I cannot say working on boats was something I was born into. I’ve grown up around the water but building a career on it ? It wasn’t even a career I knew too much about to be honest.
In my second month backpacking around Australia I found myself running low on finances and in a magical part of the country called Airlie Beach in North Queensland.
That is where I discovered an amazing place I had never heard of before but that would soon become a home away from home for me for the next five years. A place which will always till this very day have a special place close to my heart. A place known as Hamilton Island, found in North Queensland and situated in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. For those of you who have never heard of this place or are contemplating going , I assure you it will change you… But that’s a whole other blog !!
I soon found work as a detailer with Sunsail – a bareboat charter company located on the island handling the operations and maintenance of around 50 vessels. Needless to say the life of a detailer was far from glamorous. My days consisted of rubber gloves, copious amount of chemicals, laundry services, toilet cleaning and garbage collecting. I also came to know what a bilge is and how horrendous of a task it was having to clean it.
Nevertheless I loved every minute of it, if it meant that our reward at the end of the day was taking out one of the boats for a standard twilight sail around a few of the 74 islands making up the Whitsundays. Every Wednesday the island had a twilight race in which various boats had to circumnavigate what was known as Henning Island and make it back for mandatory beer and bbq night in true ozzy fashion. This is where I started to fall in love with life at sea and the energy one gets with being out on the water.
That’s when I was asked to join Sunsail’s sailing school and completed my competent crew and watch keeping ticket. It was there and then that I knew this was more than a means to continue my travels in Oz, this was something I was truly passionate about,that I wanted to take seriously and that I knew I could progress in. I began helping out on the dock more, learning aspects of yacht care and rope work, as well as say the morning and evening ‘scheds’, touching base with any of our fleet which where out on charter.
Finally, after months of being a dock rat , I was asked to host a flotilla trip, for 5 boats around the Whitsundays. I was petrified. I had to organize an event itinerary for the 5 day trip, cook, and give tours while out on charter.
It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Sometimes getting thrown in the deep end and being afraid is what you need to show yourself what you are capable of, and from their – I was hooked.
The island means so much more to me then just a backpacking memory. It showed me my true passion. I was heading into a 9-5 office job after graduating and spending some time on this little rock made me took me out of my comfort zone, far enough to see the real me and what would make me the happiest in life.
I have to admit, yachting is a very particular industry to get into. You spend months away from your loved one. You are crammed into ridiculously tiny quarters, sharing bunks with crew who are strangers at first but who in turn end up feeling more like family. The hours are long but the pay is great and tips are paid in $100 bills. If settling down is what you are planning then this unstable environment won’t be for you. You never know where you will be in a day, month, year?
Forget planning your next birthday or going to a reunion because god knows what you will be up to… For a Gemini like me, it’s perfect. I get bored easily, i can’t sit still for too long and this world makes me feel like I am constantly growing and learning something new.Something that books won’t teach. Something that only the open ocean can give.
I get my moments, and in my next blog I will speak about my first experience on board a SuperYacht which brought me to my breaking point but which taught me to never give up. To put it bluntly, it takes balls working as salty sea dog but it is something i’ve grown to crave.