When Your Lover Is Ashore

12 February 2009 By Di Thompson

How do you have a whole relationship when half of you are working on a yacht?

Whether you’re involved in a long-distance romance with one of you out of the country for extended periods, or a short-range affair with your yachts docked in the same port, ours is an industry that will test a couple’s commitment on every level.

Take, for example, the captain who is working aboard a large yacht providing a wonderful lifestyle for his family ashore. He feels lonely at times and wants to be with his wife while she misses him and wants him to find a land-based job so he can be home every night. How do they cope?

“It’s important to have trust and friendship,” says Capt. Col Scott. “I have been going away seasonally for more than twenty years and my wife has always been my best friend. We never run out of things to talk about and she is happy to be free of doing my laundry for half of the year.”

How do male partners feel when it’s their girlfriend working aboard, and they’re the ones waving goodbye from the dock?

The partner of an Australia-based stew says he doesn’t mind her going away at all. In fact, he is quite encouraging. “My girlfriend was working on a yacht in Sydney whilst I stayed home on the Gold Coast,” Bradley Stumer says. “We have a good, fun relationship so I wasn’t concerned about her being away.” Blacksmith Bradley adds, “I flew to Sydney to spend my birthday weekend with her and ended up being invited to do the delivery back to the coast.”

The romantic partner on board the yacht often is happily distracted by the other crewmembers, owners and guests, and doesn’t have time to think about his or her partner on a minute-to-minute basis. But what happens then when you become too distracted and end up having a fling or a one-night stand?

“You are out at a bar on shore leave; an attractive stranger catches your eye; they come over for a chat and want to buy you a drink, and next morning, you wake up lying next to them,” says one superyacht captain who asked not to be named. “Being the unfaithful one can turn you into a train wreck overnight. When I finally saw my partner five weeks later, I had to fess up. As hard as that was, it would have felt much worse not to be honest with her after being together for more than seven years.” He adds, “She didn’t take it too well at first and I had to do a lot of sucking up. We have now made some future plans to free us up from my infidelity.”

Should you be lucky enough to negotiate a work contract that includes regular time off the yacht to return home to partners and family, you are on a good wicket indeed. Life on board can become a chore if there is no give and take, and some owners do understand this. Especially if you are a valued, long-term employee, a good owner often will grant you permission to take regular shore leave to spend with your loved one.

As one crew agent says, “With some of our clients having a strict rule of no couples working together on board their yacht, this is the best compromise should it be offered. It can go a long way to keeping good captains and crew, thus making for a happy ship rather than a frustrated hell ship.”

Where is your Valentine? Are you at sea while he or she is waiting for you back on shore?