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Newly released for 2013!

Working on yachts and Superyachts

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Working on Yachts and Superyachts


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Are you looking for a job on a Superyacht?

Gareth got back from Palma a couple of weeks ago. He'd been looking for a deckhand job. After six weeks of dockwalking, networking, meeting crew agents, crew and generally working hard to get his name out there he ran out of money and had to borrow from the bank of mum and dad for the air fare home.

He didn't think trying to work would be so expensive or so tough. He didn't know things about business cards, car hire, skill sets, timing or placement. In fact he didn't know that there was a lot he didn't know. He came home a lot wiser and a lot poorer. Being the determined type, when he got back he contacted me for advice on finding work.

Before I started I asked him what tips he'd share with others from what he'd learned on his job hunt. He said, 'Don't sleep around. One girl I met got such a reputation she couldn't land a job. Don't be a raging party animal. You run out of money and it kills your reputation, crew think you're great to party with you but they don't want to work with you. Don't do drugs. It gets around that you're a user and you wont find any boat willing to take you on. Get your CV professionally drawn up, there's so much competition out there, if your CV is rubbish or has mistakes you don't have a chance. And if you're on a budget be smart when if comes to buying food. So many job hunters wasted loads of money on food that got thrown out.'

'Why do you want to work on the boats?' I asked.

'Money! I know the salaries are amazing. Crew I met who'd only been working in the industry for a couple of years had already bought their own houses, paid off student loans, were doing amazing things. I know I can earn a lot and I want that. I also want to travel. Meet famous people. I met crew who worked on Simon Cowell's yacht, another guy was mate on Bono's yacht. Johnny Depp, Steven Spielberg, Tiger woods.... they all own their own superyachts,' he trailed off as his eyes got all starry with imagined celebrity.

'So it's a cool job?'

'An amazing job. I really want to get on board.'

What about tax?' I asked.

'I don't think you don't pay tax.' Wrong.

'What qualifications do you have?'

'I thought I'd be okay with the STCW but once I got down there I found other skills that would have been simple to get would have been a lot more helpful.'

'Do yourself a favour. If you're serious about getting into the industry read the book Working on yachts and superyachts. There are loads of websites out there that list the jobs available and basic job descriptions but very few sites are about finding work. And none really look into what the job is about. Superficially yes, but the nitty gritty about mustard pots, crew messes, driving tenders and hard suitcases. A thousand things that mean when it comes to finding work on board you know HOW to do it. You know exactly WHAT is expected of you. You know WHERE to look for work and you know WHEN.'



Job Descriptions

On the average Superyacht / Megayacht you will find six main categories of jobs on board:

  • Captain: the officer in charge of the yacht and all who sail in her. He can earn tens of thousands a year but he has immense responsibility and needs an encyclopaedic knowledge of the industry. a good captain has exceptional people skills.

  • Engineer: The world’s fleet of big boats and superyachts, typically over 23 metres in length, has more than doubled in the last ten years, with nearly 6000 large luxury vessels afloat on the world’s oceans. The continuing worldwide boom in the superyacht market, together with changes to the manning requirements of large commercial and leisure yachts demanded by the international convention, has led to a substantial rise in the number of job opportunities to work on board these luxurious sail and motor yachts. Indeed, there is now a global shortage of qualified engineers able to work on superyachts.
    Engineers are very much in demand and the potential earning reflect that with some engineers able to command salaries higher than those of their captains. However engineers cannot legally hold the position without approved qualifications. There are a variety of training courses for Marine Engineers.

  • Mate / First Officer: Just a step or two away from the position of captain an officer has to be qualified and hold relevant papers to hold the position. salary good, in charge of exterior crew, reports to captain.

  • Deckhand: general exterior duties on board. Working as a deckhand is entry level for almost every captain in the industry, it's your apprentice position. Deckhands have risen to Captain in relatively short periods of time and have seen equivalent returns on training investment.
    The minimum requirements for deckhand training is the STCW but there are many other skill sets and sailing courses that will enable you to climb the career ladder quickly and easily.

