September 30, 2013

Yacht Life II: Daywork and Crew Agents

So, you've got your STCW and you can fold toilet paper like an expert. Now, you’ve probably spent all of your money on courses and crewhouses - here’s the real question: how do you get it all back???

Let’s get to work.

Step One: Get a Yacht Resume
Weird thing about yachting: Resumes are SO PERSONAL. They include things like
  • photos
  • marital status
  • health/smoking status
  • citizenship
  • age
Pretty much every item that goes against every HR requirement in every job I’ve ever applied for. But, in this industry - you’re hiring a roommate and a worker all in one. 

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Step Two: Get Daywork
This is a great way to get your feet onto a boat and start working. If you go around the boat show times, there will be lots of daywork. Fort Lauderdale Boat Show is usually around the end of October which is at the start of the Carribean season for many boats. Interior and exterior extra crew are usually needed to get the boats looking good! 

Dockwalking, talking to friends and are how we got this type of work.

Step Three: Crew Agents
Besides ‘networking’ (ugh, I hate that term. It’s so sleazy - but true) with your fellow yachties, crew agents are the way you’re probably going to get a job. Don’t worry - it’s free. The boats pay their fees to get matched with crew. Each agency works a little differently but in general: apply on their websites, get ‘interviewed’ by the agent, monitor the website/emails for jobs you’re interested and apply accordingly.

This is how we (spoiler alert!) got jobs.

Here are a couple of the ones we worked with in Ft Lauderdale,...

Every yachtie you meet will have a different story as to why and how they got into yachting, this is just us.

September 27, 2013

Yacht School II: Stew School + AEC

I can fold toilet paper into a little fan. 

I can set a table with 12 pieces of silverware - per person. I can create a lively flower arrangement with some grocery store flowers and crowns out of crisp linen napkins that would shame Martha Stewart into eating McDonalds take out for life.

I am the champion of fancy shit. 

Where did I learn these game changing skillz you ask? Stew School. Known officially as ‘MegaYacht Interior Operations Course’, Stew school is a yacht stewardess intro course. It teaches everything from cleaning and laundry to table settings and silver service. It’s a fun, but expensive (around $1000!) 5 day course that I took at the same school as my STCW. 

While it’s not necessary to get a job, and redundant if you have one - I would recommend it for green stews who are looking to get their first job. Not necessarily for the specific skills (you’ll have chief stew who will tell you how she likes it, trust me) but for the confidence and connections. The instructors of this course have been stews, and they know the game. Here’s your chance to ask aaaaalllll the questions and meet other girls just starting out in the industry. It’s fun, and it was the first time that I actually got my head around the level of service required in this industry. 

StewFact: Did you know we clean the bathrooms EVERY SINGLE TIME their used? 
Yep. We do that. 

THE GUYS: Deckies and AEC

While I was off learning how to fold fitted sheets, Juliano was learning how engines work. This industry is still quite gender segregated. While there are notable exceptions of female deckhands and male stewards - it’s not the norm. 

Stews : girls. Deckies : guys. 

The career path for the exterior crew is also clearer - there is a long series of courses and qualifications available for Juliano to take as he moves forward in yachting. For the interior crew there are course you can take (ex wine tasting, bar tending, service, etc) but no specific certifications that pre-qualify you for advancement.

Back to the engines... Juliano took the AEC ‘Approved Engine Course’ which is an intro engineering course. It’s a 5 day course as well, also quite expensive ($1000). 

Not my picture of a yacht engine room:

While hands on learning is the best for this, it’s a good general overview of the mechanics of boats - including jet skis and tender, the items typically required to be cared for by the deck crew. Additional, taking extra courses like this can show a bit of commitment to the industry - and differentiate yourself from the backpackers that fall into it looking for a quick season of cash.

September 25, 2013

Yacht School I: STCW + RIB

Numero Uno question I get asked when strangers find out what I do: 

How did you get a job like that? Did you have to go to school?

Well my friends, I did. I fought fires, I practiced CPR, I swam into a life raft. 

Despite my usual glib-ness about yacht life, safety is a huge factor. Boats burn to the water line in minutes, storms happen, and people fall overboard. Yacht crew are a relatively small group people charged with the responsibility of the guests, other crew members and the boat itself - everyone on a crew list needs to be informed and able to perform in emergency situations.

