Posted by: yachtcrewsing | July 15, 2012

How to Get a Job on a Yacht

How to Get a Job on a Superyacht

Working onboard a superyacht can be, for some, a dream job: crew are paid to live onboard a luxury vessel and travel to some of the most exclusive and beautiful places on the earth. The majority of fellow crew in the industry are fun and adventurous people from a vast array of backgrounds and nationalities who are united by common interests and work ethic. The working days can be long and exhausting, but they are balanced out by the free time provided to explore tropical islands and expand upon one’s social and geographical horizons.

Does this adventurous and excitingly unpredictable lifestyle appeal to you? If so, here are the rudimentary steps necessary for making this seemingly illusive dream a reality.

Crew Positions

So you have decided that you may want to give yachting a try, but which position best suits your skills and goals? Here is a brief summary of the entry-level crew roles and what they entail:

Deckhand: this person works directly under the first mate (in the case of most superyachts) or the captain (if there is no first mate). On a day-to-day basis the dHow to Get a Job on a Superyachteckhand is in charge of keeping the deck clean, polishing the superstructure and stainless metal and making sure the exterior is operating correctly. In addition to these tasks, when on charter deckhands drive the tender and entertain guests with water sports such as snorkeling, diving, water skiing and tubing.

On a sailing yacht, the deckhands are additionally responsible for helping with all of the aspects of setting, trimming and maintaining the sails.

Deckhands spend all day in the sun in perpetually hot climates, so for this position you need to enjoy manual labour and working outside.

After working as a deckhand for a few years and getting further certifications, one may move up to the position of first mate and then possibly captain.

Stewardess: this position is typically female-oriented. Usual day-to-day tasks include maintaining pristine cleanliness on the interior (think Q-Tips and every possible type of household cleaner), stocking all necessary service items and shopping for crew and guest drinks and snacks (if not the job of the chef). On charter, the days are invariably long and full of serving drinks and food, cutlery polishing, table decorations, cleaning cabins, washing and ironing, and generally catering to the guests’ every needs. (These everyday and on-charter tasks seem mundane in print, but in actuality the role of stewardess is very dynamic and generally enjoyable).

The stewardess positions may be second or third in rank or laundry stewardess (on large motor yachts), all of which are under the command of the chief stewardess, or they may be sole stewardess or deck/stew chef/stew combination positions (on smaller vessels).

Chef: most yachts require extensive training and experience for the position of chef. Working on a yacht is completely unlike any restaurant or culinary environment on land. It How to Get a Job on a Superyachtis probably the most stressful crew position when on charter, with typically only one chef onboard (though stewardesses typically help out wherever they can). Yacht chefs are required to deliver gourmet, high quality cuisine to guests who have sophisticated and discerning palates. In addition to catering for the guests, the chef is also required to cook for the crew, both on and off charter.

The role of chef requires a person who is extremely hard working and mentally prepared for the challenges ahead (imagine cooking a 3 course meal while the boat is heeled at 15 degrees, everything is sliding on the marble counter because of the boat’s pitching and rolling… all while you are unbearably seasick).

Engineer: this is another position in which you must have prior experience and/or courses in a relevant engineering field. If you do not, you can always register with a marine training facility. Engineers ultimately have the most important task- that of keeping the boat afloat and running smoothly. It can be extremely stressful and demanding (when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong), occasionally requiring getting up in the middle of the night to fix system issues. The upside of engineering is that it is probably the most mentally stimulating of the roles onboard, and is typically very well-paid.

Prerequisites

It is a common misconception that to work on a yacht you need to have extensive experience with sailing or motor boats- this is not necessarily the case. While marine familiarity is a bonus, it is rarely necessary, especially for the position of stewardess or chef.

This being said, on sailing yachts (but not motor yachts), most deckhand positions require that you have prior sailing experience. If you do not, then don’t despair- there are many ways to gain experience. Firstly, often local sailing or yachting clubs have weekend races where many boats are happy to take on enthusiastic crew. This is a good way to learn the finer nuances of the sport and about sailboats in general (this knowledge will all be turned upside-down in learning how a superyacht sails).

Another option is to daywork on sailboats, thereby gaining new skills and meeting captains and crew who may prove helpful in your job search.

A further option is to find a crew job on a small yacht for a short period of time or to do a delivery (sailing the yacht from one place to another). Some of this type of work is unpaid but generally includes free room and board in amazing locations; think of it as an internship. The best website for finding this type of work is www.findacrew.com.

Certifications

To get a job on a superyacht (a yacht that is 100+ feet) it is first necessary to take a course called the STCW 95 (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping). This 5-day course covers both personal and crew safety at sea, first aid, and a day of hands-on firefighting (which is a surprisingly intense and unique opportunity). Although offered in a number of locations, the cheapest and best option is Fort Lauderdale, Florida where you can register with either MPT or IYT.

Antigua has also recently begun to offer a course in the winter time. (This is a good option for those who want to work on sailboats, as it is the main hub for sailing yachts during the months of December to April.)

The STCW costs approximately $1000, which may seem like a lot of money but in the long run it will be paid off within the first two weeks of your employment on a boat.  Unfortunately, this course is required by almost every superyacht. Not only is it a regulation for the rigorous standards of safety kept by most yachts, it is also a way to demonstrate to potential employers that you are serious about wanting a job in the industry.

The STCW is the only mandatory certification for those entering the field of yachting. However, it is strongly advisable for those looking for a position as a deckhand to obtain your Powerboat Level 1 and/or Level 2.

