Name: Molly Gates
Yacht: M/Y Freedom
Position: Lead Deckhand/Mate
Years in current position: 6 months
Years in industry: 6 months
Previous vessels: N/A
My goal is to become an established mate. I’m planning on getting my captain’s license this fall and keep continuing to learn in the engine room.
At 15, I decided to start a boat-washing business, washing boats throughout the Chicago Harbors. From there, I came home every summer in between schooling and did freelance daywork crewing for various private and charter boats. Once I graduated, I decided to use the skills I’ve learned over the years and get on a bigger boat to travel more.
I love that this job brings me something new every day and always keeps me on my toes. However, if I wasn’t in yachting, I would probably be doing something in the operations side of the sports industry.
The toughest part of this job is probably being away from family for long periods of time. But it has helped me really appreciate the time we do get to spend together, even if it is rare.
I think the best advice I can give to those looking to get started is to be humble and be ready to learn. Say yes to all of it, even the tedious tasks. They might seem pointless, but it will allow you to prove yourself and gain more responsibility and respect in the long run.
My advice for those looking to impress on the job is to take initiative. Don’t wait to be given tasks that you know need to get done. If I see something that needs to be done or cleaned, I am going to do it. It proves to your captain that you have a hard work ethic, and that you care about the boat overall.
I think that extra qualifications are always a plus. It [makes you] stand out from the rest and showcases unique characteristics on your CV. However, I think what matters most is having a good work ethic and the ability to get along with other crew.
The most important thing I’ve learned is the importance of a team. It makes the long days so much easier sharing the workload with friends made on board. If you’re on the exterior, celebrate the interior wins for your team, and vice versa.
My most significant achievement so far is getting the promotion from deck/stew to lead deckhand/mate. This is the first boat I’ve worked on full time, and I’ve only been on board for six months, so getting this promotion has really shown me how much I can grow in this industry and that I’ve got what it takes to move up in position.
The best part about my job is getting to connect with guests on board. I love giving them an experience they’ll never forget and sometimes even making a friend or two in the process. Meeting people from all walks of life has always been intriguing for me, and this job brings in such a different crowd with each charter.
My best deck tip is to clean your AC strainers and crew sumps weekly so you don’t have to deal with a gross mess each time.