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Owner wanting to "keep me busy" whilst in our 8+ week shipyard period plus other issues!!
Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015 1:06 AM
Joined: 20/06/2013
Posts: 10

Hey there everyone,

Really need other crews points of view on owners who want to keep us busy whilst in a shipyard period. i have spoken to a lot of other crew friends about this, however I just wanted to know if anyone out there had any advise on this topic of owners wanting you to work at their houses in what they believe to be down time (we all know ship yard periods are really busy and is the time to get the boats back into order)  I have told the captain and the owner that it is a b1b2 visa violation which could see me get deported and to be honest I straight out don't want to be a house maid! I am a yacht stewardess NOT a house maid! They are now giving me only 1 of two options either work at the house as house slave or go on annual leave UNPAID for maybe more than 8 weeks! I cannot afford to go on annual leave without pay as I have just had a massive financial burden with my mums funeral a month ago and a $3000 dental bill in the last 2 weeks. Does anyone know of any legal clauses I can show them or what options do I have? Can they really make me take only these two options? Obviously we all know yachting isn't normal employment world and we are very disposable no matter how hard working we are or loyal to the owners for that matter... 


(This below might help explain my circumstances on the boat better) 

I was hired on my current boat as a crew cook/stew whilst owners not on board and when owners on board I was to help them at times to chop food as they cook for themselves. I asked a lot of questions in my interview as the boat only has 3 crew and it's almost a 40 meter yacht. After negotiations on my pay (them negotiating me down) and assurance from the captain that this boat was very relaxed and different from other boats I accepted the position. A week into the summer the owner said they like some food I had cooked and wanted me to cook the entire rest of the summer. Turns out the owners were in deed live abroad owners for 3 months straight.  I'm going into my 5th month and I am trying to get my "longevity" as I always freelanced however agent told me to get on a yacht for at least a year to give me more options for full time positions. Don't get me wrong the owners are very nice, however they do kinda treat me like a discounted item at Costco! They also expected me to be nanny to their 2 boys. I work my arse off and I'm feeling pretty let down especially as I came back to the boat 3 weeks earlier because the other two stews they replaced me with the 3 weeks whilst I was back in Australia for my mums funeral were terrible. So I pulled myself together and came back to the boat due to finances and they were in a sticky situation at the end of the summer.  

So after a busy 3 months of 16 hour days straight by myself and hardly any days off and being stewardess, Cook, nanny, deckhand and was even approached to be purser they still want to make sure I'm busy in the down season. They also will only give me a week to get the whole boat detailed and ready for the next season at the end of the 8 week shipyard period. Never in my interview process was I told I would find myself in this situation. I knew about the shipyard period but was never told that I would have to go be a house slave or take time off without pay for them to save money. FFS yes I know what you thinking "just leave". Like I said I'm trying to get my longevity. 

So yeah does anyone know if I have a case or if this is indeed a total dead end with them wanting me to go unpaid or risk my visa at their house! 

Thanks for your input in advanced....

Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015 10:04 AM
Joined: 03/09/2014
Posts: 8

Hi Auzziechick,

I feel for your situation as I've seen a lot of abuses of stews, and other crew in this way whilst also being given the friendly attitude to lure you in until you realise that your balls deep in it and seem trapped.

Without knowing the details of your contract it is hard to give you any legal advice although the main problem that you are going to find is that any legal avenue you do pursue is going to take time and it sounds like you don't have a lot of that. The only thing I can suggest if you don't want to take the time off and don't want to move to the villa is to somehow get someone's professional opinion about the B1/B2 visa situation with working ashore which we all know is illegal and can get you deported. I would suggest the owners lawyer if you can get their contact details as they can probably handle it more delicately. If your contract states about holiday entitlement then there is now legal way that they can force you to take a holiday. Any resistance though that you give to the owners wishes is only going to drive a wedge between you and the owners. Is it worth working for people that treat you like this?

My main advice though would be to just leave and find another job, of which I'm sure you won't have a problem finding with a full season's work experience. As long as the captain will write you a reference you should be fine. I realise you are worried about the longevity but get it on the next boat as your just working yourself further into a corner if you don't act soon.

Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015 1:15 PM
Joined: 20/06/2013
Posts: 10

Hi Guranga, 

Thank heaps for your reply I really appreciate it. I have 3 years experience on a lot of boats freelancing. This was my first proper full time position and I was aiming for the at least 1 year longevity mark. 

I do have a contract and I am finally going to join Nautilus just in case this gets ugly which I desperately hope it won't. Im just waiting on them to get back to with details on joining. My captain is good but I feel he isn't sticking up for like he should knowing how I feel about everything. He said he doesn't want to loose me but I also have to think about my self for once and look after me! 

Yes they have basically driven me into a corner. I get along with the owners wonderfully however I am starting to resent them that they want to work me to the bone and came back from Australia earlier than I wanted to because they were in a pickle, yet they still want to jib me! Just feeling extremely disappointed and having to change boat at this time of the year is something that I just really don't need right now. 

Is there a website I can google that you know of which clearly states it's illegal?? 

Ahhhh anyways thank you again for your response... How does it get any better than this??

Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 4:30 PM
Joined: 01/03/2015
Posts: 1

From the owners perspective, if they normally don't retain the crew during this down time or not all the crew and they are aware of your situation of needing the money, they might be doing you a favor. A visa violation for you is also a violation for them and they have more to lose.

If you like working with them and want to continue this is easy, take one of their choices and continue after the 8 weeks or so back on the boat. It's not worth driving a wedge if they think they are doing you a favor.

If they normally retain all the crew and they are singling you out, do you really want to continue with this owner. Again, take the work and look for other positions. You are more likely to get a good reference if you have been doing what they asked.

In all cases, you said you couldn't afford not to have the job so it seems you have to do it whether you look for other work or not. Any legal path or confrontational path will not end well for you, there are plenty of stew's willing to do what they are asking for continued employment.

just my 2c

Numpty Sailor
Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 8:35 PM
Joined: 06/08/2014
Posts: 23

Some advice from the top .... browse the web for the conditions of your visa. Study it. Do you have a contract ? Study it. Then go see the Captain with a written list of items that you need to see resolved. Follow this meeting up with a polite, to the point e-mail to him summarising your position. He has to man up and sort this out as this is all his domain. He cannot hide behind blah, blah, blah. He is the Captain - it's his problem.

  • Under no circumstances should you be working ashore. You will get caught and you will lose your visa for at least 10 years which means that your yachting career is effectively over.
  • What does your hours of work and rest schedule look like ? (But maybe you don't have one as a small private boat).
  • If all else fails go talk to the Owner. You never know, but he will probably understand and may even admire your pluck.
As someone else has already said - start looking for another job where common sense prevails. Contact you friends and see if they know of any openings. You will be fine. Sorry to hear about your Mum.
Remember always .... Forget yesterday as there is nothing you can do about it. Deal with today and leave tomorrow to your God. Good luck.


Anita Warwick
Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 2:57 AM
Joined: 15/05/2008
Posts: 44

How did you last enter US on the B1/B2? 

 To be working legally you entered with a letter of employment from this vessel and entered on the B1 (work/business)?   This entry allows you to work on THIS foreign flagged vessel only. Check your passport. If they entered you on the B2 (tourist visa) as Immigration sometimes  incorrectly do, you may already be working illegally.

Tough situation. Do you have a contract that addresses time off? If you take the unpaid leave maybe you can get some freelance gigs. If you leave altogether I hope the captain will give you a good reference.

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