Former yacht chef Melanie White revealed what it’s like to work at sea in her new tell-all book.
White detailed the difficulties of preparing elaborate meals at sea and working in close quarters.
The former yacht chef said life at sea can take a significant toll on seafarers’ mental health.
Former superyacht chef Melanie White said life at sea is far more difficult than social media may lead you to believe—from curating gourmet meals in a floating kitchen to difficult crew dynamics and weeks spent with little contact with the outside world.
“We dwell on the threshold of the rich and famous,” White wrote in a tell all book about the industry that was released last month. “We get a view of mega yachts and parties on private beaches, abundant glasses of champagne and fine dining. We see figures reaching six zeros so often we’re desensitized, and then suddenly we’re plopped back into what should be our reality.”
White’s book, “Behind Ocean Lines: The Invisible Price of Accommodating Luxury,” Details her experience working on her first yacht in her twenties. It follows her de ella through training to become a yacht stewardess and eventually a chef to travel the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Arctic.
At the time, White decided to leave behind her office job to pursue an adventure at sea. She told Insider she made between £30,000 and £40,000 (the equivalent of between roughly $36,200 and $48,260) a year during her time working for the Russian who owned the sailing yacht — much of which White said she was able to save because she did not have to pay for food or housing.
In the book, White details the often grueling experience, which included working 18-hour days cleaning bathrooms and guest quarters. At one point, she took on the role of two crew members, catering to the guests demands, while also cooking full gourmet meals.
In the book, White compared her role to that of a fairy, magically and nearly invisibly doing tasks to please guests.
“Excellent service is when the beds are miraculously made despite the guests having full table service during mealtimes,” she wrote. “When the shower is bone dry, just five minutes after taking one. But wasn’t Mel serving me champagne? When the hand towel is inexplicably refolded and replaced, and there’s not a single watermark on the tap after every wash of the hands.”
During her time at sea, White said it was sometimes difficult for guests to understand that crew were working with limited supplies. In her book by her, she recalls a fellow “yachtie” detailing an incident where a guest asked if they could “heat the Adriatic.”
“Some guests just didn’t realize we didn’t have infinite resources on board,” White told Insider, adding she grew accustomed to learning how to accommodate very specific dietary restrictions when planning out guest meals.
The work itself is strenuous. White worked through the elements of the Arctic Ocean and seasickness, all while attempting to prepare elaborate multi-course meals in a kitchen that she called “essentially booby-trapped.” White said she often got “boat bites” from slamming into objects on the ship while it was in motion, and food and cooking utensils often catapulted from the fridge or countertops.
The stress of the job was enough to cause a crew to “mutiny,” White wrote.
“The success of a business or boat lives and dies with the compatibility of the employees,” White wrote. “In yachting, confined space amplifies this, and the complexity of living with work colleagues means there is little respite from each other.”
For White, the crew dynamics were not always healthy. In her book de ella, she said she worked with a captain who verbally assaulted his crew de ella and on one occasion “slapped” her behind de ella. At the time, White said in her book de ella that she lost huge amounts of weight and even suffered a kidney infection because she did not have time to properly care for herself.
At one point, she said she spent days on end sleeping on a table and waiting to go to the bathroom till late in the day because there was not enough space on the catamaran to accommodate her.
At the end of the experience, White said she found healing at a yoga retreat. She told Insider she returned to work on other yachts, but eventually decided to leave her life at sea to pursue other opportunities. Though, she said she still keeps in touch with some of her favorite guests of hers.
Ultimately, White said she wrote the book to shed light on the mental health issues workers face at sea.
Read the original article on Business Insider