YACHTING introduces you to all sides of the people spectrum: the interesting, the weird, the funny, the untrustworthy and the absolute dick heads. Chances are you’ll meet them all. In “Ten Questions”, I feature the more wonderful characters who have a story or two to share.
Meet Brie. In fact, it’s difficult not to meet Brie — she’s infectious and full of life. Chances are, she’ll introduce herself before you do. And she’ll see the very best in you from the moment she meets you.
She’s just turned 40 — which says nothing given how much she’s done with her life. She’s been in hospitality since 16 and on the road since she was 18. “I’ve worked in restaurants, bars and set up a restaurant in the Philippines in 2001,” says the tall, Dutch yachtie.
Brie came yachting in 2002 and climbed the ranks to chief stewardess within a year. She quit yachting in 2007 because of malignant ovarian cancer. In her words, “I beat that!” and in 2008, she became a cafe manager back home in the Netherlands.
In 2011, Brie went to the prestigious International Butler Academy where she earned a Merit Degree and became second of 14 students from all over the world. She was asked back by her previous yacht owner and has remained with him to this day.
1) Tell us three things about you that make you interesting.
I guess the extensive traveling I’ve done since I was 18 years old: from Europe to Africa, from Asia to the Pacific. I know a lot of people have travelled extensively but it’s more the help I’ve offered to people (and animals) that I came across during [my travels]. I got back a lot of love, appreciation and happiness for it.
According to my closest friends I have a ” thing ” in approaching people that makes them instantly comfortable with me, no matter what culture or background they have. A hand on someone’s shoulder, a simple touch and a smile, and it always seems to work.
A third interesting thing about myself? You tell me…
2) What do you love about being a yachtie?
We all love the travelling, but to me it’s the way you travel. Approaching countries by sea is totally different than ‘just flying in’. It’s a different kind of beauty every country has to offer: different smells of trees and flowers, foods and the ever-presence of the salty sea air as you slowly approach land. To me that’s magical…! The privilege to be able to experience that is not to be underestimated. And of course the meeting of many new and colourful people in this industry is a feast on its own!!
3) How has yachting changed you as a person?
In a good way, I’ve learned to be even more understanding of people. Sharing such a small space (in my case with seven other crew), you’ve got to be more patient and have love for people in general. I’ve always had a very open personality but this was a total different ball game. In a bad way… I’ve become a bit of a workaholic and I’ve never in my life had a worse sleeping pattern since I came yachting.
4) Tell us about the worst job you’ve had to do on a boat?
I think a lot of stews have gone through this: cleaning up vomit from guests after a rough sea. Worst situation for me personally though: I had to serve a three-course meal in a rough sea during my first season. I vomited in-between serving courses and nearly got dehydrated. Afraid to lose my job, I pushed through, and here I am still, 12 years later! Haha!
We all love the travelling, but to me it’s the way you travel. Approaching countries by sea is totally different than ‘just flying in’
5) What’s the best thing you’ve learned from someone you’ve worked with?
The day you stop loving your job, hand in your resignation!!
6) Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met on your journey and why?
My boss. A man who started from scratch and succeeded in building up his well-running business. So rich, yet stayed so normal, and so thankful and friendly. I admire that tremendously. He told me to always stay with two feet on the ground no matter what happens. I think a lot of ‘richies’ can learn something of this man! I’m happy to work for a person like this!
7) What’s on your bucket list of things you still want to do?
LOTS!!! (And mischief!!) Still want to visit so many beautiful countries such as Japan, New Zealand, Tasmania, Nepal, just to name a few. Eventually buy my own old farm/house in Ireland and start my own guest house and become a land rat again!
8) What do you get up to when you’re not yachting?
I usually go home to see my family, friends and pets. It relaxes me and I so enjoy not being on a boat sometimes. Other than that, if it’s just a weekend off, we all go for a nice day out. France has so much to offer and Italy is just a drive away. Naturally the day ends with a cold beer in the Blue Lady Pub or my local: Rio’s Banana Bar!
Now I see there’s so much competition, bragging about salaries and a lot more unfriendliness amongst each other.
9) What would you be doing if you left the yachting industry?
Kinda said it already: start my own guest house in Ireland. I fell in love with this magical and beautiful country and its people many years ago. It’s always in my mind and I miss it all the time! Will try and achieve that ASAP….!
10) How has the industry changed since you started?
Quite a bit but I’ll keep this short. All the crews were way more like a family in the past… Now I see there’s so much competition, bragging about salaries and a lot more unfriendliness amongst each other. Just be happy with your job, have fun whenever you can and be grateful for what yachting has to offer.
Hear! Hear! Brie.