Taking A Chance: A Yachting Newcomer's Story

interviews Nov 19, 2017

Interested in working as superyacht crew, but not sure if you’ve got what it takes?

Today, we’re talking with Stewardess Sarah Murphree, who shares her experience of breaking into the industry, her favorite destinations (so far), and what advice she’d share with aspiring yacht crew.

Sarah, thanks for talking with us here at FreshYacht. To start, can you tell our readers a bit about you and how you first heard about yacht jobs?

I grew up in South Africa, but am originally from Zimbabwe, and still have a lot of friends and family there.

I was working in Cape Town as a bartender and a waitress, but was ready for a shift. When I heard about yachting from a friend who was a stewardess, I decided to go for it. I’m really happy that I’d talked to my friend first, who inspired me to go into the interior. I don’t think a deck job would have been a good fit for me.

What challenges did you overcome to start your first job? What was the hardest thing about getting started?

Well, I was fortunate to be born with a U.S. passport because of my father, so I didn’t face the same difficulty as some to receive a visa to travel to the U.S. That was a huge benefit, and I know for my friend, getting her visa was a big challenge.

For me, the biggest challenge was saving up the money to support myself. I didn’t know how long I wouldn’t have a job. On top of that, the exchange rate was quite weak.

So, I worked for about 6 months to save money. I didn’t go out much with my mates, just put aside as much as I could.

This was tricky, because my friends didn’t understand what I was working for. They were excited for me, and supportive, but it was hard to explain to them my new goals. They often confuse yachting with working on cruise ships.

My family was encouraging, though, especially my sister. That’s one of the hardest things for me, being far away from my family. The time change and work hours make it hard to stay in touch, but I can contact them over breaks or weekends. We send text messages and videos over WhatsApp.


What was the biggest surprise to you after you started working?

Something I didn’t expect is the challenge of living and working in the same small space as your boss. It’s nothing personal, but the reality is in the small space, when you’re working together and then living in the same area, there is no escape for either of you. Having a positive attitude is the most important thing. I’ve also found that staying positive and managing this interaction also influences how your boss will react to you.

Your cabin may be small, but it’s important to take advantage of it for some alone time. Be sure to take advantage of this time to yourself. It’s important.


What do you like best about this career?

Definitely the networking! I love meeting new people, from full-time crew to day workers. It’s so fascinating to meet such different types of people and to see how unique people can be.

I don’t always keep in touch with people I meet, but if we run into each other, we will recognize each other and take the opportunity to catch back up. Yachting is just such a fast lifestyle, you are always meeting more people, and running into them at surprising times and places. It’s such fun.

What advice would you share with others looking to break into yachting?

I would tell them to just do it. Take the leap and get into it.

For so many people it seems scary and difficult, and even to me, it seemed impossible to just go to a different country, try to get a job, and expect to find one. But once you’re in the industry you realize how quickly it can happen.

Take steps to lay the foundation, like I did, with saving funds, but once you’ve got a bit saved up, take the chance. It’s worth it!

What’s one thing you wished you had done, or known, before you started your job?

I wish I had taken the time to take a course in massage therapy or as a yoga instructor. Either of these certifications would open up a lot of job opportunities and a lot of doors.

Having these types of training isn’t necessary, but if you have an interest in it, it would be worth pursuing especially if you aren’t yet ready to make the leap for other reasons.

You don’t have time to take these types of courses when you’re actually working on a yacht, so having it ahead of time is a huge plus.

Also, a bartender or barista job or training course is definitely a must-have. When you’re working on the yacht, you get thrown in the deep-end and asked to make drinks. If you’re not familiar, you’ll wonder if you’re making the right thing! Working as a bartender or barista is a great way to save some extra money and add a critical skill while you prepare for your yachting career.

What’s the most important thing you packed for life onboard?

I’ve been so happy to have handy all of my documents -- all my documentation from training courses and personal records. It’s  a bit tricky to travel with them, but having people mail them to you is a huge delay, and can cost you opportunities.

So, I keep all of my papers, certifications, and personal details all in a folder right by my bed. I always know where the folder is, and in case of an emergency, it’s the first thing I’d grab. Sometimes your boss or other authority will need these papers right away, and you don’t have time to go hunting or have them sent. It’s nice to have them all there, organized, and ready for you.

What’s your favorite destination so far?

Oh, I loved Canada!

I went to Halifax with some friends. It was probably the first time in awhile we had two days off, so my friends and I rented a car and drove two hours to a lodge in the middle of a forest.

We were surrounded by nothing except for nature, and we had a campfire. It was so perfect and definitely my favorite place. Canada is lovely, the people are friendly, and the country is so gorgeous.

Any parting thoughts you’d like to share with your FreshYacht community?

I’d tell them, other than diving in and going for it, to be sure you respect yourself and the industry.

It’s a bit easy to feel lost in the crowd and to get pulled into the lifestyle of parties, but it’s important to be true to yourself.  It’s a small community and people always talk, so respect yourself and your mates. That approach and attitude will take you far.

Thanks so much, Sarah! We’ve loved hearing about your adventures and wish you great things in your superyacht career. Thanks for being a FreshYacht Insider!




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