First 24 Hours on a Yacht (Part 3)

Ben Proctor  |  3rd March 2015

(Read the first and second part of this article)

Cleaning a Superyacht

Being a normal male, cleaning to an A1 standard did not come naturally, but as I was to learn quickly, this had to change. Prior to my time on a yacht I envisaged a wash down would be easy, like washing a car with a quick sponge and rinse. Not so! I was taught the process by the lead deck hand and informed that the yacht has to first be rinsed with fresh water to remove the salt or dirt as washing without doing so will scratch the paintwork. Next it has to be washed with a brush and mitten everywhere including doorways, the deckhands (the ceilings on the outside decks) and even the gutters that drain the water. The soapy water then has to be rinsed off before the water has time to dry otherwise it will leave unacceptable marks (no mean feat in temperatures of 28 degrees+).

Then finally (despite being in glorious sunshine!) the whole yacht has to be dried (with a shammy) in stages to prevent water marks being left on the stainless steel or paintwork when the water evaporates. I am told this process will take two to three days to complete and am dutifully given a mitten and told to start at on the sun deck. I clarify where this sun deck is and negotiate my way up two flights of stairs to the top deck.

I soon note the simple process of washing down a yacht may not be quite as simple as I first hoped. I find I am continually making mistakes. For example I started drying the stainless steel before the deckhand, use a mitten to wash the side instead of a brush, left things on the deck that could mark the teak and wrung the shammy too much before storing it. All these basic mistakes proved to me that even with A Levels and a degree, there is only really one way to learn work on a yacht - and that is by practice and experience. The reality of what this work entailed was rapidly sinking in and my illusions of driving tenders and jet skis for the rich and famous were rapidly fading.

The crew where lovely but seemed to have missed the part of their training called ‘positive feedback’, and I was bombarded with negative comments about how I need to do this and not do that. I found this time hard, having come from a profession where I was advising people and being asked for my advice on things. I was continually making simple mistakes just washing an ornate object. It was a steep learning curve and I guess I was just not used to being told what to do anymore, this had to change as I had much to learn.

This washing down routine was welcomingly interrupted by break times, at mid-morning, lunch time and mid-afternoon. At lunch time an incredible host of dishes and salads were laid out by the on-board chefs, which proved a real highlight from the day’s work. Also raiding the sweet and chocolate cupboard was a highlight of the day, without doubt more than replacing any burnt calories for the day’s activity.
The whole day was spent washing the yacht. It proved a good work out and having come from an office based job I was loving the physical exertion, however the mundane nature of the work and the regular mistakes I was making was taking its toll and I finished the day with some serious question marks as to if I had made the right career move.

After clearing away all the deck cleaning equipment, I returned to the crew area to tuck into another delicious meal. Afterwards I opted for a run around Genoa as I felt it important to spend at least a small part of the day off the yacht and I relished the few minutes of personal space whilst exploring the city. I returned from my run, showered and then relaxed in the crew mess whilst watching some trashy reality television program. The effects of the fresh air and physical work made my eyes feel heavy and my body feel nicely achy and I decided to head to bed early, for what I knew was going to be a sound night’s sleep.


For more information read Work on a Super Yacht: The Beginners Guide by Ben Proctor