Being a stew on a Superyacht is no easy task, and it’s certainly not as glamorous as many think. Any of you out there doing the job, or who have done it in the past, will know that it’s the most relentless and exhausting job, particularly whilst on a charter when days are long and opportunities to even go out on deck can be few and far between.
Stews also have to be massively creative, not only with the ‘fun’ parts of the job such as table decorations and flower displays but with how to keep the boat and the guests’ belongings looking top-notch. Stains on fragile fabrics, finding the best way to clean a huge range of surfaces and how to make the flowers last as long as the charter, are all examples of things that stews are constantly juggling during their unbelievably busy day.
With that in mind, we have put together a collection of tips, tricks and hacks to help you find solutions to problems, and maybe be a little inspired to try different things too. All interior crew have their book of tricks, but you might just discover a couple you didn’t know.
Naturally, your best line of defence against damage to these is protection. Always have carpets and any furniture fabrics treated with an appropriate stain repellent/waterproofing treatment to minimise potential damage. However, accidents still happen so here’s a couple of tips…
- Never scrub or put any stain remover on spilt red wine. Blot as much as possible with a WHITE paper towel (no dyes), then add some club soda – or cold water – to dilute the stain. Keep stain wet and keep blotting, never scrub. When the paper is coming up clean, lay a stack of kitchen towel over the area and pile heavy books on top. The weight will push the towel down so that liquid sitting deeper in the pile will be absorbed. Check and change paper often until the stain is gone.
- Suede is a beautiful fabric but requires regular care to keep it looking amazing. Start by gently vacuuming with the upholstery attachment, or brush by hand to remove loose dirt. Then, brush the nap to restore the surface texture. Rub-down the suede with a proper suede cleaning cloth to keep it looking its best.
- For liquid stains on suede, the most important thing to do is act quickly! First, wipe the stain with a suede cloth, then dip a towelling rag into white vinegar and wipe the stain to remove as much as possible. Wipe inwards towards the middle of the stain to prevent it from spreading further.
- For greasy stains on suede, use some white spirit on a white paper towel and wipe. Then, dust the stain with some bicarb and leave it to dry well. Once totally dry, lightly brush or hoover the stain with the upholstery attachment.
All stews have certain ways of doing things, and products they like to use, but here are some useful tips and suggestions…
- Getting all marks off glass and mirrors can be a nightmare. Try turning off all the lights and shutting all the doors, and using a torch or your phone to check for any you’ve missed.
- Be organised – have everything you need with you prior to starting cleaning, as lots of trips waste precious time. Try having a list of all products and items you need in your caddy that you can check off before you go.
- Have a set routine of cleaning that you stick to every time. That way, you will do it automatically, and be sure that you’ve cleaned everything. Also, when you’re totally exhausted mid-season, you can pretty much do it without thinking!
- Use environmentally friendly/natural products and brands wherever possible. Essential oils are a must-have part of your cleaning kit. DoTerra make the highest quality oils, that are actually food grade, so you can use them in your cleaning, and in the galley! Oils like lemon, lavender, orange, citronella, lemongrass and tea tree will be incredibly useful. Mix lemon oil with vinegar to make a fantastic all-purpose cleaner without the chemicals.
- Mix 50/50 table salt with household white vinegar and soak any stained china dishes for 5 minutes prior to washing. Or, you can rinse the stained china with vinegar, and then gently rub stains with a paste of baking soda and water before the final rinse.
- When you’re washing glass and crystal, only use a minimal amount of detergent to avoid streaks. You can also add a drop or two of white vinegar to the rinsing water for extra sparkle.
- Silverware can be fragile, particularly when exposed to salty sea air. Tarnishing is caused by the silver reacting to oxygen, so keeping it stored in an anti-tarnish cutlery roll is the best way to store it. Also, do not use any detergent with citrus additives, and rinse it immediately when dirty to reduce staining.
- For great porcelain and china storage, you don’t have to fork out for expensive dividers, using flannels, coffee filters or napkins work just as well.
- Hairline cracks in china dinnerware can often be repaired by being submerged in milk and left to simmer for an hour. Milk contains casein, a protein that forms a natural plastic-type glue that will fill cracks when heated.
- Screw up a ball of aluminium foil and put it into the dryer to eliminate static cling.
- Always order a good amount of spares for crockery as the design may go out of production.
- Lavender or citronella essential oils make for great, natural fly and wasp repellents.
- To keep cut flowers fresh, mist every day and put ice cubes in their water before putting them out.
- Wherever possible, store flower arrangements in an air-conditioned room overnight. It revives and refreshes them.
- Always cut stems at an angle, and re-do this every few days to refresh the blooms. Ideally, do this with a really sharp knife instead of scissors for the cleanest cut that minimises damage to the stems.
- Feed floral displays with the dregs of guests’ sugary drinks, or make a sugar-water solution.
- Flowers start rotting in the vase due to bacteria, so put a little Listerine or vodka in the water and they will last a lot longer!
- Keep any flowers away from fruit, as fruit emits gasses that will prematurely wilt flowers.
- Change water every two days and follow the above steps for flowers that last ages.
- Use flowers from displays that are on their way out as part of your next table centrepiece. Or, you can dry the petals, add essential oils and put into pretty little bags as drawer scenters.
- Use your surroundings/location to inspire your table décor. Local flowers, plants, herbs, shells, sand etc., can all make lovely focal points on your table. Add some candles, lights or ornaments, and you can impress your guests and give them a sense of where they are.
- Don’t be afraid to source interior decoration items from budget shops such as IKEA or Zara Home. You can easily dress things up to look amazing, and save some of your budget. However, don’t be tempted to buy things you’d only use as a one-off. Try to buy things you could see in a few different decorative settings to maximize use, and not take up all the boat’s storage!
- A good stew will always have a fantastic welcome drink for guests up her sleeve. Something refreshing, pretty and non-alcoholic to perk up travel-weary guests as they come onboard.
Hopefully, you’ve found some useful tips in this article, and will help make sure your season runs more smoothly!