Traveling for work is common. A lot of people do it. It comes in all different forms from the odd day-long workshop in a different town, nights away in other parts of the country and working weekends abroad to trips lasting a couple of weeks and those who simply travel for work and are always on the move.
I fall into the latter category. For anybody that isn’t familiar with the Superyacht industry, I will break it down a little bit for you.
So, ultimately, I am a private chef on a yacht. But what does this actually mean? It means that I live at work. My “home” is a cabin on the yacht, conveniently separate from the owner and guest area and about ten meters away from the galley, or the kitchen, where I spend most of my days.
People that aren’t familiar with this often ask me how long I am away for at any given time, but the question should really be how often I am “home”. I put this in inverted commas because for the past six years, this has been my life so frankly I do not have a home, but referring to home means where my family and friends are: London.
Over the past six years I’ve probably spent a grand total of six to eight months in England, and that includes a three month stint I did at culinary school in 2014. Other than that, I am constantly away, traveling, working – whatever you want to call it.
Sometimes we spend months at a time docked in one marina, which means we can build up a routine for that period and familiarise ourselves with one specific place but the program we currently have doesn’t allow for that so much.
More about my work. The yacht I currently work on is 31m (106ft) long. It is an expedition style yacht which means essentially it looks like a big fishing boat or like something you’d see in the Antarctic. And the reason is because it’s built specifically for that – the owner has recently retired and wants to cruise the world over the coming years, though when I recently asked about the possibility of visiting Alaska it was shot down quickly with the logic of following the sun.
We have a small crew on this particular yacht consisting of myself, the chef/stewardess – responsible for all the food preparation and serving and cleaning the interior of the boat, my husband who’s the captain/engineer who takes us from A to B, plans itineraries, maintains the engines and systems, repairs or sources contractors for maintenance, handles the admin, accounting etc and a deckhand who maintains everything on deck – so cleans the exterior and makes the boat shiny.
Luckily this boat is spacious and with just three crew (which is small for the size of this yacht), we have our own space and time to keep ourselves to ourselves.
So back to the living at work and the how often I go “home” – not very. While I am at work, I am also at home and creating the divide of work/play is a difficult one that falls into a huge grey area but it’s a job full of many perks as you can imagine.
I say that, and people automatically think I lay on the swim platform and sunbathe all day, travel the world and explore all the beautiful islands we visit. The reality is that most of the time we anchor in bays as opposed to docking in a marina and unless I have a desperate need to pick up something from the shop, that means I don’t usually go ashore. In fact, getting into the dinghy a couple of weeks ago, I realised that it was the first time that I’d even been in it after two months of being on this boat.
There certainly are perks though. In the (almost) six years of doing this, I have visited somewhere around twenty different countries, met countless amazing people – be it guests or fellow crew, had some experiences that I can barely put into words and found myself a job I adore – for the most part.
We do get to lay in the sun when the guests aren’t here and, as I said, the yacht is not only our workplace but our home so when they’re not on board, we make ourselves comfortable but ensuring not to step over the fine line of taking advantage of their space, respecting their yacht and still doing our job.
Do I ever get homesick? Of course. FOMO, oh hell yes. We make the choice to do this for a living, and in doing so we sacrifice the luxury of celebrating birthdays with our friends and family, we miss out on events, parties, get-togethers and a whole array of other things that can churn the stomach a little when you’re exhausted, waiting on somebody you’d rather not talk to right now. But keeping a smile slapped on your face is a must and taking a moment to look around at your surroundings and feel the gratitude when you take in where you are generally makes it a little better.
Perks of the job definitely outweigh the slog and that’s why I’m still in the business after these years, but it’s certainly not a forever thing – for me at least. When my internal clock tells me it’s time to stop and settle down, when I feel I can’t live as a nomad any more, when I’ve overstepped the line of feeling too far away from my loved ones I will hang up my epaulettes, as the saying goes.
But until that day, I wake up and smell the salt air, enjoy the views one sunset at a time and revel in the opportunities that are thrown my way.
And I’m happy to be able to share a little bit of my journey with any of you that may be interested along the way.
Sit back and enjoy the ride with me.