Can a woman be a deckhand on a superyacht?

This is becoming an increasingly common question. Nowadays, women don’t need to only be in stewardess roles, and more women are moving into the role of deckhands, which is a trend that has changed a fair amount over the years.  In the way the media represents the industry, you’ll notice that the superyacht deckhands onboard yachts are almost males, but women almost always fill the superyacht stewardess post.

That isn’t to suggest that women can’t work as deckhands on superyachts!

When it comes to equality issues, society as a whole is changing. Many nations are attempting to improve anti-discrimination legislation, gender equality, and workplace gender equality. We’re seeing a lot more women in leadership roles, and there are a lot of media efforts out there raising equality awareness. The super yachting industry is following a similar path. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in women filling male-dominated positions previously.

The bottom line is that captains want personnel that can operate their ship to the best of their abilities. It’s also critical to have a wide range of experience and the ability to collaborate effectively. The gender of a potential crew member shouldn’t matter.

Can women handle the physical demands as a superyacht deckhand?

Unfortunately, one of the most common misconceptions about women who want to be deckhands is that they aren’t physically capable of handling the practical components of the job.

Indeed, superyacht deckhand jobs are physically demanding and necessitate a high level of fitness and strength to perform your duties to the best of your ability. But by taking care of your physical health, including eating a healthy diet (easy when the superyacht chef prepares your daily meals! ), you can improve your physical performance. It’s also important to work out regularly – a good mix of cardio and strength training is needed. You’ll be on to a winner if you eat well and exercise often.

Female deckhands and mental health

It’s also worth noting that the job can be psychologically demanding; the hours are long and often unsociable, and it’s frustrating to be mistaken for a stewardess (which happens all too frequently)!

As a female deckhand, you may take care of your mental health in various ways, including obtaining plenty of rest and cultivating strong, supportive connections with your coworkers.

There are also several fantastic online forums where female superyacht deckhands offer each other support and advice.

Advice for female deckhands

Cultivate relationships onboard

When you work as a superyacht deckhand, you will not only be working with your fellow deckhands and other members of the crew, but you will also be living with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week! 

As a result, you must cultivate great relationships with your crewmates so that you may work well together and have fun! On and off the boat, look out for each other. Onboard wellbeing is frequently an afterthought, and it deserves more attention. Being upfront and communicating with your team members should be encouraged if you’re having trouble.

Additional advice: If there’s another female deckhand on board, buddy, up with her, you’ll appreciate the support! 

Love what you do

Like the famous saying, do what you love and love what you do. A good attitude and a strong work ethic are two of the most sought-after and valued qualities of a superyacht deckhand.

The idea is to get right in; be the first to volunteer your services wherever they’re required – including in the Stewardess department if the team needs an additional pair of hands – and go about your daily chores with a grin and a desire always to be doing more and doing better.

This positive attitude and can-do attitude will undoubtedly be noticed by other, more senior members of the crew, and will not only boost overall team morale but will also put you on the radar for future opportunities. You may even find yourself progressing to become a bosun or even a captain one day!

Be financially savvy

You’ve just been handed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to save some money while still young and healthy. Remember to put money aside as you go and seek financial advice from the professionals. Enjoy life at the moment but also have a long term outlook.

Never stop learning

Your education as a deckhand doesn’t end once you’ve completed your training; in fact, your first year as a qualified deckhand is the most important learning experience you’ll ever have!

Pay attention to what you’re expected to do in your role and aim to improve on the abilities you learned during your superyacht deckhand training. Always inquire if there is anything extra you can do or learn!

Super Yachting South Africa offers various courses for aspiring deckhands and more advanced courses to further your skill set. Our Career Progression courses can help increase your desirability and prospects for advancement in your job.

Dock Walking 101

Dock walking, for the uninformed, is exactly what it sounds like. People searching for work on the yachts can just walk the docks and inquire if any crew members want assistance or if there are any job openings onboard. It’s a terrific opportunity to get your foot in the door and maybe gain a longer-term career because superyachts are nearly always short of day employees when in port. 

Some people mistake that dock walking is just the laborious effort of passing out CVs and inquiring about job openings. It’s actually an excellent opportunity to also network with crew and captains in the hopes of landing a job. Dock walking is a hands-on, interactive alternative to looking for a job via agencies. Networking is important in the yachting sector, and dock walking may help you achieve that. It’s simple to forget a name from a CV, but it’s far more difficult to forget a face you’ve seen in person. Here are some tips to plan out a successful dock walking session.

