Top 3 low points of my time working on a yacht

Ben Proctor  |  30th December 2014


I always found this a difficult time being away from home and I believe most crew would agree with this. One Christmas especially stands out…

Christmas morning 2011, on a crossing from St Maarten to St Barts, half way across a call comes over the radio for someone from the deck crew to go to the bridge deck aft. Hoping it maybe a Christmas treat I rush up, only to be greeted with a large area of vomit over the yachts pristine teak decking.

I clean the deck, scrubbing and rinsing down, while the yacht gently lurches side to side, spreading what was already a sizeable area into an even larger area. Rinsing it down I feel a small sense of satisfaction as I feel I am nearing the end of this less than appealing task, only to notice in the scuppers (the drains around the side of the decks) that some of the larger chunks are too large to enter the deck drains. The plastic gloves go on, and I am down on my hands and knees clearing chunks of vomit from the drains… not one of the highest points in my life!


Missing my brother’s first child being born. I knew it was going to happen and I was delighted when it did, but it was difficult knowing I was not there for my first niece arriving home.

It was silly really looking back and having met her some 3 months later it was clear that she would not have had a clue who was around at the time of her birth. However it is one of those life moments you want to be there for your brother and to witness this incredible event. My sister in law reassured me that I was seeing her at her best time some 3 months later, which was of some comfort.

It was always one of the areas that I found hard to accept, putting the yacht, this extravagant object ahead of family and friends. This yacht controlling your time and what you are able to do.

I also missed a few close friends weddings because we had guests on-board and I was not permitted time off. It is one of the sacrifices that come with the job, I tried to learn to accept it, although it was difficult and for many crews it is often one of the things that pushes them away from this industry.

Hard work, no tips

Working flat out for three weeks to not receive a tip. This sounds very spoilt and ungrateful, and I nearly did not put this in here as there are many people that do incredible jobs that never get tipped that deserve this more than we as a crew ever did, however I wanted this to be honest and include it as it was a genuinely low point for all the crew.

For one reason or another we did not receive a tip, despite working the hardest and longest hours of any prior trip. It is awful to say but money does become a big part of life working on a yacht, and probably too big a part of your life, with some people putting money above life. But the money does ease the hard work, long hours and the sacrifices you make not seeing your family and friends, it becomes that carrot at the end of a stick that compensates for the less appealing elements of the work e.g. cleaning up vomit as mentioned above!

These three weeks were hard work and to make matters worse it was over Christmas and New Year, a time when all of us wanted to be at home with loved ones. In reality we had been anticipating something in the region of £4000-5000 but it never materialised.

The lack of guest tip had a really bad effect on crew moral and relationships on-board, and people started blaming others for not getting the tip. I hate saying this was one of the low points on-board, especially when you see the more significant problems in the world today and people doing far more worthy jobs without any financial incentives. Maybe it just shows what a focus money had become to me and the crew.

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