Islander Stew of the Month – Sophie Hanson


What did you do before yachting, and how did your yachting career first begin?

My first career was in nursing; I then moved into restaurant management, and just before I joined yachting I was a catering project manager and helped to open a huge food centre. I first heard about yachting from a yacht broker who was a regular in a pub I managed. He explained what the job entailed and convinced me it would be a great career choice for me. It took me six weeks and some dockwalking to get my first position as a stew on a 47m.


What has been your favourite boat you’ve worked on, and why?

My current boat, Keri Lee III, is my favourite because of the crew – we’re a mix of nationalities and it’s great way to learn about other cultures. Plus we’re a charter yacht so we have a wide variety of guests and it’s interesting.


What are the best and worst parts about working onboard?

Worst part – having to share your personal space with so many people. Best part – the places that we see and the people that we meet.


How do you keep sane on charter?

Oh my god I don’t! It gets stressful but I just keep smiling. Having a great team helps a lot.


What are your best strategies for spoiling charter guests?

It’s about listening – try to find out what their real likes are, and then tailor make a plan around them. Theme nights are cool – for example this year we had some guests for whom it was their first charter, so we tried to really show off what we could do and pulled out all the stops with a casino night, Indian theme night, lunch on the beach… they really loved it. But not everyone would like that.



What is your signature cocktail?

Peach daiquiri – blend peaches, add Barcardi rum, peach tree liquer and ice, blend, and then garnish with a slice of peach.


What is your favourite yachting destination?

The Maldives was so lovely, it was paradise – you feel like you’re on another planet. Such amazing colours and wildlife, it was like a picture postcard. I remember when we had no guests on we could take the tender and have a cocktail on an atoll in the middle of the ocean – bliss!


If you owned a superyacht, what would you do differently?

I’d pay the crew a lot more! Only kidding! I would make sure the boat is well travelled and used properly on a worldwide itinerary. I’d also have it dog-friendly as I’d like to take my dogs with me.


What is your on-board pet hate?

People being two-faced – it’s so much easier in the long run when people are honest and direct.


What career achievement are you most proud of?

I’m proud of becoming a chief stew so quickly – it took me 18 months for me to get this chief stew position on a 54m. I/m also proud of the fact that I opened the largest tea rooms in Wales!


Best housekeeping tip/hack?

If there is chewing gum on clothes, use ice to make it hard to take off.


Tell us about your funniest embarrassing moment on board.

We put a swing rope out from the crane for guests to jump into the water. They wanted me to jump – so in full uniform I grabbed the rope and jumped .I didn’t realise that the rope was wrapped around my leg and so instead of falling I uncomfortably slid down the rope, burning a delicate area of my inner thigh in front of all the guests! They were all cheering but they didn’t know how much pain I was in!


What’s your favourite adventure in Mallorca?

I haven’t done it yet, but I’d love to cycle down to Sa Calobra.


If you could give your 20yr old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Travel more and start yachting earlier – I didn’t start until I was 29.


What’s your plan for the future?

I’m getting married this month! I’m hoping to start a family and move to the south of France.


Interviewed by Emmeline Gee,



From Ship to Shore

Every month I interview someone who has made the transition from working on yachts to a land-based life. This month’s interview is with Sadyojatananda Sri Nithya, who after 13 years in yachting is now a Sannyasi (a Hindu monk) in India.


How long did you work in yachting? Can you tell me about your yachting career – highlights, low points?

I left the shores of Africa in 2003 on a 65ft ketch. I was thinking that I will give it six months and return to Cape Town. The plan was to sail to Brazil and find work over there on yachts… little did I know.

Up until that point in my life I didn’t know this industry even existed and had no idea what to expect. My adventurous spirit made me face a few hardships, but in the long run it was most definitely worth it. Six months turned into 13 years! I got stuck in Brazil for three months without money for a flight back home and I had to live with hippies on the beaches of Brazil. I had some of the best times of my life over there, even though I didn’t have any money.

I then found a Robinson ‘45 and sailed to the Caribbean. The next high point happened in Tobago where again, I had no money! For two months I spent many days living off of the land with a Rasta named Emperor, spear-gunning fish and plucking yams and coconuts from the jungle.

