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Elaine Viets | How to Clean a Yacht


Do you dust your light bulbs? And your hangers?

You would if you cleaned a luxury yacht.

I thought I knew about clean living, until I researched FINAL SAIL, my new Dead-End Job mystery.       

Private eye Helen Hawthorne works undercover as a stewardess on a 143-foot yacht, serving snobs, scrubbing floors and searching for an emerald smuggler.   Helen also has to vacuum "in the tracks." Yacht carpets aren't vacuumed every which way. They're vacuumed the way you mow a lawn, so there aren't random tracks.

The crew of ten stays in touch by two-way radio, alert for cleaning opportunities. In this scene, Mira, the chief stewardess, gives Helen gets her instructions for cleaning the yacht's ten guest bathrooms, or heads.

"The heads are cleaned after each use," Mira said. "That will be mainly your job."
"Every time?" Helen tried to hide her disbelief.
"Yes," Mira said. "I'm sure you cleaned toilets when you worked at that hotel."
"Yes," Helen said. She doubted the men on the yacht had better aim than the hotel guests. If they missed on land, how steady would they be on a shifting ship?
"You'll also clean the sink, the counter, the mirror and empty the wastebasket. The toilet paper has to be folded into points after every use. It's stowed under the sink."
Mira opened the carved oak cabinet doors to show stacks of TP, towels and bars of deliciously fragrant Bvlgari soap.
"The labels on the toilet paper rolls should face out on the shelves," Mira said. "Towels are changed every time. They're kept folded with their labels facing the same way. Most guests use the liquid soap, but if a bar is used, we put out a fresh one."
"Bvlgari is twenty dollars a bar," Helen said.
"Fifteen," Mira corrected.
"What happens to the used bar?"
"The crew gets it," Mira said. "Don't expect to load up on fancy soap. You'd be surprised how many people don't wash their hands."




12 comments posted.

Re: Elaine Viets | How to Clean a Yacht

(Heidi Durham 2:44am May 20, 2012)

that was my reaction, too, Heidi. This is the kind of cleaning that used to be done at the grand mansion, which had huge live-in staff.
(Elaine Viets 12:14pm May 20, 2012)

Please tell me you're joking about this!!

And if you're not, all I can say is, "Thank god I never applied for a job like that, no matter how much I love to travel!!"


(Lynn Rettig 3:27pm May 20, 2012)

I guess it is easy to forget how much work goes into maintaining a's not all fun. And apparently for Helen, it is a LOT of work.

Your book sounds interesting.
(Robin McKay 7:15pm May 20, 2012)

I shouldn't be surprised by this. If you can afford a yacht, you can afford to waste a lot of stuff. In a way it would make sense to be clean to a degree in the bathroom, but it sounds like a bit of overkill. I'm sure there would be a lot more in your book that would surprise me, so I would love to read it. It sounds like a wonderful read.
(Peggy Roberson 9:48pm May 20, 2012)

I used to be so OCD I couldn't leave the house - it is a family trait I think from vacumning curtains and everything in it's spot - hard to think I had time for anything
(Carla Carlson 12:43pm May 21, 2012)

Lynn,I'm not joking. It's a fun job if you're very young. After that, the work gets old in a hurry. The salaries are surprisingly good. Helen would make about $40,000 a year as a stewardess, including room and board.
(Elaine Viets 7:22pm May 21, 2012)

Robin and Peggy, hope you'll read the book and enjoy it.
(Elaine Viets 7:23pm May 21, 2012)

Funny premise. I bet you pass the white glove and thoroughness test. Are you bonded?
(Alyson Widen 9:43pm May 21, 2012)

I'm not bonded, Alyson, but stewardesses and other crew on well-run yachts are usually hired from crew agencies. Many are located in Fort Lauderdale.
(Elaine Viets 10:44am May 22, 2012)

Sounds like a great read but I wouldn't want to be in Helen's shoes and have to do all that work and not be appreciated!
(Ann Thaxton 10:51am June 2, 2012)

Now this sounds like a fun read. I had a dorm mother that used a white glove to check our rooms with. Yuck. Sounds like this book should have had her to over see. I was 16 at the time & it was a summer camp that I worked for. Lots of kids.
(Pat Moore 2:52pm August 1, 2012)

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