Giving One Month’s Notice

9 06 2012

This post comes to you with an extreme mix of emotions; both sad and excited and many more in between. Although I don’t necessarily blog often, I think it is clear to see that I love(d) my job and the opportunities it brings yet over the last few months I have taken the decision to leave the boat, the potential experiences, the sun and the crew who will all be dearly missed. NB This blog has a happy ending.

Tracking back, I went on annual leave in March – another perk of yachting can be lovely long holidays. 30 days is fairly standard but there are all sorts of other packages out there all dependent on your boat, position and contract. When accepting the position on this boat I knew I was trading a slight pay decrease from previous positions in favour of 60 days annual holiday – definitely a good move! Thus having only taken the 2 weeks in Australia so far, I left Abu Dhabi with 6 weeks of holiday ahead. Having been away from friends and family for so long, spending time with them was the main aim for these 6 weeks. Thankfully for my happy little travelling feet, my sister lives in Mumbai so almost 3 weeks was spent in India with her.

20120609-115100 AM.jpg

20120609-115137 AM.jpg

I rejoined the boat in Malta a full 2 months after signing off as a delayed crossing to Europe meant I took an additional 2 weeks unpaid leave whilst the boys travelled through the dangerous Gulf of Aden before arriving in Malta early May. As the Gulf of Aden poses threat of pirate attack the girls on board our boat can opt out of this trip.

Overjoyed by reuniting with my friends and having a great time in Malta as always I felt rather gutted to be giving one months notice as they were all hyped up for the new season. With boss trips and charters confirmed, after a quiet winter, everyone was ready and raring to go and I felt rather sad not to be a part of it.

Having had no stewardesses on board for the two week crossing and having to prepare for a jam packed boat for the Monaco Grand Prix 2012 we had a lot of work to do with late finishes every day. Towards the end of a two day trip from Malta to Monaco, we arrived to the news that the boss was arriving two days earlier than expected. Without provisions and an extreme amount of deliveries for the party to take on arrival we were a little panicked but of course pulled together. Working 16-20 hours per day every day I didn’t get to see any of Monaco itself this year but the vibe with all the boats and roars of the cars created a familiar sense of excitement. This years highlight was serving Antonio Banderas a green tea!

20120609-121032 PM.jpg

20120609-121052 PM.jpg

20120609-121101 PM.jpg

The boat had to leave Monaco on the same day as the boss to get to Montenegro for charter and the time had come for me to leave as well. There were plenty of tears as I stepped foot onto the dock with my excessive 63 kilos of luggage and off I went for my one way flight from Nice to London.

20120609-121443 PM.jpg

About time for the happy ending I hear you say . . .

Although it was hard to leave good friends, I have the honour and privilege of working for LOCOG at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Excited is a massive understatement! I started work this week and every day I have felt goosebumps with pride and inspiration. This week we passed the 50 days to go mark. Bring it on . . .

20120609-121900 PM.jpg





Abu Dhabi Dooo . . .

16 04 2012

Well it’s been a long time again and this time I will mainly put it down to poor internet connection which slightly curbed my enthusiasm to post regularly and uploading photos would have been a near impossibility. I would however be lying to suggest that the fantastic time I’ve been having hasn’t got in the way a little as well. I will skip past my trip to Australia in November and bring you a little more up to date. I must just point out that a delightful perk of yachting is meeting and making friends from all over the world so my end of season time off was spent exploring greater Sydney, staying with a yachtie friend in Manly.

Beautiful Summer BayStandard Tourist Photo

Post a relaxing few weeks spent touring and surfing on Sydney’s northern beaches, I was thrown swiftly back into the swing of things. A 54 hour flight from Sydney – Hong Kong – London – Dubai (yes I did take an exceptionally long route) landed me in the UAE just in time for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I was given half an hour to recover from the exhausting flight, to shower and get to work. Luckily it was a light trip for us with only 4 guests who spent the duration of the grand prix in the paddock so within radio contact, we were able to walk the length of the very noisy track throughout the race. I must admit we were a little smug at the sight of the other yachts packed to the rafters with revelling guests!

After a short guest trip we expected to be leaving Abu Dhabi a few days later so had a whole crew trip to the desert; dune bashing, camel riding, belly dancing, amazing food – the full on Arabian experience, and what an experience it was!

With an unknown quantity of time remaining in the UAE, we quickly packed in all of the other must see sights on our to do lists over evenings and weekends. The Burj Khalifa, Burj al Arab, The Atlantis Hotel, Palm Island and the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi.

As time wore on, the pending trip to India seemed less likely and rumours of trips to Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Andaman Islands passed us by. By this point we settled in to life on Yas Island and began to live more like ex-pats than tourists enjoying day to day life. I was happy to experience my first warm christmas with my extended crew family and to keep us entertained, a series of events and concerts passed through Abu Dhabi including Creamfields, the Volvo Ocean Race and the International Pro Golf Tour to name a few (I am absolutely gutted to have missed Elton John just after going on annual leave).

