The yachting illusion: THE COMMENTARY

Dear Diary

It’s Sunday evening. I’ve just ridden 120kms on a bike. In 70km wind. And I feel like regurgitating old news. And riding a high horse.

Yours in writing

I was overwhelmed by the response to my article The Yachting Illusion. I posted it rather willy nilly at 2am on 4 March, 2014. In the days that followed, it was re-posted by an interested audience and very quickly reached 27,000 views from Antigua & Barbuda to Denmark and beyond.

More than the traffic — what really struck me was the time people took to respond and share their insights. I read them all. I remember being an internet troll once-upon-a-time and simply writing, “You’re a dick. Fullstop.” if I didn’t like what someone had to say. But in this instance, the comments were well-written, considered and showed quite simply how passionate yachties are about yachting. I so appreciated how we showed off our brainy side.

Luckily for me too, I worked as a radio presenter in my life before yachting and was quite able to suck up all the criticism and come out with a smile. Criticism — or “constructive feedback” as my old captain used to say — is what makes us better writers, better yachties, better people. I’d hate to be too sensitive to grow.

So where to from here?

I have received a few emails from people who’ve asked that I write permanently on the topic. But I can’t bare boxes. I love yachting but I also love cycling (not tonight), travel, Pilates, cooking, psychology, learning Swedish, property blah, blah, blah. The purpose of this blog is chameleonic and I hope to keep it as such.

Scroll through the commentary below and then let’s put a lid on this.

Thanks for all your support.


Thank you for your honesty. It’s refreshing to see someone tell the truth about our industry — Sue, Facebook

At last an article that is 100% true. — Graham, Facebook

A must read for those who those who think they know what yachting is all about. Bianca Meyjes writes honestly and explains the realities of getting into the industry. — Kate, Facebook

This is awesome and could not be truer! I lasted a med season and I’m out! You are so right in saying its a skill and one needs to be ‘ready’ for the industry. One particularly bad day inspired me to write this post, The Swedish African

Such a true reflection of what it is actually like! I also lasted a season and realised it wasn’t for me. The money and travelling(when you get time off) is amazing though! — Kim, The Swedish African

A yachtie friend turned me on to this blog post. I really appreciate the candid honesty and candor of your writing. I guess I was hoping that with the visualization of Below Deck that my friends and family would get a “real” view into what our career is really like. Fortunately, since the show has aired I have old boyfriends, friends, and family members come out of the wood work to apologize for resenting my job (they honestly thought we just screw about in bikinis and drink umbrella drinks all day). We all know this not to be the truth and I can say it till I’m blue in the face, but I just stopped wasting my breath explaining what we do and let them go on daydreaming (and simultaneously hating me) about what I’m up to all day while they sit in their cubicles. I feel like its easier for them to see us that way. I appreciate anyone who has the courage to speak against that and try yet again to “re inform” whoever you can reach about the realities of yachting. Thanks again for taking the time to write this. — Adrienne Gang, The Swedish African


I can show you pictures I am in and living the dream. Yes yacht life is hard but so are all jobs. I have done both what is considered normal and yachting and that’s just life, if you have to work. The kind of people who knock yachting life probably never fitted in and should not have come to the industry in the first place but they should not judge. In all jobs you get paid for the time you put in so, yachting is not that well paid in reality but you do get to see cool places and do cool things and mostly have fun with like minded people. Get over it do not spread negativity there is enough in the world. Also what is it that you do now and are you any happier?? — Evan, The Swedish African

“[W]e know no one wants our passport and we’re liked.” The problem with South Africans in this industry is not their passports but the fact they think everyone likes them and the world should bow at their feet. The exact opposite is a truer overgeneralisation to make. Yachting for 10yrs on real boats. — Angry Chef, The Swedish African


The problem is everyone going back to SA and only telling the “goodtimes”. Iv said that for years. Iv been doing this for 5 uears now and had to work unbeleivably hard to make it, bith at finding work and once onboard. Appart from one stint of living on credit cards and loans for about 8 months whilst looking for work after my first job. Everytime im in SA i get introduced to people, 18-35 , that are comming to look for their first jobs. I explain they are gambling, alot of people go each year with not even a day of daywork to show for it. R50k on red or black, get a job or dont get a job.
Yes if you get one it pays back quick, and hopefully you find it is what you want to do, but the regret i see some people having, spending all the money, quitting their jobs and carreers, only to get a job that they find out they dont even like, its a HUGE loss.
Unless people stop going home after one season letting their egos make people think they are “cooler” than they are, more and more will try to make it.
Im not trying to stop people comming amd trying, im just saying THINK about it, and be prepared to looseout, you wouldnt be the first to do so unfortunately. — Mial, The Swedish African

Thought I would comment from our industry point of view as it is the same in many ways. I call it the “ego” industry. Working on rock ‘n roll world tours, working on the “Games” or “Ceremonies” circuit all have the draw of travel, famous people and the high life and earning foreign currency. But the other side is the same as yachting…but so many less beautiful sunsets. It is hotels and and venue. You are working for clients who don’t always appreciate what you do, you are only crew after all. Late nights, early mornings. Plane rides become the only place you get real sleep, per diems are spent on trying to keep some normality in your life by getting out of a venue and not having crew catered dinners. Loads of people look at what I do and what get posted on Facebook, and don’t realise it comes at a price. Sometimes it costs one time with family and f you make it a career choice, it is hard to find another. Much like yachting, not for everyone, but if it bites and takes hold, it is very difficult to go back. And the off days can make it all worthwhile. — Kim, The Swedish African

[…] honestly the work is the easy part of being a seafarer. So what’s the tough part for me? Being away from my loved ones. Watching my 4 favorite nieces grow up from a distance. Saying goodbye to my fiancé for months at a time. And dealing with anti-social sometimes neurotic men also has its challenges. — Vic, The Swedish African