On the Job

12 Signs to Gauge How Well the Charter is Going

7 October 2022 By Gavin Rothenburger
An illustration of a yacht sinking
iStock: klyaksun

Gavin Rothenburger has been the author of Dockwalk’s humor column Last Laugh since 2008. For questions, concerns, or for general badmouthing, you can write to me at gavinrothenburger@yahoo.com.

The charter life is hard. Long hours, sometimes difficult and demanding guests, and a relentless pace. But hopefully in the end, the trip is a hit and the guests are generous with the tip. Here are a few signs that things are going well … or maybe not so well:

1. If the guests went for a shore excursion after the first day, took their bags with them, and threw their phones in the water so they could never be found. That’s a bad start.

2. The charter’s looking up when you discover that COVID left all the guests without any sense of taste or smell because, as we all know, it’s the food that makes the trip and your chef is, really, just awful.

iStock: Planet Flem

3. When, inexplicably, nobody realizes that it was completely your fault that they nearly drowned and, even more inexplicably, are convinced that you parked the tender up on that rock in order to save them, you know it’s going to be a healthy envelope.

4. A new strategy might be needed if you find that all the guests just get up and grab their own plates out of the galley because it’s a helluva lot faster than waiting for the stew to finish uploading her Instagram pictures while out of Internet range.

5. It’s quickly going south if the chef is forced to apologize for completely misunderstanding that a peanut allergy can actually be quite serious and the rest of you need to apologize for mistaking anaphylaxis for more of Debbie’s usual dramatics.

6. You know you’re in the middle of a great trip when it becomes apparent that not one of the guests will, even momentarily, be sober enough over the course of the week to notice that nobody really has any idea what a properly run charter actually looks like.

7. You can recover from this. You can turn it around. Just please … pretty please, don’t light the boat on fire a fourth time.

iStock: id-work

8. Things are going to be okay when you realize that each guest has a sadistic side that you unhappily indulge so they can jubilantly revel in your discomfort of having to wear every silly and over-revealing themed costume you have on board in an endless succession of dress-up games that make you question why you ever bothered with an education or make you wonder why you didn’t.

9. While you may consider the number of guests you’ve run over with the tender to be, relatively speaking, ‘quite low,’ most people would probably believe this to be at least three too many and feel disinclined to give you a lot of money.

10. If the guests don’t see the engineer, don’t have a need to see the engineer, and never once hear the oral equivalent of a trash-dump being firebombed with weapons-grade dog farts that is the ongoing scream emanating from the engine room whenever the fiddly door opens, then you know you’re in it to win it!

11. If the boat sinks. That’s kind of a giveaway.

12. If, at any point in the trip, a guest casually wonders (for a friend) what sort of medication the yacht might carry to treat a rapidly worsening case of Ebola, things may not turn out the way you’d hoped.

It’s sometimes difficult to get things just right, but with hard work and a good attitude, success is inevitable. Every now and then the tip may turn out to be ‘peanuts’ but, really, that’s only fair because it’s the same thing you fed to Debbie.


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