Yacht Stewardess and Deckhand Jobs and Training Guide

In this part of the guide I’m going to break down some of the entry level stewardess and deckhand jobs and tasks that you can expect to do during your first couple of weeks on board.  While these tasks may sound simple enough, never over estimate a diva.  Reading / watching these quick  tutorials will help save you from a lot of embarrassment and prevent potential damage to the boat.

Training Topics: (Based on my Experience!)

  1. Boat Terminology + Lingo
  2. Yacht Exterior Sections
  3. Navigating Through a Diva Proof Boat
  4. Newbie Mistakes You Don’t Wanna Make
  5. Deck/Stew Diva
  6. Drying the Boat
  7. Wash Downs
  8. Cushions & Covers
  9. Vacuuming
  10. Wiping Surfaces
  11. Heads, Beds, & Turn Downs
  12. Arranging Pillows and Towels
  13. Stocking Supplies
  14. Summary

 


“Not Until We are Lost do we begin to find ourselves.”

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I have never in my life been so lost than when I got thrown into my first full time job in the yachting industry.  As a deck stew I was intended to do a variety of tasks that involved maintaining both the interior and exterior of the boat.  However, I knew absolutely nothing about either, so I was double dumb.  Needless to say I learned a lot about myself those first few weeks… Including:

  1. Despite my former inflated impression of my intelligence, competence, and capabilities, I do not, in fact, have any common sense.
  2. When attempting to complete a task that is completely alien to me, I need a very thorough explanation, followed by a demonstration, and then I need to practice it over and over again before I can be trusted to execute it without supervision.
  3. If left to my own devices, without very adequate and detailed instructions, I am inevitably going to find every possible way to do a simple task incorrectly.
  4. Most importantly, with enough determination and repetition, I can eventually learn how to do anything, and maybe even do it well!

Take it Down ~ Break it Down ~

Yachtie Diva Training is structured around the following perceptions of how divas learn, based on my own experience:

  1. Take it Down.. (To a level that divas can readily understand.)
    • We need a thorough explanation of what we’re about to be doing if it is even the least bit complex… Which is just about everything.
    • If necessary, explain to the person who’s training you that it’s best if they pretend as though they’re teaching a 1st grader.  Use very basic terms, and don’t over load us with information that isn’t crucial to the task at hand.
    •  We suffer from information overload, and once we’ve reached our low threshold, our brain turns to mush, and our ability to retain knowledge diminishes.
  2. Break it Down
    1. We need to understand the entire concept behind what we’re doing, and why.
      • (Example) Drying the Boat:
        1. Why is the boat wet every day?
        2. Why do we dry it every day?
        3. What happens if we don’t? (Need visual examples!)
        4. What are all of the ways I could potentially screw this up?
      • Now we kind of understand our overall objective, and hopefully we’ll be more effective.
    2. We need a thorough demonstration for HOW to dry the boat, followed by our own practice  (in front of the trainee.)
      • Just watching someone else do it is not good enough, you need to practice it yourself, over and over again, it’s all about repetition~

 


*Disclaimer*

Every boat is different, and there are several ways to just about every task.  Below I’ve written some descriptions of some of the more basic tasks that you are likely to encounter during your first few weeks on board.  While this is how I personally like to do things, your boat may have a complete different way of doing them.  Just follow instructions.   However, these tips may at least point you in the right direction.  


Below are some (amateur) videos to help give visual examples of the topics discussed below.

*Click Here*

To view the full playlist of 14 quick tutorials- it is the same content that is in script, just read allowed with flicks and pics.


Boat Terminology + Lingo

Yacht Exterior Sections

  1. Starboard
  2. Port
  3. Bow
  4. Stern
  5. Fore/Front
  6. Aft

Glossary of Boating Terms Coming Soon


Every boat has multiple doors, drawers, cabinets, and hatches, and each one has some way of latching itself shut, and or/open.  For someone who has never been on a yacht before trying to figure out how to open things becomes quite perplexing.  Consider the boat “diva proof,” meaning, it’s very difficult for yachtie divas to easily navigate through the boat without assistance.

Below is a quick flick of me walking through a boat and opening various things in various ways.


