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Why choose a career as superyacht crew?

Tim Clarke
August 4, 2021

The yachting sector needs to do more to entice green superyacht crew into the industry whilst ensuring they have the right core skills and attitude to become an asset on any vessel.

The yachting sector needs to do more to entice green superyacht crew into the industry whilst ensuring they have the right core skills and attitude to become an asset on any vessel.

As an industry, we have a serious problem when it comes to recruiting superyacht crew, especially at a junior level. Whilst there are large numbers of green crew taking the leap into yachting, the vast majority of them aren’t bringing any relevant skill sets or experience to the table. We need to change this.

I was reminded this weekend that good green candidates exist, they just aren’t aware of the sector or the benefits. We were fortunate enough to enjoy some glorious weather in the UK, so I took full advantage and went paddle boarding with my son. We hired them from a local company at the beach and there were three young lads working for them, all of whom were chatty, engaging, well presented and had multiple water sports qualifications between them.

I got talking with them and whilst they were all vaguely aware that being superyacht crew was a ‘thing’, none of them had really considered it as a career option. I gave them my contact details and told them to get in touch should they want to find out more.

I genuinely believe that yachting should be attracting excellent talent for many reasons, but here are just a few…

  • It’s a great career

Yachting offers superb long-term career prospects to anyone entering it, regardless of department. When compared to traditional leisure, hospitality and land-based engineering roles, there are far better opportunities for interior, galley, engineering and deck crew onboard a superyacht.

There are clear progression paths in every department and if you are good at your job, you will definitely rise up the ranks fast. In fact, and it pains me to say it, being good isn’t even essential. Unfortunately, plenty of incompetent people have great careers in yachting because there is a shortage of amazing superyacht crew! We need to change that and getting more great crew to enter the industry means we can raise the standards and improve the owner experience.

  • Superb salaries

Whilst it has become fashionable to complain about stagnant wages in the superyacht sector and owners cutting budgets etc, the reality is you will be very well paid in your first job in yachting compared to the vast majority of ‘normal’ industries.

A deckhand or stew earning €30k a year is good money. That’s before you factor in bonuses, potential tips, no living expenses and no tax for some of you. To achieve that level of take-home money is amazing when you analyse it. Let’s say rent on average costs €500 a month, food €200 and tax accounts for 25% of your salary. Even better if you’re 22/23-years-old. Someone entering the industry who works hard for three years solid and is careful with their money could save enough to have a deposit to buy their first property. That’s pretty good in my opinion.

  • Work life balance

Rotation, for those of you who are only just scratching the surface of being superyacht crew, is the time you are onboard vs on leave. And I’ll be honest, not everyone gets rotation, but more and more yachts are introducing rotation to attract the best crew.

Someone entering the industry right now with a relevant secondary skill set could quite easily get a 3:1 in their first job (three months on and one month off), and certainly in their second job if they approach things correctly. For clarity, I am referring here to watersports instructors, PTs, beauticians and masseuses and even more experienced carpenters, paramedics and nurses.

Being paid to be on holiday for three to six months of the year is possible and means crew have a pretty rare opportunity to spend quality time with family, travel or indulge their passions that many other industries just don’t offer. Of course, the flip side is that you are more likely to be away from your families for 10 months a year.

  • Having experiences

Not every superyacht is going to be world cruising and there are plenty that will never leave the South of France, but generally yachting does give amazing opportunities to travel. It also brings experiences and stories to tell down the pub like very few other industries. The work can be very monotonous, scrubbing a deck or making beds, but the surrounding social or #yachtlife as it’s known in the industry, is far from it.

You will also make lots of amazing friends and meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. These friends will often remain in your life forever. Who knows, you might even meet your future spouse!

  • It’s getting more accessible

Despite yachting being an elitist industry in some respects, the reality is that a lot of people can endeavour to become superyacht crew. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a career for everyone, but anyone can get their STCW and ENG1. Many training schools offer finance options so you can spread the payment costs which makes it more manageable. But if you have no relevant skills and aren’t passionate about joining the industry, you may well spend the money and get nowhere.

What can crew agencies do about it?

As a crew agent I think it’s partly our responsibility, and the responsibility of various stakeholders within the industry, to try and attract more talent to yachting. Whilst I’m not suggesting we go round handing out business cards to anyone who crosses our paths who seems vaguely personable, I do think we should take the opportunity, if appropriate, to chat to people about yachting if we think they could be good.

As a company, Quay Crew has a few ideas we are working on behind the scenes to try and do our bit so hopefully this blog will to be continued.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about becoming superyacht crew, check out our guide to joining the industry.

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