After an exciting 20 years aboard yachts as captain and chef/mate, Cynthia Zvanut Hovey and her husband Winston A. Hovey decided to put all that experience and knowledge into book form.
Capt. Winston and Chef/Mate Cynthia spent the last six years on M/Y New Atlantic, before their boss put her up for sale. “We decided not to look for another yachting position at this time and are traveling the country in an RV — it’s only seventeen feet long, about the same size as our crew quarters! We named her ‘Yacht Enough,’” says Cynthia.
“There’s a Yacht More to Life is the true story of us,” says Cynthia, “a baby-boomer couple who chucked our San Diego corporate lifestyle, then slowly morphed from living in a palm frond hut on a tiny Caribbean island into running multi-million-dollar mega yachts.”
Not only is the married couple former crew, but they worked together for a majority of their yachting careers. “We started fulltime as a couple — captain and chef/mate/stew — in 1998 on a fifty-foot charter monohull, then graduated to a charter catamaran, both in the BVI,” Cynthia says. “After proving we could live and work together twenty-four/seven within fifty feet of each other with strangers on board without killing each other or getting divorced, we decided to move to motor yachts and go seriously professional.”
To set themselves apart from other crew couples, the Hoveys attained dual USCG captain licenses. They then went to Fort Lauderdale, networked, and asked lots of advice from major gurus in the yacht broker business. “Brokers and crew placement agencies had great input, but we actually got our first job through our crew house,” she says. From there, they transitioned from a sailboat to a 75-foot motor yacht but would later make the decision to focus on yachts that were 80 to 100 feet, so they could run the yacht themselves without having to manage additional crew.
“Our niche comes with a price though,” Cynthia says. “The two of us handle every job on the yacht, from driving, delivering, maintaining, and repairing the yacht to scheduling, provisioning, menu planning and preparation, serving, and even table décor, and after dinner drinks!” Additionally, they entertain the guests via snorkeling, diving, beachcombing, shopping, hiking, and more. “Heads and beds, too, of course, as well as the occasional emergency. Winston and I are both chefs and he’s the grill master extraordinaire. There are no pink or blue jobs for us, and there’s no room for moody blues either,” she says. For them, flexibility is the rule. “Running a yacht with only two crew is lot of work, but the rewards make it worth it to us.”
The book, which the couple says took four years to write, is now on sale on Amazon. Leading up to this moment was plenty of back and forth on what kind of book it would be. After a year of outlining in their spare time while working on New Atlantic, they finally had to decide on the story angle.
“What exactly did we want to say? Did we want to teach something? Would it be a ‘how-to’ book? Or one directed at telling people the joys of chartering a yacht?” Cynthia says. Though they came to a standstill for several months, they finally turned it into an autobiography — as encouraged by a fellow author, who told them “just start at the beginning” when they didn’t know where to start.
As for what prompted them to write the book, one of the inspirations was when a 10-year-old charter guest looked up at them one day and said, “Wow! You guys get to go on everyone’s vacation all the time!” — “It was the first time we thought about that,” Cynthia says.
Their best advice is to “picture your dream — whether it be a job or a lifestyle or writing a book or moving to a family compound — and then be eagle-eyed for the opportunities to make it happen. For us, opportunities cropped up in the least expected places. Recognize the opportunities and then act on them! The guts to take the first step will be rewarded with adventures untold, maybe some good, some bad, but all new and challenging. And great examples for your loved ones,” she says. “A couple of other thoughts to help get you there: Lower your expectations (no matter what your dreams) and be as flexible as a palm tree.”
Get your own copy — in soft cover or in e-book form — from Amazon: “There’s a Yacht More to Life: Loving, Working, and Playing in Paradise.” www.wincynbook.com