Q&A: Elise Ciappara
Elise was born and bought up in west Wales and joined the yachting industry in 2009. She sampled a variety of careers before finding yachting, from wedding planning to optics and, most recently, a four-year foray into the world of finance. Having always lived by the sea, she finally tried living on it instead and decided to run away from the office for good. A consummate travel bug, yachting has provided the perfect salve for her itchy feet!
She has since cruised the waters of the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Central America and is always looking for more places to tick off the map. Elise speaks English fluently and can make herself understood in French, Spanish, Polish and Welsh. When not on the boat, Elise can be found in shoe shops, art galleries or museums and will often have to be found by the crew as she indulges her penchant for exploring new places without maps.
How did you get into the yachting industry?
My cousin has been in the industry for years, she invited me to the Antigua Yacht Show and I fell in love with the industry.
Is it how you expected it to be?
Yes, I came into it with my eyes open, I never expected anything other than work hard, play hard!
What do you love most about your job?
The basic job satisfaction is fantastic, knowing I am doing something with such high standards and succeeding gives me a buzz.
What is the single biggest issue affecting yachting at the moment?
The astonishing lack of a training culture – I find it harder and harder to sort out training for the stews, we don’t need certificates etc the way the deck crew and engineers do in order to progress so it is difficult to justify it. But without training and personal progression, people don’t see a reason to stay.
What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing – I could sleep for my country! I do tend to worry about where is my life going etc – this is an industry with a sell by date for the girls and you need to have an exit strategy in mind.
What would you change if you could?
I’m not sure… It would be nice if we could get more personal space as crew – obviously the new regulations are always coming through but it can be difficult!
What could you do without?
Entitled crew – if someone is chartering the boat then they are millionaires and can have whatever- but we are here to work, it irritates me when crew start expecting to be treated like guests – We are always yelling ‘this is not a mini mart!’
If you weren’t working on boats, what would you be doing?
I probably would not still be working in finance. Maybe back in wedding planning?
What is your favourite yacht?
I’ll tell you when I have been on all of them...
Where is the most beautiful bay in the world?
I love Montenegro, but the most beautiful bay? I’ll let you know when I have been to all of them..
What was your greatest experience on a boat?
I have had so many. I love the team I currently work with, we have so many fun times.. although taking a weekend trip to Florence with two of my friends was a high point. If it wasn’t for yachting I doubt I would have been able to make it there.
What was your worst experience on a boat?
All yachties know that feeling at the end of a long day on charter when the last thing you are aware of is your feet hurting, and the first thing you notice when you wake is the same!
Generally speaking, which nationalities tend to be the best bosses?
I have only had Americans and Brits so far… They were all lovely so I know I have been lucky.
The best charter guests?
All of them are good – I think when they get on board they are looking to have a good time, and they will- as long as you pay attention to their signals!
Who do you most admire in the world of yachting?
This will sound like sucking up… but my current chief. She is younger than me but has been in the industry for years and is always composed, far more so than me!
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Getting into yachting in the first place. It was a massive leap of faith to leave a comfortable office job, a house, life etc and try it. But it all worked out so it must have been the right thing! I am happier now than I ever was in the grey old UK.
What do you do when you are not working?
I really should put hotels and spas into my hobbies on my CV, that’s where my spare money goes really. City breaks when in the Med, and other islands when in the Caribbean. If we are based in the USA I will be going to see my tattoo artist to finish the doodles on my back.
Which three favourite objects would you take to your desert island?
My Kindle, some kind of electronic charging device for the Kindle, and my teddy bear (I really need to grow up).
What is your motto?
What is your favorite story of the sea?
Legends? I love the stories of the Selkies, men and women who are seals in the day and shed their skin on the beach at full moon to dance as beautiful people. If you steal their seal skin they are caught as humans until they get it back.
What will you be doing in five years?
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