When you’ve been a yachtie too long
Published on July 25th, 2014
Extravagant yachts are a necessity for a wealthy lifestyle, with the onboard staff caring for the details. In a humorous yet insightful analysis of this working life, Abby Gallagher provides 20 signs you’ve been a yachtie for too long…
YACHTIE: pronounced [yot-tee]
- A person whose occupation it is to maintain and navigate a luxury yacht
- A yachtsman whose duty is to keep the overindulgences, idiotic ideas, and beloved secrets onboard the world’s richest play toys
- The only person with the skills and patience to perform 5-star service on the high seas
1. Roses delivered by helicopter to the boss’s mistress doesn’t shock you at all.
2. Your family and friends still think you work on a cruise ship.
When you try to explain what you do to those around you, it’s always the same response. “It’s like a cruise ship, right?” Um, no. By this point, though, it’s simpler to just shrug it off and accept the loss of veracity.
3. You see fingerprints everywhere.
The owners of these yachts seem to have panic attacks when they see their multi-million-dollar babies contaminated, and now you are meticulously trained to spot smudges, footprints, dust, or any kind of imperfection from across the room or on deck. Nowadays, even on dry land all you see is dusty corners you’re desperate to take a Q-Tip to.
4. You have an “owner.”
You work, live, and play aboard the same vessel that your boss does, and the extremely wealthy man or woman you work for is casually called “your owner” in conversation. To some people outside the industry, this may sound like slave labor. Yachties who work for tyrants won’t disagree.
5. You refer to the ‘day head’ or ‘galley’ in a home.
When you tell a friend to step into the port side aft door of your car, you know you’ve been in yachting for too long.
6. Tea time is the happiest time of the day.
You work long brutal hours, your back hurts, and your mind is spun out from polishing stainless steel or silver all day. But at precisely 10am and 3pm, you put your sponges, microfibers, and shammies down and enjoy a delicious 15 minutes in the crew mess. This is the closest you’ll get to bliss all day.
7. You speak the language of jandals, flip-flops, pluggers, sandals, and thongs.
You work, live, and play with an international crew of South Africans, Australians, Brits, Kiwis, and Americans, and soon enough you start speaking their language. You start calling each other “mate” or “buddy,” and no one is offended when someone says, “Put on some thongs” or, “I’m going out on the piss.”
8. You’re maxed out on South Africans (Saffers).
Right now, the industry is dominated by hordes of Saffers. They’re lurking under every marina dock, local bar, and crew mess. You love your South African friends, but there are only so many times you can handle your BBQs being renamed braiis, so many conversations you can end with “lekker bru,” and so many occasions you can hear about the best methods of making biltong.
9. Climbing onto a boat intoxicated becomes a cherished skill.
The few nights you have off, you and your crew decide to hit up the town. Your greatest learned skill kicks in when you have to jump onto the withdrawn foot-wide walkway with a single rope rail to guide you safely onto the vessel. This brings me to my next point…
10. Your alcohol tolerance is godly.
Your work-hard, play-hard mentality lives up to the expectations of your pirating ancestors, allowing you to consume incredibly large amounts of alcohol. If there’s a pub in a 20-mile radius, you can find it. It isn’t uncommon to hear about blowing $5,000 in one weekend after a nice charter tip, nor is the statistic of 100 liters of vodka being consumed in five days startling.
11. You buy expensive things you never use.
Your wallet has been hidden away for months, and when you step onto land again, it’s time to splurge. You probably have a storage unit halfway across the world filled with fine things inherited from refit periods: surfboards and paddle boards you could put the finances but not the time into, and probably all of your clothes that you never wear considering you live in polos and khakis.
12. An inflatable water slide off the back of your boat is the bane of your existence.
You know you’ve been a yachtie for too long when this innocent, childish symbol becomes a back-bending, loathsome chore that takes your whole deck crew four hours to set up for a rich kid to play on for about five minutes before getting bored.
13. You’re unbelievably spoiled.
If you find yourself on shore and you don’t have a fully stocked cupboard of your preferred toiletries, you go crazy.
14. You have a ‘Captains are King’ mentality.
You’ve developed a very submissive mindset, which is critical to working on a boat. It’s like a luxury navy vessel — people standing tall ready to salute their captain when he’s getting his coffee in the crew mess in the morning. Find yourself on land, and this bloke will be just another face in the crowd.
15. You’re used to having an engineer around to fix everything.
The glory of working with a crew of professionals is that there’s always an engineer around to fix broken toilets, realign drawers, change your light bulbs, and reset breakers. There are chefs to make your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and restock all your favorite snack foods. There are even “stews” to clean your living area, launder and iron your sheets and clothing. Good luck on land doing all that on your own again.
16. You don’t remember the last time you were alone.
For all of you non-yachties, think about the people you work with every day. They might be the most annoying, agitating, or boring people on the planet. Then, imagine living in a small section of a boat with them, unable to escape their quirks. Now envision being in the middle of the ocean with no one else to hang out with. “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends,” does not apply here. You’re stuck with this crew.
17. “The Bahamas…again?”
Poor yachtie. You have to go the Bahamas for the fifth time this season. You’ll have to be anchored out in some turquoise bay that’s home to a family of dolphins, and take the guests on a sunset cruise…AGAIN. When you can’t even tell how lucky you are, you know you’re a true yachtie.
18. Celebrities are no longer exciting to see.
Most people get little butterflies in their stomach when they see a celebrity, but you couldn’t care less. In fact, they’re a nuisance. They leave skid marks in the toilet, squirt toothpaste onto the sink, and dredge sand onto the decks like everybody else.
19. Your seasons are skewed.
What is winter? It doesn’t matter to you any longer. In the summer, you flock to the Mediterranean and in the winter to the Caribbean. Yachties just go where the weather’s most beautiful and where people want to sail. Snow? What snow.
20. You try to leave yachting after every season.
After working immoral hours, dealing with the fussiest people in the world, cleaning toilets, scrubbing decks, and handling crew dramas like you’re on a confined episode of Survivor, you have boasted several times that you’ll be leaving the industry for good, but never do.
PHOTO: Abby Gallagher