Caroline Rossy is one of those people who reminds you that everything in life is a choice, up to a point.
An ex-stew, she knows a thing or two about the challenges of moving ashore and, recognizing a common problem, she put her experience to good use as a life coach to help others shape a life after yachting. We caught up with Caroline to find out more.
How did you first get into the yachting industry?
I was first introduced to boats at the age of nine, as my grandfather kept his boat in Nice. Later when I came back to Antibes, 18 years ago, I connected with yachting mainly because the industry speaks English, and I was raised in French and English, plus I love boats and the sea. I then started a relationship with a captain, and I worked with him on a small boat as his deckhand, cook and stew.
Being a former dancer and teacher, I became interested in yoga and became a yoga teacher and masseuse, so I continued working on yachts as a private trainer. I met so many crew and owners from all over the world and now I've seen the the industry from both sides!
Was it how you expected it to be?
When I started I was 30 years old and already a mother, so I had a different outlook compred to the youngsters entering the yachting industry. I didn’t have much expectation but it's not as glamorous as it looks from the outside although it's a great way to save money and travel the world!
What was the best part of the job?
When I worked with my ex-partner we more or less did what we wanted. The owner was really nice and easy going so it was a pleasure to serve him and to travel in the Med. I also learned a lot about yachts. Later, as a personal coach, I often had my own cabin and I was in touch with the owners and guests directly, and most of them were and are brilliant, and very appreciative of my skills.
What was the most important thing you learned while working on board?
To observe, to keep yourself to yourself, to be detached from any emotional situation, to SMILE and not to trust everybody too easily!
Did you find it difficult to adapt to life ashore?
Obviously I haven’t made the break completely, but every time I've come back ashore it has taken me ages to re-find my balance. This is how I know how difficult it is for yachties moving ashore and how lost they can feel when they come back to the real world.
When did you decide to become a life coach?
My partner is head chef on a large yacht, and most of my friends work in the industry, as well as my yoga students who come to my studio in the old town of Antibes. These last 12 years I have listened to people's concerns over starting a new life after yachting and, because of my own experience, I was able to help a lot of them, so I decided to become a life coach because the need is there.
Knowing this industry from the inside it's easy for me to understand the issues, often before people understand them themselves. As a former dance teacher and now a yoga teacher I can also read people very well, and this is where I can make the difference and support their transition. Today I simply wish to share my experience and help others who are ready to make the change.
For many people these days a job or career is not for life, so what are the particular challenges for crew moving ashore?
There are so many challenges! To start with, they are continually moving around with no roots to call home. They also have to get used to working closely with the same people, always being cheerful and happy and in a limited space. They also get used to spending money that isn't theirs, so basically they are floating in the middle of nowhere with no attachments to 'reality'. In order to feel safe and secure we all need strong roots within and outside ourselves, so choosing a base is challenge number one, which you can do before leaving the boat.
The second challenge s getting used to paying bills and rent or a mortgage, and learning how to manage a budget. On a yacht everything is done for you - cooked, washed, ironed, cleaned. It can come as a big shock when you suddenly have to organize your own life and start dealing with day to day chores and responsibilities.
The third challenge is deciding what to do in your new life and translate this into action. This is where I find I can help the most, working together to help people to turn these challenges into concrete goals.
Do you see significant differences in the concerns of male and female crew moving ashore?
Oh yes definitely, this industry is still very misogynist; I have experienced it myself sometimes. Generally the men look at it as a proper career and become either First Officer, Captain or Head Chef, and they are very proud of it. They support a family somewhere based ashore and this is the way it is. If they move ashore they go back to studying, run a family business or open their own business, often managing their properties for rent. Women do this too, but not as often - how many female captains do you see?!
For female crew it can be much more difficult to make the transition. Some of them think they are going to stay in the industry just for four or five years, to save money, but the pay is so good that they become trapped. One day they wake up in their thirties with no boyfriend/family/life, no defined future, and they start to freak out. Naturally they want a job that they enjoy, and many also want to get married and have kids, but it takes courage to take the plunge and many don't know where to start.
Of course some female crew have partners who also work on board, which can work very well as they can develop their common goals. If they want children the wife/girlfriend can move ashore and still be supported by her husband/partner for a while, but ultimately she will face the same challenges, as well as having to look after children, often in a foreign country.
The worst case scenario is when a 40+ year old woman has worked in the industry for 20 years, living for the boat, through the boat, with the boat, then... She wakes up one morning with a sudden sense of urgency, and this is the type of person who often needs a lot of support and ecouragement, or they may never leave and realize all their other dreams.
Who has most influenced or inspired you in your role now?
Wow a good one! I guess my own life. I have always been full of ideas and inspiration, but I've also had some tremendous downs. Somehow I have always got myself out of a bad situation, and I'm grateful for the life I have. With the right help and support, I believe everything is possible, there are no limits! My partner is a great inspiration, and my lovely 17 year old daughter has taught me a lot too. But the greatest inspiration in my role now is simply LIFE.
What would you change if you could?
Right now I wouldn’t change anything around me. I am honored to be able to help and support other people through coaching, yoga and massage, healing people and helping them to create the life they want. Lots of things need to change in this world and unfortunately this is out of our reach, but we can all make positive changes in our own lives.
Which is your favourite yacht?
Highlander, because I love the owners. I've been working for them for so long and they are the nicest people ever.
Which is your favourite destination?
All the way between Porto Fino to Capri in Italy.
Which three objects would you take to your desert island?
A photo of my loved ones, a notebook, a pen.
What will you be doing in five years?
In five years I'll be living between France and England, still working as a life coach and creating yoga retreats around the world. I'm organizing one in November in Mozambique! I'd also like to open yoga studios around the world, and host life coach conferences to reach a wider audience.
I'd also like to write a book, 'Create the Life You Wish for Now'.
What is your motto?
Set up your intention and create whatever you want in your life; there is no limit, only the one in your mind!
To contact Caroline you can send her a message via 'Contact Author' below.