But I Don't Drink

17 February 2009 By Matt Gomez

The guests are gone, your yacht is glistening and the crew is ready for some downtime. Everyone is tired, thirsty and ready for a trip to the local pubs. But you've sworn off drinking alcohol. When downtime and hard partying usually go hand-in-hand, how do you function socially and professionally in the yachting industry when you choose not to drink alcoholic beverages?

While visiting a pub – or even for a Happy Hour – doesn’t require imbibing anything stronger than a soda, the temptation can be overwhelming both for crew who simply choose not to drink and those with a personal or family history of alcohol dependency.

There is room in the yachting industry for recovering alcoholics and crew who choose not to drink, but peer pressure and the ready availability of alcoholic beverages can be a monumental challenge for some to overcome.

Imagine what recovering alcoholics must deal with while working on a superyacht. Temptation is all around, no matter where you turn, and there is nowhere on the yacht to hide.

The owners and guests merrily drink Champagne and fancy cocktails on deck at all hours of the day. The storage compartments are teeming with crates of wine, beer and hard liquor to keep the fun flowing for guests on charter and fellow crew retreat to their quarters to enjoy a cool one after the work is done – sometimes there’s even a special fridge in the lazarette stocked with crew wine and beer.

But as recovering alcoholics already know so well, even a “relaxing” glass of wine at dinner can be a prescription for disaster.

What if you are the one whose job is serving the guests their drinks? Is it proper to beg off such duties for fear of giving in to temptation – even at the risk of losing a job?

Some captains favor “dry boats” where no alcohol is permitted to be consumed by captains and crew. But is this really a solution?

“I run a tight ship with a no-drinking policy whilst we have guests or the owner onboard,” says Capt. Kaj Christensen of the M/Y CD Two. “As always, [that policy] gets abused ‘in secret’ by crew who just can’t help themselves.”

In fact, sometimes dry boat policies even seem to encourage binge drinking before and after charter trips.

“If crew want to drink, they will drink and no amount of rules will stop them,” says member Suzy80085. “A dry boat may be extreme to some, but to others who have had their fingers burnt before, it can be a quick route to weeding out problem crew and maintaining standards.”

How can non-drinkers handle being around the excessive alcohol consumption in this industry? Does a dry boat policy really cut down on drinking amongst the crew?