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  • Writer's pictureNautic Nomad

S1 E6 Nautic Nomad Yachting Podcast with Gemma aka @TheYachtStew | Talking Leadership & Dealing

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

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Kindness on Board | Leadership Tips | Beautiful British Columbia

Today we have Gemma aka @TheYachtStew – Sharing with us leadership tips and advice for new Chief Stews, we also discuss bullying on board and crew kindness. Gemma’s advice for managing a team is truly insightful I feel not only for Chief Stews but anyone in a leadership role. We also talk about how to deal with bullies on board and how to encourage a team environment. On her blog, Gemma shares excellent Superyachting tips, tricks, shopping guides, cocktails, table settings and so much more. I highly recommend checking it out at and give her a follow on instagram @TheYachtStew.

Gemma and I both discover we are from the same part of the world! Gemma is from the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia and I am from a small town on Vancouver Island called the Comox Valley. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Pacific Northwest yet, it is some of the most picturesque cruising grounds in the world!

Gemma shares her most helpful tips for first time Chief Stewardesses on board Yachts

  1. Never call someone out in front of the rest of the team.

  2. Don’t prolong punishment. Being Firm but Fair is important.

  3. Be up front from the interview onwards what your team is about. No drama, no attitudes, and that you are all working towards a common goal. It is not a competition to ‘out do’ one another.

  4. Caring about solving the background issues that often appear as work troubles. Maybe something is going on a personal level that is affecting the work.

  5. Having an open door policy – being a listening ear for the life stuff, nourishing and protecting your team as they grow in their careers.

  6. Finish each day with encouragement for each individual on the team.

  7. Remembering that once you too were ‘green’ once helps having an understanding point of view.

  8. Be prepared for a lot more admin, head of department meetings and lots of planning!

  9. Play off of each others strengths. Each of your team members will excel at something – use it! Put them to work at what they are good at.

  10. Encourage everyone at what they are good at.

Green Crew: Tips for the learning curve

Being honest and up front about your mess ups is better than trying to hide stuff. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

Dealing with Bullying on Board

It’s important for crew who are being bullied to know they can come to you with their problem without fear of being made out to the person harassing them.  Gemma has a great approach for confronting this issue. She approaches the crew member at fault and let’s them know she is always around and watching – and that she has noticed this behavior. Discussing the issue directly and head on with them is the best way to nip it in the bud. Gemma employs a two week work review process where they work as a team to get better but puts the responsibility in the crew members court. Being firm but fair and reminding them of the expectations of their work requirements as discussed from the start – has been a successful approach to dealing with this situation for her. Making someone else’s day miserable also makes your own work slip and so it is easy to tell where that energy is going.

Having a Community of Kindness

When everyone feels like they belong, they can have a safe space to talk about their personal struggles because it’s all interconnected when working on board a yacht. The new HELM courses (aka Human Element, Leadership and Management) are not only mandatory for certain leadership positions but they are ushering in a new era of standards in the industry for the way that crew are managed on board.  HELM covers situational awareness, communication, training, culture, team working, leadership and workload management.

Medaire also has begun to offer emotional support for crew on board as well as shed light on the challenges crew face with maintaining a healthy mental state. October is Mental Health Month, lets use this time to remember to just be kind to one another.

How long does it take to become a Chief Stew?

For Gemma it took her 4 years. She was offered a Chief Stew role after a year and a half but she wanted to learn more from some other incredible Chief Stews in the industry before making the leap. Her opportunity came to step up when she had been on board a yacht for a year already and her Chief Stew left, opening up the spot for Gemma to take over. She already knew the boat, the owners and the Captain. It created a great opportunity for her to have her first Chief Stew role on a boat she was already familiar with while she learned everything else that comes with the role. She always tells her girls to enjoy their 5pm finish while they can and not to rush.

Once you step into that Chief Stew role the responsibility adds a lot more workload onto your plate. There is so much to learn, and you can learn it not only from your leaders but also those you work beside. Other team members bring their unique experiences to the table, it’s important to learn from each other even if you are the boss.

Check out Gemma’s step-by-step Training for designing a Superyacht table setting

Adventure Time

Gemma’s Favorite Places to Visit by Yacht include: Cuba, for the incredible culture, lifestyle, and attractions like diving and snorkeling spots. As a proud Canadian, she also adds that  Victoria and Vancouver were incredible to see by boat. There is nothing like the feeling of pulling up into your hometown on a yacht. Getting to see your family and friends after work is a surreal experience in the yachting industry.

Dent Island Yacht Club – a quaint Superyacht and Fishing resort hidden in the inlets between Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC. It arguably has one of the best gym views around! If you have not been cruising in British Columbia yet, you must put it on your bucket list. You can also ‘cruise’ that part of the world by flying into Seattle and taking the Clipper to Victoria through the San Juan inlets. Highly recommend staying the night at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle the night before your trip and catching some of Chan’s Bibimbap.

I want to say a big Thank You to Gemma for being our guest on the show! Please don’t forget to give her a follow and let us know if you have any thoughts, comments, or feedback in the comments below or send us a message at



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