What job could be better than working on a yacht?
Sunsets on the Mediterranean. Rich people and celebrities everywhere. Endless buckets of Dom on deck. And, if we believe Bravo's "Below Deck," lots of partying and late-night hook-ups in the crew cabins. (Like CNBC, Bravo is owned by NBC Universal.)
But the true life of yacht crew is far less glamorous.
In a riveting column on Doug Gollan's wealth site, Roxanne Génier explains how her work as a yacht crew member resembled her stint in the Canadian naval reserve (beyond being on the water, of course).
"When you become a (yacht) crew member, you immediately put yourself in the trench for the uber elite," she wrote. "You may need to carry a 6'4″ man so he doesn't wet his toes; you may have to host a party of 50 as a team of three; or you may visit a harbor 10 times without ever stepping one foot ashore."
Of course, defending your country from foreign attack and defending the rich against empty wine glasses and sun exposure are two different pursuits.
So here are the top five ways yacht work is like—and not like—the navy.
1. Push to your limits. Like the navy, yacht crew are sometimes worked to their absolute breaking point. "How about working 100 hours or more a week, in a 24-hour shift rotation, for 10 months, with less than seven hours of sleep a night, one break every four days, and just enough time to eat one full meal a day?" Génier wrote. Yacht work, she wrote, is more like boot camp.
2. Stand your guard. "I once spent 16 hours in a million-dollar tender waiting for our charter guests to come back from a night of partying in St. Barths on New Year's Eve. Once the guests arrived, I had two hours of sleep before my next work day."
3. No men left behind? Actually yacht crewmembers are sometimes left behind. Génier said she was once left in an inflatable boat seven miles from the yacht and had to make her way back in 3-foot swells.
4. Manage supplies. In the military, supplies are scarce. On super yachts, not so much. "Bed sheets are washed every single day and food is sometimes thrown out by buckets," she wrote. "When there is no more berries, no worries, take the helicopter for a flight." And "how about [an] $800,000 fuel bill for cruising the Med on your yacht for a few months (pumping gas can literally take up to 10 hours)."
5. Expect the unexpected. In the navy, you have to adapt to fast-changing threats. "One yacht owner once booked a $25,000 villa for a night to give the crew a night off but then changed his mind after visiting the villa for 20 minutes, giving the crew just under two hours to unwind."
After that incident, Génier said, she left yacht work.
—By CNBC's Robert Frank.