The yachting industry has always been known, for obvious reasons, for its glamorous lifestyle, its ﬂashy tenders and standout features, as well as the ﬂawless attention to detail within every step of its deliveries, from mere yacht concept to luxury vessel cruising the seven seas.
However, one of the most important aspects for each yacht owner, in order to fulﬁl their dream of exploring the world in the uttermost luxurious fashion, is the hardworking crew behind the scenes.
We’ve had the chance to speak to Gemma Hulbert, who’s been servicing some of the industry’s ﬁnest yachts for over a decade, working her way up from a Junior Stew to a Yacht Chief Stew, and is now guiding 100’s of people on how to become the best crew member possible through The Yacht Stew Academy.
She starts us by taking us through some of the best experiences she’s had onboard as a crew member.
“A couple of years ago we were in the Bahamas, and the captain told us that tomorrow will be great weather, so we’re going to anchor and have a proper day of just enjoying. We went swimming, we took the tenders out, we went diving, we went snorkeling, the chefs were ﬁshing oﬀ the back with the engineers and we all had freshly caught ﬁsh for dinner.” Hulbert comments.
“Especially on the back of a really big guest trip, when you’re working about 16h per day and have prepared for weeks to get ready for that trip, to have a day like that is what reminds you why you do what you do.”
The former yacht chief stew continues by emphasising the importance of bonding and creating weekly bright-spots with your fellow crew members.
“On one boat we did a cocktail-Friday every week during the winter where we’d make diﬀerent cocktails for the crew to taste, which would then go on to become our cocktails for the summer season. And for the crew to come together like that at the end of each week and enjoy each other’s company was really something magical.”
Furthermore, she shines the spotlight on the importance of being able to think on your feet as a crew member when you’re working aboard luxury yachts.
“I think it’s really important to have that intuition, whether you’re working on private or charter boats, you have to expect the unexpected at all times. The owner may, for example, love a certain ﬂower and every time the miss comes onboard, she compliments it.”
“And then one day she’ll look at it and go ‘hmm, that’s not for me anymore’; so you have to be quick. Thinking on your feet and having backup-plans for your backup-plans so you are able to immediately come up with a solution.”
The industry is known to serve some of the wealthiest people in the world, which subsequently comes with some extravagant requests you wouldn’t encounter waiting tables downtown for example. Although, through a bright smile as she’s reminiscing about some of the tasks she’s been dealt with over the years, task’s that the numerous NDA’s prohibit her from diving into the details of, Hulbert remains calm and candid as she looks back at the tricky scenarios that presented themselves during her time onboard.
“It’s intense, but towards the end of my time onboard, it didn’t faze me anymore. I was more thinking to myself ‘Ah, that’s bizarre, oh well, let’s get on with it’. Because it is what it is. At the end of the day, nothing was ever illegal or questionable, it was more something that you’d never thought of before. You never thought about a request like that, but you just get on with it. And if there’s ever a situation where I feel or know I can’t deliver on, that’s when you bring in the captain.”
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Learn more about Gemma’s The Yacht Stew Academy and follow her on Instagram for her latest updates and insights on the industry!