Disclaimer: Owners of yachts are all incredibly awesome and generally fantastic people. Some of the nicest people that I have ever met, nay, THE nicest people I have ever met. What has been written below is clearly the delusional witterings of a pea brained village idiot. (see below)
Owners of yachts are mental. Fact. Actually, I would like to amend that statement ‘your honor’, and go as far as saying that all owners of yachts are mental. Anyone who decides that it is a good idea to throw gabillions of dollars/pounds/euros/groats into the cash black hole that is a luxury yacht has got to be a few croissants short of a continental breakfast right?
Before I get myself black listed from every yacht on the planet, I would like to add that just because they are a little bit ‘Charlie Sheen’, a little bit ‘Christmas crackers’, does not necessarily mean that they are not nice people. Some of them are extremely nice people. Especially all the ones that I have ever worked for. They were all lovely people. Ahem.
I’m just not quite sure what to make of it. Do you have to be crazy to get super rich or when you become super rich, does that make you crazy. Or do you start off a little bit crazy, say, a Susan Boyle on the crazy scale and then as you slowly start to make your millions then you become a Britney Spears on the crazy scale, until finally when you are a gazillion billionaire you go full Charlie Sheen, drinking tiger blood naked on the aft deck and howling at the moon while I serve you your pre dinner canapés?
My experiences of crazy bosses have been quite tame I think, compared to some stories I have heard which I might go into more detail later. Most recently, I was fired from a yacht, as was a stewardess and the captain. All during one ten day trip with the owners onboard. The crazy owners.
I don’t mind telling you that I was fired because as I have said before in previous blogs (read them, I hear they’re ok), being fired from a yacht is really not as bad as it sounds. It’s not like in real life where you really have had to do something pretty bad to get the sack or just be super shit at your job. In yachting you get fired because the boss requested a stewardess with blue eyes and a D-cup not brown eyes and a C-cup. Or the boss doesn’t like the way you can’t cook him his very well done steak just how he likes it, nice and pink. Or you’re too tall or too thin or too English etc.
Anyway, some of you know that I left the yacht that I was working on based in French Polynesia a few months ago to return to the Mediterranean and work onboard another yacht. I have since returned back to the boat in Tahiti and am very glad to be back. The yacht that I joined in France was slightly smaller and captained by a friend of mine who I had previously worked for on another yacht a couple of years ago. I turned up to the boat pretty much straight off the plane from Tahiti ready to start work as this was the owners first time using the boat since a refit and crew change. All crew were new and the only people who had met the boss so far were the captain and engineer. Everyone was frantically trying to get the yacht ready for the boss’s imminent arrival when he would be taking the yacht for 10 days with his wife, 6 guests and 2 Chihuahuas.
That, right there, was my first little ‘crazy’ alarm that went off. The dogs. I’m not saying that people who own small, yappy, “kick ‘em and they fly” type dogs are crazy, but if you are flying them thousands of miles, having lickle doggy life jackets custom made, spending thousands on having special bars fitted on all the gaps in the yacht at deck level so as to prevent the tiny beasties from attempting to jump overboard and make a swim for it…then for me…crazy alarm.
The second alarm started ringing when after only 2 days of being onboard, I was having to pay for provisioning with my own money. The boats credit card that I was given to buy stuff with had a €600 per day limit, which trust me is not a lot. Especially when you are setting up a boat from scratch. Not only buying food, but equipment and also other departments are using it too. So on a couple of occasions, I found myself at the checkout in Carrefour having just scanned through 5 full trolleys with the card being declined. What are you going to do? Put it all back? Well I just paid for it myself and hoped to get reimbursed by the yacht sharpish. So I had been onboard for a couple of days and already I wasn’t feeling great about this yacht.
Our new boss (by the way, on yachts, the owners are generally referred to as the boss, so if you see a crew all wearing epaulettes and looking a bit serious then one might say “they must have the boss on.”) arrived to board his new yacht with guests, wife and dogs in tow. I observed through the galley window that he was spending quite a while not boarding the yacht but instead walking up and down the dock, inspecting it and pointing at it. Fair enough, I thought, If I had a brand new multi million pound yacht, I would probably point at it to. But this did not look like entirely happy pointing. Whereas if it were my new luxury yacht, I would be pointing and skipping and possibly weeping with joy, he was pointing and frowning. “What’s going on?” I asked the Mate when he came through the galley. “He doesn’t like the colour” he replied. “Well, didn’t he pick the colour?” I asked. “Isn’t that how it works? You go to the luxury super mega yacht shop and say, I’ll have a blue one please, and a pink one for my 4th wife”. Crazy alarm No.3.
My new galley on this yacht had an automatic sliding door through to the guest areas which worked by pressing a button at floor level with your big toe (just like they do on StarTrek) and the door silently slides open and then closes by itself. There were two sensors to stop the doors from closing should there be any obstructions. Unfortunately the lowest of these sensors was above doggy height, so to avoid an accident that might have resulted in turning 2 Chihuahuas into 4 Chihuahuas I had to lock the door open at all times. This turned my fun galley where all crew were welcome to come and gossip about the new owners, listen to the radio, scratch their arses and generally relax, into a silent, boring, miserable guest contaminated Nazi work camp (I may have exaggerated a bit). I don’t mind an open galley and have worked in them before and always welcome guests in with a smile. The last charter I did on my current yacht had me commis cheffing for one of the guests as they took over the galley for the afternoon and prepared dinner for their friends. Great fun, and a lot less stressful for me. But this new owner made me nervous, and also the dogs made me nervous. I was expecting little annoying yappy dogs. Not judgmental, mind reading, soul seeing, creepy little, bubble eyed, lazy eyed beasties. They would both walk into the galley silently, stop 2 feet from me standing at my chopping board, and just stare at me unblinkingly with their enormous, out-of-proportion, about-to-burst eyes. Looking directly into my soul. I would look down at them, they would tilt their heads slightly and aim a look back up at me that said “what are you looking at you worthless human, get back to work?”
