A sample “Confession” from The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess: There is a lot of pressure on the crew before a yacht owner or group of yacht-charter guests comes aboard for a trip. But as a yacht stewardess, Julie found the team-wide commotion to be exhilarating…
I Must Confess…The pressure can be exhilarating.
There is always a lot of pressure just before an owner or group of charter guests comes onboard. Each item crossed off your “to do” list is inevitably replaced by another, and you can count on the fact that at least one crewmember will exhibit symptoms of a last-minute panic. You might expect all this rushing around to wear the crew down and cause them fatigue, but quite often, just the opposite is true. I personally found the team-wide commotion to be exhilarating.
It is rather like being backstage the night of a big Broadway production debut. The runners that have been down on all the carpets to protect them when no guests are onboard all come up. (Under the beds is where many of them get stored.) Once those are up, the boat feels much more open and alive. You can feel the carpet under your feet, hand-woven and soft, so clean that light reflects off the fibers.
The deckhands are arranging seat cushions on the outside decks. The chef is in the galley handling food preparations: The smells of bread and pastry dough, boiling chicken and beef stock, sauces of several varieties, and an array of spicy scents fills up the entire main deck—it always reminded me of Christmas morning.
The deck lights come on as the entire crew works into the night. The deckhands are putting finishing touches on their polishing and varnishing work. They remove any final fingerprints off the rails, dirt out of the scuppers (holes pierced in a boat’s deck to allow surplus water to drain off), and scratches from the teak to get the yacht sparkling with cleanliness. Inside, the china is being washed, the silver polished, and the guest linens pressed and stored. Every light switch is tested and every inch of the interior double-checked for dust. A shipment of lobsters is to be delivered at midnight.
Each crewmember is playing a different type of music in his or her respective work areas: The chef has Motown on in the galley; the deckhands blast hip-hop from the sundeck; you are blaring Madonna as you hoover a VIP cabin, while the stew a room over is scrubbing a bathtub to a dubstep beat. The next thing you know, Bob Marley comes wailing up from the engine room; and in the wheelhouse, the captain jams to The Stones. It’s fantastic! To have to run across the boat to get something sends you on a musical journey. (And you stop off in the galley to assist the chef, who is now dicing onions to Roy Orbison’s “Crying.”) Preparations continue well into the night.
With only five hours of sleep, the entire crew is up early the next morning to assist with carrying 15 fresh flower displays and four new deck trees from the florist’s delivery van onto the boat. Next, the beverage delivery arrives: The crew forms a human chain up the passerelle to hand off case after case of beer and soda, bottled water and fruit juices, and dozens of bottles of fine wine. The yacht is gleaming, the champagne is chilling, and the crowds on the dock are staring.
Then, just when you’ve finished potting that last-minute tree on the aft deck, a call comes over the radio that the boss’s plane has just landed and he and his entourage will be there shortly. You manage to shower and be on deck just two minutes before they step on—fresh plant soil still beneath your fingernails as you shake the owner’s hand, and with a beaming smile and an energetic voice, say, “Welcome aboard, Sir.”