Chief Stew Launches Sober Crew Social Club

21 June 2024 By Holly Overton

Holly is the editor of Dockwalk. She grew up racing sailboats in England before switching to the world of superyachts and moving across the pond to Fort Lauderdale.

Chief stewardess Laura Kilbey has launched a new initiative to support those in the yachting industry who are sober, sober curious, or grappling with problematic drinking. 

With a yachting career spanning since 2006 and four years of coaching experience, Laura has seen firsthand the challenges posed by the industry’s pervasive drinking culture. Inspired by her own journey to sobriety, she created a Sober Crew Social Club to offer community, resources, and support for yacht crew members seeking to address their alcohol consumption.

Laura’s initiative began as a personal accountability tool during a hiatus from yachting, but it quickly grew into a vital resource. “After leaving my last yacht, I decided to take some time out and it was during this period that I made the decision to stop drinking. I had played around with sobriety in the past whilst working on boats but always came up against hurdles in yachting and faced lots of challenges which made it feel impossible. But I decided to rip the band aid off and go for it and I haven't looked back,” Laura says.

“As I was heading back to yachting and with my coaching background, I would create a space both for me to stay accountable and for anyone else out there who was sober/sober curious or felt they had problematic drinking that they might want to address.”

Her page, initially a small endeavor, has garnered an overwhelming response, with messages flooding in from junior crew, captains, and agencies seeking support for themselves and their teams.

Recognizing the loneliness of addressing sobriety alone, Laura aims to foster a connected community. “The aim is to create a community so that wherever you rock up, you have someone you can go for a coffee with and not feel like the only sober person in the village,” she explains. “Drinking heavily is considered absolutely common practice in the industry. So it is not a surprise that people find addressing their alcohol consumption tricky and that's what I'm here to offer: support, resources, community and coaching.”

The initiative is set to expand with sober meet-ups, events, a forthcoming website, and a podcast inspired by Andrew Roch of The Crew Academy.

Laura’s efforts highlight a crucial issue in the yachting world, offering hope and connection to those navigating sobriety. “In the midst of the fast-paced, often isolated industry of yachting — there is support for anyone concerned about their drinking,” she says. This initiative promises to be a beacon of support and change in an industry where heavy drinking has long been the norm.


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