If you plan to safely vacation in The Bahamas on yacht charter Mucho Gusto, wouldn’t you want to know you’ll be in good hands and in great company? Before you go, get to know a little more about your crew, skipper Dominic “Dom” Baldzuhn and his “mate,” chef Hannah Staddon. This story is continued from Charter Mucho Gusto- A safe way to travel.
Crewing for a private yacht charter is no easy task. It could mean working 16-hour days or missing out on family reunions during the holidays. But for Mucho Gusto’s Hannah and Dom, it has been the dream job and the perfect partnership. And when you talk to them about the job they love, they’ll gush about the stunning beauty of The Bahamas waters and The Exumas. Is it any wonder that this couple’s 2021 engagement took place in one of the most beautiful islands in The Bahamas?
Here’s my short Q&A with Hannah:
What do Mucho Gusto guests rave about the most?
A regular comment featured in our guest book is “Mucho Gusto is a floating 5-star hotel and restaurant whose food and views can out-compete any that you’ve known.” I am a “table setting-aholic.” I always strive to make beautiful dining experiences (food and layout) to match the breathtaking environment of our island destination. We mostly enjoy entertaining groups of adults, whether friends or families. We truly take pride in offering great service.
How did you and Dominic end up doing what you do? And how did you meet?
Dom is of German roots while I’m from British descent but we both grew up…and eventually met in South Africa.
Dom began his yachting career in 2011 as a deckhand on a sailing catamaran. After an Atlantic crossing, he went back to Cape Town for his Yacht Masters course. That’s when he met me and my family. We kept in touch while he worked on another yacht cruising the Mediterranean. At the end of the year, we backpacked through India together and fell in love. Instead of finishing my Marketing course in Cape Town, I followed Dominic in the yachting industry.
I began my career as a stewardess. Over the course of 3 years and gaining exposure to cooking, I put myself through chef school in Cape Town. Dom and I reconnected in Fort Lauderdale and after working on various boats, we settled on crewing for Mucho Gusto, a 2019 power catamaran.
Both of us trained on boats based in the Mediterranean, where silver service is mostly always performed. We’re proud to say we both have a sharp eye for detail and an unfalteringly dedicated work ethic.
Isn’t it hard living in such close quarters with people you don’t know?
Speaking to the guests on the phone before their chartered trip helps give us an idea of our compatibility level. Some guests may be apprehensive about us too. But once everybody is onboard and they’ve had their welcome cocktails, everybody usually becomes more relaxed.
For you, what’s the most frustrating thing guests typically do?
I prepare the menu and buy the provisions based on the information guests provide on their preference sheets. It’s challenging when guests don’t take these preference sheets seriously. With The Exumas being isolated, there’s just nowhere for us to pick up the bits that guests might have forgotten to mention.
Do you get time off and vacation time?
We get about 6 weeks’ vacation a year. That’s when we usually go to Europe, like Spain or Scotland where we’d like to settle someday. Otherwise, we’re on Mucho Gusto every day of the year.
Why would you like to settle in Spain or Scotland?
The climate in Spain’s Mallorca feels very similar to South Africa. We enjoy the Spanish culture of socializing… and tapas. We love the history of the cathedrals and architecture and it also has a growing industry to which we are privy (yachting).
In contrast to that, we also love the outdoors and the more rural, simple way of life. In Scotland, Isle of Skye has an incredible array of hiking trails and scenery. Winter in particular is the best time to be up there when you get snow. And on cold clear nights, you’d be able to see the Northern lights from the house!
What are some of your interests?
We love tennis. Dom grew up playing competitively and was on track to going pro but turned his interest in surfing and girls! I also grew up playing tennis and I’ve taken some lessons since. Now I enjoy making Dom work a bit on the court! We’re also both avid readers- Dom more so on politics, stocks and financial news while I go for historical fiction and business biographies. My current favorite is “Who Said Elephants Can’t Dance” by Louis Gerstner.
Give us an interesting fact, that not many people would know about you.
I recently got my Captains License! Also, when I was in my teens, I was a professional ballroom & Latin American dancer.
Dom was in a motorbike accident when he was 18. He broke as many bones as you can name and was put into an induced coma for a month until the swelling on his brain subsided. Dom persevered, over the span of a year, to learn how to read, write, talk & walk again. This captain is literally a walking miracle!
What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
It’s seeing guest’s excitement, amazement, and appreciation of the environment where we cruise. We love playing a role in creating new and memorable experiences for them. One of my most favorite memories is of a male guest who avoided swimming because of circulation issues. He would easily turn blue and freeze up immediately. But we convinced him to just dip his toes in the 85 degree crystal clear Bahamian waters. He took a risk and eventually submerged himself fully. For the first time in 60 years, he swam in the ocean, snorkeled, saw reef fish and a nurse shark! He floated in the water, his arms and legs outstretched. He had the biggest grin on his face and the look of pure amazement in his goggled up eyes. That is why we love what we do.