Meet The Crew

Written by Melanie Winters

Written by Melanie Winters

This month Melanie Winters chats to Georgia Kirton, Stewardess on Blue Papillon, about the highs and lows of life in yachting.

Twenty-four year old Georgia Kirton grew up in South Africa, and after spending many happy family holidays boogie boarding, swimming and sun-worshipping with her sister in Mozambique, she longed for more overseas adventures. Fortunately, both she and her sister had reached the same point in their lives and decided to leave South Africa together to start their careers, and one hell of an adventure, in yachting.

Georgia’s interest in yachting was spiked early, after a family friend who worked in the industry used to tell her endless stories extolling its many virtues. As soon as she finished her Honours degree in Fashion Design, Georgia went on to do her yachting courses, successfully completing all of her necessary qualifications with flying colours. However, before relocating to Palma de Mallorca, Georgia moved back home for three months to work as a Head of House for a local beauty salon. This job would provide her with valuable experience working with clients and organising schedules. Skills that would later prove very useful on-board.   

On arrival in Palma, much like many ‘greenies’, Georgia spent the first two months dock walking, as well as spending many hours online searching for her dream job. Her first break was as a day worker on a sailing yacht. She helped the Captain and crew prepare for a guest charter and loved every minute of it. Even though this job was only temporary, she knew she had done the right thing. Georgia then landed her current job on the beautiful sailing yacht, Blue Papillon. Aside from working on the yachts, she says she gained so much knowledge simply working inside STP, one of the busiest shipyards in Palma.  

Of all the positives that come with working in yachting, Georgia’s highlight to date has been working for the owner on her current boat. Blue Papillon has a wonderful crew and she says that she feels fortunate to have found an amazing boss and mentor who has taught her so much about yachting and does everything he can to help her improve her skills so that she can progress quickly. The whole experience is helping to build her confidence, as she has to not only deal with contractors on a daily basis, but organise tasks on the boat independently. 

Another highlight of working with the local contractors, is that they are teaching her Spanish – a very valuable skill if you live in Spain, she laughs. Every day they teach her a new word or phrase and everyone has a good giggle about it. She says knowingly, “it’s a much easier and more enjoyable way to learn a new language than Duolingo!”

However, life in yachting isn’t all fun and games. One of Georgia’s lower points is that working on-board can sometimes be a bit monotonous. Cleaning the same cabins day in day out is not one of any interior crew’s favourite parts of the job, but thankfully things do change quickly on board. There is always something different to do or to learn so her slightly down days are always pretty short lived!  

As this is Georgia’s first season, and the boat is still in the shipyard, she jokes that she hasn’t had the opportunity to lose her marbles yet! When working with the owner, she focuses on his encouraging comments and gets her work done but is looking forward to their first trip with guests on-board, when they will actually get to leave dry land!

One of her current greatest pleasures is to look after the owner and make sure that his boat is clean and tidy (despite the contractors inevitable mess at times) and she ensures that he always has bottles of cold water waiting for him. “It’s been a crazy hot summer and so even the small gesture of having cold water, goes a long way.” She understands that the owner appreciates these little things, plus she always greets him with a big smile!  As she says, “when you feel valued, you work harder and enjoy your job more.” She tells me that she feels proud of how the owner has begun to trust her enough to handle more jobs, such as finding companies to undertake repair work, helping choose samples and sourcing other services for the boat during the refit.

Ever quick to smile and laugh at herself, Georgia recalls one of her most embarrassing incidents when she missed a step and found herself crashing noisily down the scaffold stairs. Thankfully there was a crew member on hand on the ground running to catch her. When she brushed herself off and stopped laughing she noticed that two of the crew on the boat alongside had been watching her the whole time with mildly disguised amusement! 

Although she’s not yet at sea, Georgia is still loving life in Palma, exploring the beaches, walking through the old town and immersing herself wherever possible in Spanish culture. She hopes to venture to more places on her bucket list including Malta, Australia, Corfu and if she ever gets the opportunity to head to Alaska, well… she’d be off! 

For anyone looking at getting into yachting, Georgia’s advice is: “Don’t overthink it and trust in your abilities! This is the greatest adventure you could embark on and it is an experience you will never regret taking. Always be yourself and do your best. If I could give my younger self one piece of advice it would be to remember that being 20 is only a drop in the ocean of life and that there are so many adventures to look forward to. And don’t sweat the small stuff! Enjoy it!” 

So what does the future hold for Georgia? She says she wants to continue working in yachting and hopes to progress to Chief Stewardess, as well as getting more involved in organising trips and activities for the owner and guests. In the meantime she is going to throw herself wholeheartedly into the boat that she now calls home, with an owner and crew that she regards as family. 


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