Am I too short for yachting?

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Q: Sara, 21, Aspiring Stew:

“Hi, I’m planning to head to Palma soon to start my job hunt for a stew role, but I just wanted to check that there aren’t any minimum height rules in yachting like there is for flight attendants? I’m only 5 foot 3, so I’m a bit worried that being short might count against me?”

A: The Crew Coach:

Good question Sara! I come from the other end of the spectrum, as I’m rather tall at 6 foot, and I remember worrying back when I applied for yacht jobs at the start of my career that it might be an issue too, but for the opposite reasons! Having grown up sailing on small sailing yachts I had visions of being bent over in cabins with low ceilings but I needn’t have worried as a lot of superyachts are bigger than most houses! Funnily enough though, I was asked once during an interview on a sailboat to lie down on the bunk in my prospective cabin in order to check that I could actually fit in it. I did, luckily, and got the job! Not fitting in a bunk is something you certainly won’t have to worry about at 5?3? though!

In all seriousness, height really hasn’t been a factor in yachting over the years I’ve been in it. You occasionally see a job ad requesting female crew of a certain height, but that tends to be to fit in with a certain aesthetic preference held by the yacht owner, rather than having anything to do with an ability to carry out your duties as a stewardess.

You mention flight attendants, but minimum height isn’t really an operational issue for yachts as it on planes, as there aren’t any everyday duties that require you to reach overhead like you would need to as a flight attendant. Even on planes, minimum heights tend to be around the 5 foot mark these days!

After thinking about it for a while, I’ve only managed to come up with a few instances in which height will be an issue for stewardesses. Dusting high shelves and getting into high cupboards or storage lockers are two instances where height is advantageous, but there are always a few of those handy step ladders or foot stools around the yacht for this, and you can easily stash them in a service cupboard for this very purpose. Occasionally you’ll come across one of those huge aft deck tables where you need really long arms to reach across and clear plates, but there’s always ways around that, whether it’s getting another crew member to serve those people, or just being upfront about it and asking the guest to pass you their plate! You can’t exactly grow longer arms, and it’s not something I can imagine a Captain thinking too much about when hiring you. It’s pretty unlikely that someone would turn down an otherwise great candidate because of their arm length, that I can almost promise you.

Also, being short on a yacht is sometimes an advantage! As I mentioned, really tall people sometimes struggle with the length of the bunks, and you’ll also find it much easier to wriggle into tight spaces like storage lockers or bilge storage on a sailing yacht. Believe me, being tall and trying to clamber into a locker while doing a drinks delivery or counting uniform is not much fun at all. You’re not going to end up with nearly as many bumps on the head and bruises as I did in my early days of yachting.

Basically, in yachting, as long as you’re fit, healthy, and can carry out your duties (which I really don’t think is an issue), you’ll be fine: so put the emphasis on your fitness and positive attitude and you’ll do well. I’ve not heard of a single instance of a stew being rejected for a job on the basis of being too short (and I’ve worked with plenty of short stews during my onboard career) so I don’t think you need to worry about this for a second longer!

Best of luck in Palma and enjoy your roomy bunk!

Can anyone else think of instances where height might be a factor for stews? Does height matter in other departments? Let us know in the comments below.

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