Ex Stew of the Month: Natalia Cohen

Where are you from and how did your yachting career begin?

I was born in South Africa and grew up in the UK. I had my first taste of sailing in the Whitsunday Islands in Australia in 1996 when I was a hostess on the 3 day/2 night cruises and always promised myself I would work on boats again one day. 15 years later when I took a long sabbatical from my career in Tourism, I decided to enter the Super Yacht industry!


What was the highlight of your yachting career?

To be honest I was really lucky during my yachting career with great boats, crew and owners. I worked hard but have nothing but fond memories from my time on the 3 boats I’ve stewed. My role was kept varied with being sole stew, part of a small crew where we were just two stews and then Lead Stew on a 62m Feadship.
The relationship I had with the owner and their family on my last boat was definitely one of the highlights but so were crew nights out and friendships made.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve spoilt yourself to at the end of a hard season?

I took my mum for her 70th birthday to Uganda and Rwanda to see the Gorillas. It was amazing and although it nearly bankrupt me, it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

Why did you leave yachting?

It was hard to walk away from good money but I believe challenges and unique experiences help you develop as a person and are what life is all about. I had been lucky and was enjoying my time in the industry but an opportunity arose that was too unique for me to let pass by. When I was offered a job managing a remote safari eco-lodge on the East Coast of Tanzania, it would have been rude of me to decline!

Tell us about your new adventure with Coxless Crew?

Always one for an adventure, this one has to be the biggest so far! I will be part of the first all female crew to row the Pacific. Four women, one 29ft pink boat and 8446 miles of ocean over a pe
riod of 6 months! This is a huge challenge that we are undertaking to generate awareness of women who have had to face and overcome adversity and in doing so we are hoping to raise money for our two charities that we are supporting, Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care.
Please follow us on www.coxlesscrew.com and Facebook and Twitter: Coxlesscrew

What is your biggest fear for your voyage with Coxless Crew?

I think everyday during the run up to getting the boat to the start line and also once we’re out in the ocean will bring daily challenges and fears. This will be as far outside my comfort zone as I imagine I will ever be.

How are you preparing for your crossing?

There is lots of work to be done in the run up to the launch in April 2015. From finding sponsorship, coordinating logistics, developing social media, PR, physical and mental training, team building exercises, sea survival skills, navigation, electronics, dealing with sleep deprivation…the list continues with what needs to be developed and mastered in the next few months.

How did you keep your crew and guests entertained?  

I initiated a ‘Quote of the day’ for both crew and guests. Every day a crew member would write up a quote on our crew noticeboard and then I would collate all the quotes monthly and print them out for everyone. We got an amazing collection. Some motivational and others just entertaining!
With the guests, I would give them a Quote of the Day every morning at breakfast and then we would discuss them over lunch.

I also offered salsa and merengue dancing classes for anyone who was interested! Always an amusing experience.

How did you keep fit onboard?

I have to say that working as a stewardess was possibly one of the unhealthiest times of my life! Although you’re on your feet all day, I ate fairly constantly and in large quantities and due to my workload had very limited time (or motivation) for exercise.

What was your favourite destination that you visited onboard?

I loved the deep blue waters of Croatia, but there really is something special about Mallorca. I have had many great adventures there.

Tell us about your best Bridget Jones moment onboard.

A testament to how well I clean…I walked face first into a closed glass door when exiting from the salon to the aft deck. Luckily I had no drinks or food in my hands and it was just my ego (and nose) that got bruised!

What was your happiest moment onboard?

Just before leaving my last boat, I compiled and edited a short video of highlights of our season for all the crew (from photos and video footage that I had collected). It was an amazing snapshot of the time we had shared and watching it in the Crew Mess with everyone filled me with emotion. Although there are moments when the work is demanding, stress levels are high and rewards are few, t
he overall experience was a wonderful one!



How can aspiring Stewardess’ gain experience before entering the yachting industry?

It’s all a question of luck. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time and having the confidence. Experience in the hospitality industry, customer service, management and good people skills are all very useful. Every boat is different and ideally you need to find the right one for you and your character. Do some research, never give up and always think positive!

What are your best strategies for spoiling guests?

It’s all about the attention to detail. Get to know your guests well. Know everything about their likes, dislikes and quirks. Pre-empt and give 110% service at all times. Great table settings and music can really make a lunch or dinner and provide an instant atmosphere.
Again, it will depend on the boat and clients so be observant and perceptive and adjust as necessary.

What did you least enjoy about yachting?

There are a lot of very large egos in this industry…and if I’m honest, some of the uniforms! The ones I had were never very flattering.

What was your onboard pet hate?


Where would you like to be in 10 years?

I have no idea. Life is all about living in the moment and enjoying the journey. I just know that I’d like to be happy, healthy, surrounded by people that I love and inspire me and to be making a difference in whatever way I can.

How can we follow your Coxless Crew Adventure across the Pacific?

Follow us on www.coxlesscrew.com and Facebook and Twitter: Coxlesscrew

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