Storing, managing and caring for yacht crew uniforms
Last updated: 07/03/2017
As a busy stew or stewardess, you will know that uniform management is a large and important part of your role on board, and one that can be a difficult undertaking.
With uniform often far from the minds of the exterior crew, and chances for many rips, stains and misplacements on board, a stewardess’s job is never done when it comes to uniform management. With this in mind, Yachting Pages looks at storing, managing and caring for yacht crew uniforms on board a superyacht.
Storing and managing crew uniforms on a superyacht
With storage space inside the superyacht laundry room and crew cabins at a premium, stewardesses often turn to vacuum-pack bags, built-in furniture and unusual spaces around the boat to store excess crew uniforms.
Benches, bilges and bows are great hidden storage spaces for additional yacht crew clothing (including theme night fancy dress!), but no storage system can be left unmonitored, or complete chaos will ensue!
Talullah Roger, an ex-chief stewardess turned account manager at Yachting Pages said, “As the chief stew or interior staff, you will be responsible for the crew uniforms and efficient uniform management in line with the yacht’s itinerary. It’s therefore recommended to keep the uniform under lock and key, or risk a ransacking by the crew!
“Working on a chartered sailing yacht, I often found it best to label or tag up all uniform and allocate it to crew at the start of each charter. Then, at the end, take it back to assess, repair and/or replace. This avoids any last minute panics if there should be a lack of presentable uniform.
“Uniform suppliers that can work on a tight turnaround will be your most invaluable ally as a stew, as you will often need to place a quick order and have it shipped to you in your next expected port.”
Uniform management: Inventory and stock control on a superyacht
A thorough inventory and reliable stock control system is vital for any on-board uniform (and general laundry) management. After all, any stock control system is only as good as the inventory itself!
Since this takes time to implement and work through teething problems, it is vital to keep inventories up to date as you go; otherwise it quickly runs away from you.
Popular superyacht stock control systems include:
Many large hotels and hospitality businesses still use a barcode system to manage their uniform and linen stocks. The same system is still used on board superyachts today, especially when the owner owns more than one yacht. Although effective, this system can be expensive and labour intensive. It's also easily flawed by human error, in that it relies on every item being scanned on an individual basis.
Labels are another, simpler way to track and manage yacht crew uniforms, but even wash-proof pens are susceptible to smudging and fading, and labels can (and do) fall off crew uniforms – especially as they are so well-worn and washed.
Tags are the modern equivalent to clothing and uniform labels, offering a quicker and more permanent way of labelling up crew uniforms.
Snappy Tag is a new entry to the uniform market, currently in use aboard many superyachts, including M/Y Dilbar, M/Y Kogo, M/Y Luna and M/Y Savannah. Manager Liz Waites explained, “We created Snappy Tags (pictured below) as a quick and simple way for interior crew to manage yacht crew uniforms, linens, towels and other fabric items on board after hearing of the troubles faced! The tags are permanently laser-etched with a crew name, cabin number or combination as required up to 22 characters, and, unlike labels, will not fade or wear off with wear and washing.
“They’re quickly clicked into place on to the garment or fabric using a special applicator, ensuring they will not fall off during the laundry process. They can then be removed and reused on another garment, making them ideal on yachts where crew members frequently move on."
4. QR codes
Today, QR codes have taken over from the barcode. Originally invented for such inventory management, these allow smartphones and apps to be used in place of large and expensive barcode scanners.
Prudence Ellis, founder of new uniforms brand Anchors & Dove thinks that these will soon be commonplace on board the world’s superyacht fleet, with her business planning to introduce an intelligent inventory system and app using QR codes as soon as possible.
Disposing of old crew uniforms
Crewmembers come and go, and, as the seasons change, uniforms are also updated accordingly. Responsible disposal of old or out-dated uniform is therefore a popular topic in the yachting industry.
Old uniforms that are brand new, or almost so, can often be returned to uniform stores for sample pieces or given to friends, charter guests and charities, depending on the yacht’s privacy policies. If uniform is well worn, it could instead be used for dirty jobs on board, down time wear or cut up as cleaning rags.
Washing and caring for yacht crew uniforms
Although you will not be tasked with washing the ‘personal’ items of the crew, crew clothing and uniforms will make up a large majority of the washing pile each and every day.
As representatives of the yacht, the crew’s appearance is important, and proper uniform care and maintenance is vital for a long life, helping to save the yacht money in the long run (and keep the boss happy!).
As with all fine fabrics and delicate materials aboard a superyacht, when in doubt, consult a professional. Ed Taylor, founder of Taylor Made Designs provided tips for washing and drying crew uniforms aboard.
Washing crew uniforms
Ed said, “Unless otherwise stated, wash cotton garments at 30°C with a specialist colour-care product – that is unless they are white. Other powders contain caustic agents like bleach, which stay in the fabric and then mix with salt from sweat and UV from the sun and it's goodbye colour, hello patchy faded nasty garment!”
- Avoid cotton garments where possible, especially if working outdoors.
- Polyester and cottons can usually be washed up to 60°C, but this isn't really necessary with modern machines and powders - 40°C is usually fine.
- 100% polyester garments will hold their colour and shape much longer than ones with cotton in. They will also wick away moisture from the skin.
Drying crew uniforms
Ed advised, “When drying crew uniforms, make sure to ‘pull’ them into shape when wet. All fabrics will alter in size during washing - this doesn't mean they have shrunk. Knitted garments like polo’s, T-shirts and hoodies/sweatshirts will do this more than woven garments, such as shirts.
- Hang woven fabrics to dry on a hanger, and try to dry knitted clothing on a flat surface or hung over the bars of a clothes horse/line, if possible.
- Avoid tumble-drying where you can, save it for towels and bedsheets. If you have to tumble dry, do so on a low heat setting.
For more laundry tips, see our guides to superyacht laundry.