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Maritime non-fiction / Memoir

Revealing the grit beneath the glitz

Behind Ocean Lines, by Melanie White

Wbook_cover_behind_ocean_lines_web.jpgith an enticing chick-lit-style cover reflecting the glamour and excitement of superyacht sailing, this debut memoir looks like it's going to be a jolly romp like a 'below decks' TV series. However, although it's a good yarn, it also has a more serious intent.

Former luxury yacht chef Melanie White spent five years in her twenties crewing superyachts for charters and regatta racing, delivering fine dining to the super-rich. Dealing candidly with some of the darker sides of the industry – particularly the effects of fatigue and bullying – her memoir reflects her mental wellbeing journey on a particular vessel, the Liberty.

The grind and joys of being a sailor, stewardess and chef all in one day are laid bare: the costs to crew of 'protecting the invisibility of the super-rich', the cramped quarters and the occasional bonding with feathered birds all called Kevin. The real necessity of crew safety training provides some eye-opening moments (yes, pirates are a real threat for superyacht crew on some voyages).

Appropriately for a former yacht chef, the memoir is written in easily-digestible bite-sized chunks. Complete with a log book of the author's travels, and an index of her shipboard recipes marking mood transitions, this is an interesting and informative read. Pass it onto shoreside friends who want the lowdown on what life is really like on a superyacht.

Behind Ocean Lines: the invisible price of accommodating luxury
By Melanie White          
Lemon Quartz Publications, £16.99         
ISBN: 978 17399 07624

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