Make sure you have your qualifications

Before you even consider applying for a job aboard a boat, there are a few things you need to do to ensure your success. First and foremost, most employers will not even consider you until you have finished the STCW basic training course. It is a basic minimum requirement, and the course lasts around 11 days. Some fundamentals are covered, including marine survival, general first aid, personal safety, and firefighting. It’s fascinating information to have, a significant advantage for companies. If you want to work as a deckhand, getting your Level 2 Powerboat license is essential. Going through a reputable yachting school like SYSA ensures that you get the right qualifications for the job.

Finally, have a recent and relevant CV on hand. Day work is unlikely to be your ultimate goal; therefore, bring your CV with you to give it over at the end of the day and apply for the job you desire.

Timing

Try to arrive at the docks first. Most yachts begin their working day at 8 a.m., arriving by 8:15 a.m. with CVs in hand.  Crew members are getting down to business, and the marina hasn’t yet filled up with eager yachties. The captains and crew will be impressed by your discipline, but they will also be relieved that the procession of other dock walkers hasn’t worn them out. I’ll know first thing in the morning if we need day workers for the day, and it’ll be first come, first served. 

The afternoon is also an excellent time to go. However, between 12 and 1 p.m., do not attempt to dock walk. It’s crew lunchtime, and disrupting the workers at their mealtime isn’t ideal. After completing most of the daily tasks, the staff will be more relaxed. They’ll be more willing to spend a minute or two chatting to you and pointing you in the right direction.

What to wear

Dress comfortably and appropriately while maintaining a professional appearance with your hair and cosmetics. Bring an additional t-shirt in your plain, simple luggage, and you don’t mind getting dirty — if you are successful with daywork, it will almost certainly be a dirty job, and you don’t want to destroy your “interview” clothing.  If a boat is looking for day labourers on that particular day and thinks you’d be a good fit, you can be invited to come on board right away. Consider dock walking to be a day of speed interviews, and dress as though you’re meeting with a Chief Stewardess/Bosun  for an interview. 

It might be a long day, so bring a water bottle and some snacks.

Before you go – Be Prepared.

Start the day with a clear plan. Make a list of all the docks you wish to visit and how you’ll get there.  Make sure your phone is fully charged and, if feasible, bring a power bank in case your battery runs out — you never know when you’ll be contacted about a job!

If you’re going to use business cards (Which is a good idea as it looks very professional), have them available. You can even create them yourself – there are a lot of wonderful websites out there that provide templates and are reasonably priced. 

Present yourself in a professional manner

The yachting business places a premium on presentation. Before you’ve opened your lips, the way you’re dressed says a lot about you. The time and effort you put into polishing your look will signal to the skipper how much time and effort you’ll put into making sure the yacht is in top shape. As a result, make sure your clothing is ironed and pristine, your hair is styled and out of your face, and your shoes are polished and free of scuff marks. Your CV must be flawless. Spelling issues, grammatical faults, and inaccurate information may hurt your chances of landing a job.

What to expect on the day

It might be difficult to get a crew member’s attention. You may feel like you’re bothering them, and your nerves may get frayed. Get rid of your anxiousness. Only through practice will you be able to achieve this. You’ll grow better at dock walking the more you do it. Most crew will reply if you stand next to the boat on the dock, smile politely, and wait patiently for them to approach you. It’s best to avoid calling out to them since you can come out as rude.

It’s a numbers game when it comes to dock walking. You may have a day when you talk to four or five different yachts. Don’t get disheartened if some days are slower than others and you just hand out one CV. Almost every member of the crew has had to dock walk for work. It’s a rite of passage of sorts. Even when they say they don’t need any additional personnel, you’ll find yacht workers to be courteous and understanding. Keep the faith, even if they’re obnoxious and distant. You’ll be able to find a job eventually.

Many dock walkers make the mistake of going directly to the larger superyachts. They assume that there will be more money and/or a higher need for more staff. They overlook that smaller ships may provide work possibilities that are better suited to their qualifications and expertise. You are free to be ambitious, but think about how much aid and direction you can get from others while working in a small, close-knit team rather than finding your way among a fleet of crew members. You may lose out on a sure-fire career chance by underestimating smaller boats.

Finally, have a good time with it. Every dock walk should be viewed as an opportunity to meet new people in the yachting sector, learn new things about the industry, and create contacts with individuals who can assist you in the future. People will recall your vivid personality as a welcome addition if a job vacancy arises when they encounter your excellent manner.

Maintain an optimistic attitude! You will almost certainly receive a lot of rejection, but don’t let that discourage you. The appropriate employment is out there; you have to continue and keep your objectives in mind.

