So you’ve become fully accustomed to being swayed to sleep while listening to the stretching of dock lines and lapping of small waves against the hull.
You’ve puzzled all your bits and pieces just so you won’t be woken up from them rolling from fore to aft, or landing on the bosun’s belly sleeping beneath you. You’re quite fond of your skinny top bunk, which has a view of a fender and from which you can hop in and out like an athlete. You’re also quite partial to slumping into that corner spot in the crew mess and hiding in the port side tender bay, where it’s possible to smoke a secret ciggie. You might reside on a 60 meter super yacht owned by mister X; there are plenty of nooks and crannies you can surely call your own.
For some, it might seem unimaginable to live on-board a swanky super yacht, but others actually feel equally astounded with landlubbers living in a brick-built house. Which is why it always takes some getting used to when the boat gets hauled out of the water and the crew need to pack everything up to swap their dwelling on the sea for a more stationery set up in an apartment.
The crew of a big sailboat based in Italy just made the move to land and Chief Stewardess M.R. told us: “As stews we share our on-board en-suite with one other girl, hopefully as neat and tidy as ourselves. Soon, we acquire full knowledge of each other’s morning and evening routine and coordinate accordingly. Apartment living now sees six mixed crew members scrambling for the bathroom each morning becoming abruptly aware of the first mate’s extended toilet timings – which previously only his cabin mate was privy to. -whilst forming a disgruntled toe tapping queue on the landing”
There’s also the alarm clock to set half an hour earlier than ‘normal’ just so you can get to the boat in time for work! M.R agrees: “There is definitely something to be said for stepping out of bed and into work. Even just a ten minute commute can be hazardous to the health of any yachtie who has spent longer working at sea than on dry land whilst navigating the morning rush hour.”
Then there’s the unsettling sound of traffic at night and having to sleep not ‘above’ but next to your roomie. Now you don’t just have the pleasure of hearing him/her snore, you’re in full view of his/her gaping mouth, a string of drool or, shock horror, a bare bottom sticking out. Awkward…
But then I suppose it’s a whole lot better than staying onboard when the boat’s suspended 6m above terra firma, which was the case on one particular boat I worked on. In the mornings I had to troop through the yard with my toiletries bag tucked under my arm, and on the way back hold my head high while avoiding the amused looks on the faces of the dusty contractors as I made my way back to the boat with a towel wrapped around my head. Equally awkward… But even worse was waking up to the sound of the dropping of tools and the reversing forklift, combined with the surprised faces of the yard contractors as they catch you camped out on the fore deck as your stifling non air-conned crew cabin forced you outside. Still, the most disturbing is having to trod down 50 rusty (dodgy) steps and cross a couple of k’s of deserted shipyard to get to the dank and spidery shipyard loo.
On the bright side, no one will tell you off for not calling the stairs the companionway and the floor the deck etc. And it actually feels quite homey to put your slippered feet up on an actual coffee table and to sink into a sofa which you never have to get up from because somebody needs to get to the water bottles stored under your bum. You’ve been spending your spare time moving heavy furniture around just because they’re not bolted to the floor and you’ve created a master piece tower from tuna tins simply because the house won’t heel, and thus your work could never fall over! Ha!
And just when you were starting to get used to coming in through a door instead of a hatch, bringing cardboard boxes into the house and mumbling ‘morning’ to your neighbours, it’s time to move back onto the boat. Just when you thought that maybe, just maybe, you could actually one day get quite used to this newfangled life on land!
Written by: Danielle Berclouw