Being called as a fill-in for a yacht program already underway can be tricky. Here’s how to show you’re a pro.
Be honest about your skill set.
Detailing rooms can involve extensive knowledge of different types of wood, treated glass, laundry, etc. Check in with the head of housekeeping or chief stew before using any cleaning products — the way you have been cleaning something at home doesn’t always work on board.
Never gossip about previous vessels.
Yachting is a small industry, and you never know who in a new crew knows someone from a previous crew. Gossiping about previous guests is also a big red flag. No one will trust you.
Ask the person hiring you how they would like you to dress for arrival. If you will only be cleaning cabins, yoga pants may be acceptable. If guests are on board, arriving in a skort — or making sure the vessel has your (honest!) size skort available — is critical. Always bring black and white slip socks. Until you know what the culture is, wear minimal makeup and limited jewelry.
Make your special skills known.
Are you a wine connoisseur? Are you great at flower arranging? Are you a licensed yoga teacher or massage therapist? Any special skills will help the overall program, so long as the vessel knows before guests arrive. Letting guests know about your skills before the chief stew/captain is never a good idea.
Ask if you can listen to music.
Usually, one earbud in while you work is acceptable, provided you can always hear the radio transmissions. Do not assume it’s okay, though — every program has its own code of conduct.
Ask for other ways you can help.
If you have any extra time before your shift finishes, ask your chief stew if you can do any office-related tasks. Chief stews can get buried in vessel related paperwork and sometimes a helping hand to do some data entry, update wine inventories, or even place some uniform orders can be greatly appreciated.
Be ready for change.
Change happens quickly in yachting. You may have to switch gears on a project faster than expected or flip the order of your work list without explanation.
Time management is key.
Arrive earlier than your start time and allow for delays at the marina entrance, finding the vessel, and in some cases, being escorted on board.
Arrive ready to work.
Show up with clothes that can get dirty, a second pair of onboard only shoes, a
hat and sunglasses, and ideally, your own refillable water bottle. If you have special dietary needs, let the person who hires you know in advance.
Measure twice, cut once.
Superyachting is a highly meticulous industry. If you are unsure about some instructions, always ask before starting and completing any assigned job.
Show you want to be there.
Never spend too much time on your phone while working. Lingering longer than others at meal times and taking smoke breaks won’t show the regular crew that you want the job.
Show a willingness to learn from the existing crew. Every boat is different, and how you did things on a previous boat may not work for the current vessel. Learn to read the room in terms of stress levels and timing. Always ask if your superior wants a task done a specific way.
Know the safety basics.
The exterior team often works in extreme heat, and with heavy, slippery equipment. Get help lifting heavy items, and know where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them. Get to know the radio basics.
Always leave a lasting impression.
Manners and acts of kindness are underrated. If you finish a task early, ask to take on another project, even in another department, such as blading showers.
Try to get a visual of the galley.
If possible, find out the specifics:
- Equipment types/brands, US/Euro, and number of ovens, burners, fridges, etc.
- Specialized tools: Thermomix, Robot- Coup, silicone mats, etc.
- Basics on hand: Oils, spices, salts, baking ingredients, etc.
When do guests arrive?
If guests are already on board, make sure you review the preference sheet and agreed-upon menu before you get started. Check with the chief stew regarding what the guests will need immediately, then build your to-do list around that.
Check the inventory of pricey items.
Ask the chief stew, sous chef or, if possible, the previous chef what proteins, caviar, etc. are on board and whether you may send a provisions list ahead of time.
Bring what you’ll initially need.
Always show up with three days’ worth of chef coats, pants, and your own shoes. Boats at mid-season may not have your size available in anything. If you have a special face cream, shaving cream, or even vitamins, bring enough with you for the first week or so. Many yachts stock up based on starting crew preferences.
Ask about crew allergies/preferences, if any crew birthdays are coming up, and if the captain requires anything specific throughout the day.
If you are immediately underway, the captain may need his lunch in the bridge. Or there may be anchor watches, in which case keeping food available for the night shift is always appreciated. Is there enough food for the crew immediately for a few days? Keep them in mind when creating an advanced provisioning list.
Don’t badmouth the previous chef.
All chefs have different styles and personal protocols, and we must respect each other. Bad mouthing or insinuating poor job performance by the outgoing chef only makes you look bad. Show off your skills and professionalism through your hard work.
By Chef Patricia Clark and First Officer George Scott of M/Y G3