Moving aboard: Advice for your first yacht crew job
Written by Luke Wheeler
Last updated: 02/12/2016
You’ve been hired! Good work.
But as I’m sure you’re well aware, if you’re reading this article, entering the yachting industry professionally is hardly similar to embarking on a ‘9-5’ career. Crewing on board superyachts is a job like no other.
Starting any new job comes with a period of readjustment to industry-specific quirks and issues, but yachting is a whole new ball game. In an industry where your job is your lifestyle, your colleagues are sleeping next to you, and you’re dealing with some of the wealthiest and most important people in the world, there’s hardly any other career quite like it.
Whatever’s attracted you to becoming superyacht crew – whether it’s to save up money, travel the world, or just to branch out and try something entirely different – Yachting Pages has some essential tips and guidelines to help you before your first job aboard.
What you should bring
There’s no quicker way to become ‘that guy’ amongst your new crewmates than by clogging up the crew cabins with unnecessary clutter.
Minimalism wins here, and it’s best to take a ‘let it go’ approach when it comes to packing your bags ready. Remember that on board, a lot of life’s daily necessities will be provided for you, including your uniform, toiletries, and food (not to mention a roof over your head).
Every job and superyacht is different, but you’ll likely get some time to yourself when berthed in marinas and so forth, so having a choice of outfit for a night out is a good idea. It may seem a little unnecessary, but remember that work and play don’t separate much when crewing, so the opportunity to glam up a little when you can is often welcome.
A means of communication is essential, too. Taking a laptop or tablet with you won’t take up too much space in your bag, and with internet access being quite common on board superyachts and at most marinas these days, you’ll get good use from it. Also, when internet access is sometimes restricted (typically on board the yachts themselves at certain times, as satellite internet isn’t cheap to run), you can pre-type your emails and messages to send when you have a live connection at a moment’s notice.
We have loads more suggestions on what to bring in our Creature comforts for yachties article.
Fitting in with your new crewmates
On a yacht, it doesn’t take particularly long to get to know your colleagues. It’s a good idea to go in with the idea that you will never be able to get away from these people. This isn’t a big office where you can just hide from colleagues you don’t get on with and interact with them via e-mail when necessary. On a superyacht, your colleagues come home with you every day.
Taking small steps to keep your relationships with your crewmates positive will go a long way in improving spirits on board. If you have an issue with one of your crewmates, no matter how small, it’s best to address it politely and informally sooner rather than later. Even if you find confrontation awkward and tend to avoid it at all costs (no matter how right you are), now is the perfect time to practice. Resentments have no room to build aboard a superyacht.
Personality clashes are inevitable whenever a group of people spend close to every waking (and sleeping) second together, but you’re all in this together and that’s a great starting point. Always focus on the positives, and you never know – you could meet some of the most important people in your life here.
Working aboard a yacht without guests is about as ‘normal’ as a yachting career gets. Hours and breaks are more flexible than when owners or charter guests are on board, and a typical day might be working from 8-5, with almost full use of the yacht’s facilities in your down time.
Guest cabin use is normally discouraged, but using the entertainment area or outside deck areas is usually allowed.
Your schedule when guests are on board however, is going to be slightly different. Julie Perry, chief stewardess and published author, says working hours when guests are on board are on a ‘whatever it takes’ basis, and that positive energy is expected at all times.
Lengthy and demanding charters can be taxing at the best of times, so it’s important for all crew to pull together, tag-team for breaks, and ensure everyone on board – guests and crew included – are as happy as possible.
The benefit of working erratic hours for guests? Well, keep them happy and you may see a nice tip at the end of the charter. Remember, tipping is customary but not required, and due to cultural differences, tips tend to be higher around the Americas than in Europe.
Also good to know:
‘Love conquers all’, they say. Well, it can certainly conquer your career in yachting if you’re not careful. We speak more about on-board romance topic in our article: Could you work on a superyacht? Eight questions to ask yourself.
Many people don’t realise they get seasick until they spend a certain amount of time aboard a vessel. The good news is you can prevent seasickness before it strikes using over-the-counter medicines and tablets.
We’ve heard quite a few recommendations for acupressure travel wristbands, too. These work by applying pressure to a key point of the wrist known as a P6 point, which has been proven effective at relieving motion sickness in many people. The bands are quite inexpensive (usually under £10 for a pair) and readily available in pharmacies.
Pro tip: if you’re a smoker, write that on your CV. It’s best to be upfront to potential employers. Whilst the majority of yacht owners will allow guests and crew to smoke on the outside decks, crew may be required to smoke out of view of the guests, and to ensure no traces of ash are left behind. Some owners may even prohibit smoking on board their yacht altogether.
Time to set sail
Ultimately, there’s only so much prep work you can do before your first on-board experience, but going in prepared will set you up for the best possible start to your new career.