Time is indecipherable. I don’t know the hour, day or date, and have no idea where I am other than somewhere in Greece A few faint moonbeams slip in through a tiny window. Below me the ground is swaying. Heavy chains clank loudly above my head. I rush out of my room, and the chill of the air makes me wish I had thought to put on a sweater. I call out to Zimrobwe and ask if he needs help. A few minutes later the catamaran I call home takes off, and we set out to sea with the last of the moonlight, and the first rays of sun guiding us to our next destination.
A year ago if anyone told me that I would be spending the summer living on yachts, cooking for people from around the world while sailing around the Mediterranean I would’ve told them to put down the bath salts. But somehow, this is actually my life right now.
A little over a month ago I headed off to Croatia to attend Skipper/Hostess Academy, the training camp AKA pledging process for becoming a part of The Yacht Week. It was one of those “best experiences you’ll have, that you never want to have again” type of deals, sort of like when I joined my sorority. Between learning how to cook on a boat, exploring the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and learning a bit about sailing and how not to be seasick all the time, I met some amazing people, and opened the doors of opportunity to one of the best summers of my life.
After passing the academy (hooray!) I moved into a series of apartments with fellow hostess Magnum and two guys from my training academy, Bark and Butter. The daily routine became wake up early and go to the seafood and vegetable markets with Magnum. Bum around, cook ethnic themed dinners while playing music from the respective country and reassigning ourselves racist names. Hola, esta noche me llamo Conseula, porque esta noche cocine quesadillas. Early drinks at To Je To or F Cafe after midnight, and if the night called for it, make our way to Bacvice club where Bark would inevitably try and get me to seduce the DJ into playing dubstep.
And while doing nothing after a week of intense training was exactly what we needed, towards the end of the first week we were getting antsy about starting our bookings. The third and final skipper academy for the year was coming up and since Countess and I were doing nothing but hemorrhaging money on food, booze and accommodation we agreed to help out with the academy as hostesses – thereby negating my earlier statement of “best experience you’ll ever have, that you never want to do again.”
A few days before starting round two we acquired a new Swedish roommate, Roses, who educated us on the wonders of Swedish Midsummer which would fall on our last night in the apartment together. Accordingly, we were required to get up early and buy a shit ton of flowers for crowns, and she cooked us a Swedish dinner. Afterwards we went out to the bar…which resulted in Bark kidnapping a dog, Roses coming home covered in mysterious blood and me trying to cook while Skyping and nearly burning down the apartment.
The next day it was off to Skipper Academy Round 2 which was good practice for my cooking limitations within a boat. It was much more laid back this time, and I got to go out at night as long as I woke up in time to make hash browns and banana pancakes before we set sail. Plus my crew was absolutely ridiculous and most of the time when we hung out … well, I lit-er-ally just cant.
As soon as the Skipper Academy ended, it was time for me to sprint from Croatia to Sicily. Running from Trogir to Split Airport, to Berlin Schonefeld AND Tegel Airports to Catania Airport to Portorosa Marina, 24 hours later, I finally made it to Yacht Week Italy! Luckily for me I was working the week with Bark and Butter, which was comforting to have people that I knew well. My first booking was on a catamaran with an all Chinese crew, on the inaugural “Yacht Week China.” They were happy to hear that my “daddy is from Hong Kong” and gifted me a HK flag, which I am currently using on my boats in lieu of an American flag. They ended up being fun despite the language barrier, and seemed to like me even though the only messages I could really convey were “xie xie” and “chi fan” whenever meals were ready.
Yacht Week Italy was absolutely beautiful and the perfect start to my season. My crews were amazing, I had a serious love affair with everyone working on The Crew Boat, I hung with talented and handsome skippers, and basically continued living the dream. We swam in beautiful natural bays, ate amazing Italian food (probably the best meal’s I’ve had since leaving home, aside from my own food, of course) and I even learned to drive a boat. I became tight with one of the crew girls, with whom I will always share the memory of that time we were so badass we hiked too high up an active volcano and got yelled at by a ranger. We’ll just ignore the part where being close to the top of a volcano while hearing it erupting is absolutely terrifying. I also got to hang out with a group of ridiculously English English guys who taught me the true meaning of “English Banter” and helped me achieve my life goal of catching, barbarically killing, and cooking something from start to finish. We caught a roughly thirty-five pound yellowfin tuna which they cleaned and I prepared five different ways for about 60 people. I also let them take over my Tinder account which was hysterical for us, and probably not so funny for “White Tyrone” from Ireland.
Sadly departing Italy on a rushed ferry from Salina to Milazzo, to a bus to Catania to a flight to Rome and a flight to Athens I coincidentally ran into my next crew of hot Aussie boys in the Rome airport en route to Yacht Week Greece. To be honest I was a little worried about being responsible for cooking and tidying up after twenty year old Aussies, but the week ended up being amazing. Anyone who starts the week with “We don’t want you to feel like you’re working, we want you to have a good time and hang out with us,” and “Keep drinking, I’d rather have you drunk now than make us breakfast!” is obviously setting the scene for an awesome week. But they still woke up every morning to banana pancakes and a full breakfast buffet, much to the dismay of the boats who didn’t have the foresight to book a hostess. We also lucked out with a Greek skipper who was able to give us extra tidbits about our destinations and knew all of the best swimming holes along the way. Plus they stole all the flags from the other boats, which knowing my flag fetish (knowing the flags for every country) – that prank was basically a dream come true. Needless to say, I had a phenomenal week and heard and experienced some of the funniest most ridiculous drunken shenanigans I’ve seen in a while – which I would write about, but this would become a 20 page entry.
So that brings me to my current state on a private charter with Yachts and Friends. I’m living on a catamaran with only five people including myself and Zimrobwe. We spend the day exploring the Cycladic islands, setting sail with the sunrise, strolling on beautiful remote beaches, and sipping wine (or juice in my case) as we watch the sunset over the mountainous landscape and rich blue seas. When the seas are calm, we sit in our spacious salon snacking on bacon wrapped dates while watching Mamma Mia as dolphins surround our boat and frolic around us. I’m not joking about the dolphins. On my day off we get stranded in Mykonos and Zimrobwe and I have to make the best of that terrible situation. At least once a day as we drive the boat off into the horizon I’m sure to remind myself, “Life is rough.”
Years ago, a friend and I were having a deep conversation watching the sunrise on a Brooklyn rooftop, and he asked me what I would do if I had all the time and money in the world. I told him I would travel the world, take cooking lessons and learn languages. I realized the other day while obnoxiously staring off into a perfect sunset from the summit of a volcano, I’m really not so far off from that. I may be living in land that’s “nothing like the real world”. The ground below my feet may be unsteady and my future a blurry beacon that I’m sailing towards blindly. I often wake up and have no idea where I am or what’s going on. I may have no money, no stability, no plans and a vastly uncertain future BUT I’m incredibly happy and I can’t ask for more than that in life.