What did you do before yachting, and how did your yachting career first begin?
Before yachting, I lived in Cape Town and worked at a Steak House and Wine Bar in the Waterfront. They offer the biggest wine-by-the-glass selection in the world so I really got to know the local wineries. Working here enabled me to pay for my studies in Interior Design. This is where I truly glow! I’m fortunate to be in a position that integrates it into my yachting career as Chief Stewardess.
Working on motor yachts was a really foreign concept but after hearing stories from a friend who had completed an Atlantic Crossing from Cape Town to Brazil, I was intrigued to pursue this. Getting paid to work and travel? Sign me up! My original interest was to do water-sports and work with children onboard however opportunities lead me to discover various roles from Stew-Deck, to Cook and then ultimately following my true drive with Interior Design by completing 3 interior refits. Working closely with designers and bespoke furniture companies while having a boss who is so confident in my abilities, has grown me both personally and professionally.
I absolutely love my crew, boss and position as Chief Stewardess. I’ve worked for the same boss, with my Captain and partner for 8 years now and am personally invested in ‘The Vision’. It would be a tough day to say goodbye to it all, when time comes to start a family outside the ‘yachting bubble’.
What has been your favourite boat you’ve worked on, and why?
I have been very fortunate to work with 2 lovely Captains over my 9 years in yachting. My first experience was on a 65ft Princess with a fantastic Captain, Sebastien who taught me lines, fenders, wash downs and French. He actually introduced me to my, now Captain and partner of 8 years. We managed a busy Charter yacht together and I was challenged to adapt my roles as Stew-Deck-Cook. I absolutely loved having this versatile role and we make a great team which makes the job so much more enjoyable. This was the first boat that the boss let me “run-free-on” regarding an interior refit.
We are now managing a 122ft San Lorenzo which has been the most challenging and rewarding of all. I love having 8 crew and travelling further distances.
Overall, each yacht I’ve worked on has taught me new skills and pushed me outside my comfort zone just enough to grow and improve so I have fond memories of each summer, winter and voyage.
What are the best and worst parts about working onboard?
I think most yachties would agree that the hardest part about yachting is being away from friends and family for such long periods of time. Missing weddings, birthdays and other celebrations is hard to do. Although it doesn’t always justify the hard times, yachting has allowed me to earn enough money to invest in properties, fly my family around the world, travel to incredible destinations and also meet some inspiring and interesting people (guests and crew).
It can be tough living in such close quarters with many different personalities or it can be interesting to live with different personalities…You learn a lot about yourself onboard. I suppose in the end, it’s about your approach… Is the glass half empty or half full? Happiness is a state of mind.
How do you keep sane on charter?
Haha, jokes (not) aside, humour really keeps us all somewhat sane. I am also fortunate to have a strong 2nd Stew which allows me to manage our hours well. I have full confidence in her being in control while I am resting after a late nightshift. Overall, we have a strong Teamwork mentality onboard. Each charter puts different pressures on different departments so when our interior department is getting hit hard, it’s great to know we have the support of the other crew members. At the same time, us girls love to get out on deck for a wash down to see some sunlight and enjoy some banter with the boys.
What are your best strategies for spoiling charter guests?
One of my favourite things that we do is try to personalise their experience.
Pre-charter, I send them all a Welcome Note which entices them before they’re even onboard.
“…Using fresh, Mediterranean ingredients we create cocktails and dishes to excite your senses. From family style picnics on isolated beaches to 3 course dinners overlooking the sunset and sea, you’ll leave with culinary memories to last a lifetime. Relax in one of our 5 cabins or absorb the beauty that surrounds you on the sun-beds while floating in a calm bay. With silky Egyptain-cotton sheets and luxurious fluffy towels to cuddle up to after a day in the sun and sea.”
We have presented clients with a 17year old Champagne to celebrate the sale of his company after having it for 17 years (which was the reason for the family trip).
We have integrated Wedding elements for one couple by ‘re-creating’ their wedding meal, menu and (deconstructed) wedding cake. We played their wedding playlist over dinner and decorated the table to their colour theme (Pink and White) and scattered polaroid prints from their wedding day. I did a lot of research and preparation into this one.
With consent, we take photos on with Go-Pros, a drone, a polaroid camera and phones and create a movie for them that we present on the last night, in our Bridge Salon. We do a ‘Special Setting’ dinner with the table decorated with tokens from their journey with us.
The final spoil of every charter is an AWOL gift bag which contains a re-usable AWOL water bottle (stainless steel), an A WAY OF LIFE kikoi (turkish towel) and their movie on a USB. When they absolutely love a dish, our Chef is kind enough to let me print out a recipe or two for them.
What’s the coolest thing you have done for guests?
Well, all the spoils listed above are my favourite to coordinate and execute especially when we throw in a dress-up theme or table theme.
