I’ve worked with some very challenging owners, | Erica Lay


Each week Erica Lay, owner of EL CREW CO International Yacht Crew Agency talks to a crew member currently in Mallorca either seeking work or based here to learn a little more about our local yachting community. For more info on any of our stars featured here, you can contact Erica directly on erica@elcrewco.com

Today I’m speaking with Portuguese sailor, Agata Paula Barbosa de Freitas Pereira. She’s currently back in Mallorca, looking for a sailing yacht to join as chef, deckhand, race crew, stewardess or delivery crew!

What attracted you to the island?

People! People I met from the island brought me here though Danny Graham and his family who pretty much adopted me! Also when some of my family in Portugal sold their house, bought an 8m yacht, and announced they were sailing to Palma – I went with them. Mallorca is beautiful and I love the island life, along with the impressive yachting world and classic boats you find here!

What’s your background before yachting?

I’ve been involved in the water my whole life. I started out racing dinghies, windsurfing, competitive swimming, diving, cliff diving, horse riding, worked in a sail loft to pay for art university... then when I had my son I worked ashore for a number of years in different roles such as PA, sales, manager, and owned/managed my own businesses: a gym and restaurant in Antigua, and in Portugal a company assisting foreigners. I’m now back in Mallorca looking to rejoin the yachting industry.

If you didn’t work on a yacht, what do you think you’d be doing?

Oh boy…. Something creative! Something charity based with people and the sea. Working with children would be the cherry on the cake. Sailing whether paid or not will always be a constant.

What training have you done?

I’ve recently completed my STCW basic safety training. Prior to that I’ve attended lots of courses, from Psychology and Sociology, Business Management, Personal Training and Fitness Instruction, Sail Making and I’ve studied languages. I’m native Portuguese but also speak fluent Spanish and English, plus conversational German, Italian and French.

Any achievements or special things stick out?

Quite a few! I’ve had the opportunity to swim with whales many times all over the world.

I’ve worked with some very challenging owners, like the German man who went through 9 chefs before me in a short time. We got on fine. Saw two skippers come and go. He offered me the job as a skipper which I refused; even though I could drive the boat beautifully I didn’t think my engineer skills would suffice. I am still very proud I manouevred the 30m SY Foftein stern to, into the Cat Club , between Alejandra and Felicita, with no bow thruster, wind blowing from the side and a sand bank!

What’s the best thing about your job?

Contact with the sea and living a simple life, travel, making multicultural friends, financial freedom, peace.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The adrenaline from sailing, especially racing!

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Overcoming seasickness when conditions get super rough and you have to cook down below …. shhhhhhhhh!

Think back to when you were completely green – what advice would you give yourself?

DO NOT SPEND MONEY LIKE YOU OWN THE BOAT! Walk the docks, everyday. Stop and talk to people. Don’t be embarrassed! It shows initiative, persistence, and resilience. It’s the best way to get into the industry. And it’s a great way to connect with likeminded individuals.

What’s your dream yacht to work on?

Any J Class yacht, and race in a cup.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Outdoor sports. Swimming. Reading/studying (I’m crazy about neuroscience). Painting and any form of art.

What’s the most memorable guest request you’ve had?

Cheffing on an Indian charter. I was asked for 17 different dishes but they still invaded the galley to prepare their own food. They brought from England packet Indian food, and were too polite to say that they preferred packaged food to fresh! The owner of one yacht had me poking sharks whilst they were resting so they would leave their cave, swim to him and he could get a good photo. We had to keep It secret from his wife and the skipper, they would have killed us!

Who in the world would you love to have on board?

My son. To. show him this wonderful industry.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Anywhere with boats. Mallorca or Antigua. But eventually I want to make it to the Amazon.