  • Steward and Stewardess: interior crew in charge of the interior and caring for guests. Working as a stewardess can be a very rewarding experience. More than almost any other member of crew you get to meet owners and guests. The service you provide is vital to the quality of the guests stay.
    As a steward or stewardess your duties will include everything from Silver Service to bed-making, from ironing to PR.

  • Chef and crew chef: provisions yacht and prepares and cooks for guests and crew. Cooking on a yacht is very different to being a restaurant chef or chalet girl. As a personal chef you need to have a very very broad repertoire and need to be able to cope with periods away from shore and no easy access to forgotten ingredients. If you want to be a chef on board you need to know which position would suit you best.

Today most crew are expected to have, at the very least, the minimum STCW95 recognised qualifications. These qualifications include the B.S.T. (Basic Safety Training) which covers four modules, namely basic firefighting, elementary first aid, personal survival, and personal safety & social responsibility.

The STCW has been put in place to protect both crew and passengers/guests. STCW (S.T.C.W.) stands for Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping

There are many people who would wish to work as yacht crew. The lifestyle is fabulous and the pay package is great.

In view of this high level of competition for yacht crew positions there is significantly more to finding a job on yacht, working as professional paid crew, besides sending the odd email and/or cv's and sitting back and hoping for the best.



How to Find Work

There are four main factors when it comes to finding work on a yacht.

. What . When . Where . How .

Decide what job you want to do. Remember at entry level you can either get on as cook (but you must be experienced and very good) or you can find work as a steward/ess or deckhand. Once you have decided what job you want to do you need to know what qualifications you need in order to do legally do these jobs onboard. This information is available in the book 'Working on yachts and superyachts.'

Next you must find out when the best time is to start looking for the dream job. Yachting is made up of seasons. Getting the season and time wrong can mean you end up waiting for months for the right job to come along. 'Working on yachts and Superyachts' discusses seasons in detail and tell you when the best time is to be there.

Where is also critical to finding a job. You've got the papers/skills, you got the season right but there is no point in sitting in Marseilles when the bulk of jobs are to found in Antibes, or in Barcelona when you can find work in Palma, or in Mallorca when most of the work is to be found in Fort Lauderdale. 'Working on yachts and Superyachts.' looks at over 300 superyacht ports around the world and tells you where you are likely to be most successful.

There are a lot of options when it comes to how to find work on board a yacht. Online CV/resumes, crew agents, contacts, emailing cv, bulletin boards, magazines, dockwalking etc. All these do work but in order to maximise your chances of finding work onboard there is a way of getting them ALL working for you so your chances of finding that dream job are massively improved. 'Working on yachts and superyachts' details what to and, just as important, what not to do.



What is a Superyacht?

A Superyacht is essentially a very expensive, privately owned yacht which is professionally crewed.

They are also known as luxury yachts or megayachts and now you get the giga yacht. They are found on every ocean and every sea all over the world but they are concentrated in some parts more than others.

A superyacht is the same thing as a mega yacht or a luxury yacht but is NOT the same as a cruiseliner. The largest Superyacht in the world is the Dubai at 160 metres but she is not privately owned. The largest privately owned yacht is the Eclipse at 147 metres (owned by, rumour has it, Roman Abramovich) but she may well soon be 'eclipsed' (!) by the mysterious Sunflower or even Crystal Ball.

With an increasing demand for bigger, better, smarter yachts, more and more superyachts have been built since the late 80's but there is an ongoing crew shortage which is a major problem within the industry.

After 9/11 things cooled rapidly for a little while and then it seemed that caution was thrown to the wind by a lot of the very rich. An attitude of 'if my days are numbered I am going to make them count' seems to be the prevailing one at the moment. Cheque books are out and builders yards have full order books.