Join us for the YachtieWorld Meetup in Cape Town

This event is being hosted by Yachtie World for yachties and aspiring yachties. Discover what the super yachting industry is and what it can offer you. Connect with like-minded people and super yachting professionals. Be inspired by others who can potentially help your career.

We are proud to support this event. Jason Hunter, Founder of SYSA will be discussing our stance in the super yachting industry. Lance Peach, Chief Instructor at SYSA will be talking about progression in our academy.

Topics to be discussed:

  • Introduction to yachting
  • How to become a Yachtie
  • Training advice
  • Networking tips
  • Travel in the YachtieWorld
  • Mental Health & Mindfulness onboard
  • Offshore financial freedom
  • Social media and content creation while abroad
  • Stories and tips from experienced yachties and featured guests

Details

Thursday, February 17, 2022
4:30 PM – 8:00 PM

The Kapstadt Brauhaus, V&A Waterfront

This event is limited to only 60 people and is intended for those who are serious about their yachting career and development.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

What are the differences between working on a private vs charter superyacht?

Whether you work on a private or a charter superyacht, a luxury yacht job provides a fulfilling career and plenty of advantages. In general, there are two sorts of superyacht crew positions available: charter yacht employment and private yacht jobs. Various people are better suited to different types of employment, and believe us when we say that charter and private work environments are vastly different. 

The word “charter yacht” refers to a yacht hired out to vacationers and business travellers for a portion of the time rather than being utilised by the owner. On the other hand, a ‘private yacht’ is only used by the owner and their guests, so you’re more likely to be serving the same people. The disparity between these two types of boats explains why they are so different to work on.

Both private yacht employment and charter boat jobs provide staff with a unique experience, from how the yacht is operated to the sailing itinerary. Your earning potential may be influenced by the sort of vessel you work on. 

Working as a crew on these two vessels also has some notable differences. Before you start looking for a luxury boat job, you need to figure out what kind of yacht suits your abilities and expertise.  Continue reading to learn about some of the significant distinctions between working as a crew member on a private yacht and working as a crew member on a charter boat.

Working on a private vs charter superyacht 

Salary

While salaries on private yachts and charter yachts are generally comparable, employees working on a charter yacht might make more since they often get a gratuity at the end of each charter. Some private yacht positions, on the other hand, may feature hefty end-of-year or seasonal bonuses, as well as perks such as health insurance. It’s also vital to understand that aboard a charter yacht, tips are never guaranteed.

Stability 

Working aboard a private yacht provides a lot of security because the crew is more likely to stay on the same boat for a long time, and there are typically perks like extended vacations and health insurance. You also get to know your owner and their circle, resulting in a more friendly, family-like atmosphere onboard. On the other hand, Charter yacht employment has a greater turnover rate, and you never know who you’ll be working with next. This may make the experience more interesting for certain people.

Taking a break 

On a charter yacht, you may have better-earning potential, but you’ll likely have less time off to enjoy it. During the peak yachting seasons, charter vessels are frequently fully booked, leaving crews with little time off. Crew members on a busy charter will be working around the clock. On the other hand, private yacht employment may offer a less busy schedule because the boat will only be operational when the owner decides. This implies the crew will likely spend more time at the dock, where they would typically perform a conventional 9-5 day maintaining the boat.

Workload

Both charter and private yacht occupations may be quite active, although charter has greater cruise activity per season. The time spent with passengers on board on a charter vessel is likely to be more intensive since each charterer wants to get the most out of the yacht during a week’s voyage. On the other hand, a private yacht owner has as much time as they like with their vessel and may thus adopt a more leisurely attitude to their time on the sea. Some people believe that time passes more quickly when they are busy; therefore, they love the fast-paced charter lifestyle, while others find the continual bustle tiresome and prefer the more relaxed environment aboard private yachts.

Travel 

Working as a crew member aboard a charter yacht or a private yacht allows you to see the world. Typically, charter yachts have a more limited range of destinations. For each season, they often sail to prominent yachting spots. If the yacht’s owner is adventurous, the crew may have the option to visit some of the world’s most distant and least visited areas.

Guests 

One of the major advantages of working aboard a private yacht is that you will get to know the yacht’s owners (and any frequent visitors), allowing you to provide personal touches that assure an extraordinary level of service. Working aboard a private yacht allows crew members to surpass expectations, which may be quite rewarding quickly. Some crew members will spend an extended amount of time working for the same yacht owner, building a professional bond that can lead to a rewarding career. Of course, each private yacht owner is unique, and their demands on their crew may vary. A charter yacht will have a steady stream of passengers, requiring the yacht crew to think quickly and anticipate their demands. 

