Guide to Work, Study, Travel and Living Abroad  FacebookTwitterGoogle+  
Related Topics
Travel Jobs
Short-Term Jobs Abroad

How to Find Work on Superyachts

According to the Superyachting Index Report published by CNI:

“…about 25,000 crewmembers are necessary for today’s fleet of superyachts, but only about 15,000 currently work aboard yachts.”

I can imagine the eyes of any aspiring superyacht job seeker lighting up after reading a statistic like that!

However, it is important to remember that, even though the superyacht market has expanded at a quicker rate than at any other point in its history, finding work as superyacht crew still represents a massive challenge—especially for the inexperienced.

This seems to be an ongoing concern for many industry outsiders. I recently received an email from a friend, seeking help on the subject of how to find work on superyachts.

“Hi Matt, my son is just about to leave the Royal Navy after 6 years of service; he wants to work on a superyacht at entry level as a deckhand.

Please could you advise where you think would be the best place to visit agencies in person and at what time of year? He is registering with the various online agencies but doesn’t seem to be having much luck at the moment.

I am sure that if he could meet prospective Captains and crew it would be the best way for him to sell himself, as he is honest and hardworking. Is it the wrong time of year to do the French Riviera dockwalks, etc.?

Your advice would be so much appreciated.”

Brian

Is the Superyacht Industry Seasonal?

The first thing to be aware of is that the superyacht calendar is cyclical—not necessarily seasonal in the traditional sense.

It typically involves the summer season spent in the Mediterranean (April – September) and the winter season in the Caribbean (October – March).

At the start and end of a superyacht season, there is usually a lot of chopping and changing going on among superyacht crew as many leave their yachts for a number of different reasons.

Sometimes the position was only seasonal to begin with, sometimes the itineraries of certain yachts do not agree with the wishes of certain crew, while others may decide to leave the industry to explore other interests altogether.

Whatever the circumstances, it can be a very unsettling time for crew—especially when good friends leave!

Know Your Options

Now that you have an idea as to the movement of superyachts at the various times of year, it is relatively straightforward to decide where you are going to start your job search.

The two key months here are April (Europe) and October (US).

How To Make It Happen in Europe

If you intend to start your job search in April, then you need to be based at one of the major ports like Palma de Mallorca in the Balearics or Antibes in France. The latter is by far the best option, given the access to other ports and marinas on the French Riviera, Monaco and Italy. Also, certain docks are blocked off in Palma and you cannot access them without an electronic key card.

Once you are in Antibes, you can use the French and Italian rail system to explore literally hundreds of docks and thousands of berths across the Mediterranean’s largest ports and marinas. There a number of boat shows from April onwards including the Antibes Boat Show, the Monaco Boat Show, and later in the season the Cannes Boat Show.

When Should I Arrive?

If you choose to start in Europe, you should plan to arrive around the middle of April. This is early in the season but will give you plenty of time to register with the crew recruitment agencies, start networking with other crew, and implement some dock-walking strategies, such as those found at work on superyachts.

Many superyachts will still be in the U.S. at this stage and/or crossing the Atlantic back to the Med for the European season. If you arrive early enough you can literally be there standing on the docks with your CV in hand as they arrive in the port.

How Long Will It Take To Find Work?

For anyone with little or no experience with the yachting industry, I would allow for a minimum of 4 - 6 weeks to find permanent work onboard a superyacht.

This time period is not set in stone as you may find a permanent position within a couple of weeks, but I just want to make sure that your expectations are as accurate as possible—there are a lot of people looking to find work on superyachts today, and the role of deckhand is especially competitive.

You may find that first permanent job in a couple of weeks, but you must be prepared to ride it out if necessary. You can and will find daywork during this period so you will be earning money during this time. Daywork pays anywhere from €12 to €15 per hour or approximately €100 per day.

How Much Should I Budget For Every Day?

This all depends on how much time you spend down at the bar! All jokes aside though, it will depend on how disciplined you are.

