Looking back, serial-returning because I missed the excitement of the yachtie life-style, strikes a chord. During later years, however, my reasons behind repeatedly deciding to do ‘one last season of grumble-stewing’ involved a heady mix of not knowing I really wanted, reluctance to start over, and plain, cold fear of failing at succeeding ashore.
Talking to Nielsen, it seems my motives for staying are not at all uncommon. She affirms to often work with yachties who “are burnt out with life on board yachts but confused about what to do”. Lay thinks the trouble with yachting is that a lot of people remember good times and happy experiences, while forgetting the negatives and pressures that drove them to leave in the first place. She likens it to getting back together with an ex you left; “You ended it for a reason. So what’s changed, why would you want to go back and will it be different? More importantly, “Are you ready to go back to that life?” Can you, after you’ve spent years reveling in having weekends off, ample space and a home which never heels, return to confined quarters, being woken up at 3am by your crew mates coming in hammered, rough seas and having no room to store more than a couple of things?”
Nielsen concludes, “If there is one piece of advice I would give to everyone in the industry or entering into it today, it would be to think about the future before you make investments that could trap you. When you buy a home: make it easily affordable. If you have children, think about the financial implications of the choices you make where schools etc. are concerned. Because if you don’t, you may one day find that you can’t afford to leave a job that you hate.”
Coincidentally, I recently happened to meet a tipsy chief stew at a party. She spoke about her time on yachts in both the past and present tense. So have you left yachting or not, I asked? She raised one eyebrow, took another wobbly slurp and said, “Not just yet, but I’m getting there.” Now that sounded eerily familiar.
If you’re hovering close to getting off boats but find it difficult to take the actual plunge, know that there are ways to help you on your way to a job that will bring more happiness, rewards and satisfaction to your life. As most yacht jobs are not as easily transferrable to land, going shore-based is, admittedly, not easy. But you know what? Nor was getting into superyachting in the first place, all those years ago. Scoring that initial permanent job came down to hard-work, persistence and determination. Add a little planning and self-analysis to the mix and you have all the ingredients to be able to thrive on land, in whatever it is you’d like to do.
Me? I now freelance as a writer and English teacher. Slow months might earn me as much as a week on boats would but, on the flipside, I never find myself breaking out in a cold sweat as I overhear the captain say it’s going to be rough or have to hear the chef’s ritual morning belch. It still sucks to have to buy my own toothpaste and I do miss the travels, not to mention the laughs and unsurpassable camaraderie (hey, I never said it was all bad), but being paid to do something I really love is something I wouldn’t want to trade for anything else. Unless you’re buying me a swanky rosé-lunch that is, then I might have to think about it.