It’s challenging to compare charter and private flights because they vary, depending on the guests or owners. In addition, the crew plays a significant part in this. Having a fantastic crew is one of the most crucial components of working on a yacht, whether owned or charter. 

Working on a private yacht comes with a different set of requirements than working on a charter boat. Depending on your abilities, both might be difficult or simple. It doesn’t hurt to try your hand at both sides of the industry early on in their careers, simply to have a feel for it.

Personal tastes will determine whether a private yacht or a charter yacht is best for you. While some people love the non-stop excitement of working on a charter yacht and the potential for more pay, others prefer the greater consistency and less frantic schedule that comes with working on a private yacht. At Super Yachting South Africa, we have a wide range of courses that prepare you for life aboard both private and charter superyachts.

Our top 5 locations to work on a yacht include Europe and the Caribbean

Whether cruising the turquoise waters of the Caribbean or hopping between secluded beaches along the Mediterranean coast, crew onboard superyachts are guaranteed adventure and new experiences. When considering a career on a superyacht, either as a deckhand or stewardess, seeing the world is definitely one of the reasons why.

Whether you want to work on a yacht in the Caribbean or Europe, it’s important to ensure that you have the necessary skills and requirements, such as the STCW course offered by SYSA. After successfully completing a superyacht course and when looking for a job, many yachties dream of being employed in exotic destinations. There are also destinations around the world known in the industry as ‘yachting hubs’ due to the large number of yachts that pass through them each year.

Many SYSA students work on yachts in the Caribbean, Europe, USA and Mexico. All of these destinations are incredibly popular. When it comes to some of the best places to work on a yacht, we’ve listed some of our favourites.

Europe

Working on a yacht in Europe is magical. Whether it’s cruising the coastlines of Italy or docking in the French Riveria, every place has something unique to experience. Imagine working on a yacht in Monaco, Antibes, Cannes, St Tropez or Spain.

Florida

Fort Lauderdale is home to one of the worlds leading ports.  Almost every yacht or superyacht ends up at this port since it is a gateway to many popular destinations. Soak up the sunshine whilst working on a yacht in Florida.

Newport

Newport, Rhode Island, is considered to be the shining gem in the coastal crown of New England. For many years, its yacht-filled harbour hosted America’s Cup, a renowned sailing regatta held every 4 years. 

Caribbean

If you work on a yacht in the Caribbean, an unforgettable adventure awaits. With so many islands on offer, many of which are some of the most famous superyacht destinations in the world, you will never feel like you’re working. The breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean seas, crystalline waters and endless clusters of idyllic paradise islands is the best place to work on a superyacht.

Dubai

Dubai is dripping in wealth, and it’s considered the billionaire’s playground of the world. It’s home to the world’s fourth-largest private yacht, measuring 162 metres, owned by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai. Superyacht crew options in Dubai range from working on one of the many yachts owned by the royal family or dozens of other private yachts.

If you are considering a career onboard a superyacht and want to work on a yacht in Europe or the Caribbean, then look at Super Yachting South Africa (SYSA).

Am I too old for the super yachting industry?

‘Am I too old to work on a superyacht?’ is one of the most common questions prospective superyacht course students have. The belief that starting a career in super yachting is mainly for 18 to 22-year-olds is widely held by many but is also a misconception. Many enquiries received by super yachting companies and training facilities are from people in their late twenties who have reservations due to believing that they are too late. But how accurate is this?

You can be in your twenties, thirties, or forties, seeking a new or different job, and you’ve come across the concept of working aboard a superyacht. It is undoubtedly one of the best professional possibilities to have the possibility to travel the world, earn good pay, establish lifelong relationships, and meet high-profile personalities! But what is the average age of a yacht crew?

Students who train with SYSA with the intention of starting a career aboard superyachts are typically between the ages of 18 and 30, with an increasing number in their late 20s and 30s.

When it comes to the age of crew, the typical age restriction is frequently set by the function itself. Working aboard a superyacht requires a lot of effort because you will be working long hours and sharing a stateroom with other crew members. This is one of the major reasons why older crew prefer to quickly upskill themselves with advanced super yachting courses and move away from deckhand only positions. 

A lot of it boils down to your personality; if you are hardworking, well-presented, and can get along with others, you will be able to obtain work. It may take a little longer to obtain work if you are a little older, but it is certainly not impossible. Being older can mean you can bring more maturity and experience to the role, which could help you advance faster to management or a more senior position.  It can actually work to your advantage as maturity instils a sense of security, professionalism and dedication.

If you are in your 30s and 40s, it may be slightly more difficult to find entry-level work after completing only a deckhand course. If you start as a deckhand or stewardess, there is a possibility of having a manager who is 15 or even 20 years your junior. Dealing with a manager who is younger than you should not deter you, and whether you are 20 or 30 years old, beginning a career in the superyacht business is a fantastic concept that you should really explore.

