Sex and the Superyacht

11 August 2008 By Lisa Hoogerwerf Knapp

In many land-based occupations, dating a co-worker is taboo. But in the middle of the ocean, yachties who are hotties are fair game.

“It’s a natural occurrence,” says Capt. Rich. “You're buddies and you live together. People will wind up together after spending so much time working so closely. You bond and most people crave intimacy at some point. Who wants to live like a monk when you’re surrounded by beautiful people?”

Safer sex
Sleeping with a crewmate has its complications. Having shifts that are in sync and finding alone time and space isn’t easy. “We have problems with privacy,” says Capt. Tommy. (The last names are omitted to protect the guilty.) “My girlfriend and I have been dating for a couple of years and while I have my own cabin, we try to keep a low profile. We don’t want everyone knowing all our personal business with a crew of eighteen.”

“I’m part of a couple,” says Capt. John. “She's the chief stew. I go to great lengths to separate personal time from crew time. Sometimes she fusses that we don’t have any alone time together for a private dinner; others are always hovering.”

The university dorm “sock on the door” is still the universal sign to stay out. “The stories I hear all the time are [all about] sneaking in the cabin in the middle of the night and kicking your roommate out,” says Laurence.

Breaking up, making up
Couples can upset the delicate balance that exists on all yachts. “It depends on how they handle themselves,” says Capt. Mark. “Guys and gals can be cliquish, almost. During their time off, some couples don’t interact with the crew. With others, you don’t even know they’re a couple because they socialize with everyone,” he says. “If they isolate themselves from others, it creates a strained atmosphere on board.”

“If one crewmember is unhappy with something that another one did, you have two enemies when they're part of a couple,” says Capt. Ron.

An argument can prove awkward for everyone around, with dirty looks and cold shoulders sometimes felt by more than their significant other. “Okay, what do we say now?” Capt. Brian wonders. “If they’ve had a tiff the night before, you’ll ask a gal why she looks down and she’ll say, ‘Well, he’s a bastard.’ That’s no way to start the day.”

Long-term love
“I have heard some wonderful stories,” Laurence says. “Some are long-term relationships that turn into weddings.”

Capt. Tim got married to his sweetheart in the kind of ceremony where you might have heard, "I now pronounce you captain and captain.”

Tim married another 500-ton master, Gillian. They met on Super Service 4 Dock Express in 2000 and crossed the Atlantic together. Gillian was running an 82 Montefino. She is now co-captain and mate on the same vessel as Tim.

“I loved my job, but I’m glad to have fun and explore with someone,” says Gillian. “It’s lonely running by yourself.”

It was love at first sight when Chef Adam met his fiancée Heather on M/Y Monte Carlo.

“There was something unusual about her,” says Adam. “An unusual person in an unusual place.”

So Adam wooed her as only a world-class megayacht chef could. He put love notes under Heather’s food. But she never even noticed them. Then he put rose petals on her plate. She still didn’t get it.

“I was completely oblivious to the whole thing,” Heather adds, laughing.

Adam said he took a more direct approach at that point. “It makes a difference to be able to enjoy beautiful places with a special person,” says Adam.

What was your name again?

It’s not always love and marriage, however. Some just want to hook up, have a little fun and do it all again in a new port the next week. Although John (not his real name) is adamant about finding a girlfriend on board another boat, his two fellow crewmembers are not quite so romantic. They're much more interested in going out on weekends, meeting new people, having fun and being done with it. “Who wants to be in a relationship when we’re going from port to port?”

Is hooking up worth the trouble when you're part of a busy crew? Comment below.