They grew up in Raglan together and now – after stints aboard superyachts in the Mediterranean and beyond – Yjosine Barry, Jade Klenner and Janet Andre are all about to head overseas again for another taste of the lavish lifestyle led by wealthy yacht owners the world over.
It’s a “very different” life to that of the real world, they say, but for them it’s one way to travel in luxury while getting paid for the privilege. And they’re hooked.
Yjosine traded the security of her local job in real estate for a flight early this year to Egypt from where she boarded a 62-metre superyacht for the start of her big OE. “I’ve always loved the ocean and wanted to see the world,” she explains. “And I was brought up on boats when I was little.”
As a stewardess, the 23-year-old says she was run off her feet at dinners and cocktail parties for up to 40 guests while sailing in the Mediterranean for five-and-a-half months to exotic destinations in the likes of Turkey and Greece.
Despite long hours and sore feet, Yjosine loved the experience. She was one of 18 “mostly Kiwi” crew members aboard and got to explore Greek islands like Ios – her favourite – where she spent a memorable week ashore sightseeing and partying.
But when asked by the Chronicle for a photo of the good times she had to confess she’d “lost quite a few phones”, though whether at parties or overboard wasn’t clear.
Yjosine fleetingly caught up with friends Janet and Jade one recent weekend back home in Raglan before heading to the Viaduct Harbour on Auckland’s waterfront where she’s now working on a “highly confidential” superyacht venture before heading off again, possibly around the Pacific.
Says Jade of their brief reunion: “It was cool exchanging stories.” The three have been to some of the same places at different times, and while loving the familiarity of being home are now all looking forward to their next stint overseas.
Jade’s soon off to London, then across to Cannes on the French Riviera for a permanent position she’s rigged up through an online agency as stewardess on a 52-metre motor yacht. “I love living over there (Europe),” the 21-year-old enthuses. “It’s just where I need to be.”
She recently returned from Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, having worked this year’s season for the owner of a 21-metre yacht for which she helped do a refit. There was a lot of pressure redecorating it, Jade admits, but she learnt more about “provisioning” of the yacht than general housekeeping which was a bonus.
As one of just a few crew on board, Jade enjoyed doing day charters for up to 12 guests. It was an “amazing” experience, she told the Chronicle, the highlight being sailing around outlying islands for a week including to the French island Reunion.
She’s become a bit of an old hand working in the wealthy world of yachting. Last year her stewardess job on board a 57-metre superyacht based in Barcelona, Spain, involved cooking for a “great crew” of nine. And while she’s cooked before, Jade admits that recipes on Google helped out a lot.
But her previous superyacht experience was less pleasant: she worked 98 days straight – up to 128 hours per week – during a five-month round trip which took in Marseilles, Malta, Turkey, Greece and Italy.
While she made the most of anything from two days to two weeks off at every port, Jade says the trip itself was 80 percent work. “The life of travel, money and luxury look glamorous and fun,” she adds, “but the hard work requires extremely long hours…
“It’s not for everybody,” she adds, “and you need to know how to bite your tongue. ‘Yes’ is the only answer in superyachting.”
Janet, who’s just completed her first season superyachting on board a 23-metre boat with a few Kiwi crew members, agrees. “You’re expected to do as you’re told, always.”
But she describes her adventure this year as “life-changing”. A trained chef, and with less gruelling hours than Jade experienced last year, the 20-year-old was lucky to get lots of time off to explore new places.
A highlight was a week spent on the beaches of Corsica, a Mediterranean island located between France and Italy. “It was cool … and so unexpected.”
She’s set her sights on going back to Antibes in France in a few months, with possible sous chef job opportunities coming up through online agencies.
The trio all completed their Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) qualifications – and got their medical seafarer certificates – before “networking” and applying for jobs either online or in Antibes, the main superyacht hub in France.
After that, 90 percent of getting a job depends on how you present yourself, Jade reckons. “It’s all about how you look and how you speak,” she insists.