Exactly two weeks to the day. That’s how long I’ve been in Fort Lauderdale and it’s been a full and interesting time. On the day of my arrival I happened to meet a new maaitjie – someone my age who is a little bit older than the general I-am-19-and-only-here-for-a-good-time yachtie. Words can not begin to describe the feeling of making friends with someone like-minded in a strange city and country. It’s also ironic at the same time, because I remember the advice of a very wise woman not too long ago (she’ll know who she is!) – stating that when you start traveling you become friends with the most unlikely people you would have ever thought.
In South Africa, in my ‘safe zone’, I would have probably said hello and that would’ve been it. But that was not the case now and that’s the beauty of it! This is one of the reasons why I’ve decided to start this journey, because of all the amazing people out there that I am still to meet. This little lady, by the name of Carolina, was born in Colombia and grew up in Norway. Gorgeous inside and out, with a great sense of humor and never-ending positivity! My kind of girl.
We started networking ferociously, because apparently that’s how you land a job… or so they say! Meetings with agencies, networking at Triton events and meeting a whole lot of like-minded people. Yes, this industry is tough. There is work out there, but there is also a lot of people looking for work. You have to find that ‘x-factor’ you can offer next to the other pretty blonde looking for a job? Well, after many agency meetings that niche for me seems to be my Swedish massage certification. In the same breath, beggars can’t be choosers! So right now, I’ll of course take just a stewardess position as well on any size yacht!
We were also told not to dock walk at all, contrary to the advice that I got in South Africa. For yachties with only a B1/B2 visa, this is a very ‘grey’ area. No further comment. Saying only that can already get me into a whole lot of trouble. Yikes!
I’ve managed to get 3 days of day work, which is very good for your resume. Day work, you ask? For those that are not in the yachting industry, this is when the boat comes into the marina or shipyard to get ready to go out again. Usually, there is too much work for the permanent crew to handle, so they get a couple of day workers in to help scrub, rub, sand, wax and whatever else needs to be done to get the yacht in tip-top shape. This is a great learning curve and obviously means you get to add more experience to you resume.
Enough of the seriousness though. Besides scouring the web and handing out business cards left, right and center – yes, I have a business card – we also found the time to let our hair down. Literally and figuratively! With Carolina being a hairdresser, I’ve already had my first foreign haircut! Beaches, shops and the inside of a bar or two has been explored as well. Lots of friends have been made. The challenge being to try and remember everyone’s names!
After the first week spent in a very ‘dodgy’ crew house, Carolina and I moved to new lodgings and we’re happy and settled in now. The competition for crew house are rife and there are lots of recommendations and reviews flying around by word-of-mouth. Our new place was mentioned to us by a girl that we day worked with and that just again proofs: it’s not what you now, but who you know! We’ve made even more friends here. Plus a lovely crew dinner has been enjoyed where everyone got together and prepared something. After which we gorged ourselves!
Yes, the crew house is situated next to a x-rated shop, the Booby Trap. I had a good giggle at that as well! But we’ve not had any problems with vagrant sex-addicts… yet!