Better known among her peers as "German Anni", this 15-year veteran of the superyacht industry got into it by accident. It started when Anni Riedel moved from Germany to the Caribbean, where she worked on land for a while. But then one day, a friend who did sunset trips out of Antigua needed a stewardess – and she's been a well respected chief stew ever since.
It was not quite what she had expected it to be. She said she didn't have a clue what was expected of her, and had never worked on boats previously. "But since I didn't get dropped as a baby and have common sense, I learned my ropes quickly and had a great time ever since," she said.
The 40-year-old is a keen sailor and currently works freelance in the Caribbean, based in Antigua. When not on boats, Anni enjoys cultivating her art. She hand decorates and paints wooden boxes and makes cards "for every occasion." She recently answered our Q&A, in which she talked about seeing a whale's "mating dance", discussed her fear of being pulled under while swimming and advocated for better treatment of crew.
What do you love most about your job?
To be able to travel AND meet people from all over the world. To see stunning places by land and from the sea. And obviously the money you are getting paid is fabulous.
What could you do without?
Spoiled, wealthy people, that think they are better than you, and having to fulfill the most outrages demands...and raisins...I hate them!
If you weren’t working on boats, what would you be doing?
I’m actually an artist when I’m in between jobs. Hand decorate and paint wooden boxes, make cards for every occasion, bla, bla, bla. It’s a lot of fun to be creative. Tried to win the lottery for ages. But on a more serious note: As long as I would be having fun with the job and be able to earn enough money to pay my bills, I’m open for every- and anything.
What is your idea of the perfect day at sea?
Tricky question. Every day is different. But it would be perfect if I could spend it with friends, sailing to a beautiful beach, have a swim, Bar-B-Q, music and a nice cold beverage – or two, or three...
Where would you most like to drop anchor – for good?
That I can’t answer. Have been to a lot of gorgeous places, but there is still so much more to explore! For good, it would have to be a tropical destination with beaches and lovely clear water to swim in, for sure. I love the sun in my face!
What is your greatest experience on a boat?
A two-week charter with the best captain and crew. We laughed and had fun every day. It was a joy to work without a care in the world! And once I worked on a private yacht for over two years with a well-known owner whose name I won’t mention, but there was chocolate & ice cream galore!!!
What is your worst experience on a boat?
Wanted to go out for a boogie with another crewmember, but the boat was too far off the dock. Climbed over the railing and jumped anyway since I’m quite fit and was convinced that I could do it, but didn’t see the stern line that my foot got caught on. End of the story was that I landed, from quite some height, flat on the concrete dock with my upper body and my legs dangling over the water, and broke both my elbows. Thought it was the end of my career, and had only been in the industry for a couple of years. But the tough cookie I am, was back in business three months later.
What scares you most about the sea?
Whilst on board, I’m in awe of the power of the wind and sea. When I go for a swim, I always wear a swim mask, since I need to see what’s down there and have the stupid fear that something will grab me from the dark depth below. Silly, I know!
What is the most incredible thing you’ve seen at sea?
We were in a bay in Mexico that was filled with hundreds of dolphins and there was a whale doing his "mating dance" on the water's surface. It went on forever. Nature is incredible and to be able to see something like that is very rare and beautiful.
What is your idea of the perfect boat?
When the architect would built it in a way where the owner wouldn’t just think about his own and the guests' comfort, but also consider the crew. We are the ones that let the magic happen and whizz around like headless chickens to make the time on board magic. The boat is our home. Living conditions, and sometimes the work conditions, we are under to make things happen are appalling.
Generally speaking, which nationalities tend to be the best clients?
Americans for sure! They are used to tipping and are quite generous. ;)
What is your motto?
“A day without laughter is a lost day”; “Live your life to the fullest, you only have one”; “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, etc. The List is endless...
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I’m glad that I left my home country when I was young to go and explore the world. There is nothing better in life than travelling and making a lot of friends on the way. The world get’s smaller and smaller...
What is your greatest regret?
That we are getting older. I would love to be able to live forever! There is so much out there...
What is the greatest virtue?
What is the most overrated virtue?
Beauty, as it is only skin deep. (Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)
What will you be doing in five years?
Who knows? Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m doing the next day...but I know for a fact, that I will be having fun with whatever it is.