With the increased demand for superyachts there has been an increase custom boat building yards and there are some key players in boat building at the moment. Some of the top names are Blohm + Voss, Lurssen, Pershwing, Wally, Feadship, Azimut-Bennetti, Abeking & Rasmussen, Codecasa, Baglietto, Royal Huisman Shipyard, C Van Lent en Zonen BV, to name but a few.

Some yachts are used exclusively by their private owners, many Arab owned yachts tend to be reserved exclusively for their owners private use but not all. Some yachts are operated all year round as charter businesses, others are used for both.

Charter fees vary from the tens of thousands of dollars a week to getting on to a million dollars a week. This covers the wages of the crew, but not fuel, food and drink, or other expenses. It also doesn't include tips which can be 10% to 15% of the charter fee.

Yachts from 23 metres (75 feet) and up qualify for design awards from the Superyacht Society, but at the bottom end of that scale yachts will not necessarily be crewed and many set the minimum length for a superyacht considerably higher. In fact gone are the days when a yacht under 35 metres was considered super.

From around 30 metres and up yachts are almost always crewed with a full time crew, dropping to skeleton crew over winters and quiet periods.

A 45 to 50 metre yacht will always have a full time crew and usually has three decks with cabins for 12 guests and for a crew of around 12 to 14.

Superyatchs cost anything from one or two million up to tens of millions of dollars and now you are getting to the stage where you are looking at a couple of 100 million... for a new build

Super yachts is not correct. It should be written as one word as in superyachts.

A superyacht can be a sailing yacht as well as motor yacht, classic or ultramodern, displacement or fast planning. There aren't as many sailing superyachts as motoryachts. Although rare some motoryachts are called powerboats

You can find these yachts all over the world but they have a tendency to travel in herds with their main cruising grounds being in just 10% of the worlds oceans. They also tend to follow similar migrational routes year in, year out. Autumns and springs will find them flocking to the favoured cruising grounds.

Crew working on these yachts live on board, in crew quarters which can be luxurious or pretty crummy. They travel with the yacht most of the time, on occasions like a crossing, sometimes the interior crew are allowed 'off' the boat and they can fly the crossing and have some well earned time off. Sometimes the boss will fly the chef and steward/ess to his home or villa where they will be asked to look after himself and his guests. Crew are usually extremely well paid and cared for.

Some of these mega yachts are available for charter (these fees are anything from around $40,000 a week to half a million. Yes, a week.) Crew may expect to get gratuities / tips which are about 10 to 15% of the charter fee. Tips are usually divided fairly between the crew.


What they say about working on yachts

So what is working as yacht crew really like? Is it really sunning yourself on the foredeck of a multi million dollar yacht, occasionally stirring yourself to get the boss a drink if you have to? Is cheffing on a yacht popping a pot of pot noodle for the crew and telling them to get on with it?

The Captain is the boss, what does the job really involve from a personal point of view?

After 16 years of being involved in one way or another with the yachting industry we like to think we know a little about the business. But we enjoyed working onboard so much and are still involved to a big extent therefore we consider ourselves biased!

With this in mind we got some friends and contacts of ours who are or have been involved in the industry to write about what they experienced and what they feel they should tell you and what they wish they had known before they started in the field.

I'm sorry to say, it is not all good but it is better not to go into the field with rose tinted glasses but then no job ever is. I also say include the bad because my book is straight, down the line, honest too. Forewarned is forarmed as they say.


The Grotty Yachtie

Simon: Engineer A lot of people think my job is really jetset and I supose it is but it seems I am always away from my family (wife and 2 kids) and while I can pay to buy them a great house and a good education at the end of the day the job is a professional job, just like being a doctor or banker.
My advice to would be crew is don't let yourself over glamourise the job. If it is going to be a career make sure you are aware of the pitfalls beforehand. A professional crewman lives away from his family and misses out on a lot of things that most families take for granted.

