Sometimes it can get hard working on a superyacht. Sometimes jobs pile up and you think you’re alone in your feelings. The team from Seas The Mind knows all about these feelings, being ex-crew. In their monthly blog, they are here to explain the importance of reaching out to fellow crew, and to talk about two little words that can make all the difference.

Two Little Words…

One of my favourite feelings in the world is when I share a thought or sentiment, especially one that has been bothering me, and I get an animated ‘me too!’ It amazes me how those two little words can instantly make me feel less alone, lightened somehow, and sometimes relieved of a very dark cloud.

I hope that over the next few months as I touch on some of my inner life in yachting and some of the many shared experiences of crew who have taken my courses it will help you too to know you are not alone. 

There are endless pieces of advice online on how to de-stress, cope better and breath through it, but sometimes what we need is to feel understood. The advice helps, but mostly when it comes from a tried and tested place of common, in our case crew-specific, struggle.

Expressing Feelings To Kindred Spirits

Throughout most of my career I managed to find at least one or two kindred spirits on each crew, who saw the world in a similar way to me. 

On tough days those friends were life-savers and we could laugh, cry and hug our way through it. But sometimes I worked on a smaller crew, or no-one else was where I was in life-terms. Many times I noticed that the male crew on board didn’t express their feelings so readily, even when I could see they were struggling. Sometimes we simply and quite sensibly may not want to convey all our feelings to our colleagues. 

We may find someone’s behaviour distressing but we are junior on board and desperate to get that first season’s reference under our belt. We may be a Head of Department and utterly dreading the season ahead, but want to keep our team motivated and happy. We may be the Captain and know that no-one else on board feels the unique pressures of life at the top of a very stressful pile. 

Whatever the very valid reasons for keeping our feelings to ourselves, it is also true that this can lead to feelings of isolation. Even amidst a massive crew and whilst never physically alone, if our psychological state remains unshared, loneliness can be profound.

It amazes me how those two little words can instantly make me feel less alone, lightened somehow, and sometimes relieved of a very dark cloud.

The Importance Of Mental Health First-Aid Training

Seas the Mind, in its Mental Health First-Aid training, teaches crew how to keep each other and their guests safe in the event of mental health crisis. But there is a world of experience and many steps in between ‘totally fine’ and ‘total crisis’. Most of us, for most of the time, live in this liminal space. If we are lucky, the negative emotional states amidst our many yachting blessings will never escalate to crisis level but they can be uncomfortable nonetheless. 

I will touch on depression and anxiety, maladaptive coping mechanisms, burn-out, grief, relationship break-ups and the pressures of rank among other things in these columns. I’d love to hear from you: what you would like to read about, your feedback and your experiences too.

Your comment could be just the feeling of connection someone needs that day. When we step on board we don’t cease to be human, but the pressure to keep the smile on and the pace up is high. At this time of year I remember looking ahead at rushed yard periods, packed charter schedules and having to stop and take some very deep breaths.  

You Are Not Alone

In the absence of talking with friends, simply reading that another has felt the same way is beneficial. 

I hope I can make even one crew member feel that connection as a fellow yachtie and pass on some of the insights and helpful tips I have learned, both in and out of Seas the Mind. So, if you are the Stewardess in tears with your back to the cabin door or the Deckie terrified about your sick relative at home, the Captain trying to cope with a secret panic attack, a Chef slumped overwhelmed over a provisioning list or an Engineer hyperventilating in a tech space, I hope I can provide some help here in the coming months, and if nothing else, the solace of a ‘me too’.

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