The truth of the matter is, because of the nature of the sector, you may experience some age discrimination; however, this does not mean you will not be able to find a career that meets your needs. Yes, yacht crews are typically younger since they have a desire to travel, make money, have no obligations at home, and are eager to learn the ropes. They are usually enthusiastic and can be taught the way boats prefer to run things, which varies depending on the systems in place, right from the start of their yachting experience.

Here are some tips if you’re planning to start a career onboard superyachts and are worried about being too old:

  • Demonstrate that you have the maturity and commitment to dedicate yourself to a career on the yachts on a long-term basis.
  • Employees will want to see that you are committed to making this a professional choice rather than a “life crisis,” so try yachting for a season.
  • Make it apparent that you have the life and work experience, as well as the work ethic, that the yachting business seeks—use your CV to convey this information.
  • Your excellent personality and maturity, together with your skills, will get you hired, so keep this in mind when writing your CV and attending any interviews or networking events.
  • Target smaller vessels with long-term crews, as young aspiring yachties are less likely to want to work on these vessels, resulting in less competition and an overall better working environment for you.

If you’re questioning whether you’re too old to start yachting, here are some things to think about:

  • Will it be difficult for you to report to younger officers and chief stews?
  • Are you physically strong enough to handle the demands of the job, like long hours and moving heavy objects, plus a lot of stair climbing if you’re a stew?
  • Are you willing to start at the very beginning? Unless you have appropriate land-based experience or skills, every new crew member will have to start in a junior job.
  • Are you brave enough to take the risk? Trying to obtain a job onboard is never a simple task. Remember that you don’t have to match the mould of a younger crew; there are plenty of boats out there with crews aged 30 and up.

Once you decide that it’s the right decision for you, prepare for a career in super yachting by completing an industry-relevant qualification at Super Yachting South Africa (SYSA). Let’s say you’re interested in taking the first steps toward a career on a superyacht. In such a situation, specialized training, such as our Standard Courses, is critical to properly prepare you for life and a career at sea. Apart from superyacht and offshore courses and training, you’ll need basic STCW training, which is the legal minimum for working on any commercial vessel at sea. STCW establishes minimum qualifications for masters, officers, and crew members of seagoing merchant ships, as well as anyone operating offshore or onboard any boat in the maritime business.

SYSA is a RYA (Royal Yachting Association) Training Center with full accreditation. The RYA’s training courses and credentials are well-known and respected around the world. Get more information about our courses, including extra training and professional advancement opportunities, right now.

Tips for creating the best superyacht crew CV

Your marketing brochure is your yacht crew CV. It’s the door to your future and serves as a shop window for potential employers to see what skills you have to offer. 

Your CV is a concise summary of who you are, your qualifications, work experience, and leisure activities. While reading your CV, the reader will build an opinion of you, so you must put effort into creating a great CV.

Your CV should not be longer than two pages. Crew agents, Captains, First Officers, and Chief Stew have a lot of CVs to look through, so if it’s too long, they’ll quit reading. It’s a sales pamphlet, not an essay; therefore, the CV must make a solid first impression. You’re attempting to emphasise the most critical topics, such as the type of job you want, your significant talents and qualifications, and why you want to work in the yachting sector.

A poor first impression is created by a poorly written CV, contains spelling errors, and is difficult to understand. After all, would you commit your prized superyacht to someone who didn’t even bother to spell check their resume? Take a look at what potential employers look for in a CV to increase your chances of success.

What to include in a yachting CV?

These are the seven essential areas you should think about when preparing a CV:

  • Personal information and a photo
  • Qualifications
  • Work/Yachting experience
  • Hobbies and interests
  • References

Personal Information

Keep in mind that initial impressions are crucial. Make your CV easy to read and avoid using unusual fonts that may be tough to understand. Remember that less is more, so leave plenty of white space. Make headlines stand out by underlining them and making your contact information easy to find. All of these contribute to the smooth flow of your CV.

A yachting CV should never exceed two pages, even for the most experienced yachties. Only include relevant work experience, beginning with your most recent employment and working backwards.

Professional Qualifications & Experience

If you already have yachting experience, make this part stand out by including start and end dates, the size and name of the vessels, your work title, and the specific nature of your responsibilities. If you have any yachting-related qualifications, list them first, followed by academic and other credentials.

When a captain looks over your crew CV, they’ll want to check that you have the relevant work experience before considering you for the position. Include your job title, responsibilities, dates you worked in the position.

