What did you do before yachting, and how did your yachting career first begin?
I started out in the yachting industry 8 years ago. Prior to yachting I completed a Ba Hons degree in Hispanic Studies at Liverpool University, a year of which was spent living and working in Madrid as an English teaching assistant in a bilingual primary school. My Spanish level was already good so joining the industry in Palma de Mallorca made complete sense. After I graduated from university I then worked for Hays recruitment plc. in Cambridge before making the move into the yachting world.
Another trainee consultant told me about the yachting industry as he had a friend doing it – as soon as I heard that you could save money and travel, I was hooked. I did my own research, got in touch with his friend to ask about how to enter the industry and the qualifications needed. I had my STCW week booked off work for some time – but was dubious about making the move. It wasn’t until I actually visited a medium that I made the realisation that life was too short and that you need to seize every opportunity that comes your way. It was a very difficult decision to make but I was instantly drawn to yachting and it felt it was my path in life to take.
I packed my bags in the middle of the UK recession – my parents thought I was mad leaving a secure job at that time, and booked myself a flight out to Palma de Mallorca in 2010. Yachting has opened my world to so many opportunities that I never would have had if I had stuck to my normal life in the UK. The perks of the job are insanely good and it is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. After dockwalking for one week I gained a trial which turned permanent and after only a short couple of months on this boat I was attending the Hotel de Paris to watch the Monaco Grand Prix – a truly amazing experience that I will never forget.
What has been your favourite boat you’ve worked on, and why?
Too many – Lady Beatrice – for learning the ropes and being so prestigious, Jo for all the fun and friends I made from there – Sanora – great Captain & excellent Chief Stew – SY Ethereal for their beautiful souls (crew & owners) Perseus – again great crew. Overall I would have to say Ethereal – I was only freelancing on there but I loved my time on there from start to finish. A bunch of beautiful people and I hadn’t done much sailing before so that was good experience plus the exotic Indonesian itinerary helped and the fact they were all mad for karaoke.
What are the best and worst parts about working onboard?
The worst parts are the shared privacy – often not having enough ‘YOU’ time – it’s important to make time for yourself. You sign up to a job to make other people’s holiday a reality – it’s about the boss not you so you learn to put yourself and often your health second best. It’s important to take time out from time to time and re-evaluate your direction in life. Set goals. I urge everyone to find something to ensure you get that 5 minutes a day of ‘you’ time. Yoga/running/reading/listening to music, whatever your vice is. And stick to it religiously.
The best parts are the fun, experience and travel we have – we meet so many great crew and people through the industry. Your cabin mates become very close to you and unless they snore drastically they usually become good friends for life!
With the travelling – my job has taken me around the World – I have been lucky enough to see most of the Mediterranean – Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Balearics, living in Sydney for 2 years and visiting the Whitsundays, two crossings to Tasmania across the Bass Strait, Caribbean, Indonesia – Raja Ampat was incredibly beautiful & Papua New guinea. None of this would have been possible in a 9-5 job! It´s hard work but you are reaped with rewards. I beg anyone not to make this decision lightly – you do sacrifice a lot of personal things to make this job a reality. From funerals to weddings and birthdays to Christmas´s, you learn to make the most of the ones you are lucky enough to celebrate though. Plus when you do finally get that day off you get to explore Monaco or Sardinia or somewhere else off the beaten track. I love exploring and learning all the cultural aspects of where I am. I am currently based in Viareggio – so having Tuscany on my doorstep and being a wine enthusiast is very convenient! You have to make the most of what you do have rather than complain about your first world problems – so many yacht crew are guilty of this. We are such lucky individuals who have an insanely good quality of life. Sometimes we need to take a step back to see it and be grateful.
How do you keep sane on charter?
I keep sane through my music – it always puts a smile on my face. Then I like to blow off steam with going for a run/doing a workout/yoga – whatever I can depending on what space I have to work in.
What are your best strategies for spoiling charter guests?
I can’t tell you, I like to be as unique as possible! But making them my priority, making them feel special, pulling out all the stops and going above and beyond. Thoughtful keepsakes personalised to them are always a winner.
What’s the coolest thing you have done for guests?
Sang for them! On Jo I sang for our charter guests. I do covers of Adele and Amy Winehouse in Agua bar open mic from time to time. If you have an extra talent it’s great to be able to use it on a charter boat. Adds to the crew profiles too plus means you are intertwining your passions alongside your work.
What is your signature cocktail?
I make a great espresso martini but my signature cocktail would be my gin strawberry blast with basil and black pepper.
What is your favourite yachting destination?
At the moment the Balearics – as it is where I call home and I know the areas quite well so can plan itineraries easily and speak the lingo so can easily obtain provisions. However, if I owned a boat I would probably opt for the most remote locations with tropical beach paradise islands. Papua New Guinea & Palau were incredible though – I got to snorkel with whale sharks which was a truly incredible experience.
If you owned a superyacht, what would you do differently?
Firstly I would travel A LOT in it. Secondly I would give the crew time off every now and again so I could have privacy and the tranquillity of the boat all to myself with family and friends.
What is your onboard pet hate?
Door slamming – it drives me mad
What career achievement are you most proud of?
Meeting two of the Rolling Stones in Australia was definitely my career highlight. Career achievement wise – getting to where I am now. I still want to push on and learn about the purser side.
Best housekeeping tip/hack?
Brush novasuede ceiling panels with a roll of kitchen paper – a captain told me that recently – it has saved no end of time on the boat I am working on currently
Tell us about your funniest embarrassing moment on board?
Asking Tim Henman if I could remove blue 3M tape from his jeans backside! It had come off the sheets we had labelled for returning :-/ I asked very politely prior of course so it didn’t look like I was going to pinch his bottom!
What’s your favourite adventure in Mallorca?
Going on a road trip – exploring a new location going for a hike and a rustic lunch with scenic views would be my ideal. I have just started road cycling – so that is my new adventure – I can’t wait to explore on it when I am based here.
If you could give your 20 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Listen to your gut instinct it will tell you everything you need to know. You know what is right for you and if you have any kind of niggle – there is a reason for it.
What’s your plans for the future?
I would like to complete my purser course and establish myself on a larger vessel as a purser before retiring from yachting – I still have a few years left in me. I am certainly looking forward to settling in Mallorca and singing on a regular basis though. Oh and I am very much looking forward to the day when I am land based so I can sit back and see my hard work paid off and own a dog.
Interview by Emily Larkin