Newbie Mistakes You Don’t Wanna Make

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  • Everything on a yacht is made of some ridiculously expensive material, each with infinite possible ways you can damage them $$$$.
  • Get into a habit of walking around without touching or bumping into ANYTHING.  I like to call this “get skinny mode.”
  • Walk with light feet, and if you need to touch something for balance just use a finger, don’t wipe your greasy hands all over everything 🙂
  • Most importantly when you’re carrying large/ heavy objects such as vacuum cleaners, or washing supplies, don’t bump into walls.
  • You can easily dent or nick the wood and fiberglass as well as leave handprints or stains on the fabric.

Deck/Stew Diva

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As a deck/stew diva in training you are most likely going to be given the most mundane tasks, in which potential screw ups are limited.  My first few weeks on board I assisted in tasks which included:

  • Drying the boat
  • Wash downs
  • Cushions and Covers
  • Vacuuming
  • Wiping Surfaces
  • Heads and Beds
  • Turn Downs
  • Arranging Pillows and Towels
  • Stocking Fridges

At first I thought it was all a little overkill.  I’m thinking, “Why on earth do we spend so much time drying the entire boat every single morning?”  And, “Why do we cover every single cushion every single night!?”  However, over time I learned that there’s a reason for everything we do, so I’ll break it down for y’all in diva talk.

Drying the Boat

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  • You can expect to dry the boat first thing in the morning, every single day.  Depending on the weather and humidity it may take a few minutes, or it could take several hours.
  •  As soon as the sun goes down the boat tends to sweat, or get dewey, (like a cold beverage outside in the sun.)
  • Moisture and boats are a bad combination.  Metals rust, covers get moldy, unsightly dust and dirt particles collect and settle on the fiberglass, and water and muddy footprints get tracked all over the interior and exterior.
  • It’s harder to tell when you dry it every day, but once a boat has gone 3-4 days without being dried you’ll notice these details start to show.
  • So drying the boat really IS necessary even if you initially don’t see the point.
  • It’s especially important to dry the boat when guests are onboard so that they can enjoy the deck.
  • Often times it’ll start storming the moment you put away the drying gear, and you may have to do it all over again.
  • I personally loved drying AND wash downs.  It’s a great work out, just throw on some good tunes, enjoy the scenery, and get after it!
  1. Boat Drying Strategies:
    1. Sections + Orders
      • As mentioned above, the boat is broken down into different sections.  You will typically tackle drying and washing the boat one section at a time.
      • Your boat should have an order from which section to do first, this is based on which way the water falls throughout the boat.  For example, when you dry the flybridge section, water will fall into the boat deck, so you will dry the boat deck only after the flybridge is done.
      • Learn the sections and orders of your boat as soon as possible.
    2. Tops, Windows, Metals
      • You want to dry the windows and metals before you begin drying anything else.  However if you are in a section with a ceiling you have to dry it first.
    3. Sun vs. Shade
      • Due to structures and the positioning of the sun there are sunny spots and shady spots all over the boat.  Dry the sunny areas in each section first because they’ll dry up on their own with the help of the sun, and leave water spots on the surface.
    4. High – Low
      • Always go from top to bottom so you don’t have to re-dry anything.
    5. Flat Spots
      • Water pools up on the flat spots such as tops of lockers, and hand rails.  Dry the flat spots before any areas below them.
    6. Deck
      • The deck is always last to be dried.
      • Once you get to the deck go around and get all of your drying tools and bring them to the next section, then choose the far corner of the deck, and walk backward as you dry, otherwise you’ll leave footprints all over it and have to redo it.
    7. Drains
      • There are drains all over the boat in which you will likely ring your shammy out into, they may be the last thing to hit after the deck, always double check that they look good.
    8. Walk Around
      • Always walk around and double check to make sure you didn’t miss any spots, and you didn’t leave any tools lying around.  (It happens all the time.)
  2. Boat Drying Tools:
    1. Shammy Jammy
      • This must be slightly moist, but not dripping wet to work properly.
      • You’ll wipe wet surfaces with a shammy and the shammy absorbs the moisture.  You must then ring out the wetness from the shammy either over the side, into a drain, or into a bucket. Then, continue the shammy jammy.
      • You can use it on just about any surface except avoid using it on most windows, decks, and nonskid.
      • You will wipe the entire surface of the boat with a shammy to dry it, and you will ring it out 38,443 times in one day.  Great for your triceps, (and forearms but who cares about forearms?)
      • When ringing out the shammy over the side of the boat, make sure the (dirty) shammy water doesn’t land back on the boat.  Check the wind direction.
    2. Shammy Mop
      • This is even more shammy surface area that you attach to a pole.
      •  Just like a shammy it needs to be slightly damp to work properly, and also must be wrung out once it gets too wet.
      • It’s best used on any flat surface, hard to reach areas, nonskid, the deck, and also the outer sides of the boat.
      • When moving around with the pole be very careful not to knock it on anything.  You can easily ding up the boat with the metal parts of the pole.
    3. Window Squeegee
      • Most windows you’ll dry using a little squeegee, not a shammy.
      • Once again squeegee from top to bottom, in a side to side motion for wide windows.
      • For tall narrow windows it’s just an up and down motion.
      • If the window’s on the dryer side, you may need to rewet it with clean water before you squeegee.
      • Most windows squeegees are metal, and can easily ding up the boat when walking around.
    4. Deck/ Fiberglass Squeegee
      • Often times you can use a different kind of squeegee meant for fiberglass, ceilings, and the deck.
      • This is especially useful with the boat is really wet.  As a rule of thumb, don’t squeegee if it makes a rubbery squeaky sound.. We don’t want no squeaky squeegee! 🙂
    5. Bucket
      • Not everyone uses a bucket but I always prefer to carry one with me that I can wring out my wet shammy and shammy mops in, usually it’s easier than wringing it out over the side.

