• Halle Miller

Daily Life of Being a First Mate

A lot of people ask me exactly what is a first mate and what does it all entail. Below I have given an hour by hour breakdown of my day aboard Amazing Grace.

Obviously, I don't work a regular 9am-5pm job. This career is totally different than the regular corporate job. Sometimes I have a week off and other times I only have a few hours to get the boat ready for my next guests. Amazing Grace sleeps eight people and most groups

vacation with us between 5 to 10 days. As a first mate, my responsibilities are to help the captain with daily tasks, cook meals, and entertain guests.

Please Note that this schedule may vary depending on which island we are located on during the vacation. For this model, I have picked one of my favorite islands, Salt Island.

Rise 'n Shine

5:30 am My alarm goes off. I put on a swimsuit, rash shirt, and workout shorts. Normally my guests aren't awake at this time and I enjoy getting in a nice morning swim with Mark (Captain and boyfriend) before they do wake up for the day.

Morning time is when the ocean is most active for sea life. The water is much cooler before the midday sun heats up and the bigger animals retreat into deeper water. It isn't unusual to see barracuda lurking under the boat, sea turtles popping their heads up for air, and schools of various fish. If guests are awake, I skip directly to the next step and instead sneak up to the bow for morning yoga and meditation.

6:00am Dress from swimwear to uniform. My uniform is normally a khaki skirt and sleeveless or some type of water resistant top. In the morning, I make a fruit platter with local fruits such as pineapple, banana, and sometimes dragon fruit along with a coffee station. With no coffee maker, I normally spend the majority of the morning boiling water for the french press.

During this time, I like to prepare myself for the day. I talk with Mark about which islands we are sailing to and make any necessary changes to my menu for that day.

7:00am Mark and I spend time making the interior and exterior of the boat look perfect for the guests. Fixing pillows, sweeping floors, wiping down counters. If guests are awake, we enjoy getting to know them and socializing.

7:30am By this time, I am preparing to make breakfast. It's Mark who sets the table and helps me plate dishes once I'm finished cooking.

8:00am Normally I wait until everyone is up and had at least one cup of coffee before serving breakfast. For the early risers, they have already went paddle boarding around the bay or for a morning swim. Today on the menu is a breakfast quinoa bowl with shredded coconut, sliced bananas, blueberries, chia seeds, and a dollop of peanut butter sprinkled with shaved dark chocolate. This breakfast is packed with vitamins and protein- just what the guests need before a long day of snorkeling. Served with mimosas, of course!

9:30am We set sail to our new destination, Salt Island! After I let Amazing Grace off the mooring ball*, we are about 30 minutes away from Salt Island. During this time, I am washing the dishes and cleaning the galley. Most of the time, I have already started preparing for my lunch course by taking out proteins from the freezer and cutting up vegetables.

*mooring ball: a white, globe shaped ball that floats on the water's surface and connects by a rope to a sand screw at the ocean's floor. On the mooring is attached a pick up, that the first mate grabs with a metal pole to string two strings from in order to hold the boat in place. The mooring ball alternatively to an anchor.

10:00am We have now arrived at Salt Island. I briefly discuss the history of Salt Island along with the Wreck of the Rhone to my guests: Through the brush, past the beach, there is a series of salt lakes, in turn how Salt Island got her name. Being a part of the British territories, all of the islanders had to pay tax to the Queen in the 1800s, except Salt Island. The residents owed the Queen one pound of Salt per person annually instead of currency. Now, only remains of the settlement stand. No one lives on the island except a herd of goats.

10:30am We help all of our guests with their snorkel and scuba gear. If we have divers, Mark takes them on a dive of the Wreck of the Rhone. The Wreck of the Rhone sunk on the coast of Salt Island in 1867, killing 123 people. Due to it's beauty, the wreck makes the top 3 list of best dives in the Caribbean. While the scuba divers go to 80 feet, I stay on the surface with remaining guests.

11:00am After our snorkel, I offer to take guests on a hike around the island. Past the beach, you'll see a mud bath, salt lakes, and gorgeous views from the top. On the way to the top of the cliff, the path is covered in sage bushes that fill the air with aroma.

Midday Fun

12:00pm Once we are back from the hike, I start preparing lunch. On today's lunch menu we are having blackened shrimp tacos! This is one of my favorite meals to make because its fairly easy and always a hit with the guests. I top the tacos with a smoky paprika coleslaw, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, a slices of avocado. Along with the tacos, I make a pineapple-mango salsa boat for the center piece and side dish.

1:00pm Lunch is served and shortly after we set sail to our new destination: The Indians. This is one of my favorite snorkeling spots in the BVIs. To describe it best, the Indians are made up of three rocks, which from a distance, resembles an indian head dress.

2:30pm We arrive at the indians and snorkel with our guests. Since it does not have protection from the open ocean, swarms of all sea life come to this place. Definitely a must see.

3:30pm Once again, Amazing Grace sets sail for another adventure. This is normally our busiest day on charter. We head to the Caves to spend the night. During the sail, I'm preparing for the dinner course and sticking a coconut rum cake in the oven.

Nighttime Shenanigans

5:00pm When we arrive to the Caves, I lay out a simple charcuterie platter with champagne. For Dinner, Mark and I prepare a classic lobster dish. Mark usually pre-catches the lobster or he teaches the guests how to catch fresh lobster on the trip a few days ahead of the meal.

7:00pm Once dinner and dessert is served, I make sure the galley is spotless before freshening up. After 7pm, we love to hang out with our guests. Sometimes activities range from playing cards to a full on dance glow stick party!

Everyday is completely different on charter and I'm so lucky to be able to do this job with my best friend. This summer has been one for the books and something I'll always cherish.

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