Jean Claude: Captain To all crew wanting to work on a yacht I would ask them to remember that special word...'work'. Don't come onboard expecting a cruise with a salary on the end. I must also advise crew to stay well away from drugs.

Nicky Freeman: Chef I have been a cook on yacht for six years. In those six years I have had eight jobs. I can find the job stressful. Not so much cooking for the guests but the crew! One won't eat garlic, the other is a vegetarian, one hates pasta, the other wont eat vegetables, one is gluten free, one loves curry the other loathes it.... They can be hard work ;-)
My advice to chefs wanting to get on board is be sure you can cope on your own. There are no kitchen porters to help clean up. Prima donna's don't cut it so if you like throwing your toys out of your pram, stay at home. You must be able to cope with the fact that if you run out of smething, you can be two weeks away from the nearest shop. On the other hand putting $5000 in your pocket every month does make the hard times more bearable! On the whole I do enjoy the job and I have had some incredible experiences all over the world because of it.

John: Captain Having worked in the field since the early nineties I can say, hand on heart, that while I have a lot of money in the bank, the industry as a whole, is self serving and very money orientated. While this has suited me in the past I am more than ready to get out but the problem is 'What does someone who qualified to work on the sea do when he is fed up with it? I would say the field is limiting, superficial but lucrative but burn out can be a problem.

Olaf Mortenssen: Deck I am a deckhand on a new yacht. I have been working onboard for three months now. I don't enjoy it as much as I had hoped as I get very seasick (and that is before we have left port!) and I also find the other crew very materialistic. It all comes down to money. How much this cost, how much that cost, what drugs to buy and where. I am going to hang on for the season if I can, I know the fact that I don't enjoy it is partly fault but it is also the fact that I get so sick. I think you have to be lucky with the rest of the crew too. I haven't really found anyone I like to muck around with. My advice to new crew check out those sea legs and if your boat is not much fin, think about shifting to another, sometimes it is just the crew that you mix with that makes your time fun or not.


The good stuff

Micheal Cameron: Mate Working on yachts is a wonderful experience. I have worked on board for five years and traveled around the Med, Caribbean and up the west coast of the states to Alaska. During my time on board I have worked on five boats, the first lasted the season and then it took me three months and a lot of money to find the next one which only lasted a week then another two weeks without work and then a temp job covering for someone who was ill and finally my last job which lasted nearly two and a half years. My second last job was great, nice crew, cool owner and lovely boat even though she was fairly old and needed constant maintenance, it was better than polishing already clean windows on a new boat to kill time. My current job is good too.
I am now a 'first officer' and like my crew and boss. I am doing my captaincy exams and hope to be qualified by the end of the year. My advice to those wanting to get on a boat is to hold out for the right job and then be prepared to work real hard once you are on board. If you want to do something stop thinking about and talking about it, just do it!

Grant Hughes: Captain I really enjoy my job. I have just gone up a rung in the ladder to my first placement as a captain on 35m yacht. I am working with my long term girlfriend who is the chief stew. I love my career but I am not sure what is going to happen once children come along, if they do at all.
My advice to new crew is when you are looking for a job as a couple don't cut your nose off to spite your face. If you can't find a job together, split up for a bit, something will almost always crop up further down the line. If you think your relationship couldn't hack the strain of being apart then it is not much of a relationship.

Susannah Duggan: Stew I used to be a stew on a yacht. I left the industry around ten years ago to have children. My husband continued working on board for the next five years. The boats were very very good to us. They have enabled us to travel and see and experience so many things that people can only dream of. Or if they do do it, it has taken them three years to save up for it and it lasts a week.
We were very lucky with our yacht, the crew were really nice and we hardly ever saw the owner so the boat was almost our own. When the owner came onboard he was a real gentleman and liked his own company so was a pleasure to work for. My advice for new yachties, get the right boat, don't leap at the first job. Also get some experience before you decide that you want to make a career out of it.

