Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Well, maybe I do. The photo above was taken from Necker Island, Richard Branson’s island. Most people have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to visit it, I was there for free working. These last two weeks have been like no other in my whole entire life. The yachting world is very intense for so many reasons and I feel like I’ve been transported to another planet.
We’ve had our owners on board who are incredibly fun and nice. To work for owner’s like that apparently is rare so I’m grateful for that. The charter didn’t go without drama, both from the guest and crew side. There were some pretty intense moments and sometimes I didn’t really know if I was awake or having a bad dream. There were five crew, all who are supposed to help each other out, but instead, it was the Captain and Engineer working hard to figure out all of the things that were breaking (which was at least two things a day for the first few days), the chef being grumpy with me because apparently I’m supposed to be her personal assistant, which was difficult since the Deckhand was either drunk or sleeping off her hangover. I ended up literally running around all day being stewardess and deckhand while having some unpleasant conversations with the chef about how I just can’t do it because I’m so busy. Oh, and she was ordering me around when she was lying down on the sofa saying how tired she was. I wish that was a lie. She has now been fired, along with the drunk deckhand who didn’t want to stay anyway.
Not to mention it was my first charter with the owners and first charter ever on a motor yacht and as a stewardess. It was a steep learning curve and I spent most of the first five days convinced I would be fired after the charter. Then came the guest change when four people left and the owners invited new people with hours notice. Yep, on top of deckhand, stewardess and assistant chef, I had to wash and change three beds, clean three bathrooms and all with a smile on my face. During meal times, the engineer, chef and I would generally eat together and despite the differences between the chef and myself, we were all so tired that we would have the most ridiculous conversations that made us laugh hysterically. It made the long hours worth it as I knew it would always be a good time.
There were some moments when the ‘empty’ crew were annoying me so badly I thought, “I don’t need this shit, I’ve had two years of working with one person with such little drama. Sure I made nothing, but this is just bullshit. Maybe I should go back.” Then I would stare out the window and see the sailboats, of which there are hundreds sailing around the USVI and BVI, and I would be taken to a different world. On one rare occasion, I was able to escape outside for 10 minutes and just soak up the view, which is absolutely breathtaking. The horizon is surrounded by sailboats and I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “One day I will be on one of those sailboats looking at the motor yachts saying ‘Thank you so much, without your job, I wouldn’t be sat here living the life I dreamed of. Not only that, but I’m so grateful I never ever have to clean one of you again.” Then I straightened out my boy uniform (I really did wear men’s clothing the whole time), pulled my shoulder’s back with confidence and went back inside to dust off some fingerprints and fluff more pillows. The best things in life are earned through hard work and god only knows how badly I want my own sailboat to live in the way that suits me best. I will be patient and fluff lots of pillows!
The hours are long, sometimes 6.30 am until midnight and I don’t get a day off during the week, but there’s nowhere else I would rather be. I’m on the sea, making a very good salary that will really help me shave off those student loans and save for Suzie Q. I’m with a good group of people. There weren’t always arguments and drama, we did have laughs too. Especially the engineer and I. He’s like my little brother and best friend and the only one I can truly trust on the boat. As of today, it’s just the Captain, Engineer and I and we get along great. A Relief Captain/Engineer is coming on board in about three weeks and he’s super cool too. He’s been doing lots of work on the boat, so I’ve gotten to know him a bit and I think we will all have fun.
I’m writing this as I listen to the waves crash along the shore on the aft deck on anchor in St John’s. Since the owners left on Sunday, I have been thinking about all that has happened in the last two weeks, it’s surreal. The owner’s live in a different world to what I have ever, or will ever, live in and it was so interesting to get a glimpse of that life. To not have a worry in the world, to have people around you to do whatever you want for you, to have all the money in the world to buy whatever you want or to dare the 22 year old engineer to jump off the top deck naked for $500 (I was so bummed I wasn’t male)! I was surrounded by drama, but still in a peaceful place. That was something new to me. There was one point when I just chose to go have a laugh with the Engineer instead of listen to the drama, and I realised that I’m actually practising what I’ve been studying so hard to do. To live a yogic lifestyle. I was truly Switzerland. I did at first get slightly swept up in the drama, but then quickly stepped back and realised what was going on and chose not to be a part of it. I wouldn’t make comments when the backstabbing was happening. I would either listen or just walk away, because I quickly learned trying to explain the other side would get me nowhere. I still managed to have a really good time despite all of the crazy drama unravelling around me. That was also something new for me and also very beautiful. How great to accomplish that goal of not being affected by how others are acting, especially as at times it was INCREDIBLY intense.
Now we are anchored in St John’s bay waiting to get some repairs done before we cruise back over to St Maarten to get some more repairs done. It’s just the boys and me and it feels like a great team. Without guests, our hours are 8-5ish and I look forward to the end of the day when I put my fins and snorkel mask on and jump into the crystal clear blue and turquoise sea to visit the colourful fauna that is all around us. I used to hate being on anchor because I felt stranded and as I still haven’t been taught how to drive this tender, I am literally stranded, but that’s ok. I love being on the water, I’m so busy during the day that there’s never enough hours in the evening to do everything I want to do (like write!!) and I love that we are outside the marina and next to a reef. I immediately returned to my nightly ritual of lying down to look up at the stars and being grateful for life before I go to bed. We have lots of comfortable cushions on deck so I’ve even been sleeping outside as my cabin is more like a coffin than sleeping quarters. As the Captain said, “Why did they buy a boat? Oh yeah, so we could have a good life!” Obviously that’s not why, but I’m so grateful there are people who are in a situation to give us a great life.
The one thing I realised is how truly in the moment I am. The days flew by and I remember seeing the date on the cameras as the 21st and before realising it, it was the 24th. Our Internet wasn’t working and I quickly forgot that there was a cyber world out there. As much as I love my family and friends, I didn’t really think about them much. I was very much here, soaking in all of the new experiences, learning as much as I could and breathing in the stunning environment. I was in the moment, I was observing and everything was what it was. I wasn’t thinking too much about the past (it’s hard not to compare sailing life with motor yacht life!) and I thought very little about the future. That is why it was so beautiful. That also tells me that I am in exactly the place where I am supposed to be right now. Ahhhhhhhh……… Life is amazing. Time to look at that goregous night sky and see how many stars are falling tonight.