Use your yachting CV as an opportunity to highlight land-based experience for people trying to enter into the profession. Make sure to include any qualifications you have that make you a good fit for the job, whether they are yacht-related or not, so the skipper can get a better picture of you. Include your crew medical certificate and STCW Basic Safety Training information. Remember that no captain will even look at your yacht resume unless you have these two essential certificates, so make sure they’re listed first and foremost.

Hobbies and interests

What do you like to do in your leisure time? This is likely the most crucial section. Yacht crew members are typically outgoing individuals who enjoy sports, travel, and adventure. You will fit in nicely if you share a passion for the outdoors. Perhaps you participate in sports, stay in shape, are an accomplished photographer, have completed a marathon, or simply enjoy travelling and learning about new cultures. All of them are important since they reveal your personality.

The Internet and Social Media

We all have an internet profile nowadays. The yachts interested in you will most likely look at your online presence. Make sure your Facebook profile corresponds to what you say in your CV. To avoid any awkward interactions during your interview, maximise your privacy settings!

Bonus Tip: Make sure to include references. As part of their registration procedure, almost all recruitment agencies now want a written reference from your previous employers.

Make your CV stand out by upskilling yourself with industry-relevant qualifications. Super Yachting South Africa (SYSA) is a fully accredited RYA (Royal Yachting Association) Training Center. The RYA’s training courses and qualifications are recognised and respected worldwide. Find more details about our courses, including additional training and career progression courses today.

What qualifications do you need to be a superyacht captain?

The captain of a yacht is tasked with the safety and operation of the yacht. In this way, the position can range from being the CEO over the crew (thus taking full responsibility for the crew), the budget, the guests, and the many sectors of the ship’s operation. Every captain has to begin somewhere. Some people go into sailing for a season, while for others, it becomes a lifetime passion. It’s easy to see why, with the opportunity for travel, fair pay, rotation, and a life at sea.

What does a superyacht captain do?

The driving of the yacht is only a small part of what a captain’s job entails. The captain acts as the CEO of the yacht, hiring and managing all the crew, planning out journeys around the guest’s and owner’s expectations. The captain deals with the maintenance, repairing, sailing costs and making sure the vessel follows all port, international and flag state rules and legislations – this is done while also providing top quality service and safety.

Therefore, the ship’s captain must be a leader and navigator and be the chief problem solver. On smaller yachts, the captain has to be versatile and adapt to all roles due to the lack of a large crew. However, on a larger yacht, the captain takes on mostly duties related to the administrative area of running the vessel. In this way, the captain needs to be the chief problem solver, maintenance officer, human resources manager, and accountant for the vessel.

What experience is needed to become a superyacht captain?

The captain of a superyacht would have to have extensive maritime experience and training. The minimum requirements for a yacht captain position are:

  • All seafaring certificates up to date: STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers), Seafarers medical certificate etc.
  • 5+ years experience as the captain of a large yacht
  • 3-5 years experience as chief mate
  • Tonnage license depending on the yachts tonnage
  • Good management skills
  • Problem-solving skills

What personality traits are needed to be a captain?

A captain of a yacht is a charismatic leader who needs to have excellent people skills. Therefore, the captain has to be able to build relationships of trust and respect from clients, the crew, the management team, suppliers, and the owner of the vessel. 

How to get started?

With all this being said, it can seem daunting to become a superyacht captain, but every journey has a humble starting point. As you develop your career in the deck department, you will have to invest in further qualifications. The first major hurdle is the RYA Yachtmaster, part of the Yachtmaster scheme outlined below. As discussed in the following section, this is a prerequisite for overcoming your second major hurdle – the Officer Of the Watch.

RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Day Skipper Practical

Completing the 5-day Day Skipper practical course, in addition to the Day Skipper theory course, enables you to work towards obtaining a Deck Rating Certificate.

Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Theory

This theory course looks at more advanced forms of navigation and seamanship and lays the foundation for the navigation taught at the Officer Of the Watch level. It is an intensive 7-day course that culminates in an exam and a formal RYA certificate.

Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Practical

To be eligible to take the Yachtmaster practical exam, you must log (routinely filling in a logbook) a minimum amount of sea time of 50 days, of which 5 days are as a skipper, log 2500nm, and complete 5 passages over 60nm (2 at night and 2 as a skipper).

MCA Deck Rating Certificate

The Yacht Deck Rating Certificate is the first MCA career qualification that counts towards the minimum manning document. 

If you hold an RYA Dayskipper qualification, you can obtain one after completing 2 months of sea service time on a vessel greater than 15 meters in length. If you do not hold an RYA Dayskipper qualification, 6 months of sea service time is required, in addition to onboard training and the completion of a training record book.

