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joe's Blog

The so called Normal LIfe

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It has occurred to me that four years has flown by so fast while playing and indulging deep within the amazing spectacle that is the mega yacht industry. From our constant exposure to our favorite destinations, foreign cultures and sometime sleep deprived lifestyle brews a wake up call harder than an all night anchor watch in 40 knots in the middle of the Greek Islands. Surprisingly this other life style has a name “normal life” and after four months of this I have never more felt like a fish out of water. Even from the small things like the purchase and use of a cell phone to trying to fast track relationships the way I have to become accustom to, it has hit me harder than a golf ball from the club face of the owner of motor yacht “Privacy” on a par 5 hole at the masters. Never has my desire to be back on my one hundred and twenty foot floating caccoon been so intense.

Over the past few months with in land based society, due to a number of instances I have been second guessing myself over the strangest of situations and for some one who travels the world so often that I feel extremely out of my depth. There is no wonder so many crew members who have spent a number of years aboard different vessels, find it so hard to fit back into the “normal life” that with in a few months they have unsuccessfully established them selves with new employment and rekindling there circle of friends and family, they book a ticket right back to where it all began.

Basically in a nut shell life goes on and things change but in retrospect I think our lives on the sea although they seem slow at times, actually move faster and more freely than the land dwellers.

With this in mind I would like to ask the yachting community what are there thoughts on this subject and ask this question “ Although yachting is a huge sacrifice, is it really as hard as normal life on terra firma ?“


Wow, lots to say to this. I consider myself somewhat of an expert on making the transition from yachting to land-based living as I have made the transition multiple times in my 12+ years in yachting. I would get stressed out by life on board and decide to get a “normal” job and settle down. I would try that for a while and encounter many of the issues you brought up in your blog...the relationship comment brought a smile to my face as it took me a while to figure out that my norm of intense and passionate relationships that get started in an evening and may not last longer than a few days or weeks was by no means “normal”.
I recently made the choice to again head back to land but I’m doing it differently this time. I’m not trying to have a “normal” life. By virtue of the experiences I’ve had and the lifestyle I’ve lived through yachting I have finally accepted that I will never be “normal”. It’s too late for that ;) What I am doing this time is I have found a career that lights me up and is worth making the transition for. I’m not just looking for “a job” to pay the bills. I have been studying for over a year and am setting myself up for success by planning ahead and choosing the place that I settle in carefully. I am not heading back to where I grew up just because that is where some of my friends and family are. I found a place that I want to live that includes a community of international people with similar life experiences to my own. I know how lonely I get when the only social interaction I have is with people that have rarely if ever traveled outside of their home country or done anything more exciting than breaking the speed limit.
There is so much involved in land-based life that we take for granted on a yacht. While the work can be stressful and demanding, life is essentially simple on board. We all have our job descriptions and duties and we rarely have to handle the whole spectrum of life by ourselves. When living land-based I found out that I had to do the cleaning (stew), the shopping and the cooking (chef), the administration and logistics(captain), deal with my car and toys (deck), and hold down a job on top of it all! What a shock to the system :) It takes time to adjust, months in fact. It is tempting to get frustrated in the first few months and just head back to boats because it’s easy.
But as I mentioned above, I have found a career that lights me up and is worth the challenge of it all. While the cocoon of the yachting lifestyle is safe and comfortable, it is also limiting. One can only grow so far in a tight space, and then growth stops and we feel cramped and uncomfortable. It may be challenging to shift to land, and we’ll never be normal, but it is oh so worth it :)
Posted by: Rachel at 08/03/2011 18:04


Well said Rachel.
I too am looking for my spot on land that offers the international community. Any ideas?
Posted by: Julie at 08/03/2011 18:28


Hi there Joe,
I totaly agree with you here and it's even worse for my husband whom I think will never get used to "the normal life". We've done this for a few years together and are currently land based but if we both had the oppertunity to go back together we'd jump on it straight away. Especailly my husband would be jumping for joy to be back on the water but these days it's so hard to find a job again. So yes, life will never be the same once you've been in the yachting business. It's superhard work but so well worth it!!
Ingrid
Posted by: Ingrid Doorn at 08/03/2011 18:29


hahaha if you are over the yachting way of life, im sure you could have the potential to write a book, so many clever puns in that paragraph!
Posted by: nick at 08/03/2011 19:08


