy and healthy work environment. Yes, we all come from various cultures and backgrounds, but respect, tolerance, and consideration are universal.
Your situation sounds like a wound being constantly rubbed with salt! Having had my fair share of loud cabinmates, I can safely say I feel your pain, and have tried and tested a lot of different ways to overcome it. There is always the option of giving her a taste of her own medicine by doing the same things back to her — but truth be told, that will only set you up for a constant passive-aggressive contest of who can bang the door louder or who can set the most annoying alarm.
From what I gather, you have tried to have a candid conversation with her about this. My first point of advice for any form of conflict is to always hit it head-on and address the issue face-to-face. Write your concerns down and explain in a detailed fashion why and how her actions are affecting you. Maybe kindly suggest ways in which she can be quieter, like changing her hair-drying schedule to when you are awake or are not in the cabin.
Try earplugs — the foam ones work a dream, and you can still wake up to your alarm. When I live with a snorer or someone who is loud, I use earphones with white noise to cut out all other sounds. Our senses are all very much connected, so a blackout eye mask might help as well.
If none of this works, then you could always turn to the “powers that be” — first, speak with her head of department, and then, if there is still no good outcome, you could write a formal letter of complaint to the captain, describing how this is affecting your rest time. WARNING! This could get messy and create a bad vibe with your cabinmate and other crew. This is a last resort!
Rest and sleep are so important in our fast-paced, high-stress environment. With you as chef, I can understand the pressure, since your hours on trip are extremely long! In a worst case scenario, the only solution might be to leave. But there is no guarantee that this will not happen with your next crewmate on another boat. Props to you, by the way, for not going all crazy on her and knocking her out with a frying pan!
IN HER 8-YEAR CAREER ON YACHTS AND TWO SEASONS ON BRAVO TV’S HIT SHOW BELOW DECK MEDITERRANEAN, CHIEF STEW BUGSY DRAKE HAS PROVED THAT LEVEL-HEADED LEADERSHIP IS HER FORTÉ. NEED SOME ADVICE? ASK BUGSY! SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO CREW@TRITONNEWS.COM.