To top off my time in the Emirates, the highlight was a trip over Dubai by Seaplane taking in the city from the sky.

All in all I’ve had an amazing 5 months of winter in a country that I never had a great desire to visit so it has surprised me on every level. It has been an exciting and entertaining place to live; I would truly recommend it. Unfortunately workwise we had quite a quiet season but with the vessel planning to set sail for Europe, the crew are looking forward to a potentially busy summer.

<!





The ‘Glamorous’ Life of Superyacht Crew

20 07 2011

I have recently been in contact with an influx of potential superyacht crew who are looking for a real insight into this ‘glamorous’ industry. Superyachting is a little known industry that is rapidly expanding by word of mouth as friends and friends of friends share the secrets of their adventurous lifestyle but in reality, as a stewardess, I am a glorified waitress/cleaner. I spent the weekend at the below beach club and I considered writing this blog whilst cleaning a bidet on Monday morning.

Baia Beach Club, Malta

This week and next we are dedicating time to detailing the boat. Our last guests left a week or so ago and although we cleaned the boat afterwards, detailing is a whole different ball game. To the normal eye the boat looks clean but detailing requires scrubbing the interior to within an inch of its life - every nook and cranny is to be sanitised and polished. We steam clean the whole cabin, wash the walls and ceilings, vacuum mattresses/curtains/sofas/carpets, disinfect toilets and bidets, buff marble, polish taps, use tooth picks/cotton buds to get into every corner and groove, iron sheets onto the beds, place all items in position at the exact angle, the list goes on . . . realistically, we would expect to take approximately a day per cabin – depending on its size.

One very shiny sink!

Further to this, daily we are responsible for cleaning and restocking the crew mess and bridge, vacuuming, mopping and wiping the halls and walls in the crew corridors and stair ways, checking the temperature/colour/pressure of water in all guest cabins, setting up and clearing crew breakfast/lunch/dinner etc etc. Other jobs include creating inventories of items such as uniform, shopping for crew provisions and taking deliveries (the soft drinks/water delivery is always a killer). This week, to break up the cleaning, we are undertaking a little training each day in service, cocktail making, table settings, housekeeping and so on.

The interior team enjoying a dock party

If I’ve not put you off so far, keep reading as it’s not all bad . . . I spent today out on the water driving the tender as the deck department needed ‘students’ for their power boat instructor course. Last weekend we had a whole crew dock party on Friday night and on Saturday I lapped up the sun rays at a beach club in Malta, played on jetskis, sipped on a little rose and reached Monday morning feeling like I’d just returned from holiday! Basically, for superyacht crew it’s not a job they’re buying into, it’s a lifestyle and if you can take the tough or mundane work, you will reap plenty of rewards. Over the next 6 weeks I will be cleaning and serving in 6 different countries and that’s a deal I’m happy with!

Jetskiing : )

Follow me on Twitter @bethanysilcox for a better insight into day to day life.





Capri from the Sea

7 07 2011

This morning I left the beautiful island of Capri off the west coast of Italy. Unfortunately I can’t offer any knowledgable advice on what to do whilst visiting the island as I spent the week looking at a rock, a pretty rock mind you, but I didn’t step foot on dry land. The last three weeks has been a case of viewing life through a porthole and my tan is drastically fading from stewie life in the interior!

Having spent a long weekend trip in Valencia for the Grand Prix, we had less than four days to travel to Italy and to prepare the boat for guest charter. Charter involves guests who hire the boat for a pre arranged duration and as a stewardess, learning their preferences instantly and catering to their every whim aids in the smooth running and ultimately the enjoyment of their holiday. Charter is renowned for being exceptionally hard work for a short period of time and although this charter only lasted a week, we are all feeling physically and mentally drained. This particular charter utilised the combined efforts of four superyachts and two hotels catering for approximately 60 guests and although our maximum sleeping capacity is 12, these guests could turn up without warning for lunch, dinner and parties thus is was paramount that we were prepared for every eventuality.

My role for the week was the night shift; from 5-10pm and from midnight – 8am. After the first few days I began to adjust and was able to get some sleep throughout the day however now I feel rather ‘jet-lagged’ and can’t get to sleep at night whilst trying to meet with my normal schedule. The yacht I work on has a particularly large exterior deck area and was used by the guests as a ‘floating dance floor’ with a DJ every night and I loved working on the bar for the duration. One of the weeks highlights was a private performance from Craig David to an audience of just 20; it’s great to have a few perks during tough weeks. For me, the ultimate plus side to the night shift is the serenity of sunrise which acts as a great pick me up when you’re beginning to flag at around 5am.

