20 year old William from Cowes, Isle of Wight, graduated from his Flying Fish Superyacht Interior Crew course >> in March 2013.
We catch up with him in France to see how his first season has been.
Living in Cowes, I have always known about the yachting industry ever since my early teens – and also known of friends’ older siblings and friends of friends getting qualified on various courses and going to join a yacht. I always liked the sound of travelling, meeting new people and saving money at the same time in some great locations!
I also always knew it would be hard work once I got on board the vessel!
I was doing an apprenticeship as a hairdresser at Charlotte’s Academy for four years and I had finished my college work the year before I left to do the Superyacht Interior Training course at Flying Fish.
I had been told that being a male steward on board a superyacht in this industry would be a tough one to get into with only a few of the larger yachts employing male service staff, but with my hairdressing and barbering I thought it would make me stand out from the rest of the job hunters.
I was in Antibes for three months looking for my big break being offered a permanent or seasonal position. At first Antibes was a little bit intimidating as was dock walking and going to agencies as the amount of new green candidates looking for work is insane!
Every port from La Ciotat to Genova had been walked and CVs had been handed out. It was a good way to travel on the trains and see new places. My first day’s daywork was on board a high profile 70m yacht in Monaco, setting up for new owners and the Grand Prix – and lots of other day work was then to follow.
With my hairdressing I managed to sustain my living quite well as my name in Antibes spread and yachts, job hunters, agencies and captains were recognising my skill. I became quite used to being picked up by tender and being taken to yachts around the Med (from 30m to 100m) cutting all the crew’s hair for a reasonable rate. At the end of the three months I was kind of homesick and was thinking would I ever get a job?
picked up by tender and taken to yachts all over the Med to cut hair …
Finally the captain of a new 80m superyacht called me and a friend and asked us to fly down to Naples for 10 day’s work on deck (which wasn’t my desired category of work but I thought I ought to just do it for the experience and the adventure.)
The owner had yet to see the yacht and it was absolutely amazing! Naples itself wasn’t great to live in so we found some luxury cheap villas in Pompey which worked out really well with the 1 euro commute every morning! When I returned from Naples we went back into our old flat in Antibes and got an instant phone call from my current chief stew saying she needed a male stew asap, FINALLY I thought!
So the next two days I spent partying and spending time on the beach with friends spending all the money i had just earn from the 10 days in Naples – I had a job so who cared?!!
The boat I’m on at the moment is a little smaller than I had originally wanted to start on (44m.) However, the chief and 2nd stew were so welcoming and knowing I was green were quick to give me hints and starter comments to get me going. I had worked for just two days before our first charter which went really well. There were nine crew in total, three deck, three interior, a chef, engineer and captain.
A typical day on charter is up early (if I am on breakfast) quick clean of the interior with a wipe down, set up breakfast, check the laundry, squeeze orange juice, and wait for the first guest to get up etc etc, then housekeeping later in the morning with a two hour break after lunch set up to come on again to work till after dinner. I am usually up earliest and to bed the first as the two other stewardesses do the later shifts.
Off charter means keeping the boat to its full potential all through the season as even though we had gaps in-between charters, we would always be on 12hr stand by (basically the owners could turn up any time they wanted.)
The tips are awesome and a great treat as you work so hard but you work hard for a good wage in itself – so an extra tip from charter guests is great! Lots of my friends are on private yachts where they don’t get tipped at all and the owner basically charters it 24/7 so I was grateful for the tips that I got.
There haven’t really been any bad aspects to the job so far. I get on well with the whole crew and all our guests have been great this season – although if you’re not feeling 100% you can’t have time off if the guests are on board, you just have to power through no matter what basically – unless it’s fatal or you literally can’t get out of bed.!
One of the best aspects is time off in-between charters! We always go to a beach bar and have a good time there all day and find a restaurant in the evenings, then maybe go out wherever we are to see the nightlife.
It’s also really good when you have friendly, great guests on board who are genuinely nice and fun to work for! But being on anchor with no guests is also good fun as we’re able to swim and use some of the boat’s toys in the garage.
Will (right) tests the toys
It’s all basically fun as it’s all new and you just have to look at it with the best attitude possible.
My favourite place was either Corsica because it was so quiet and beautiful or in contrast was St Tropez in mid season where we had to squeeze into the port with fenders at the ready and it was one HUGE party for everyone!
coming in to St Tropez
My advice for newcomers is get signed into the agencies and be specific with what you want in terms of yacht/size. Too many of my friends ended up leaving due to just taking what was first offered to them.
Listening to all the luxurious stories it’s easy to get wrapped up in them before you even see a superyacht!! I would advise everyone to save a lot of money before you come down and look for work and be prepared to be turned down and be told “we are fully crewed”. Having said this, it was my favourite time living in Antibes!
I recommend going there around the 20th of April as its the Antibes boat show with some great free evenings and awesome crew meet and greets in the day!
My aim for this year is to keep my options open (while saving) and either stay on this boat for another season for maximum experience on my CV or look for a larger vessel that’s looking for a male steward – or even better a ‘hairdressing steward’ which is my ultimate goal for the next year or so.
To contact flying Fish please call- 01983 280641
For more information, please visit this website www.flyingfishonline.com