Looking for a career change? If you are a practical person who likes to travel and enjoys working outdoors in the sunshine, then why not become a Superyacht Deckhand!
A Deckhand is an entry-level position, and the role can vary from yacht to yacht. However, the first responsibility for a Deckhand is the meticulous cleaning and maintenance of the exterior of the yacht, which must be kept in pristine condition at all times.
More than that, though, working as a Superyacht Deckhand is an exciting and rewarding career kick-starter that will see you travel across the globe, make amazing new friends and gain a plethora of new skills and experiences!
Read on to discover answers to some of the most common questions we’re asked about becoming a Superyacht Deckhand…
1. How much does a Deckhand make on a Superyacht?
A Deckhand’s salary ranges between €2,000 to €3,500 a month, though the average is €2,500. Almost all Superyachts pay is in Euros. The salary can depend on many factors, the main one being the yacht’s “crew” budget.
The owner or management company will agree on a budget that the captain uses to hire crew. Each yacht will have a different budget, which can lead to small variations in the amount yachts pay their crew.
Your total salary can also depend on whether you work on a charter or private yacht. On a charter yacht, it is customary for charter guests to tip the crew, the tip is normally around 10% of the charter fee. Chartering a Superyacht can set you back anywhere from €250,000 to €1 million per week.
Tips are split evenly between the crew and on average your tip can be anything from €2,000 – €5,000 for a week’s charter. Tips are paid on top of your monthly salary. Our guide on Superyacht salaries will explain more. Remember, you live onboard the yacht so there are very few living expenses.
2. Is my salary as a Deckhand tax-free?
As a crew member (or Seafarer) working on a Superyacht, it is likely that you will be out of the UK for a significant amount of time.
Spend more than half of the year abroad then you fall under a specific piece of legislation called the Seafarers earning deduction scheme. If you meet the criteria then yes, the salary paid (including tips) will be free of UK income tax.
3. What qualifications do I need to be a Deckhand?
There are three areas to consider when it comes to qualifications and experience. The first two are mandatory, the third depends on you, what work experience you have or job you have been doing to date.
- ENG 1 medical required by all crew who work at sea. If you are thinking of becoming a Superyacht Deckhand we recommend you complete the ENG1 medical before completing Step 2.
- STCW Basic Safety Training is a set of compulsory safety qualifications required by all crew in case there is an emergency onboard. STCW is a six-day course comprising; sea survival, first aid, fire fighting (great fun), and health, safety, and security.
- Get some experience we will explain more below but you don’t have to come from a yachting background to work on a Superyacht.
However, it does help if you know the basics. Yachts want to see that you have a good work ethic, like the outdoors, and can get on with people.
If you have a background in; hospitality, Engineering, Carpentry, Electrician, Water sports instructor, Divemaster, to name a few, then this will look great on your CV.
It is true that for any new job, the more experience and skills you can offer the better. So, if you are new to yachting and want to get qualified before heading off, we can help you get started.
4. How do I become a Deckhand with no experience?
You don’t need to be a Yachtmaster or have worked on a yacht to become a Deckhand on a Superyacht. Most Superyacht crews don’t come from a boating background. Once onboard, the yacht’s crew will show you the ropes and what is expected.
However, any experience in water sports, diving, or on boats will help. Don’t worry if you haven’t worked in a practical role or been on boats.
Apart from the compulsory qualifications mentioned above what is common among all crew is the desire to work outdoors in the sunshine.
What all Superyachts look for is a good attitude, a desire to work hard and to be part of a team. If you have a good, positive attitude then you can go far. Flying Fish can provide all the qualifications and skills you need to get going, all we ask, is for you to provide the work ethic and a positive attitude.
5. What does a Deckhand actually do?
Well, that’s hard to explain in just one article! All crew work, eat and sleep onboard, the yacht will become your home, the crew your family.
The yacht will look after you and a chef cooks all your meals while onboard. Your contract will specify your duties, salary, working hours, and holiday entitlement. The yacht will supply your uniform and provide further training, if necessary.
The role of a Deckhand will vary from yacht to yacht, depending on the size, how many crew, whether it is private or charter, the owner, Captain, and many other factors. However, the deck team’s main role is the cleaning and maintenance of the exterior of the yacht and its toys.
