I used to work for a superyacht charter company a few years back. As the boss once diplomatically put it, “sure we have to deal with wankers. But there are wankers everywhere. No matter what line of work you’re in, you’ll have to deal with them. Ours just happen to be really rich wankers.”
While they might be everywhere, this super-rich variety have the privileged distinction of being so loaded they can pay an entire yacht’s charter and staffing wages without breaking a sweat.
This often puts them in the rare and omnipotent position of being the owner, boss and customer of their domain. Understandably, in such a situation and aside from the safety of the passengers and crew, whatever they say goes.
And fair play if you’re paying half a million bucks for a week’s holiday. You’re going to want the service to be impeccable, the food to be sensational and a swathe of toys, beverages and entertainment options at your beck and call 24 hours, 7 days a week.
While most clients are calm and polite people, there are exceptions who can make life for superyacht captains, chefs, stewardesses and staff a living hell.
So, just how decadent, outrageous and wanky can these requests get?
Reports range from picking broken candies out of the candy bowl to stopping the yacht so the owner could play the guitar on an iceberg in the Arctic.
One crew member who had worked on yachts ranging from 100 to 130 feet as both a mate and a junior engineer told Business Insider, “On the deck side, [the most extreme request has] been to purposely keep my eyes down and not address the topless prostitutes on board. On the engineering side, it’s been to get in murky canal water to dig the ocean floor deeper and scrub the bottom of the boat.”
Other reports include a woman obsessed with strawberries who would only eat them after every single seed had been removed with tweezers.
Every. Goddam. Seed.
One owner had tigers bought on-board so they could pose for selfies with the big cats, while another requested that 2,500 balloons be blown up within 2 hours for a last-minute surprise party. Luckily the crew had compressed air on-board for scuba diving trips so they just got the job done in time.
Then there’s the owner whose bizarrely precious post-swim routine required a crew member to wait on the aft-deck with three different bottles of Evian for her to rinse off with: the first at 3°c, the next at 6°c and the third at 10°c.
Tara, a 35-year-old chief stewardess, told Vice she would never forget the day an owner’s granddaughter dropped her favourite crayon overboard.
“She was throwing a wild tantrum, but as we were in the middle of the ocean I assumed there was nothing we could do.”
The owner, however, had other ideas, insisting the crew do an emergency U-turn so a diver could be sent to find the ostensibly precious crayon. It was never found, but you can bet the fuel wasted on that single U-turn cost more than your weekly petrol bill.
Tom, a 22-year-old deckhand, admitted that he was forced to take stock of his absurd working conditions “when I found myself blow-drying a wad of €500 notes. A guest had jumped overboard with at least ten grand in his pocket” and of course, it was Tom’s job to dry the most valuable notes in the world off.
Must be nice to have that kind of flex…
If you ever do win big on the lottery, remember that a slice of the humble pie with your seed-filled strawberries just like the rest of us wouldn’t go amiss.