If you’re not sure whether being a superyacht captain is for you, there are also other options. Super Yachting South Africa has courses to provide you with the essential yacht qualifications required to work on a seafaring vessel, such as the STCW 2010 (the year the STCW was last amended) course and the SYSA Deckhand Course. SYSA also provides advanced courses as your seafaring career progresses, such as the AEC (MCA Approved Engine Couse), which deals with the engineering part of maintaining the superyacht.

The world of super yachting is continually evolving, thus the industry is adapting to new influences, which ultimately lead to captains needing to adapt and gain a more versatile set of skills. This provides captains with the knowledge and qualifications which can expand into future opportunities in a multitude of fields.

Superyacht charter etiquette: A guide to onboard dos and don’ts

When you’re in yacht charter mode, prepare yourself for a whirlwind. Charter season is a stressful, chaotic time of year, and the phrase “organised chaos” pretty well covers it up. Anything goes depending on the timetable of your boat and your position onboard. You may be working the morning shift, which means you are awake before the guests and anticipate their requirements before they ever enquire. You are with the guests during your shift and at their beck and call until you are done with work. Charters can have schedules, but they are rarely followed because everything depends on the guests’ lifestyle. When on charter, you must be adaptable to change and always be on your A-game. Days are long and fast-paced but also exciting and fulfilling, so if you can keep it together and get through it, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts to keep in mind when working onboard a superyacht charter.

Have a positive attitude

Your attitude no doubt shapes your experiences and that of those around you. If you’re in a negative headspace, this can also impact the guests onboard that interact with you. Remember, it’s about what you can give the boat, not what it can give you. Captains are searching for someone with a positive attitude and a huge smile! You must be a person who is not scared of hard work and is content to live away from home for extended periods. Be an open book and never stop learning, the industry is fast-paced and exciting, and by keeping an open mind and continuously learning about the industry, you’ll never be bored.

Work as a team and build relationships with your fellow crew

Living and working with the same people in a small space may be difficult. However, if you know how to tackle the problem ahead of time, it’ll be just another swell under the bridge for the boat crew.  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realise that a team can go a long way in working and living together with a bit of bonding. That is why it is critical to keep up with this topic. Being liked and forming friendships with every crew member may benefit you in your daily work-life on board and in ensuring your job’s sustainability. Bonding over shared interests and hobbies rather than the job at hand can help relieve tension and bring some pleasure back into the workplace. Instead of simply working settings, crew meals and evenings out and day trips and other activities spent together may significantly assist speed this process ahead. 

Put yourself in other people’s shoes

While we recommend having an open mind and a go-getter mentality for this business, the hard labour, stress, and cramped quarters can often get the best of us. Sometimes people are simply having a terrible day, and other times you may discover those specific individuals have a nasty attitude. While you’re attempting to preserve the peace, why don’t you ask this person if anything is upsetting them? If there appears to be a reasonable cause, provide advice or simply lend an ear to help them vent. If all else fails, offer to continue cleaning the bathroom while taking in some fresh saltwater air to gain some perspective. You’ll look like a rockstar, and you might as well have won all future battles against bad energy.

Take some me-time

This one may be essential to some more than others, but taking time for yourself while working on a boat may make a world of difference in any of the circumstances listed above. Recognise when you require some “me” time and don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. If declining a group activity would result in a more positive attitude toward everyone in the long term, your coworkers will understand — as long as you bring it up in a non-judgmental manner.

Make sure you’re prepared for anything in case of an emergency

From the get-go, make sure you’re prepared for an emergency. It might seem unlikely when things are running smoothly, but as a yachtie, you don’t just have your life in your hands – you have all the guest’s lives in your hands as well. Because of all your training, you should be familiar with the safety precautions in place on all boats. If not, perhaps another exercise should be planned as soon as possible!

In the event of a boat evacuation/abandon ship, you should have the following items:

  • Dingy or life raft that can withstand the elements.
  • Everyone should have a personal flotation device (PFD) and, if you’re in a chilly region, a dry suit.
  • Bottled water — enough to last several days for everyone on board
  • Good radio transmitters, EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), and SARTs (Search and Rescue Transponders) are all examples of good radio transmitters.
  • Enough anti-seasickness medicine for everyone
  • Kit for first aid

Maintain boundaries with guests

Just like in any other workplace there need to be boundaries. Sometimes you may be onboard for weeks on end with the same guests and it’s inevitable that relationships form. However, the superyacht is a workplace like any other, and the same standards that doctors have to uphold with regards to relationships with patients should be practised. For the most part, it’s safe to interact with guests platonically, but you also need to remember when to draw the line. Having romantic relations with guests/crew is not an option. Set boundaries and maintain those boundaries, and you shouldn’t have a problem.