Wash Downs

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  • You can expect to wash the boat about once a week if you’re just chillin’ @ port.  You will also wash, or at least rinse it after any trip, especially if it gets salty!  Salt is extremely corrosive and bad for the exterior.
  • Wash downs on a 130 yacht typically can take from 5-8 hours with three deckies hustlin’.
  • Once again you may feel like the boat is perfectly clean but wash downs are very necessary.  Be prepared to get wet!
  1. Wash Down Tools
    1. Bucket
      • Fill w/ clean water, and a few drops of boat soap.
    2. Soap
    3. Hose
      • Always have the hose hooked up and ready to go.
    4. Soft Brush
      • For fiberglass or painted surfaces.
    5. Hard Brush
      • For decks and nonskid.
    6. Hand Jobby
      • Hand Mitten that you can use on fiberglass/ painted surfaces
    7. Pole Jobby
      • To attach the brushes to to reach hard to reach areas and the deck.
    8. Drying Gear
      •  All of the gear listed above^^.
  2. Wash Down Strategies
    1. Sections
      • These are usually the same sections as drying.
    2. Rinse/ Wash/ Rinse
      • Each section you will rinse with water to clear away dirt and debris.
      • Then you’ll wash it all with the boat soap and wash tools, hit every surface with it.
      • Thoroughly rinse off all of the soapiness. Aim all of the soapy water towards the drains that are located all over the boat.
      • Don’t let the soap dry before you rinse it, continue spraying sections with water if it looks like they are going to dry soon.
      • If you don’t rinse the soap off well enough, or you let the soap dry before you rinse it, there will be a hazy looking soapy residue all over the surface.
    3. Dry
      • Same technique as above^^.
  3. Additional Wash Down Tips
    1. Designate Jobs
      • As a deckie diva you will probably only be in charge of drying at first, until you prove that you can be trusted with hard, potentially damaging objects, such as poles and squeegees.
      • I like to designate who will be doing what (the rinser, the washer, the dryer,) and keep it that way so that you get a flow going.
    2. Keep Supplies Organized
      • Once you’re finished with one section, get all supplies out of there, don’t leave stuff laying around all over the boat.

 


Cushions & Covers

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There are a lot of outdoor cushions for the exterior decks.  The only times you actually bring the cushions outside is when the boat is expecting guests.  As soon as they leave you remove the cushions and stow them indoors.  However, when guests ARE onboard you leave them outside overnight.