This was the first guest charter I have undertaken and despite the hard work, I am looking forward to the next although having been running up and down four flights of stairs all night every night, my aching legs certainly will appreciate a few weeks guest free!





The Monaco Grand Prix

12 06 2011

I haven’t had time to blog in such a long time; partially due to a heavy work schedule and quite possibly because I’ve been busy exploring the sights and the nightlife! I’m a little overwhelmed with where to start as so much has been going on recently so I’ve decided to go for the biggest experience I’ve had lately . . .The Monaco F1 Grand Prix.

View of the Grand Prix track from the aft

We arrived in Monaco from Malta after a choppy crossing meaning we couldn’t work whilst travelling due to a lot of sea-sickness from the interior department. Having had guests on board just before our departure, we had plenty of work to do to prepare the boat before guests arrived two days later. We worked from 8am – 10pm detailing the interior and taking deliveries – back breaking work. After work we would head to the bars alongside other crews taking the opportunity to have their last evening of freedom and drinks before guests were to descend upon each of the many superyachts in Port Hercule.

A very full Port Hercule, Monaco

Thursday night was the big event I had been waiting for. The boat I work on held the opening party for the Grand Prix and I was so excited to see and be part of such an awesome event.

The Interior Team - Service duty for the party

Approximately 1500 party goers passed across the exterior throughout the course of the night with plenty of dancing and champagne. With a Bollywood theme, I was in awe of so many stunning colourful and ornate dresses and caught a glimpse of the spectacular Bollywood dancers performing the evening’s entertainment.

We had catering and bar staff on board for the duration to serve the majority of guests whilst our stewardess team looked after our VIP resident guests. As I spent the week on the early shift, my tired feet were sent to bed at 3am ready to get up at 7am to prepare for the next day. I couldn’t sleep, buzzing with all the excitement.

En route to the pit lane

As I got up to start work on Saturday morning I was met with the opportunity to tour the pit lane on the day of qualifying. I accepted the offer without hesitation and with 5 other crew members found myself walking across the Grand Prix track towards the garages.

The Pit Lane

A deafening convoy of F1 cars came roaring round the corner parking along the pit lane as we entered the Force India garage.

Crew in the Force India Garage

I can’t deny I was a little out of my depth with the explanation of engines and tyre changes but I felt so privileged to have this once in a life time opportunity. After the morning’s excitement, I headed back to the boat ready to serve breakfast.

The Crew with Adrian Suttil

Race day itself was exceptionally noisy as the cars momentarily whizzed past the stern of the boat and my ears were pleased to take respite in the interior from time to time but the Monaco Grand Prix is certainly an experience never to forget!

VIP Passes to the Pit Lane





How to start Superyachting – including useful websites

17 04 2011

Since starting my blog, I have had various e-mails and post comments asking for some basic info about getting into the Superyacht industry and for some legitimate websites that may be useful. In response, see below for details and hyperlinks to relevant articles, forums, crew agents and course providers.

For absolute starters, the compulsary requirement for all crew working in the Superyacht industry is an STCW 95 (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) certificate. This qualification is legally required to work on board a sail or motor yacht over 24m (many under this size ask for this qualification too). The STCW 95 includes Fire fighting, Personal Survival, Personal Safety and Social Responsibility and First Aid - remember, if you’re out at sea you can’t call the emergency services!

Fun-sized Fire Fighter

As the competition for jobs is high, additional relevant qualifications will help you to find a long-term position if you are serious about working in the yachting industry. Dependent on the department you wish to work in, you can improve your employability with qualifications such as a Yachtmaster, Powerboat level 2, a diving qualification, water sports instructor qualifications, approved engine certificate, hospitality and wine courses (the possibilities are endless).  As you gain experience and sea-time over the years, you can progress up the ranks with further qualifications. Monetary investment in your career is recuperated relatively quickly with competitive salaries and general expenses covered by the boat.

Hospitality Training

Superyachts require engineers, chefs, stewardesses, dive instructors, water sport instructors, carpenters, masseuses, beauticians, electronics specialists, hairdressers and the list goes on . . . Crew roles are relatively stereotypical, males working on the exterior of the boat and females running the interior however, if you would like to be a male steward or a female engineer it is not impossible, there are such a variety of vessels out there with vast requirements, everyone can find a yacht to suit them.

