Debunked: The most common yachting questions (part 1)

By Georgia Tindale 

An indisputable fact: Yachting is an industry which stimulates a lot of questions for those who are outside of it.

As someone who was not even aware of the industry’s existence until I fell into it five years ago or so (a story which is certainly not uncommon) I had plenty of questions of my own about this somewhat unusual, and definitely distinctive sphere of work and leisure! 

Here, I tackle some of the most common questions that those in yachting face from outsiders – aiming to help you navigate the demanding task of explaining our industry to the uninitiated! 

What is yachting?

Although it may seem obvious, it is surprising how many people struggle to give a succinct answer to this, and it is best to make sure you understand the basics! Yachting can be defined as the use of recreational boats and ships (called ‘yachts’) for the purposes of racing, cruising or sailing. The word ‘yacht’ comes from the Dutch word ‘jacht’, meaning ‘hunt’ and they are distinguished from working ships because they are used for pleasure, not for work. 

What are yacht owners really like? 

It has to be said, one of the most discussed elements of the industry is around yacht owners, with a lot of curiosity about who owns them. In all honesty, it is not easy to answer this question quickly, as there is no ‘one type’ of yacht owner. 

As yachting is a highly international industry which spans the entire world, there are owners from all countries, walks of life and backgrounds, male and female (although statistically still far more likely to be male), from business owners to celebrities, entrepreneurs, scientists, retirees and many more! 

Some owners prefer to keep their yacht ownership away from the public eye and have it as a purely private experience, and others are more than happy to be interviewed and discuss their yacht ownership journey with the press or the wider world. Owning a yacht is a totally individual and personal experience – and every owner will treat it slightly differently. 

What jobs can I do on a yacht?

One of the best things about the yachting industry is the diversity of positions on offer. The jobs or positions on board a yacht (aside from the Captain), tend to be divided into the following departments and positions:

Deck Department
Chief Mate/Officer, Bosun, Deckhand, Junior Deckhand, Engineering Department.

Engineering Department
Chief Engineering, 2nd Engineer, ETO (Electro-Technical Officer), Deck/Engineer, Junior Engineer. 

Interior Department
Chief Steward(ess), Sole Steward(ess), 2nd Steward(ess), 3rd Steward(ess), Steward(ess), Junior Steward(ess).

Galley Department
Executive Chef, Sous Chef, Cook/Crew Chef. 

Specialist Department 
Spa Manager, Beautician, Divemaster, Fitness Instructor. 

Bear in mind that the above list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the kind of positions available on board vessels. One increasingly-popular position which hasn’t been listed here is the role of a purser. To find out more, read our interview with the Crew Academy founder, Andrew Roch here.

Can I get a job on a yacht with no experience? 

Although experience is always helpful in any industry, lots of people do enter the industry ‘green’ and with no previous experience. To give yourself the greatest chance of success, there are steps which you will need to take. First off, as a bare minimum, you must ensure that you have a professional and well-put-together resume, you will also need to work to obtain your STCW 95/2010 course and ENG 1 medical.

In the Mediterranean, the yachting season typically runs from April-September, and in the Caribbean, it runs from November-March. If you are lacking in yachting experience, it would be helpful to be local to vessels, and there will often be ‘Crew Houses’ (hostels) in which you can stay. 

Indeed, many people secure their first job in yachting by dockwalking in these areas, in which you hand out your CV directly to vessels on which you would like to work. From this, you can secure ‘day work’ opportunities, which can (if you are fortunate), lead to full-time employment, or at the least, provide you with good references for the future. 

Is working on a yacht like Below Deck?

The short answer: Not really. Below Deck is designed to be as entertaining as possible, and so is not an accurate representation of what it’s really like to work on board a superyacht. The best way to find out what it’s really like to work on board a yacht is to speak to current yacht crew, which you can do by finding vessels local to you, or even attending boat shows and making your face known this way. 

Do yacht owners tip their crew, and how much can you earn?

This is a great and very common question! Salaries on board yachts vary depending on the level of seniority of the position – to get an idea of the scale of pay, have a look at our current job vacancies, or read this article where we go into more detail by speaking to an expert in crew training, Joey Meen. 

In short, on entering the industry, you are likely to be looking at €2,500-3,000 per month for a junior position – something like a junior deckhand or stewardess  – however, this varies depending on the size of the vessel, the location and whether it is a charter or private vessel. The more you rise up the ranks in the industry, your salary will rise too. On the upper hand, superyacht captains can earn upwards of €15,000 per month on larger vessels. 

To answer the second part of the question, tipping on charter yachts is pretty much guaranteed (it is usually incorporated into the overall charter fee and given to the captain to distribute and share between crew), whereas on private yachts, it is at the discretion of the owner on private yachts, but again, this does tend to take place. 

Have we piqued your interest in working within the industry? Check out our latest job openings here.