Croatia through the eyes of a digital nomad: yachting, part 2
July 8, 2021 – Digital nomad Cyndie Burkhardt reveals what life is like as a host of Yacht Week for a week.
Some experiences are too good to let go and whether you are having fun or living to regret it, you go on a ride just for the sake of saying you did.
When something falls out of left field and I know I just have to say ‘yes’, I follow my instincts. It’s all about travel, isn’t it? Want to be a yacht host for Yacht Week in Croatia? Main responsibilities: prepare, cook and serve meals for 12 people; manage cooking and supplies; clean the heads. Below Deck has nothing on this gig …
Everyone meets in the kitchen, it is the workspace for the hosts and the cafe for the guests. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
Departure port: Trogir
Saturday was the start of Week 23, as The Yacht Week group calls this particular week in their summer sailing season. Fifty boats with ten guests each (plus hosts and skippers) make up its biggest fleet of the year. I fell into a job as a yacht host and found myself in an alternate reality to my previous week with the elite sport of Croatia – I went from guest to staff in just one day. My job began at the marina, including supplying the boat, unloading food and alcohol packages, inspecting inventory, and welcoming my “crew” as I went along. the guests were called.
Breakfast. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
People who apply for these jobs typically pay € 1,000 to attend a 3-week training academy. I filled out a brief application, completed a free one-day training course, and received my assignment. The only extra effort on my part was to take an online food safety course for a required certificate. The pay was laughable considering the amount of work but hey, it was change in my pocket and maybe the gig would lead to something else.
At first I was excited, then I became anxious. What if the guests don’t like my food? Or me? What if they were demanding or obnoxious? I received a set menu with recipes for lunch and dinner, but had to cook my own breakfast. Sometimes I make quick egg dishes at home, like scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, but the company suggested shakshuka (huh?), Frittata, Benedict, fried, poached, pancakes, muffins, etc. I had no idea how to make them from scratch and started to insist on BREAKFAST!
The guests had their drink in the morning: Karlovačko, shots of tequila, Hennessy, champagne, Red Bull, vodka and more. They were content to party on the boat all day rather than exploring towns or islands. Why go all the way from home and never leave the dock? It seemed like a waste to miss so much of what Croatia has to offer. But it wasn’t that kind of trip …
Sunset at Fort George, Island of Vis. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
As night fell, the guests went to a DJ / dance party in Fort George. I had heard that the sunsets were spectacular up there, but today the party was the main event. It felt like stepping into a music video – crazy DJs, bodies moving in sync with every beat and gesture, the crowd singing every word of every song and all kinds of outrageous clothes – except that it wasn’t. was not choreographed.
Destination: Pakleni Islands
The next day started with a circular raft, where all the boats came together to form a large swimming circle. Guests lay down on their floats and drank from their bottles as a DJ boat screamed music. By the time we got to Palmižana later in the afternoon, I was happy to get off the boat for a break and a shower.
The party has only just begun. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
At 1am, I was in the “grave”, the jargon of the sailors for my tiny dormitories at the front of the catamaran. To enter, you open a hatch on the bridge and go up, there is no door. When I found out that this was going to be my “bedroom,” the claustrophobia set in and I did everything I could to stay calm. It was still better than sleeping in the kitchen.
I had just fallen asleep when one of the guests was over my head screaming and hammering on the deck, “Cyndie, are you awake?” Not really, but now I was. One of the other guests wanted to go to the hospital. Oh my gosh, that wasn’t a drunken prank or a plea to make hangover food. I rallied to stand, wondering what exactly was going on and what to do. Who to contact first, get the doctor, get on a boat to the nearest island with a hospital, was it even open at this time? So many questions jostled in my head …
The front hatch of a catamaran leads to the “coffin”, a small bunk for sleeping. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
The young girl felt sick and was upset. Me, the skipper and the guest who woke me up took action and helped her calm down; so she just wanted to sleep. She had been partying all day in the scorching sun, with no drinking water, and it caught up with her.
The “coffin” is named for its size and shape (literally). All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
The day we went to Štipanska for a barbecue and a party, it was another scene straight out of a clip, but this time I was right in the middle. One of my guests asked me if I knew how to twerk. Of course I saw it, but I can’t say I knew how to do it. She proceeded to teach me in 10 seconds. Bend over with your hands on your knees, arch your back, look over your shoulder, shake your butt up and down. Do you want to go further? Raise your arm in the air. It was the most fun time I had with my team and we all had a great laugh.
The DJ boat is fully powered with speakers and sound. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
By the middle of the week this cooking business was exhausting. The job description was smart marketing: cook food a few hours a day, hang out with your guests, swim, serve lunch, relax and party in the evenings. With hours and hours of endless preparation, cooking and dishes, I had virtually no downtime and little sleep. I started to blame the job as it became clear that there would be no ‘play’ time.
Guests party on floats and travel between yachts to pick up friends. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
At 8 p.m., dinner time agreed for that evening, I was ready with salmon, couscous and tabbouleh. The guests were out and started arriving after 9 p.m. It was a chaotic mess and I didn’t finish serving and cleaning until around midnight. I was totally depressed that no one contacted me about their change of plans or even cared. I collapsed in my bed, ready for the end of the trip.
Destination: Stari Grad, Hvar
In Stari Grad we were moored in a bay, each boat moored to the next. Guests strolled aboard each other’s yachts to eat and drink while some partied in the water on large floats. The DJ boat was back and the stage roared all day and night. I was stuck on the boat cooking, serving and cleaning while people got lost all around me. We never landed for the island or saw this side of Hvar.
Carpe Diem Beach is a favorite party spot in the Pakleni Islands. All photos © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt.
On the last day, I woke up before 6 a.m. and tired as I was, moved around non-stop for all the outstanding tasks I had to complete. I loved my guests and it was a little sad to say goodbye to them after getting to know them during the week, but I was so happy to come home.
My mom asked me if I was having fun and I said, “I’m glad I did, it was a new adventure. I was off the computer for a week, lived on a yacht, learned things and met nice people. But no, I didn’t have fun. I have a funny story and I agree to end it there.
Story and photographs © 2021, Cyndie Burkhardt. https://photo-diaries.com
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