There are a host of additional courses that can be taken at MPT or other marine schools; check their websites for course offerings. Courses will only strengthen your résumé, and being formally taught may make it much easier, and make you more confident in your new job

How to Get a Job on a Yacht

Writing a Yachting CV or Résumé

It is important to tailor your CV to yachting, which is a slightly different format to conventional jobs. Firstly, your CV must include a photo of yourself. The yachting industry is highly service-based, and thus crew image is important for the guest experience (yes, this is a slightly subtle way of saying that the yachting industry is a bit shallow, but this does NOT mean that looks determine job prospects). It is best to have a photo taken of yourself in a white or black polo shirt with no jewelry or other visual distractions, clean-shaven (for boys) and against a plain background.

Here is a sample format that a yachting résumé may take:

Section 1: Personal Information

A yachting résumé should begin with vital information such as age, citizenship, language(s) spoken, current location and if you smoke or have any tattoos (otherwise, put “non-smoker, no tattoos).

Section 2: Objective

Here write what position you are seeking, what type of boat you would ideally want to work on, and any other relevant information.

Section 3: Qualifications

Include things such as STCW certification, any marine courses, SCUBA diving certifications or other qualifications relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Section 4: Work Experience (you may even divide this into two categories of ‘Marine Experience’ and ‘Work Experience’ if applicable)

Here try to curtail your work experience to things that you think may be relevant to your job application. For example, manual labour jobs for deckhands and serving or hospitality jobs for stewardesses are always helpful.

Section 5: Hobbies and Interests

Obviously, be honest about what you enjoy doing in your spare time. If you enjoy team sports, this is always good to include as it shows that you have the ability to function as a member of a group, which is vital in a crew setting.

Section 6: References

It is best for these to be as recent as possible, but is also beneficial to include anyone from a marine-related job.

More in-depth tutorials on how to write a yachting résumé can be found on the websites of most major crew agent websites, for example at Yacht and Crew.

Once you have polished and completed your résumé, email it to as many crew agents as possible. If you are in the area, it is highly beneficial to visit the crew agencies in person so that they can meet and better place you in a job. When you go, ensure that you look professional and presentable (it is best to wear the yachtie uniform of white or black polo and khaki shorts). If this option of meeting in person is not feasible, it is best to call the crew agencies prior to sending through your résumé. There are hundreds of people looking for yacht jobs, and it is important that you try to positively stand out of the crowd.

Breaking into the Industry

After you have completed all of these prior steps, the last one you will probably have to undertake before landing a job in the industry is to get daywork. Dayworking positions last anywhere from one day to a few weeks depending on the needs of the yacht, and typically pay between $100-$150 U.S. per day. Boats hire dayworkers straight off the dock, so it is important to walk around the docks early in the morning (typically just after 8am) and be prepared for a full day’s work. The work provided is usually slightly tedious or undesirable, but it provides beneficial experience necessary for a résumé and is invaluable in meeting new people and showing your personality and work ethic.

If you are unsure of where is best to go to look for work, then a crew agent can advise you Working on a Superyacht(the main hubs are Antibes, Antigua, Palma, St. Maarten, and Ft. Lauderdale). Certain times of the year are better than others- if you want to work on a sailing yacht, then Antibes in early April is your best bet (there is a lot of daywork available at that time as it is before the May Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix). If you want to work on a powerboat, then the winter in Ft. Lauderdale is a safe bet.

If you are serious about working in the industry, it is important to go to one of the yachting hubs to work and make yourself known. The best way to do this is undoubtedly by walking along the docks and handing out your CV to different boats. Even if they do not have any available positions, they may know of another boat looking for crew.

When you are in one of these locations but are not yet working full-time on a boat, the best place to stay is a crew house. This form of accommodation is cheap, friendly and populated by like-minded individuals who are either looking for their first job or who have been in the industry for many years and are between boats. Either way, your housemates will be wonderful resources and sources of support, things which are incredibly valuable in starting in such a daunting industry.

Here are some crew houses that I would recommend:

Ft. Lauderdale: The Neptune Group (their website also lists available daywork)

Antibes: Grapevine (they also help to place people in jobs)

Antigua: Pineapple House

Find a more extensive list here.

Useful Resources

www.dockwalk.com: The industry’s largest publication with articles pertaining to all aspects of superyachting, for both sail and motor. They also regularly post job openings.

www.findacrew.com: The best source for non-professional jobs on a sailing yacht (it is free to sign up)

Crew Agencies:

This is just a short list of the many existing crew agencies:

Yachting Partners International (YPI) http://www.ypicrew.com/

Ship to Shore (more sailboat based) http://www.shiptoshoreglobal.com/

The Crew Network http://www.crewnetwork.com/

Dovaston http://www.dovaston.com/

Blue Water http://www.bluewateryachting.com/crew-placement

Luxury Yacht Crew www.luxyachts.com

Peter Insull http://www.insull.com/newsite10/crew.html

Crew 4 Crew www.crew4crew.net

Crew and Concierge http://www.crewandconcierge.com/Home.cms

Jane’s Yacht Services (Antigua) www.yachtservices.ag

Any further questions? Please post them in the blog’s ‘comment’ section and I will try to answer them as best I can.

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Responses

  1. Hi there, nice to read about your perspective. Having sailed as an engineer on yachts, and trying to keep up with what is going on in the industry, I am having not much luck finding people writing blogs about life onboard. So far I did like this site http://stewardessbible.com/ , written by an ex chief stew who also retired from yachting.
    Good luck with your blog, keep up the good work!


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