Life as a Yachtie: What It's Like to Work on a Yacht
Posted on: 07/23/2018
Life as a Yachtie: What It's Like to Work on a Yacht
"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by."
Do these words by British poet John Masefield call to you? Do you find the allure of the wide open seas impossible to resist?
If so, you've probably considered some sort of maritime career. Becoming a boat captain or working on a cruise ship are popular options--but what about working on superyachts?
It's easy to envision long days spent in the warm tropical sun, cruising from the French Riviera to the Caribbean to the South Pacific. For those who love the water, "yachtie life" may sound like a dream come true.
But while certain aspects of being a yacht worker are great, it's not all Mai Tais and jet skis. The truth is that working on superyachts is still work--and it can be tough work.
In this post, we'll explore what it's like to work on a yacht. By the time you're finished reading, you'll have a much clearer picture of yachtie life.
Think you've got what it takes to work on a yacht? Read on to find out!
Is Yachtie Life for You?
Before you get too starry-eyed, let's briefly outline who's probably not cut out to work on a yacht.
1. People Who Need Their Space
Do you value your privacy and quiet time? Do you enjoy being alone at the end of a long day to relax and unwind?
If so, yachtie life is not for you. When you work on a yacht, you're part of a team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You'll be living in a cramped space with one (or more) roommates, so the concept of "privacy" will disappear.
2. People with Family Obligations
Are you married or in a long-term relationship? Do you have children or elderly parents to care for?
If so, sailing away on a yacht for months at a time probably isn't very realistic. You'll be working long hours every day with few opportunities to communicate with everyone back home.
And if a family emergency arises while you're at sea? Chances of hopping a flight back home from the middle of the ocean are very slim.
3. People Who Aren't Physically Robust
Remember that vision of lounging on the sundeck sipping a Mai Tai? That's what the guests will be doing--not you.
You are the one who will be scrubbing that deck and preparing those drinks. You're the one who will be awake before dawn preparing breakfast and clearing the dinner table long after everyone else went to sleep.
Be prepared to work long, physically intensive hours. You must be fit and agile enough to get the required STCW Certification for yacht workers.
Oh, and in case it wasn't obvious, anyone who gets seasick easily should probably seek a land-based job.
4. People Who Aren't Neat Freaks
The vast majority of working on a yacht involves cleaning and maintenance. And we're not talking about simply running a vacuum cleaner.
When you work on a yacht, you'll scrub toilets with a toothbrush and clean sinks with a cotton swab. Depending on how often the guests come and go, you might make the same bed and hang fresh towels a dozen times each day.
If you're already OCD about neatness and cleanliness, you'll fit right in. If you're the type who lets the dishes pile up in the sink, you won't last long on a luxury yacht.
Working on Superyachts: The Pros
So, you're a healthy neat freak who loves to socialize and has no family obligations.
Perfect! You're already prequalified to work on a yacht. Let's take a look at some of the reasons you'll love yachtie life.
1. It's Good Money
Aside from the call of the sea, working on a yacht can be a lucrative career choice.
In general, yacht workers are paid a weekly or monthly wage (depending on the length of employment). Because you live onboard and meals are provided, you can pocket the majority of your earnings.
Tips and gratuities are also customary. You may split a tip pool amongst the other yachties, or you may be handed your tips at the end of the voyage.
Either way, you're sure to earn a lot more working on a yacht as you would from a similar position on land.
2. It's an Amazing Way to See the World
Imagine hopping on a luxury yacht in the south of France and sailing through the Greek Islands.
Your next gig could be a passage through the Red Sea to the pristine waters of the Maldives.
After that, you could sign up to crew a yacht sailing from Phuket through Indonesia to the islands of the South Pacific.
Sound too good to be true? These are mere fantasies for most people. But for yachties, it's all part of the job description.
3. You'll Make Lifelong Friends
The majority of yachties are twenty- or thirty-somethings who are fun, outgoing, and adventurous.
Since space is limited, you'll quickly become friends with the crew of each new yacht you board. Because these yachts sail all over the world, it's not uncommon to have crew members from everywhere too.
You might work with a deckhand from Sweden, a stewardess from South Africa, or a chef from the Philippines. Before you know it, you'll have a network of friends around the globe!
4. You'll Never Run out of Stories to Tell
Remember the first time you docked in Santorini? Remember the time you served a martini to Leonardo DiCaprio? Remember the time that hurricane changed course, and everyone onboard got seasick for two days?
From the good to the bad and the hilarious to the downright ugly, you're sure to amass a collection of great stories.
Like that time the guests requested their fourth bottle of Cristal champagne--to pour overboard to "feed the fish."
5. You'll Build an Impressive Resume
The majority of yachties are young and unattached, but they don't stay that way forever. In time, most move on or return home to pursue a more "grounded" lifestyle.
Believe it or not, your months or years spent working on yachts provides an impressive mark on your resume.
Even if you end up pursuing an entirely different career, your past work as a yachtie proves you're hard-working and a real team player.
Working on Superyachts: The Cons
All this talk of luxury yachts sounds amazing--and it is.
But we'd be remiss if we didn't list some potential drawbacks to working on a yacht, too. So before you get too excited, let's consider the downside of this type of lifestyle.
1. The Hours Are Long
There's no such thing as a 9-5 job on a luxury yacht. It's not uncommon for yachties to work 18-20 hours on any given day.
Expect to wake up and get to work long before any guests are stirring. And even when everyone's gone to bed, there's sure to be more cleanup work or preparations for the next day.
2. The Work Is Menial
Yes, there may be times when you get to teach a guest how to ride a jet ski or serve a drink to a movie star.
But don't count on too many moments like that. 99% of your work onboard will involve menial tasks like cleaning, housekeeping, food prep, or maintenance.
3. You'll Have Zero Privacy
Yachties are sociable creatures. They have to be--because they're surrounded by people 24 hours a day.
You'll share a room with your fellow crew members and spend every waking hour caring for guests. As for finding a quiet corner to write in your journal or make a phone call to mom and dad?
Forget about it.
4. Grin and Bear It
A luxury yacht is a bit like a private house. Every family has its little secrets, and strange way of doing things--and the families you work for will be no exception.
We'd love to tell you that every yacht owner will treat you like gold and value your hard work--but that's not always the case.
You need to be prepared to deal with difficult personalities. You might be serving people who come from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, or religious groups.
What would you do if the owner of the yacht brought drugs or prostitutes onboard? What would you do if one of the guests mistreated you or someone you work with?
Of course, there are maritime labor laws for a reason. But in many cases, you might have just to grin and bear it.
Ready to Work on a Yacht?
If you're psyched after reading this article, then you've probably got what it takes to work on a yacht.
Working on superyachts has its advantages. It's a great way to see the world and save money. And you're sure to have amazing stories to tell for the rest of your life.
But, at the same time, you need to be realistic. Most--if not all--of the work you'll do onboard is menial and labor-intensive. You'll also work long hours in tight quarters with guests who may (or may not) appreciate your efforts.
After weighing the pros and cons, what if you've decided you're ready to jump in and give yachtie life a try?
Your first step is finding a place to stay while you're waiting to land that first job. Click here to check out our current listings for crew house accommodations in Fort Lauderdale.
We also invite you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.