This is a must have to work in the yachting industry. It’s a 5 day course and costs around $900 US. It’s a really fun and informative week, you learn lots about the industry, safety and firefighting.

International Crew Training - STCW 95 from ICT Fort Lauderdale on Vimeo.


RIB is a Rigid Inflatable Boat... aka dinghy. Every yacht has (at least) one, and this course will give you the license to drive one. Note I said license, not necessarily skill. This is a quick, 2 day course that will teach you the basics of driving a simple tender. We didn’t really get enough time to be confident drivers, but.... it’s a rubber boat.

Where to go?

We took all of our courses at ICT in Ft Lauderdale. They were great there - friendly and helpful, especially going in a newbies. MPT is the other big school in town, and while we don’t have any personal experience there - we’ve heard good things as well. What ever school you choose, just make sure that its recognized by MCA, USCG and/or PYA.

September 23, 2013

Yacht Life I: Crew Houses are a way of Life

It feels like a hostel - but no one’s goal is just travel. 

Everyone seems to have money - but no one seems to have jobs. 

Fort Lauderdale, full of wanna-be yachties lurking around for the beginning of the season, is where we found ourselves early in this adventure. The secret underbelly population that neither travelers nor yachties will claim as their own; the crew housemates are the frat brothers you never had. 

The first house we stayed in had up to 32 people living, eating, drinking, partying and hustling for work at any one time. It was insane. It was overwhelming. It was great.

But, despite all the craziness, it was an amazing learning experience. Here are some things I learned...

How to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 32. Canadian thanksgiving, not that weirdly scheduled American version. With turkey and a teapot full of gravy. I had to call my mom for an apple pie recipe after Juliano made a fuss over the exclusivity of pumpkin. Moms are the best at pie recipes. And a rum punch helps everything.

How to do laundry in a sketchy laundromat. Answer: lots of quarters, bring friends, don’t talk to the guy who works there, don’t open the dryer before it’s finished. Bring your own soap.

How to party. I though I knew, I was wrong.

How to party in costume. Everything is better in costume. Especially drinking.

How to not have a job. Here’s a weird one. I’ve had a job steadily since I was 14 and worked in a Korean Bakery. Most of my life I’ve had two jobs. I’ve never had zero jobs. Turns out: It’s fun in the short term. Go to the beach in the middle of the day on a Tuesday? Of course I will.

How easy it is to sneak into fancy hotels and use their pools. From Ft Lauderdale to Miami.... just wear your bikini under your clothes, and order a drink if there’s a bar. Enjoy acting fancy.

How to do shit for free. When you’re broke, free shit is the best. 
Work out in a park. Go to free drinking days at restaurants (they exist!). Go to the beach. Download movies from the internet. Rent a SUP with a whole group of people, they all take a turn. Ride a crappy bike.

How to make awesome friends. 
  1. Do something life changing that is hard to relate to.
  2. Meet other people that can relate to that/you and live with them.
  3. Get drunk with them, better if in costume.
  4. New friends!

Okay, so thats not exactly the golden rule for making new friends. Nor do I really recommend jobless binge drinking as a long term choice.  But, when you put yourself out there, when you’re open to new experiences in life - you attract new people and new experiences. It’s amazing how many people are really out there, disrupting their lives for new goals and adventures. 

Meet them, learn from them, befriend them. Soak in their luminosity and lust for life - it can fuel yours.

September 21, 2013

One Year In.

One year ago today, I picked up a tiny bag. I flew away from my home, my family, my things (not much left) to go and try something new. 

Let’s live on a boat, we thought. Let’s travel for living.

Holy Shit, friends. We did it. 

We live on a boat. We travel for a living.

Where are we today you wonder? Today, we’re in Brazil - on holiday. Yep, on holiday from living on a boat and traveling for work. Craziness! Here are the places that we’ve been since stepping onboard this adventure...

Pretty good for a season and a half, and we’re just getting started. How about this then... I’ve had a couple of very flattering commenters ask if what we’re up to. So let’s catch up. Grab a cup of coffee, and take a seat in the galley - it’s a bit of a long story, but it’s a fun one...

Side Note: I’ll be throwing down my version of "how to be a yachtie" advice. It’s only based on our experiences getting into the industry from Florida. Feel free to disregard if you disagree!

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