Yachting offers job opportunities for people from all walks of life, and you do not need to be a professional to get a start in the industry. And there is a lot to love about yachting. The cost of living is low(no rent, bills or food costs), you are constantly on the move from one paradise location to another, you share space with adventurous people, experience beautiful settings and develop new skills while earning really well. But not everyone is cut out for life on a superyacht. If you think it is for you, just getting a foot through the door (or onboard) can seem mission impossible as all the crew sites ask for experience, but once you know the right way to go about it, finding a job is not all that difficult
Timing is everything
In an industry that follows the sun, there is a seasonality to the hiring round. There are“high seasons” when the demand is highest and “low seasons” in the fall and spring for repairs, taking on new crew and equipment In the high seasons, a yachts is working flat out and the captain has little time to think about hiring inexperienced crew – a good captain would have covered that in the low season So looking for a job during the low seasons of fall and spring is optimal.
Choose your location
That is when, but what about where. There are two main locations for hiring: Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Antibes on the French Riviera. Florida is cheaper to live while looking for that job, but if you are a non American you need to have to right visa, something which needs research. See below. You are going to have to Florida in the spring or fall. March to May for the spring , Sep-Nov timeframe in the fall. By June/July or Dec/Jan most of the boats have sailed – without you on board.
It is illegal for non-US citizens to do the dockwalk in the US, even with a B1/B2 visa. Entering the US with the intent of gaining employment is a violation of the B1 visa (or visa waiver). There are exceptions but the US sensitivity concerning illegal immigration is a factor that a captain will take into account before considering a non US crew member starting in the US.
Money , money, money
You need to invest to impress. You have to think about paying for housing, your STCW course, and other living expenses. How much depends on how long. $3,000-$4,000 is about right. This amount covers the required STCW 95 course (around $900), accommodation in a crew house housing ($180-200/week), and food, plus a bit of fun time. Bars where the yachties hang out are a good source of information – for example, the Blue Lady pub in Antibes. Don’t get disheartened if the chips do not fall into place immediately. It can take up to 3 months to find the right job depending on your dedication to the cause. You should try day-working on a boat – pretty obvious what that is about , coverng everything from boat upkeep to joining crew detail working on the interior. These pay around $100-$180/day for newbies , or up to $300/day if you’ve proven experience under your belt. This also looks great on your CV as it tells a prospective captain that you know your way around a yacht. Unless your land based CV includes hospitality experience (restaurants, bars, hotels, etc) or technical skills (engineering, electrical, woodwork, etc), it ain’t going to impress
TIP: There are variouos apps for daywork, where Captains look for available crew and post jobs, Monday-Friday is the norm. Early in the morning is best. Ho! Ho! And up she rises.
Where to live? Crew Housing is dorm for yachties needing a cheap place to stay . You can also get good information and meet friends so it is not such a lonely experience. This industry is small, and it’s a tight network but one that is always open. Recommended are, Neptune Group, and Smart Move.
STCW 95 is necessary to work on a yacht. It only takes a week, and covers everything from fire to water safety. If it is work in the interior as a steward(ess) you might want to consider one of the training courses specifically for yacht interiors. These cost about $1,000+ for 5 days and cover the whole gamut from basic cleaning techniques to flower arrangements to silver service. While not compulsory, it looks good on the CV and gives you a whole confidence boost. If you’re interested in taking a course but are short of funds, silver service is the one to go for.
For working with the exterior crew, there are deck courses available. Usually a week and not a requirement but if you are serious and don’t want to wing it, these are highly recommended. It shows a captain that you are committed and not looking for the short term. A course will cover everything from essential navigation to learning to drive a tender that is used to shuttle guests to shore. If you are really short on funds, get your STCW 95 and boost your CV by getting day work and real experience on a boat. A captain can tell in seconds if you know your way around a yacht
Get a “Yachtie” CV
A good CV is also essential. It is a snap shot of who you are and your experience. In our next post I will talk about the perfect CV to boost your chances of getting a job.
But if it is just the money, forget it. Yes, the money is good but a superyacht can be a pressure cooker in the high season. If you are an introvert or have baggage of unresolved problems, you need to be honest with yourself (and others) and say that life on a superyacht may not be for you. You might end up miserable. Not everyone is cut out to be a yachtie.
In short, it may seem daunting but consider this: everyone who is working on a superyacht started out somewhere. People come and go and superyachts thrive on good crew. If you are a social person, can work to pressure, follow orders, and really want to immerse yourself in the experience, finding an entrance into the industry is eminently achievable. You will attract job interviews and then it’s plain sailing.
But remember: always get up early in the morning.