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Owners anonymous: Five yacht owners share their most memorable stories

12 April 2022• Written by Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

Nudist guests, rude stews, and baguette duels - yacht owners reveal some of their wildest memories from their travels around the world...

“It wasn’t long before she found herself wearing a dead fish as a hat”

I was once on a 45-metre sailing yacht that was about to head across the Atlantic. We had a new stewardess on board who was very sweet and super keen – she’d taken more than 100 photos before we’d even left the bay. It was her first time crossing the Atlantic and she was very gullible. So much so in fact, that the rest of the crew was able to persuade her that, much like when you cross the equator and take part in a traditional Neptune ceremony, when you cross the Atlantic, Poseidon comes on board.

“Oh, OK,” she gushed with enthusiasm, and it wasn’t long before she was wearing a dead fish head as a hat, accompanied by two other crew members, one of whom was donning a defrosted octopus. Meanwhile, another crew member came out dressed up in tin foil as Poseidon, and someone else threw fish slops over them. They made quite a sight. Our stewardess eventually started to question the veracity of this ceremony – but it wasn’t until much later in the trip that we let slip the “Poseidon Crossing”, as we’d called it, wasn’t a thing at all…

Credit: Adobe Stock

“They both jumped off the boat and immediately started to sink”

Our plan that day was to go out and see the turtles, but as soon as these friends began putting on their snorkels, masks and fins, I could tell that things weren’t going to end well. The woman had a tremendous amount of hair, and she wasn’t putting it in a ponytail or moving it away from her face, so it was all tangled up around the seal of her mask.

I looked at my wife and gave her a “keep an eye on her” face, and as we both glanced at each other there was a shared feeling of, “Oh boy, this is going to be quite a learning experience.”

Sure enough, as soon as they both jumped off the side of the boat they immediately started to sink. In the end, I had to pull the woman up and put her on my knee like she was riding a baby bicycle, dragging her to the life raft with a couple of floats under my arms. From there, they then dangled their heads in the water and gazed at the turtles that way.

These days we make sure all our guests fill out an activity card where we ask them straight questions such as, “Can you swim?” and “Can you swim in the ocean?” We’re not about to make the same mistake twice...

Credit: Adobe Stock

“I could either say nothing... or fire the whole crew”

I was sitting at my desk in Munich, scrolling through Instagram – as you do – when the chef of my yacht popped up on my feed, so I decided to follow him. The first post on his account surprised me: it was a picture of him and three other members of my crew, sitting around at a particularly nice-looking beach club. And, what’s more, one of them was wearing my favourite “Free Hugs” T-shirt!

I calmly picked up my telephone and called the captain. “I hear it’s pretty windy out there,” I said (it was Greece in August).

“Yeah,” he replied. “It’s super-windy.”

“You’d never take the boat out without me, right?” I asked.

“Of course not,” he said. “I’m a professional.”

I was furious. I could see on Marine Traffic the boat was out of the harbour in rough conditions, the captain was lying to me and, most importantly, my T-shirt was in peril. I could either say nothing or fire the whole crew. I went with the first option, but a few weeks later I was on the yacht and couldn’t resist an aside when I saw that particular deckhand. “Next time you go out, do me a favour,” I said. “Make sure you wear your own stuff.” You should have seen the look on his face.

“When we turned to leave, we discovered to our horror that the guide had deserted us”

Some time ago we were cruising in the Solomon Islands and were told there were some great waterfalls nearby and we should get a local guide to take us. So I duly went ashore with some of the crew, found a guide and off we all went.

“How long until we reach the falls?” I asked the guide, as it was already approaching mid-afternoon.

“About half an hour,” he replied. But the time came and went, and we just kept on walking. Another hour passed, by which time we had left the dirt road for a rough jungle track.

Eventually, a beautiful waterfall did hove into view, and the crew all plunged in. I looked at my watch and realised we could stay no more than 15 minutes, so I reluctantly told them to hop back out. But when we turned to leave, we discovered to our horror that the guide had deserted us.

The sun was starting to set, our radio was down and this was before everyone had mobile phones. I was also worried that snakes would start to emerge from the undergrowth in the dark. But I told myself to keep calm.

I actually found myself striding far ahead of my young crew, many of whom were struggling in ill-advised flip-flops. Eventually I caught sight of the shore, and then the tenders and my distraught-looking husband. And then I spotted our absentee guide. “Where the hell did you go?” I demanded. “Oh it was dinner time,” he replied casually. Clearly nothing stands in the way of that man and his meals…

“The ceiling of her cabin suddenly caved in, followed by an avalanche of trinkets”

I once had to let a particular stewardess go. She was pretty odd, and she’d been messing around with the chef, who had actually been dating another stewardess at the time, which was causing all kinds of drama. Needless to say, she had to leave. But while she was packing up her belongings the suspended ceiling of her cabin suddenly caved in, followed by an avalanche of trinkets, clothes, books and sweets… all raining down from above. She’d been frittering her money away on these things for months and stashing them above her bunk. I was appalled – not just by the sheer quantity of stuff, but by the thought of what a fire hazard it had been!

As told to Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

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