SO YOU THINK IT’S TIME TO HANG UP THOSE EPAULETTES AND MOVE ASHORE? WHERE ON EARTH SHOULD YOU START? AND…. HOW? WHERE? SO MANY QUESTIONS…
The lifestyle and salary of yachting can be incredibly difficult to get out of once you’re ensconced in it but there usually comes a time for everyone when enough is enough and you need space to develop and grow in an area bigger than a shoebox. Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be nice to have a wardrobe with more than just a few outfits and pairs of shoes in? And not have to stuff it all in bilges? And a double bed? Oh the luxury…So firstly you have to consider the financial bits, i.e. the important stuff. Most crew who have moved ashore will tell you to knock your yachting habits on the head immediately, such as ordering the jereboams of rosé and not thinking twice about treating yourself to that Prada handbag or Tag watch because it’s been a tough week. Your outgoings are suddenly going to escalate versus your income and putting pen to paper is an excellent idea for a reality check. You’ve probably not paid rent for years, let alone bills for water, electricity, gas, or internet. Then there’s the car costs, travel costs, toiletries, groceries and cleaning stuff for your own house. Oh and don’t forget tax…
Have a look at where you want to live and how much that’s going to cost you. Then look at the land based salaries. And prepare to be a bit shocked. In Spain, for example, did you know the average office salary is 800euros (net) take home per month? In Mallorca, thanks to the luxury yachting sector, it’s 1200-1500. In France it’s 1500-2000euros.
Bit of a difference isn’t it? But be prepared for the worst, budget for low and then you will be ready. Hopefully if you’ve been in yachting enough years to feel a bit over it, then you’ll have been squirrelling away your earnings and saving hard. Perhaps you’ve been one of the smart ones and invested in a property. If you have a mortgage, you need to make sure you can afford to keep paying it if you move ashore, something that stings a lot of yacht crew.
We see many high earning couples buy a big house in the South of France with the pool and the stables and what not, only to realise when one wants to move ashore (often the woman to have kids) they simply cannot afford the mortgage with only one salary. The golden handcuffs strike again. Worth considering this before you max yourselves out on your chief stew and mate salaries and think about the future. And long term do you want to raise a family where dad is never home because he can’t afford a day off? It works for some but the stresses of being apart when you’ve always lived and worked together take their toll, especially on family life.
So if you want to be smart, before you quit and decide life ashore is for you, make a plan. Ask people in the industry for advice and see how they did it. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, and really what skills you can bring to a job ashore from your current role. What is it you want to do? Or rather, what is it you think you want to do? If you want to find out don’t be afraid to talk to industry professionals who are in the role for their thoughts and honest opinions.
Perhaps you’ll need to do some more courses or some online learning to get where you need to go so budget and plan that for your next time off or during low season. Perhaps you could shadow someone and spend a day with them to see what really happens in that office or in that marina, or in the rigging shop or the chandlery. Or in the restaurant, if you’re going off on a tangent, who says you want to stay around yachts!
Take Mesa Sostenible for example, an initiative currently setting up in Nicaragua which aims to empower rural families to achieve a healthier future through hands on education. The brainchild and project of ex yacht crew Cade Pia (Chief Officer) and Ron Combs (Chef), they used their personal savings to reach the initial milestones of securing land in a local community and are now seeking support via Indie Gogo. To see what they are up to, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/nicaragua-s-sustainable-farm-nutrition-kitchen-community-health#/
APART FROM THE FINANCIAL AND THE PRACTICAL STUFF, IT’S IMPORTANT YOU FIND YOURSELF A NEW NETWORK. BEING USED TO HAVING A ‘BOAT FAMILY’ AROUND YOU ALL THE TIME MAKES CUTTING THAT CORD CHALLENGING
There are lots of opportunities for ex crew, it’s just finding the right niche for your skills and personality. And if you can’t find one then make it happen yourself, Like Leycester Cory, an ex Purser has in Perth, Australia. On leaving yachting, Leycester and his business partner realised that men had pretty much no options when it came to grooming in Australia. So together they have passionately pioneered and led the male grooming industry since 2008 creating a unique and now multi award winning concept which continues to develop and grow. www.guysgrooming.com.au
Or Janine Allis, another Aussie entrepreneur who, after being a stew for a couple of years returned home to try various vocations, from being a publicist for a movie company, touring with comedians and even publishing. She realised she didn’t want to work for herself and launched Boost Juice Bars in 2000. Heard of them? Thought so!
It seems that one characteristic that runs through all yachties is the ability to take risks and naturally these traits are run deep in the successful entrepreneurs who build a successful business after yachting. Patrick Maflin, Director of Marine Accounts, took a similar decision following 14 years of yachting. During his years through positions on various yachts as engineer, captain and Race manager at the Volvo Ocean Race, he noticed how little resources there were for crew to sort out their financial situations onshore whilst working offshore. The decision to set up Marine Accounts came from a desire to provide crew with straightforward advice and solutions to what can seem like an overwhelming topic. Without his time at sea, it would have been far more difficult to gain the insights that have enabled him to build up a successful business.
Apart from the financial and the practical stuff, it’s important you find yourself a new network. Being used to having a ‘boat family’ around you all the time makes cutting that cord challenging. Not being able to sit at a crew mess table with a bunch of other like minded souls to talk about your day and have some banter can make some feel pretty lonely. So make sure if you’re the type that needs contact, you have friends and/or family nearby for help and support. It’s a big change and your life will never be the same again.
If you feel you need professional guidance there are a number of coaches out there who specifically help yacht crew find their way back to land so don’t be afraid to seek assistance.
Most people who have successfully made the move ashore will tell you if you’re focused and you want it, you can achieve it. So, get organised, save up, and make a plan. You got this!