Wow, that sums it up Joe. I have decided to go "land based" recently after 11 years in the yachting industry. This is the first time I am trying and hopefully the last. You are so right when you say you feel out of your depth sometime. Everybody seems so grown up with all their responsibilities. I feel like my life was put on pause and now I'm back again, but everyone has moved on and I still feel the same way I did 11 years ago.
Everyone says its hard the first year, but well worth it. I agree totally with finding a job that you enjoy not just to pay the bills.
Its good to know there are other ex-yachties out there feeling the same way as I do.
Good luck to you all!
Posted by: Mish at 08/03/2011 19:15


I'm a ticketed plumber at home in Canada and have tried numerous times over the last decade to work a normal job but after 3-4 times of leaving when someone offers a skippers job I've given up on moving back...I have however recently bought a home and a condo which my wife and I now lease out...the idea is when we're ready to leave for good and "not" have to work it'll be there for us...
Posted by: Adrian at 08/03/2011 19:20


Obviously this kind of re adaptation is very hard for a yachtie who is not an engineer.
Which in that case is exactly all the way around.
Yachties have it that easy that their completely irresponsible lives turns around getting drunk on a regular basis. Spending the easy money they make, and washing the boat over and over.
Yes, there is something out there called the normal life.
If you want one, get to work for real and get a life!!!
Posted by: Al-x at 08/03/2011 19:43


Except for the engineer's comments I agree with everyone's sentiments! I would not recommend anyone's first job to be a sea-based one--- first live on land and then move to sea-and you'll appreciate all the benefits all the more- tax exemptions, free rent,incredible food, huge tips and adventure, instantaneous friends etc...My first yachtie job at 21 was so superb- that I should never had let it go BUT I was too young and immature to realise that what I had was a great deal! And I never found it again!
Posted by: Amy at 08/03/2011 20:09


My experience... you need a break from everything, i have been in the yachting(marine)bussines since 1989. And every time i come back!!. some time's as crew. some times as a contractor, some times as what is on offer. Its a different life don't regret it ENJOY IT.
Posted by: lee menday at 08/03/2011 20:10


Julie, I'm moving to Sag Harbor. I met a great group of people from all different backgrounds and I can find pretty much everything I'm into in the local vicinity. It's not too far from NYC yet it's a small, quiet town in the off-season.
Posted by: Rachel at 08/03/2011 20:40


Freelance!
Posted by: Reggie at 08/03/2011 21:09


I love being land based. I was in the yachting industry for 4 years and recently moved on land after having a baby. It is more important for me to be able to come home to my wife and child at the end of the day. No matter what anyone says "normal life" it is very different. I do miss being on the water. I do miss the money, I don't know of any other industry where you can make so much money in such a short period of time as in yachting. I do miss the travel.

I dont miss sharing a shoebox with 9 other people 24/7. I don't miss the non stop booze, drugs and recklessness. I don't miss some of the mindless labour all day long, and being taken advantage of by owners.

To paraphrase an earlier comment, I'll take what I have learnt from my yachting days and use it in the next course of my life. Right now that is using my business degree in the corporate world to gain a different kind of life experience and one day run my own gig (not sure what yet).

Yachting was fun and maybe I'll do some freelance work in the future, as long as I can go home at the end of the day.
Posted by: Henry Streeter at 08/03/2011 21:37


I love being land based. I was in the yachting industry for 4 years and recently moved on land after having a baby. It is more important for me to be able to come home to my wife and child at the end of the day. No matter what anyone says "normal life" it is very different. I do miss being on the water. I do miss the money, I don't know of any other industry where you can make so much money in such a short period of time as in yachting. I do miss the travel.

I dont miss sharing a shoebox with 9 other people 24/7. I don't miss the non stop booze, drugs and recklessness. I don't miss some of the mindless labour all day long, and being taken advantage of by owners.

To paraphrase an earlier comment, I'll take what I have learnt from my yachting days and use it in the next course of my life. Right now that is using my business degree in the corporate world to gain a different kind of life experience and one day run my own gig (not sure what yet).

Yachting was fun and maybe I'll do some freelance work in the future, as long as I can go home at the end of the day.
Posted by: Henry Streeter at 08/03/2011 23:38


My wife and I quit our dream job running a 100 ft classic fantail to come home and care for elderly parents. Now I live with my mommy and she with hers, oh God just shoot me! Only saving grace is we still have our beloved 41ft seawolf ketch that is our sanctuary, can't wait to get back to work when parent are gone (is that bad?) Anyways thanks for letting me know I'm not alone.
Posted by: captain Paul at 09/03/2011 01:44


What ever! It 's just another job. Quit crying
Posted by: joe at 09/03/2011 03:21


Commenting on your post and agreeing with others, if you are fed up with yachting all together you can write some books, you seem pretty good at that.
And for the comments concerning engineers, I am one but do not see myself as someone who is above others who I share my space onboard with.