As mentioned above, boats tend to get soaking wet overnight from dew.  Therefore we have to cover up the cushions every night with cushion covers.  You really want to stay on top of this, if you don’t cover up the cushions they get wet and they take a long time to dry, and they can get moldy.  The cushions can start getting damp as soon as the soon goes down.

Trying to figure out which cover goes on which cushion, and which cushion goes where,  can be a real mind bender for us divas, especially the first few times…Most of the time they will have labels to help you know which goes to which.  Otherwise you have to use the shapes, and the snap alignment to help you figure it out.  Be careful not to scratch the fiberglass with the metal snaps.  Good Luck!


 

Vacuuming

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You have two different kinds of vacuums on a boat, one that is strictly for the interior, and one that is mainly used for the exterior, and more grungy/dirty types of jobs.  Vacuuming on a yacht is a lot more complex than a typical house… There’s a lot more potential for screwing things up.

  1. “Shop Vac” (Vacuum)
    • This is a Heavy duty vacuum that you will use a lot on deck, in the engine room, and down in the bilges.
    • It’s a wet dry vacuum and can suck up liquids and larger debris.  You can suck up several gallons of liquids depending on the size of the bucket it’s attached to. (I know, amazing! I had never used a shop vac until yacht life…apparently they’re very common.)
    • Once the shop vac gets full of liquid, you have to dump it out before you can continue using it, thats probably your job.
    • Always place a towel under the shop vac especially when using it inside, because it may have grease or other nastiness on it somewhere since it’s used in dirty places.
    • Make sure the long hose attached to the shop vac isn’t full of water before you start walking around the boat with it.  It’ll spill out and you’ll make a mess.
    • Be careful that the shop vac doesn’t get knocked over while using it, that thing can get crazy sometimes and move around on it’s own, especially when full of liquid.
  2. Interior Vacuum
    • Although not as intense as the shop vac, you can still mess up a lot of things with a vacuum if you’re not careful.
    • Knocking the heavy vacuum against the soft mahogany walls is a sure fire way to cause lots of unsightly dents and dings really quickly.
    • Always use the soft brush attachment on wood, soft metals, and painted surfaces.
    • Even the electric plug can ding up the boat if it swings around while carrying the vacuum.

Wiping Surfaces

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In a typical day you may use like 20 different rags for 20 different things.  You’ll be wiping surfaces like its your job… cause it is.  To get the most out of your rag, I like to fold it in quarters.  Once one face gets dirty, you can move to another, just keep unfolding and folding, switching to a cleaner face of the rag.  DON’T use a dirty ass rag on a clean surface, that’s very counter productive.

Also, if you’re cleaning an area, and in that area is a really dirty section, and then a cleaner section, wipe down the clean part first so you’re rag stays clean longer.

I typically like to wipe in a circular motion.

I typically sprayed whatever cleaner I am using directly on the rag, rather than on the surface.  For example, if you want to spray windex on the window it may inadvertently end up all over the carpet, and over time will cause discoloration.  However, if you hold the rag close to the sprayer so that the cleaner doesn’t get sprayed all over the place, you can prevent that from happening.

Don’t mix rags and chemicals together, try to make sure you always use the same one on wood with the wood cleaner, a different one for the granite  with the granite cleaner, a different one for glass, with the glass cleaner.  Hopefully your boat has color coordinated rags.

Don’t leave a dirty rag sitting around on any nice surfaces, especially on fabrics.  This can stain and ruin them.

Get in the habit of using rags and towels to protect nice surfaces when you are working above or around them.  For example if you’re removing and reorganizing a locker that might have dirty items inside out on deck, always lay them on top of a towel, not directly on the deck or cover.  Same goes with polishing metal, always lay your work tools on top of a protective surface.


Heads, Beds, & Turn Downs

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This is something you’ll be learning very early on in your interior career as either a stewardess or deck/stew.  A major part of the job is to keep the inside of the boat in pristine condition.  The guests should never have to lay their eyes on an unmade bed, they should never see a single smudge on the mirror in their bathroom.  As soon as they wake up in the morning and leave their rooms you better go in there and make the room look like no one has ever stepped foot in it.