You can expect to pay €6 for a pint of beer at The Blue Lady (a popular yachtie hangout) and close to €10 for a drink in a nightclub. You can get away with spending €20 a day on meals as there are many snack bars and delicatessens.

Transport on the French and Italian train system is relatively cheap and I know many yachties that don’t pay for transport on the trains at all. Just don’t get caught as the fines are €25 without a valid ticket and €50 if you hold no ticket at all.

For accommodation you can expect to pay between €100 and €150 per week in a flat share or crew house. It is often cheaper to rent an apartment with four others, for example, than, say, staying in a crew house. Do the research and network, network, network!

Where Do I Stay?

There are many crew houses in Antibes. However, there are a lot of people looking for work so you can expect the crew houses to be fully booked more often than not.

If you cannot find accommodations in Antibes, I would highly recommend looking in Juan Les Pins or Biot—both are a very short train ride away from Antibes and are accessible by bus and even bicycle. You can do it by foot if you really need to.

What Visas Do I Need?

Holders of European passports do not need a visa. If you hold a passport from outside of the European Union, always check with your local consulate about whether or not you need a visa to enter France or any other country where you decide to start your job search. For holders of non-European passports you will most likely need to obtain a Schengen visa.

How To Make it Happen in the U.S.

The superyacht capital of the world is Fort Lauderdale in the U.S. There are many shipyards, docks and marinas, and all are relatively easy to access by bicycle, public transport or car. Around October, the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show takes place, so many of the words finest superyachts will be in town for the world’s premier yachting exhibition. 

When Should I Arrive?

Whether you are currently based in the US or planning to travel there from Europe or elsewhere in the world, I would look to arrive from October onwards. Once again, this is early in the season as many yachts will still be in the Med and/or crossing the Atlantic and making their way to the U..S for the Caribbean season. Many yachts will undergo a yard period at this time of year, as these days it is often cheaper to have maintenance work done in the U..S than it is in Europe.

How Long Will It Take To Find Work?

As in Europe, it’s a bit of a lottery and a very difficult question to answer. Once again though, it will all depend on your level of experience and skill set. Many recruitment agencies like Elite Crew in Fort Lauderdale will not be able to help you with a job search if you don’t hold an appropriate visa for the US (B1/B2 or C1/D Seaman’s visa). As a guideline it could take someone with little or no experience at least 4 – 6 weeks to find a permanent position. This factors in how long it will take you to find daywork and thereby gain enough experience onboard a superyacht so that your CV will be seriously reviewed by a Captain or 1st Mate.

Where Do I Stay?

There are a number of flat shares and crew houses available in Fort Lauderdale. Simply search for “Crew accommodation”.  You can also use this list of crew accommodations..

How Much Should I Budget For Every Day?

Once again this depends on how disciplined you are. If you’re going to go out partying at Waxy’s (a popular crew bar) every night of the week, then you’re going to make this far harder than it needs to be. A beer at Waxy’s will cost you $6 and a drink in a nightclub around $8.

You won’t have to spend much money on transport as the best way for you to hit the many docks, marinas and shipyards is by bicycle. You can pick up a new bicycle from Target for $150 or buy a second-hand one from a used bicycle store for around $50. You can get away with spending $30 on food a day, as there are many fast food establishments. Crew accommodations will set you back approximately $100 – $150 per week.

What Visas Do I Need?

For non-US citizens, remember to obtain a B1/B2 visa or C1/D Seaman’s visa before you leave.

Matt Brown is a former crewmember and has worked on superyachts all over the world owned by some of the world’s wealthiest people and best-known celebrities.

  TRANSITIONS ABROAD   BECOME A CONTRIBUTOR   TERMS AND CONDITIONS
  About Us   Submit an Article   ©Transitons Abroad 1995-2014
  Contact Us   Student Travel Writing Contest   Privacy
  Archives   Narrative Travel Writing Contest   Terms of Service
  Advertise   Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest  
  Add Programs    
Join Our Email List