Doing this for 10+ years and seen all the different aspects of yachting I can honestly say that whatever you want out of it, it is there, there is a boat for everyone. You want to 24/7 charters, drug, drink lifestyle? The small 120 foot plastic fantastic, multi-role? The single season boat that sits in port the whole winter so you can go home every night?
It's out there but you need to know what you want and be able to compromise as such.
Obviousl it helps if you have held a "normal" life prior to joining the yachting industry because then you have a benchmark with regards to the "normal" life issues like day to day items that keep everything running smoothly.

Personally I am currently living ashore working as a chief engineer on a single season boat which allows me to go home in the evenings, weekends and enjoy life with my wife and dog. We travels in the summer for a couple of months and she knows it and accepts it. Yes, I compromise, I pay taxes, have a mortgage, don't have a huge salary(enough though) but in return I have a life, get to play the tax system to my benefit and still have a job I love.

And that is what you will need to understand if you want to make like in any industry....

YACHTING IS A JOB, NOT A LIFESTYLE..

Cheerz
Posted by: Remco at 09/03/2011 10:15


It is very difficult, and I made the jump back after 10 years on yachts, but it can be done and even though I still miss it a lot, with the will power and focus, you can do it!!! Good luck to those who are contemplating moving back to land!
Posted by: Isobel Odendaal at 09/03/2011 15:57


I think Yachting is a live style! In total I was 14 years in the industry. After my first 5 years I tried to live ashore. I had a job, but I thought how boring. Nothing happens. Lucky me. I left and I found a job on a yacht and we did a 4 years circumnavigation. Wonderful. Then I tried again living a shore. I even made it for 1 year. Then I "failed" again and moved back to a yacht.
This happened in total 4 times. Now I will leave yachting for good with very good memories.

I do understand everybody, who was a long time (over 5 years) working on yachts, that one has difficulties to move back on land.

Good luck to everyone, who ties.
Posted by: Eva at 09/03/2011 16:00


DONT DO IT!!! TAX TAX TAX is the main reason for NOT going back
Posted by: scottsoflangholm.com at 10/03/2011 17:34


Normal is just a setting on your dryer!!!
A xoxoxo
Posted by: Alison Rese at 11/03/2011 10:04


They each have their own rewards. Being a chef it was easy to get in the industry back in the good ole days of 1994. It's 2011 and i have been fortunate to work adhoc through contacts but I find it hard to be home! wife, children, bills, council tax, fuel tax, income tax.......and on!
The freinds aren't there because I was away for so long and they now have their own circle, I do feel like a nomad even in my own city, I actually question WHO KNOWS ME HERE? no violins please! But you do have to be prepared to fight 'the dark side' when re entering the 'atmosphere' Having said that I am seeking a yacht for the comming season!!!!!!!!
Posted by: lee marshall at 11/03/2011 10:54


Well its so good to see ALOT of future and ex yachtie's having a say on this topic. I am glad to see that there is support and also both positive and negative thoughts on this topics. To add to a few responses, yes I am actually in the process of writing a book which I hope will be at least interesting and fun which I believe sums up yachting in two words. :)
Posted by: joe at 11/03/2011 12:01


Great to see so many people in the same boat.
I have left the yachting industry once before and thought "what am I doing" However I can honestly say that it wasnt my time to get out. It is a great experience in every aspect, however the sacrifices weigh up with the benifits.
I have been out of yachting for over a year now (second time around). It is the initial year that is the hardest. Looking back on the time of year and what that relates to... Soggy dollar sundays, Fat turtle arvos or 11Euro for a beer :z
If you pick your time and set yourself up it is a whole lot more rewarding. Dont get me wrong I miss the yachting life so much at times. Although the bills you pay on having your own 4x4 worked the way you want it, Surfboards on the roof and speargear in the back, or the house that your paying off that you sit back on the deck having beers and BBQ gives that self satisfaction.
So now the year mile stone is over and everything is established on land. It is easy.
I still look for that elusive boat that wont have the crew politics and an owner that shares your own interests. if it does come up, I know that I will have what I have back on land from taking the time to set it up. You have to go through it at some stage. So now that the second property is about to rent sooner or later that will be cash flow and when the surf rolls in, instead of having to sit back and watch it on laptop mid charter, I can be the one sending the pictures out to those staying up on the charter late watch.
Every yacht is different. If you have a good one, make the most of it, as the politics of maybe the boat your on next will be your driving point to find freedom on land.
Posted by: ridgy at 13/03/2011 10:44


