Life in the sole lane; teaching yourself
by Gemma Harris
If you are a ‘sole’ in your department it means that everything in that department is reliant upon you. So, how do you teach yourself? How can you learn from others above you when there is no other? How do you improve and push yourself when there is no comparison?
Being a ‘sole’ has its benefits, you run your own show, you have full responsibility in that department and above all you are your own boss (sorry Captains, within reason of course…!)
For some roles, when you start out in the yachting industry this can mean limited or even no experience on actual yachts. Yes, there maybe the odd day work here and there, you may know other yachties but you haven’t had first hand experience of what its like onboard. This means that you have to teach yourself how to manage your role. Although you may have got a handover from the previous crew member and current crew members will be able to give you a hand, you are still the star of the show in that department so how can you make sure you shine?
6 Tips for Sole Stews
- Be confident; Just because you have never worked on a yacht as a stewardess before, you have had plenty of hospitality experience in hotels and restaurants and therefore being a host comes second nature to you. Use those skills and transfer them to the yacht. This is the same for all roles, if you have had experience on land with the same or similar skills then you can just work at the transfer process.
- Use your initiative; If you don’t know how to tackle something, you are unsure how to do something then use some common sense. Google isn’t there for nothing, research it or reach out to others. Today, social media is becoming more and more of a positive space for the industry with Facebook groups there to help you and enable you to get in contact with others in the same boat (pun intended…)
- Enroll; To teach yourself your role doesn’t necessarily mean you need others above you in the same department to learn from, go on a course. There are loads of courses being offered to help crew members improve their skills. You are also likely to meet others in your same role, who you can talk with and share ideas. If it will benefit the yacht you are working on, its also a good idea to have that discussion with the Captain and owner in terms of reimbursing you for any qualification or experience gained.
- Write it down; When you are a ‘sole’, a great way at making sure you are reaching the correct standards and performing your role to your best is to create your own benchmark. A good way to do this is to create a handbook for the particular yacht you are working, this can be your mode of reference, a way of checking that you are staying on top of your own maintenance and scheduled jobs for that day, week and month. It also doubles up as a great handover tool should you need it for any vacation you take.
- Assess yourself; Running your own department may mean that you become complacent in what you are doing, your standards may start to stagnate if there is none else there pushing you or others relying on you. Once a month, like an inventory, take stock of how things are going onboard, identify anything that you want to improve or change completely and put in a plan to do so.
- Be a team; It is vital that with every yacht, all crew members work together as a team. With bigger yachts, departments are a mini team within the overall team which is a benefit for being able to juggle everything as well as the team spirit. As a sole, you will need to be flexible and be on hand to help out in different departments when needed and therefore get the help when you need it as well. This can benefit you as well as getting to get involved in different aspects on the yacht.