Laura Collins, deckhand on a 60m motor yacht whose name she is having trouble pronouncing, has just reeled off her to-do list for today, reading from a creased post-it on which the words are smeared from having been used as a coaster at some stage in the all-day rosé session she is now nearing the end of.
“Instead I just skipped everything and went straight to the drinking part. And I can’t even say that’s all that unusual,” She exclaims, before concluding the problem here is she just shouldn’t write lists, and having said that tries to eat her post-it.
Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 plans made by yacht crew for a day off come to nought. Every day, around the world, hundreds of rental cars sit uncollected, mothers await calls at home, kale goes unblended, photos un-uploaded, banking unattended, and money climbs out of the wallets and drawers of ‘feeling-it’ crew to cavort its way across the bar where it’s traded for mean-smelling liquid in small glasses.
So Laura is not alone, but this seems to be doing little to assuage her guilt. She has repeated 6 times in the last 5 minutes that tomorrow (Sunday) she is not drinking ‘NEthing’ (her spelling, as written on a napkin, or – more accurately – carved onto the table through a napkin while holding the pen like an ice pick. Following that she orders another bottle of pink wine without asking if anyone else is joining her.
“But dammit I deserve it.” She says, unprompted by anyone challenging whether or not she does. “It’s hard work out there you know. Bloody survivor and shit. Everyone’s a boss but no one’s boss you know? No. You don’t. Because you just write stupid articles you make up you wanker.” We both sit in silence for awhile until she eventually apologizes.
Many industry experts agree this is the single largest hurdle to living a rewarding life while working on boats: not ending it with cirrhosis of the liver and the frightening conviction that you have forgotten how to enjoy things sober.
“It’s a challenge, no two ways about it,” Says yacht life coach Joe Dyemond. “To live between a rotating selection of some of the nicest vacation destinations in the world, with plenty of disposable income, a tan to cover up your lack of health, and more drinking buddies than you can shake a yard-glass at, and not just end up in the pub every night? If this were an experiment and yacht crew were the rats, they would be the group that ate all the cheese and got too fat to fit through the maze.” Here Joe stops and replays this analogy in his head, and then cautiously nods to show he’s going to leave it as is.
Finding alternative activities that don’t involve plan-destroying levels of drinking is the key, as Mr. Dyemond outlined for The General Alarm. “Fitness is great, obsessive cleaning is good too, as long as it’s done with other people and no one shouts. I’m told being in a stable relationship can really help, but I’m taking people’s word for it on that one. Actually I’m pretty much doing that in general. I still haven’t mastered any of this myself. That’s why I’m a life coach.” A server interrupts us and Joe orders two shots of fireball and a couple more pints.