Working on yachts can be lonely. While being away from family and loved ones, crew are drawn to one another for comfort and support and, occasionally, that relationship becomes romantic.
While we’ve all heard tales about ill-fated crew romances – i.e. when the mate dates the chief stew…and then sleeps with the chef – not all crew relationships are drama-filled disasters – and some even end in matrimony.
A recent poll on Dockwalk.com asked about what it takes to make onboard relationships work.
The majority of crew in our poll said that they’ve been involved in at least one on board relationship – 48 percent answered one, 42 percent answered two to four and eight percent owned-up to six or more relationships.
Of those, 56 percent said their longest relationships lasted over a year.
So why do most crew relationships end? Crew were split between geography and growing apart – at 16 percent each – for the top reasons things fell apart. Other issues crew faced were infidelity and crew animosity at 11 percent and four percent. A deckhand on a 164-foot yacht said his first relationship ended due to geography. Both he and his girlfriend at the time left the boat they worked on for different boats. He’s currently involved in another onboard relationship that has lasted seven months.
Thirty-three percent of crew who answered the poll said that they were still in a relationship. So, how do they make it work? The deckhand said, “It’s important to spend time together, but not exclude the rest of your crew; be a couple, but not be all about just the two of you.”
Twenty-five percent of crew said good communication is the most important aspect of making onboard relationships work. The stewardess on a 32-meter motor yacht agreed. She has been with her boyfriend for two years and they’ve worked on two different boats together. “Communication and patience are the most important aspects of a relationship. I don’t think onboard relationships are difficult. It’s nice to have someone to lean on and feed off of, but working on a boat does get tough and keeping open communication and being patient with one another makes the difference.”
Thirty-eight percent of crew said that keeping your personal life and your work separate is the key to any onboard relationship. “Sometimes I have to speak to the crew as a captain and other times I have to speak to my wife as her husband,” said Capt. Josh of M/Y Avante, who has been married to the chef on board for five years. Twenty-two percent of crew polled married their crew sweetheart. Capt. Josh also agrees that good, open communication is important.
Open communication might be easier when the relationship is out in the open and not a secret to fellow crew. The deckhand of the 164-foot motor yacht said that his first relationship was a secret, but the one he is currently in is not. However, 49 percent of crew said that they have tried to keep their relationship a secret. The stew of the 32-meter yacht said, “[My boyfriend and I] were lucky. We were open from the beginning and we’ve had the opportunity to work with great captains, crewmates and owners who accept our relationship, but I know other people whose relationships haven’t worked out due other crewmates’ involvement.” The deckhand agrees, “I think it’s best to keep things in the open that way there is no suspicions and everyone can get over things quicker.”
So, do onboard relationships between crew really work? Fifty-one percent of respondents said yes. And M/Y Avante is a prime example: Capt. Josh and the chef are married, the engineer and chief stewardess have been together for 10 years and the mate and deck/stew are to be married on February 6, 2010.
Thirty-seven percent of crew responded, “It depends,” as their answer to the question whether crew relationships work, and the stewardess of the 32-meter yacht agreed. “I think it all depends on the people involved. Some just get lucky and can make it work.”