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Illustration by Massimiliano Aurelio. Do you have a tale to tell? Send your story to thebitterend@boatinternationalmedia.com

Dear BOAT: “A few cushion fights later, the boss rings: ‘I’ll be home in 20 minutes’”

11 January 2024 • Written by Lucy Dunn

Every month, Lucy Dunn gets the skinny on all the most treacherous tales from the high seas...

You’ve heard the phrase “While the cat’s away the mice will play”? I’ll never forget a dicey moment one year when, after a long run of stressful charter followed by a month of having the owner on board and a roll call of demanding guests, our owner decided to go away for a few weeks. He left for the airport but rang after a couple of hours saying his flight had been cancelled so he was coming back. We’d just finished our tasks for the day and had started cracking open the beers. But then five minutes later he calls back, saying not to worry – he’d got another flight in two hours’ time.

Relief all round! It was time to really let our hair down. And why not move into the main saloon, where we could kick off our shoes, relax on the lovely, super-comfy white sofas, put on the television and watch some football? And, while we’re at it, why not make some popcorn, knock up a few nachos and play drinking games to get the party started? So that’s where we were, two hours – plus a few cushion fights – later, when the phone rang again. “Changed my mind, I’ll be home in 20 minutes,” the boss said down the phone. “And get the boat ready to sail.”

Well, you have never seen a crew move so fast! It took me straight back to being a teenager and having a secret party while my parents were away. Glasses and dishes dispatched to the galley at lightning speed, sofas plumped, surfaces wiped, fingerprint smudges polished off, air freshener squirted and popcorn and cushion feathers meticulously picked out from the deep shag pile. I don’t know how we did it, but not a drop was spilled in the panic and we cleaned up with literally minutes to spare, ready to receive the boss on board his immaculate yacht.

And then we had to move the boat, which was another feat unto itself. We did it but felt guilty for months. The next time we made sure he was in the air before we even dared open a bottle!

First published in the February 2024 issue of BOAT International. Subscribe now and never miss an issue. 

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