Camus said it best:
"J’ai grandi dans la mer et la pauvreté m’a été fabuleuse, puis j’ai perdu la mer, tous les luxes alors m’ont paru gris, la misère intolérable. Depuis, j’attends. J’attends les navires du retour, la maison des eaux, le jour limpide."
Albert Camus. La Mer au Plus Près
Posted by: Tondy at 13/03/2011 23:05


I wish I got in on this sooner. This is a subject near and dear to me. I offer coaching to yachties who are thinking of leaving the industry,staying in or already gone. I help keep you on course and focused. A personal gps for your thoughts and direction.I made the transition myself and I understand the issues. I can help with the process of change and reinventing oneself.Check out my site yachtcrewcoach.com and feel free to contact me with any questions or issues I may assist you with.
Posted by: captcoach at 17/03/2011 19:48


What a great topic! So much interesting input from all. Yachting is awesome, no question about it. I feel I would have found that industry many years before I did. I think of all the places where I could have been, the money I could have made... But all this doesn t matter. I believe the idea is to make the best out of the years spent in this industry, and to enjoy it to the fullest extent! because YES, the day one leaves and tries to find bearings back on land... is pretty scary. I left the industry a few times, only to reappear a few months later, after not finding the right field to go into on land.

I know I will leave one day, and my only advice to others thinking about it is to have a plan. Simply. A plan, and MONEY ASIDE! Don't just leave and hope to find the same exciting life on that patch of land... you WONT find it! Life on yacht is THE TOP. you will also run out of funds quickly if you don't plan ahead!

BUT, if you miss family, want to start a business, want to have a family, go back to school... or any other goal in mind, that will make that hard first year go by quicker.

There are sad realities back in the real life (taxes, bills, having to cook and so on...), but there are also many things we can't afford to have... like personal space, the freedom to do anything after work and between working days, the chance to have animals, kids and not having to sacrifice friendship and family for a paycheck...

basically, the choice is ours! It depends what you are looking for!

Good luck to all who are about to do the hard transition. Maybe we can't stay in yachting forever, but at least we'll keep memories of the good times!
Posted by: Freedom at 31/03/2011 22:17


What a great topic! So much interesting input from all. Yachting is awesome, no question about it. I feel I would have found that industry many years before I did. I think of all the places where I could have been, the money I could have made... But all this doesn t matter. I believe the idea is to make the best out of the years spent in this industry, and to enjoy it to the fullest extent! because YES, the day one leaves and tries to find bearings back on land... is pretty scary. I left the industry a few times, only to reappear a few months later, after not finding the right field to go into on land.

I know I will leave one day, and my only advice to others thinking about it is to have a plan. Simply. A plan, and MONEY ASIDE! Don't just leave and hope to find the same exciting life on that patch of land... you WONT find it! Life on yacht is THE TOP. you will also run out of funds quickly if you don't plan ahead!

BUT, if you miss family, want to start a business, want to have a family, go back to school... or any other goal in mind, that will make that hard first year go by quicker.

There are sad realities back in the real life (taxes, bills, having to cook and so on...), but there are also many things we can't afford to have... like personal space, the freedom to do anything after work and between working days, the chance to have animals, kids and not having to sacrifice friendship and family for a paycheck...

basically, the choice is ours! It depends what you are looking for!

Good luck to all who are about to do the hard transition. Maybe we can't stay in yachting forever, but at least we'll keep memories of the good times!
Posted by: Freedom at 31/03/2011 22:18


What a great topic! So much interesting input from all. Yachting is awesome, no question about it. I feel I would have found that industry many years before I did. I think of all the places where I could have been, the money I could have made... But all this doesn t matter. I believe the idea is to make the best out of the years spent in this industry, and to enjoy it to the fullest extent! because YES, the day one leaves and tries to find bearings back on land... is pretty scary. I left the industry a few times, only to reappear a few months later, after not finding the right field to go into on land.

I know I will leave one day, and my only advice to others thinking about it is to have a plan. Simply. A plan, and MONEY ASIDE! Don't just leave and hope to find the same exciting life on that patch of land... you WONT find it! Life on yacht is THE TOP. you will also run out of funds quickly if you don't plan ahead!

BUT, if you miss family, want to start a business, want to have a family, go back to school... or any other goal in mind, that will make that hard first year go by quicker.

There are sad realities back in the real life (taxes, bills, having to cook and so on...), but there are also many things we can't afford to have... like personal space, the freedom to do anything after work and between working days, the chance to have animals, kids and not having to sacrifice friendship and family for a paycheck...

basically, the choice is ours! It depends what you are looking for!

Good luck to all who are about to do the hard transition. Maybe we can't stay in yachting forever, but at least we'll keep memories of the good times!
Posted by: Freedom at 02/04/2011 22:55


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