Yachting – Careers At Sea

Many of us, at one time or another, will look for something different in the way of employment, to escape from the tedium of paying rent, fighting traffic and crowds, and just managing to get by on a paycheck that is never quite enough. We may be lured by the “call of the sea and the vagrant gypsy life” that Masefield spoke of in his poem “Sea-Fever.” Owning a yacht is a rich man’s dream, but working on one is an adventure that can be a well-paid reality for some. Although much has changed since the sailing days of Masefield and others before him, distant places and foreign shores still hold a fascination for world travelers today.

Yachting and careers at sea offer excitement and an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. Your working environment can be compared to a floating hotel, where you are surrounded by luxury and ultra-modern conveniences. You can forget paying exorbitant airline fees and transportation costs, finding accommodations, and deciding what and where to eat, once you’re hired, onboard, and heading out to sea. Crew members and deck hands will find their jobs are demanding ones, however, as yacht passengers and owners are used to the finer things, expecting not only the best, but sometimes the impossible. True enough, there is not a whole lot of privacy, but there are other benefits worth considering.

Yachting has several advantages over cruise ship employment, with fewer guests to please and a smaller crew to work with. The pay will vary, but will usually be more than on large cruise ships, and the tips will be quite generous. These are definitely not 9 to 5 jobs; you’ll work hard and your duties may go beyond a set routine or job description, but once in port there will be time to relax or go ashore. Of course, one real plus is the variety in these jobs, which you will gain from experience, the possibility of working for more than one employer, and the interaction with a diverse group of people, as you travel to unusual places.

You can find jobs on all types of sailing vessels, from the smaller charter boats to the super yachts of the rich and famous, many of which are privately owned or managed by large corporations. Yachting to different countries and destinations are usually planned for different times of the year, based on the weather. Yachting points of departure can be found in the Caribbean, Mexico, the South Atlantic, and South Africa from January through March. Yachts leave frequently from ports on the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean in the months of April through July, and from both the South and North Pacific, and the South and North Atlantic countries from September through December. Being in the right area at the right season is important, as jobs will be more readily available when yachting ventures are planned. Many agencies and other resources can be found online that will provide more information and assistance in training and job placement.

From captains, engineers, and mates to deckhands, chefs, and stewards or stewardesses, all do require varying levels of experience, training, certification, and licensing. Depending on the size of the yacht, a qualified pilot may be hired by the owner(s), although usually this comes under the duties of captain, who carries a great deal of responsibility for the ship and crew based on his years of sailing experience. Occasionally, the job of purser may be available on the very luxurious yachts with a larger payroll and more guests to account for. Jobs are sometimes available for couples on the same ship, as well.

There are a number of training centers for yachting careers in various countries, such as Australia, the south of France, South Africa, and Florida. Since the UK is perhaps the best known for their noteworthy maritime history, we can use their guide as an example of some qualifications that are needed for employment on a yacht. If you’re a beginner and considering a career in yachting, you will need to complete several basic Standard of Training Certificates and Watch Keeping (STCW) courses, which were established by the International Maritime Association. They include first aid, survival training, and fire and safety responsibility and can be completed in 5 days or less. Some yacht owners will prefer to do their own training and will hire deckhands and other crew members with little or no experience. A certificate of competency, issued by the prestigious Royal Yachting Association (RYA), is sometimes requested as it demonstrates your specialized skills in boat handling. For yachting jobs as stewards or stewardesses, you will need to complete some hospitality courses in the basics of managing and maintaining the interior of the yacht, serving food, and wine appreciation.

The Yacht Rating Certificate, indicating an advanced level of training, may be required for each crew member hired on a yacht. This provides proof of 6 months of onboard yacht experience, 2 months at sea, completion of basic courses, and medical certification for seagoing employment. You may gain some of this experience through short voyages, weekend excursions, and racing regattas, so it is important that you keep a logbook of the miles you do spend at sea, as this will help in finding permanent, long term employment.

You must be personable, like people, and love sailing to succeed in a yachting career. Visas for travel will be required by your employer, who will also act as your sponsor in obtaining a work permit once you’re hired. It is always helpful to be familiar with one or more foreign languages, understand the computer, and know something about mechanics and plumbing, but above all, be adaptable to changes in weather and flexible in dealing with the unexpected. Owning a yacht is something most people can only dream about, but working and traveling on one is a very real and possible career for those who seek an unforgettable experience and adventure at sea.

Sharon L. Slayton

Filed Under: Travel & tourism jobs

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