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.

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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!

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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.

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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 . . .

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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!





Hello world!

3 04 2011

Welcome to my Funsized Adventures . . .

I am a Superyacht Stewardess cruising the seven seas in search of a world of adventure. 

Superyachts are luxurious, privately owned yachts that require professionally qualified crew – such as moi! Floating around the world, I get to see a glimpse of excessive lavishness and luxury and witness the world through a port-hole. With this in mind, as I move from port to port and step onto dry land, I aim to summarise the places I visit providing a best bits guide – ‘Fun sized’ snippets of the world and stewardessing according to me!

The life of a stewardess is a tough one – very much a ‘work hard, play hard’ balance which is an attitude that I fully embrace; more often than not burning the candle at both ends!  My role is divided between time with guests and time without. Whilst we have guests on board, working hours cannot be fixed and we are responsible to ensure the utmost service at any hour of the day, or night. I can expect to work 18 hour days for 3 weeks straight and have been known to work a good few 25 hour days. Somehow I don’t get tired of this – adrenaline perhaps?! In return, when we don’t have guests we get to wake up in new places and experience the world.

Work Hard – My previous crew

Play Hard – Infamous dock parties

In the past year I have . . .  backpacked around South-East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore) . . . toured the east coast of Australia (Sydney – Cairns) . . . explored Morocco with my sister . . . worked for Royalty on a Superyacht in the French Riviera . . . escaped a shipyard in Italy . . . and spent a few months on the Isle of Wight completing massage qualifications in prep for next season.

Having gained valuable experience, qualifications and a true insight into the Superyacht industry, I am heading off on my next adventure, joining a new crew this week. I am lucky enough to have the amazing opportunity to visit a great variety of countries covering old ground and landing on fresh territory which I intend to explore to the max and of course, report back.

Please feel free to comment, ask questions and follow me on Twitter @BethanySilcox.