 Breakfast time is usually the perfect time to do “heads and beds.”  Most guests will be dining together, and as the newbie you will probably be sent down to tend to the guest cabins while the more experienced stew does the breakfast service.  Every stew usually has a system for how the heads and beds should be tended to, so learn that system as soon as possible, write it down, make a check list if you have to, because there’s usually a lot to remember.

Here is how I personally liked to tackle the heads and beds, although your boat may be different:

“Beds”

  1. Open the curtains
  2. Make the Bed
  3. Tidy up room
  4. Wipe Down Surfaces
  5. Vacuum

“Heads”

  1. Wipe Down Shower
  2. Replace used Towels
  3. Restock Toiletries
  4. Wipe Down Mirror
  5. Wipe All Surfaces
  6. Clean Toilet
  7. Clean Floor

Additional Tips

 

  1. I start with the bed, and then move on to the head.  You may get interrupted if a guest comes back into the room (in which case you should leave.)  And it looks more tidy if you have at least made the bed, even if you haven’t had a chance to start on the head.
  2. You will have different cleaning supplies for different surfaces, be careful not to mix chemicals/ mix up rags.  Using the wrong chemical on the wrong surface could ruin it and/or cause a lot of damage. My boat had color coordinated rags that went for each surface, (green = granite, orange = wood.)
  3. ALWAYS do a walk around to make sure you have done everything that needs to be done, and you haven’t left any cleaning supplies laying around, it’s very easy to do!

Turn Downs

Typically All of the guests will eat dinner together, either on or off the boat, and this is you opportunity to do “turn downs.”  A turn down is when you prepare their cabins for them to go to sleep.

 When you’re a baller, you have two different types of bedding, your “day covers,” and your “night covers.”  Day covers are fancy ornate covers that are used during the day but they’re really just for decoration, you don’t actually sleep on them.

 In the evening it’s your job to remove these day covers and prepare the bed for sleeping which is more practical and comfortable nighttime bedding. You’re boat will have a specific process for turndown, this is what we did on mine:

  1. Cover the portholes, and pull down the shades.
  2. Turn down the bed.
  3. Dim the lights.
  4. Place a water bottle + napkin by the bed.
  5. Tidy up the room.
  6.  Tidy up the head, same process as in the morning.

Arranging Pillows and Towels

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Here are a few tips for dealing with beds, cushions, and towels:

  • You never want tags to be visible, all sheets, pillows, and towels tend to have a tag somewhere.  There’s always a way to hide the tag so make sure you do that, whether you fold it differently or turn it so that it’s not visible.
  • Yachts tend to have mad pillows all over the place.  Each bed has like twenty, and every couch and piece of deck furniture has a plethora of them as well.  You always want them to look tidy, usually there is a specific way to arrange them.
  • All of these pillows tend to have a zipper and a tag as well, the zippers always go on the bottom when you set the pillow down.

Stocking Supplies

 

There are typically little fridges  and maybe even cabinets all over the boat in which guests can help themselves to refreshments and snacks.  You want to keep these fully stocked if possible, and you may have to check them multiple times a day.

 Whatever needs to be restocked, make a note of how many more you need.  For example- 2 cokes, 3 waters, 2 granola bars, etc.  Now you’ll have to go get backups to replace them with.  Often times these will be in some bilge that’s a pain in the ass to get to.

When restocking items, always have the labels visible.  Pull the freshies to the front, and put the newer (warmer) stuff in the back.


Summary:

So If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve enjoyed Yachtie Diva Training, and that you’ve found some of this information useful.  Just remember, I’m not claiming to be any kind of yacht crew expert, far from it in fact. I’m comin’ atcha as a fellow yachtie diva… Just one who has already been through everything we’ve talked about in this guide. I’ve made all of the mistakes you can possibly make, and I’ve tried my best to share them with you, so that hopefully you don’t have to.  My advice to you is that no matter how hopeless things may seem in the beginning- STICK WITH IT! I promise, if you really try your best things will get better, and they may even get spectacular.~


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HOLLA!!