Amanda Garrett: Stew I am a Chief Stewardess on a very large yacht that travels extensively. I have four stews who work under my direction. I have been in the field for ten years. I became involved in yachting by default as my boyfriend was an Officer on a motoryacht. I joined the vessel in France and subsequently, when we split up, I continued working onbaord.

I find the job to be demanding at times although it is rewarding in it's own way. I have many friends around the world, I have travelled extensively, not just on the yacht but also on my own as the excellent salary has enabled me to explore more of the world.
I have been careful in my expenditure and after eight months on the first yacht I visited a financial advisor who has seen to it that my money has been wisely invested.
I have bought seven properties.A three bedroom home in the UK which is let out through agents and a second home in France which I use as a base. I have an additional five properties four more in the UK and another apartment in France. My advice to anyone considering entering into the industry is be careful with the money you earn but don't be a scrooge. I would also tell newcomers that the job is a lot more demanding than most anticipate. You may well be sitting on a yacht with a value of $45 000 000 but a lavatory is still a lavatory, it still has to be cleaned and sh*t is still sh*it no matter who shat it!


Want to work onboard?

They say that knowledge is power and they are right. Finding a job on board is a lot of fun, the action of finding itself is fun. Exciting while you wait for emails to be returned, exciting when you jump on to easy jet and nip down to Nice, your heart in your mouth because you are following the dream.

A great jump of sheer excitement inside when you walk down the quayside for the first time, looking up at these truly magnificent boats with their bright white and gleaming chrome, their crew fluttering about her like little bees around a massive honey pot.

Popping into agents with your cv, networking in the local grotty yachty pubs, it's all great fun and you don't need to buy a book to tell you how to go about finding a job. But it certainly helps!

I wrote the book after spending my years in the industry. That many people, when they asked what I did, gasped with envy and wanted to know how to go about finding work themselves. I tried to tell them but there was so much to tell. (There is a limit to how long you want to stand on a street corner hearing someone burble on and on!!!) So I decided not to alienate people but put the info down in the BEST way I could.

When I started writing I was writing to sell an ebook only and I quickly realised, having bought a few ebooks to find out what it was all about, that you get the rubbish ebooks (90%) and the mediocre (8%) and the final 2% were really worth the money.

Having paid money for a sheaf of rubbish once to often I made a vow that my book would be the definitive guide. It would be the best. And, it is. I have received some very powerful and flattering accolades from many different branches of the industry and I am delighted to know that the incredible amount of energy that went into producing the book was worth every sleepless night.

In 2003 the book was officially published in paperback. The fourth edition was released in 2013 and is now available on download and in paperback. This company, with an excellent reputation, would never have published the book without fully assessing the content and realising it's value. The download is a mirror of the paperback but obviously much cheaper and contains many colour photos and also contains the critical MGN and MSN notes for your reference.

While I have been doing research for the new version I am absolutely delighted to say that I have recieved some absolutely brilliant endorsements from some really big, professional yachting companies. Ciaran of UKSA training on the Isle of Wight, UK, said he recommended ALL his students read the book and that he thought it was the best book for crew in the industry.

Mandy from Professional Yachtmaster Training South Africa said 'We bought your book two years ago and recommend it to all our students as it gives a personal account of the yachting industry - congrats on an awesome book!'

Deb Brown Director of Club Sail Australia said 'All the best with the book, it’s great reference and we recommend it to all out students.'

Norma Trease from The Yacht Report/Crew Report

Kristen Cavallini-Soothill from the American Yacht Institute

Angela Arthurs, Senior Crew Agent of Elite Crew International

have all contributed to the new edition offering clear and clever insights to the industry.


Working on Yachts and Superyachts - Testimonials

Working on yachts and superyachtsi bought the paper book about four years ago at twenty three i just wish i had been eighteen. It is a great read and now twenty seven i am captain of a yacht getting a great salary defo recommend the book. - J. Scott Five Star average Amazon rating

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