And when it wasn’t the dogs creeping me out, it would be the new boss making me nervous. He would walk into the galley, completely ignore me (this is a very small galley), and start poking around in the cupboards or stick a finger in a sauce or just look at me, mutter something in his native tongue and walk out again.
Before we left the dock on the second day of the trip, the owner told the captain to fire the second stewardess, a really lovely young girl who was new to the industry, just starting out and doing great. Friendly, polite, respectful, outgoing and hard working….sacked after 1 week in yachting. What a great impression she must have got. Thankfully, I know she took it in her stride and secured a position on another yacht and as far as I know is still onboard and doing great. Its just the whole sacking people on a whim that I can never get used to. She had done nothing to offend the boss, it just turned out that he decided (a bit late) that he wanted to reduce the number of crew on the yacht and free up a cabin for more of his guests. Fair enough but he had known the crewing levels for some weeks. Crazy alarm.
The knock on effect of that sacking, apart from freaking everyone out, on a small boat like that is that it changes a lot of people’s job descriptions. The Chief stew is now the sole stew, the decky is now working interior as well doing the laundry and serving guests and the mate is now basically doing most of the deck work. Way to piss your new crew off.
We then did a couple of days cruising and arrived in St.Tropez to stay a couple of days. The crew were all doing their jobs professionally but were understandably nervous. I remember preparing lunch for the guests when the bosses wife wandered into the galley and asked if I would mind if they went out to lunch instead of eating onboard. I said of course I did not mind, while trying to look slightly disappointed when in fact having the guests off the boat would really help me out and give me time to get ahead of the game. After the guests had left the yacht to go out for lunch, it was just the crew and the pesky dogs left onboard. Then suddenly, the boat manager is walking onto the yacht. Most yachts are managed by a yacht management company that might be based anywhere really but usually in South of France or Fort Lauderdale. This guy had flown in from Fort Lauderdale. He then proceeded, in the nicest way possible, to sack the captain, wait for the captain to pack up his belongings and then drive him home before himself getting on a plane back to Fort Lauderdale. All in a days work eh.
Gob smacked doesn’t really accurately describe how the crew then felt. 4 days into a 2 week boss trip and we had lost a stewardess and now the captain. Who would be next in the firing line? The guests arrived back to the yacht and understandably things were a little uneasy. The wife chatted to us and apologized for not speaking to us about the sacking but that that had been the easiest way to deal with it. It turned out that the new replacement captain had also flown over from the States with the yacht manager and it was to be a straight swap. Old captain off, new captain on. The trip was to continue as if nothing had happened.
After a bit of get to know you time with the new captain, we found out that he had been working for the owners on a smaller yacht based in Florida that they also owned. He also volunteered to us that he was a former Playgirl man of the year 1986, rodeo rider and Hollywood stuntman, and that we were welcome to Google him. We did Google him and the photos of him naked, staring erotically into the middle distance while riding an exercise bicycle ‘a la’ 1980s still haunt me.
So crazy alarm number I’ve lost count was that my friend, who had kindly offered me a job on his yacht and had been working hard refitting the yacht for the new owner for months, and had recruited all the crew, had been sacked with no notice and instantly replaced with a circa 1980’s rodeo riding stunt porn star. CRAZY ALARM!!!
The rest of the trip actually went very smoothly and after some initial fears, all the crew were won over by the new captain who turned out to be an actual great guy. And from what I hear, the remaining crew are still happily working for him.
After all that had happened, I was fairly worried about my position on board. I managed to grab the boat manager before he left back for the States and asked him if I was safe. “Am I next? Do they like the food? Should I pack now?” I was assured that they loved the food and were very happy with me and that I was in absolutely no danger.
As we bid the owner and guests a fond farewell at the end of the trip, the moment after they left, the yacht manager drove up to the yacht, got out of his car and fired me and then fired the chief stewardess. Nothing personal, he said, the owner had in fact wanted to use his chef in the US on this yacht all along. Just a miscommunication and some issues with visas but now the US version of me was ready to go. He also came as a couple with his wife being the chief stewardess so that’s why our original and very awesome chief stew got fired along with me. I did kinda think that that was coming. When I was chatting to the original captain about the job and why he needed me at such short notice, there was the mention of an American chef and visa issues. It just pisses me off that both me and the chief stew were lied to and strung along until the end of the trip just so the owner had someone to cook for. Had he been upfront with me and offered me a day rate, I would have stayed and finished the trip for sure. I felt used, like a circa 1980s exercise bicycle.
I should say that the owners of that yacht were not all bad, they were quite nice and polite to me most of the time and just maybe a little eccentric. This blog is not about bad mouthing anyone, just some hopefully interesting tales from my travels.
Anyway, it was all a bit crazy the whole very brief experience but does not even come close to any of the craziness that some of the other guests/owners that I have worked for or have had friends work for get up to. But more of that another day. It all worked out well, as I am back on a yacht that I love, with a crew that are great, in one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on earth. What’s not to like. It was a break that I definitely needed but I am very glad to be back. Exciting times are ahead as my yacht heads for the Galapagos, Panama and Christmas in the Caribbean and I head for Japan, Thailand and Cuba before re joining the yacht in Panama. Lots to write about hopefully.
Thanks for reading