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Taking the step from commercial to yachting
Taking the step from commercial to yachting…

This should be an interesting blog for many candidates who are looking to make the transition from a commercial maritime background to the super yachting world. I also plan to refer many candidates to this as it is a conversation I have a lot! Specifically this is targeted at crew who have recently passed their OOW Unlimited, not those who have their Chief or Master ticket.

Firstly, what kind of commercial background finds it easiest to step into the yachting world? Well in my experience my clients (over 3000gt)  have generally been keenest on guys who are coming from a cruise ship background. Firstly there is the perception that cruise ship experience has the most cross over with regular guest interaction on board. Secondly, in the bridge at least, there appears to be a significant cross over between the technology and software so it is less of a steep learning curve. However don’t be too downcast if you are coming from another sector, there are still plenty of opportunities and if you follow my advice then the sector you come from is less relevant.

The biggest piece of advice I can give which hopefully everyone reading this will heed is to take some form of deckhand role initially. And when I say initially I mean for at least 1 year, ideally 2. There are multiple reasons for this which I will elaborate on shortly…. As always, there are anomalies to this and I’m generalising but for the majority of recent OOW Unlimited graduates all of this applies.

1: You are ahead of your peers

Assuming you are relatively young and you have your OOW Unlimited in hand you are miles ahead of your competition. So don’t be in a rush to get your first Officer role. Build a solid foundation to your yachting career instead by being patient. Don’t chase 4500 euros and rotation in your first job. All these things will come with time if you take the steps I suggest.

2: You have a lot to learn

When entering yachting your existing skillset (for most of you) revolves around the bridge & navigation. You have a very limited understanding of how to drive a tender, how to do a beach set up, water sports, painting, varnishing, maintenance etc. The list is lengthy unfortunately and your current skills only make up a small portion of the job. There are yachts out there with Officer positions which are purely bridge based however there are many which also have deck responsibilities. Spending 18 months on deck and learning how it operates, getting a good grounding in maintenance and all the essential deck skills is incredibly beneficial. Also its fun working on deck with the rest of the team. Few things are as enjoyable as spraying your unsuspecting mate with a hose of cold water.

3: Respect my authority (authoritah!!!)

Most of you wont get that reference but but for those that do it works perfectly. Having a job title doesn’t automatically command respect. Unfortunately if the deckhand with a year of experience is better at 80% of the job than you are then you will struggle to command his respect.

4: Towing the line…

As a deckhand you will be afforded more leeway to have the odd hangover mid week. You can get away fraternising casually with the interior. Professionally you will also be able to make a few more mistakes than you will as an Officer. So enjoy the first year or two without having all these extra responsibilities. I believe if you are in a position of authority then you have to lead by example and you have to be a little removed from the troops. That means not getting drunk and / or sleeping with the crew.

I’m sure I have forgotten a couple of other reasons but that should be plenty! In terms of what else you can do to help your cause…

I would suggest similar things that I do to other crew looking for to improve their CVs. Don’t go on a course which teaches you to be a ‘deckhand’ in 1 week. It doesn’t and it is expensive. Save your time and money. Useful additional skillsets are carpentry, boat building, water sports, diving etc. All of  those take time so start early.

Regarding boats the only thing I will suggest there is to try and get something 70m plus. Best of luck everyone, I hope this helps a little!

Taking the step from commercial to yachting

About the author

Tim Clarke

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