You think this only happens in the movies? Wrong!! We met the crew of one of these super yachts in Lipari last week, and were delighted to learn that both the captain and the chief stewardess on board the 45 m "Bliss" were South Africans.
Riaan Woest, the captain, has been working on yachts for the past 15 years and before that he was a fisherman in Jeffreys Bay. He describes his job as managing a corporate business rather than just sailing a yacht. He is responsible for the running of the yacht; everything from crew, to maintenance to bookings to organising everything the client could possibly wish for. "We never say no. For us everything is possible. Money can buy anything."
Charmaine Botha is the chief stewardess and hails from Empangeni. With a background in the hospitality industry, she is in her element running the interior arrangements of the yacht. She is responsible for all purchases relating to the comfort of the guests. And believe me, everything is laid on. From designer suntan products to fresh orchids in the cabins. From stocking up on Voss spring water from Norway to making sure the Ralph Lauren glasses are sparkling. Keeping the plush interior which is covered in mirrors, silk and velvet in pristine condition is the job of a dedicated crew.
The crew are employed full time, but both Riaan and Charmaine warn that it is not a life of luxury. 18 hour work days are common and only certain South African qualifications, (STCW95) are recognised.