Maltese Falcon

Working in the Superyacht industry is a great way to combine work with travel; the majority of vessels are based in the Mediterranean in European summer and commonly head to the Caribbean or Indian Ocean for the winter. Furthermore, exploration vessels are known to head anywhere from the Pacific to Antarctica, Mexico to Malaysia. On the other hand many stay in the Med for winter and the crew find themselves hitting the slopes of the French and Italian Alps every weekend. The hours for Superyacht crew are not fixed and can be quite demanding; with guests on board 3-4 hours sleep per night is not uncommon and you may not have the opportunity to step onto dry land in all ports. However in return, crew often work a Monday – Friday, 8-5 schedule when the vessel is without guests. In this instance you have a great opportunity to explore the countries you visit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again . . . The Superyacht industry is based on a ‘work hard, play hard’ ethic and if you put the hard work in, you get a great lifestyle in return.

Sunrays

 
See hyperlinks below for further useful information, articles, forums, crew agents and course providers.
 
Useful info, Articles and Forums
The Crew Report
Dockwalk
Synfo
 - Superyacht News and Information
Superyacht World
 
Crew Agents
Luxury Yacht Group
YCO Crew
YPI Crew
Blue Water Yachting
Crew Unlimited
Crew Seekers
– Expenses paid for deliveries – good to gain experience and sea miles
 
Course Providers
UKSA - UKSailing Academy- I can recommend this from personal experience
Warsash Maritime Academy
Flying Fish
Red Ensign Training
Blue Water Yachting

Please follow me on Twitter @BethanySilcox and feel free to comment or leave questions.





The Dreaded Dockwalk

7 04 2011

I am writing this post as I make my way to join my new yacht (currently on the train, second leg of the five-part journey).  I am getting a few strange looks as I drag my luggage behind me. As a ‘fun sized’ girl standing just 5 foot short my luggage is almost as tall as me, thankfully wider than me and weighing in at two-thirds of my bodyweight. It’s pretty tricky but I’m used to it these days. As hard as I try (and wish I could), I just can’t pack light!

My life in a bag

My new career – and yes however enjoyable it is, it is a career – began this time last year as I packed up and headed off to Antibes, South of France. Antibes is one of two Mediterranean Superyacht hubs (Palma being the other). In Antibes you will find plenty of crew agents who help you to tweak your CV, perfect your ‘yachtie look’ and (fingers crossed) help you to find a job. You will also find a limited number of crew houses (hostels for yachties) and plenty of competition in the form of other crew looking for work. As a newbie/greenie your qualifications and relevant experience can place you above the competition. Prior to heading out to Antibes I undertook courses at the UK Sailing Academy including; the compulsory ‘STCW 95’ safety standards qualification, my Powerboat Level 2 qualification to allow me to drive the tender (why should the boys get all the fun in the sun?!) and an ‘Essential Marine Hospitality’ course preparing me for my stewie duties. As far as ‘relevant’ experience goes I found my corporate hospitality and part-time waitressing roles pushing their way to the top of my CV whilst my degree sank to the bottom of the second page – a concept I found hard to understand at first but that’s just the way it goes. Without being able to explain why, I do understand the irrelevance of my degree back then but personally I know it will help me as I climb the career ladder – the demands on a Chief Stew can be mentally challenging and I look forward to that day.

 
 

Dockwalking in Cannes while the moon's still out

In order to find my first job I had to undertake the ‘dreaded dockwalk’ as I like to call it. My tired little feet pounded the ports of Antibes, Cannes (old port and new), Nice, Monaco (x3 ports), Juan les Pins, repeat, etc., etc. handing out my CV to anyone who would take it. Although I am an outgoing girl, I didn’t like the thought of it to start with but I got used to it over time and my poor little feet had a taste of what it’s like to be a stew running around all day. After two and a half weeks I was thinking of looking further afield in the ports of Italy when I received a phone call from a Captain in Cannes who had received my CV that morning. I had an interview the same night and joined the boat the very next day. I had given the boat my CV the previous week but they didn’t want a stew then, they needed one NOW. It’s a very fast acting industry so an affinity to spontaneity is useful. Finding a position on a superyacht is without doubt a ‘right place, right time’ situation but you can certainly help to get yourself into potential ‘right places’ and my best advice is that perseverance is the key!

 
 

 

First Impressions - Antibes International Quay

As a newbie I recommend that (whilst being sensible) take whatever experience you can get. Over time I have learnt that I prefer working on bigger yachts but you can’t be too picky to start with. I did land one position last year that seemed perfect on paper but in reality, wasn’t right for me. Don’t jump ship too easily as longevity is a highly valuable asset to your CV; I gave the boat 3 months but am glad I made the right decision to leave – don’t be scared to. As a learning experience I gained knowledge of the right questions to ask at interview including contracts and longevity of crew. Work was scarce at that time of the season so I took the opportunity to complete NVQ Level 3 massage courses to boost my CV. Having gained a years’ worth of experience, I have managed to secure my next position via e-mails with the Captain and Chief Stew and I cannot wait to join!

By my next post I will be settled in to crew life – so excited!








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.