I then sailed to Palma de Mallorca where I lived happily for many years. At first I was reluctant to take a permanent job, but as soon as I did I quickly worked my way up to some of the biggest yachts around. Yachting enabled me to travel extensively around the globe which is definitely a high point and one of the biggest reasons I did it for so long. That and the money of course! But it’s easy to let the money fool you and to get sucked into a comfort zone where it’s not so easy to get out of.


How did you know it was time for you to make the move to land?

I got fired under controversial circumstances. The chief officer insulted my guru and I confronted him about it. The Captain told me that I belonged to a cult – I told him to Google Hinduism in order for him to find out what it really means, but he simply said he’d made up his mind. I believe the Captain was looking for a reason to get rid of me, even though I had worked hard for him for six years. I wasn’t prepared to compromise on my integrity, so yes, it was high time for me to move on!


What was the most difficult thing about the transition?

The most difficult thing was not getting a chance to say goodbye to the bosun, my best friend Ned. We worked together on Al Mirqab, Serene and Palladium over a period of nearly seven years. I loved his seamless ability to blend an impeccable work ethic with the best sense of humour.


What was the best thing about it?

I was free at last! In fact, getting fired was the best thing that could ever happen to me, because it pushed me outside my comfort zone. Finally I could move on and focus on my real purpose in life, which led me to where I am today and I can say I have never been happier.


What do you miss most about yachting?

The thing I will miss the most is all the friendships I made over 13 years. All the life experience I picked up from working with numerous cultures is priceless. The best cultures I worked with were the Nepalese and the Bulgarians. I miss the camaraderie and the laughs, the salt in my eyes during an eight hour stint doing water sports with the boss’s kids, the special places I have been to and long to go back to, driving and taking care of the tenders… but most of all I will miss Ned. The bond we made during years of working together on yachts is rare and I miss the banter.


What do you do now? 

After I got fired, I quickly made my way to my guru, Paramahamsa Nithyananda. I went to his ashram in the South of India where I became a volunteer for his spiritual program called Inner Awakening. It’s a 21 day yoga and meditation program where the participants get to transform their lives by being in our guru’s presence and living his teachings. We live the four ‘tattvas’ or truths which are: Integrity, Authenticity, Responsibility and Enriching. After one Inner Awakening as a volunteer, I went with them to North India where we attended the biggest social gathering on the planet, the Kumbh Mela. It was there that I became Brahmachari in the Hindu monastic order and I took the vows of Sannyas. Since then I have been riding this wave of consistent expansion where I get to work on my own enlightenment on a daily basis. It is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done and it just keeps on getting better each day. I am in charge of the audio department and a live T.V. station broadcasting from 4:30am until midnight every day. Our next program will be in India, then we go to Tobago in November. After 13 years of yachting I get to return to that magical tropical island, but this time it will be as a monk to conduct a meditation retreat. Exciting times!


Do you have any advice for fellow yachties about going land-based?

I can only give advice on what I could have done better and that would be with finances. Most yachties, not all, love to buy all sorts of crap they don’t need, and don’t know how to spend money wisely. I myself bought all the gadgetry you could think of, but the short-lived period of satisfaction soon fizzled out and died. Save your money and do something worthwhile with it, otherwise like me, you might end up having to stay longer to save. Money isn’t everything, but we do need it and it will make your life a lot easier if you can save some for when you want to move on. Also I would say never put your integrity on the line no matter what. It is worth far more than politics.


Interviewed by Emmeline Gee,


October events

October in Mallorca brings many autumn fiestas; the programmes of which are usually available about a week before the event. Both Inca and Llucmajor have annual harvest festivals running over several weekends, with exhibitions, horse shows, live music and parties.


1st – 2nd October – Alcudia Fira
Parades, exhibitions, music and dancing at this annual agricultural fair.


2nd – Alaro Guild Fair

An annual market of artisans and craftspeople.


14th – Frisbee tournament, Port d’Alcudia


15th – Colcada de la Beata, Palma. A lively parade through the streets of Palma, followed by music and dancing in the city’s squares, to celebrate the beatification of Santa Catalina Tomás.


23rd – Red Pepper Fair, Felanitx






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