The morning was fresh as I stepped out of the crew house with all my belongings crammed into my rucksack weighing heavy on my back. I made my way to Antibes station where I caught a train filled with commuters. I was heading for Genoa, a large mainly industrial port in Italy where a 54 meter yacht, which hires for over £300,000 per week, had offered me two weeks work.
Sitting on the train, I watched the beautiful coastline of the Cote D’Azur pass by as it hugged the coast and entered Italy, passing beautiful homes and small coves overlooking the electric blue Mediterranean Sea basking in bright sunlight. Looking at the view I felt more relaxed, knowing I have paid work for two weeks which will help me gain some much needed experience to build my CV to help secure that so far elusive permanent job.
Leaving the train at Genoa, I catch a taxi to the port. The taxi pulls up at the dock and before me lies a stretch of super yachts glistening in the afternoon sun.
I find the yacht and press the intercom system rigged at the end of the passerale. The buzzer rings and a polite girl answers. I savour what I know will be the last few moments of time on my own before I join the 16 full time crew I am to live and work with.
I am given a friendly welcome, asked to remove my shoes and step on-board…my first stride into the world of the super wealthy. I am led on board where the golden teak has a pleasant warmth underfoot and the glistening paintwork and railings sparkle like something from a fairy tale. There is an air of cleanliness on board, like a house after its annual spring clean. I am led to the back of the yacht, along the side, through a door, down some narrow steps and into the more humble living area of the crew mess. The crew are watching TV and I am introduced to them all. I take in their names, believing I have stored these in my mind, only to realise that on shaking hands and thinking what to ask them next, I have not remembered one single name.
I am taken to my room via a narrow corridor lit with bright lights with numerous doors leading off and into a small room with three bunk beds. On top of my bed is a selection of uniform, two towels and bed sheets. I am shown my cupboard, consisting of a small hanging space and two shelves. The top bunk is to be mine which 20 years ago I would have argued over with my brother. Now I look on the practical side realising how hard it will be to go to toilet at night without stepping on the person below. The room has a small ensuite with shower, toilet and basin. I try the shower expecting a trickle of water, but am greeted with a powerful spray that splashes me and the surrounding floor. There are two small portholes, one in the ensuite and one in the bedroom, which provide a small amount of natural light and look out onto the neighbouring yacht and bluey green murky industrial water below.
I unpack and go to the crew mess to meet the crew who all seem friendly and encourage me to help myself to dinner. The meal is delicious and sheer luxury after three weeks living on pasta and sauce. I am shown around the crew quarters and take in the toiletries cupboard (a haven of the latest Lynx fragrance shower gels, top of the range Mach 3 Gillette razors and a host of other essentials to cater for any high maintenance grooming requirements!) I am told to help myself to whatever I choose; sheer luxury, and I spend a moment pondering which shower gel fragrance to opt for this time…
I am also told I can help myself to anything from the crew fridge and snack cupboard which resembles a mini candy and chocolate store crammed full. My eyes widen and stomach leaps with excitement as I glance at the extensive selection of treats.
I am also shown the crew entertainment system on the television and full Sky television which includes English channels as well as a stored library of almost every film I ever knew existed, all available at the press of a button. I am strangely pleased to see English television, I feel closer to home again.
Having sat in the crew mess for a few hours exchanging pleasantries whilst trying to watch the film, I decide to head to bed as the mornings early start and new experiences weigh heavy on my eyes.
I clamber onto the top bunk knocking my head in the process, a habit that will happen several times that week before I adjust to the restricted head room. I get into the clean sheets I made up some four hours previously and note that I am unable to sit up due to the lack of head room. I lie there, flick on the reading light, set my alarm and get ready to spend my first night on board.
The first night is an experience in itself. Lying there trying to sleep I mull over the change in my life in a relatively short space of time. There is a part of me excited at the future, but another part of me feeling wholly unsettled and unsure if this is the right thing to be doing in my late twenties. The thought of sharing my living space, room and essentially my life with these people makes me feel unsure and unsettled and I am wholly aware of how close the living quarters are and the little time and space there will be for myself. As someone who loves the company of others but relishes his own space, I am concerned this will be hard to settle in to.
I shut my eyes and notice the relatively subtle hum of the yachts air conditioning system and the crew mess TV in the background, accentuating every explosion Bruce Willis sets off during the Die Hard film. I gradually drift off to these noises.
Part 2 to follow….
“The best way to predict the future is to create it” Abraham Lincoln
Blog post written by Ben Proctor, author of “Work on a Super Yacht: The Beginners Guide” and creator of www.workonasuperyacht.co.uk. Both aimed at helping potential new crew learn about working on a super yacht and how to secure their dream job.