Don’t do anything illegal

Onboard boats, there is zero tolerance for unlawful or criminal activity. Any such behaviour will result in the seizure of the boat and the loss of the license. Therefore the captain and fellow crew will report you to the authorities. In most nations, such behaviour is also punishable by imprisonment. Don’t involve yourself in unlawful activities and risk losing your job or any chance of working in the industry.

Avoid taking matters into your own hands

Any concerns should be reported to your senior crew members since they are the only ones who have the power to resolve them. Avoid taking issues into your own hands, whether with fellow crew members or, especially, with a guest. Also, keep in mind the saying “The customer is always right.” and remember that you’re a representative of the yacht and uphold yourself in a manner that best represents your employer. If guests have a negative experience interacting with you, this could damper their experience onboard.

Don’t violate the no-smoking policy

Smoking is forbidden on most yachts, although there may be designated smoking spaces on the deck. If you smoke, ensure your supervisors are aware of this from the start.

Working aboard a superyacht charter is unlike any other job, and you’ll have more unique experiences than you ever imagined. Approach it with an open mind while being mindful of others, and you’ll no doubt have an incredible experience onboard.

Taking a gap year to work on superyachts

It can be a daunting task to decide whether to further your studies at a university, get a job or take a gap year directly after high school. However, rest assured that you are not the only person who is struggling to decide on what to do. Many teenagers go through the same confusion as they near the end of their matric year. 

If you opt not to take the university route, that still leaves you with a variety of non-traditional options for your gap year. Many people opt to push their plans of going to Uni back a year to work, travel, or take courses in a field they enjoy. One popular option tends to be working on superyachts. As a deckhand, steward, stewardess, instructor on a superyacht, you will be paid to work hard and explore the globe, seeing exotic places while acquiring amazing life, work, and social experiences. Finding your first job and its challenges must be considered before you think of heading in this direction as a gap year. Contact us for a chat.

Benefits of a gap year

Maybe the idea of taking a gap year frightens you. Perhaps you believe that you will lose the momentum and determination you have built by not going straight into Uni after High School. However, a study was done by Harvard, which indicates the opposite. According to Harvard’s research, students who take a gap year before Uni have a more significant academic career and are less likely to experience burnout.

Activities undertaken during a gap year can differ from person to person. They may take a gap year while doing structured activities tailored to achieving their lifelong dreams and ambitions or even unstructured and tailored to personal pursuits. It is possible to take a year, travel, get a qualification, and turn it into a full-time career in a few cases.

Sounds intriguing, right; well, this is where a non-traditional career path comes in handy— SYSA’s primary focus is career progression within the superyacht industry and superyacht training, you couldn’t be in better hands.

Working on a superyacht

Working on a superyacht allows you to travel and experience things that no other profession can. On a Superyacht, there is no such thing as a 9 to 5; there is always something to do, and you will spend most of your time outside in the sun. 

Almost all large boats are based in the sunnier parts of the world; generally, yachts spend the summer in the Mediterranean before “wintering” in the Caribbean or the United States. It implies that your workplace will constantly be on the go.

What are the first steps to take?

Are you considering a steward/ess position? Background training and experience in any branch of the hospitality industry is instrumental but not required for a job as a steward or stewardess. Click here for more information about this.

Suppose you are interested in the first steps toward starting your career on a superyacht. In that case, It’s essential to invest in specialised training, such as our Standard Courses, to properly equip you for a life and career at sea. Besides completing yacht and Offshore courses and training, you will need basic STCW Training, the minimum legal qualifications required to work on any commercial vessel at sea. STCW sets qualification standards for masters, officers and personnel on seagoing merchant ships and anyone working offshore or onboard any yacht in the maritime industry. 

We’ve put together a detailed blog covering all you need to know here.

Career Aboard a Superyacht

Superyachts are large, usually luxury private yachts, owned by some of the wealthiest people in the world. These superyachts require many capable and trained Deckhands, Stewards/Stewardesses, a Captain/Skipper, and other people to run smoothly. 

Working aboard one of these is both an adventure and a fulfilling career that is also well paid. SYSA provides the training needed to handle a job aboard a superyacht. Working on a superyacht means that you will be away from home for an extended period. However, you will gain many experiences, meet some great new people and make some extra cash.

Ultimately the skills gained during working on superyachts will come in handy whether or not you decide to go to Uni after your gap year. The leadership, communication and problem-solving skills are invaluable to all your future employers.