The most sentimental-cool thing we did was purchase a Magnum of Red Wine for the boss from 1965 to celebrate his 52nd birthday. He enjoyed the whole bottle with is mom and dad throughout that trip. How special is that?
What is your signature cocktail?
Out of pure commitment to my job, I investigate various cocktails throughout my holiday! It is, after all, my duty as a Stewardess.
Each year we try to change things up onboard. My personal favourite (that is always win for Gin drinkers) is Hendricks, Cucumber, Mint, Fever-tree tonic and Rose pepper flakes. It’s so refreshing and could probably be adapted to a vodka or rum mix quite easily. Never use Schweppes tonic!
Roasted flat-peach and thyme Bellini’s are really good too! They are elegant to serve in Champagne glasses and can be easily made into a non-alcoholic Bellini with just a splash of sparkling water. (See photo)
What is your favourite yachting destination?
France is absolutely stunning for its scenery, food and medieval architecture. The suppliers are great there too so it’s never a struggle to pull out all the stops for clients.
In terms of pure beauty and a bit more of the Wildside, I just adore Croatia. It’s still quite undiscovered in the yachting industry which is why we love it. Clear and clean waters with really interesting navigation. We will see more this summer and I’m really excited to explore more!
I would love to do a circumnavigation with our crew and boss. It would be incredible to see the world like that.
If you owned a superyacht, what would you do differently?
If I owned a yacht, I would sell it and charter instead! These are expensive toys!
If I was in that position, I would love to do more for research and off the beaten track exploring- like having the NatGeo team onboard to discover places like Galapagos and Raja Ampat. Something like M/Y REV or M/Y Ulysses would be amazing!
What is your on-board pet hate?
Noisy bodily functions…
What career achievement are you most proud of?
The refit work I’ve done over the last 4 years has been an incredible journey for me. I learnt a lot about myself as a manager and so much about my abilities in design and functional decor. Successfully executing each refit has given me the confidence in myself to pursue this as a career once I move on from yachting. This growth has been my best personal achievement.
In 2018, AWOL won 1st Place in 3 Competitions for the MYBA Boat Show in Barcelona (Meet and Greet, Chef’s Competition and Table-Scaping). We were the first yacht in the history of the MYBA boat shows to win 1st place for all three competitions in our category. I was glowing with pride all season!
Best housekeeping tip/hack?
White vinegar as a replacement to fabric softener to get towels and linens super soft. Also, keep everything organised in your cupboards, storage and caddy. In that way you don’t overstock on unnecessary products.
The ultimate housekeeping hack is GO ECO! Your machines, materials and the environment will love you for it! Eco-products these days are excellent and are easier to find than before! EYS in Antibes is my go-to for all products.
Tell us about your funniest embarrassing moment on board.
Well, it’s funny to look back on now but in the moment it was definitely a test of professionalism in an embarrassing moment! Our large, elderly, male guest was in the Master Cabin, which leads off from the Main Deck lobby. I was heading up to the Bridge Deck when I locked eyes with a naked man stepping out of the shower- a Deer in headlights scenario!!!
I just ran upstairs as if it didn’t happen but it so (very) clearly just happened! We had such clear eye-contact that I remember the colour of his eyes! It seemed as though he had slipped in the panic so I was obligated to have another look for his safety. I gave it a deep breathe and peeked my head around after enough time for him to cover or hide himself. Luckily the bathroom door was closed by this time.
Why he didn’t close at least one of the THREE doors between us before disrobing himself, I will never know… I can only imagine the ill-fated timing of a door-close by his wife on her exit during his wash down!
What’s your favourite adventure in Mallorca?
I have enjoyed both times visiting Mallorca, but my favourite would be the time when it was for holiday rather than work. My partners dad had a Fairline 52ft in Alcudia and we were invited as guests to join them for a long weekend. What a treat to be a guest onboard a yacht in Spain! We enjoyed the generously poured G&T’s, we did the Train from Sóller to Palma and met up with some yachtie friends for a night on the town in Palma.
A particular favourite stop of mine is Rialto Living in Palma. It’s a Stew heaven! They have a coffee shop inside the store, with decor and fashion. I love the style of shops and decor stores in Palma,
If you could give your 20yr old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Take every experience as an opportunity to learn something new! Sometimes you’re stuck doing things you would rather not do, but your approach makes the difference to the outcome.
“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where the power is.”
What’s your plan for the future?
I want to continue doing the things I love because you are naturally good at those!
Design and creativity really inspires me. I plan to import goods from Arts & Crafts talent in South Africa and sell them in Europe, to Villas, Yachts, Shops etc. I would love to do design expos around the world, sourcing more beautiful products and suppliers. In this way, I would also keep my connection to the yachting industry by assisting other Stew’s and Owners in sourcing unique pieces from around the world. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.