You will be tasked with washing the yacht, cleaning the windows, scrubbing the teak decks, polishing the stainless. When the guests are on you may drive the tenders, jet-skis, helping with water sport activities, and even time in the bridge on lookout duties.
Jared Watney is a Superyacht Deckhand who turned his passion for filmmaking into a career. Check out this video that summarises life on a Superyacht.
6. What is a typical working day like as a Deckhand?
Your working day will typically start at 8:00am and finish at 6:00pm, usually five days a week. When on charter, or if the owners are onboard, then the hours you work will differ. Unsociable hours are common when guests are on board.
7. Do I live on board?
You will share a cabin with another Deckhand. The cabins are small but comfortable with an ensuite bathroom. There is access to the internet via that yachts Wifi system so you will be able to keep in touch with friends and family at home.
8. How do I find work on a Superyacht?
There are three ways crew can find a job:
- Most crew travel to Antibes, France described as the hub of yachting in the Mediterranean.
- Online, we talk a bit more about “going online” below.
- Contacts. If you know somebody that is already working on a Superyacht, then through their connections it is possible to find work.
Almost everybody that is looking for a job on a Superyacht travels to Antibes, France. On arrival, crew tend to stay in a crew house such as the Crew Grapevine used as a base to look for work.
If budget is a concern, then crew join forces and rent an Airbnb between them. The advantage of a crew house like the Crew Grapevine is that the owners (ex-yachties) actively help you find a job.
The way you find a job on a Superyacht is quite unique. From your base in Antibes, you would travel to other ports in the local area, walk the dock and chat to the crew working onboard to see if there are any positions available.
Superyacht crew who have the evening off will go to the local bars to unwind. This is the perfect chance to get to know people that are working on Superyachts and to build connections in the industry.
Go online to look for a work
All Superyacht recruitment agents post positions on their respective websites. Once qualified, new, or “green crew”, as they are known, would register with the agency and complete their registration form. You would then get in touch with the agent to start searching for that dream job.
The recruitment agent’s job is to match the right candidate for the job being advertised. There are many recruitments agents out there, we work closely with YPI a Superyacht recruitment agency based in the South of France.
A quick Google search for “Superyacht Recruitment Agents” will bring up a list.
Yotspot is a very popular website that matches yachts with quality crew.
Facebook is another medium that yachts use to post jobs. To keep up to date is it worth joining a couple of the Superyacht Facebook groups. Yacht crew jobs and Palma yacht group are two examples.
9. How long does it take to find work on a Superyacht?
Over the 12 years, we have been running our Superyacht Deckhand programme, most customers find a job between one and four weeks. We have had customers that have found a job in a day and others that have taken six weeks to find that perfect job.
The time it takes to find a job is down to you. You will need to be proactive, up early, and make sure you are at the front of the queue. From our experience, people who work hard and explore every opportunity will find a job quickly.
Every Captain or Officer that calls us for a reference asks the same questions – does the candidate have a good attitude? You need to be hard-working, happy to work long hours, and used to mucking in. Have a can-do attitude and a willingness to go that extra mile to help your fellow crewmates.
10. When is the best time to look for work on a Superyacht?
Traditionally Superyachts recruit for the Mediterranean season any time between February to May. That being said, yachts recruit all year round. We have seen many graduates find work in July and August when the season is in full swing.
The next key recruitment period is between September and November as yachts prepare for the Caribbean season. Yachts will cross the Atlantic anytime between December and January to cruise the Caribbean or the US for the winter.
Superyacht crew who have had a busy Mediterranean season may decide to take the winter off, which leaves opportunities for new crew to enter the industry.
11. Can I make yachting a career?
Yes! Thousands of crew who start out as a Deckhand climb the career ladder, first qualifying as a Lead Deckhand, then onto Officer and finally Captain. Okay, that sounds simple, but many have achieved their dream of becoming a Captain of a large Superyacht.
Running a yacht is not easy, and requires a lot of qualifications, time at sea, excellent communication and management skills as well as a deep understanding of the yachting industry.
Below is the career pathway from Deckhand to Master (Captain). The good news is there is a structured pathway so you what skills and sea time are required.
12. How do I become a Superyacht Deckhand?
This is where we come in. Flying Fish runs a two-week Superyacht Deckhand course that includes all the qualifications and skills you need to get started in the industry. Everything from the STCW Basic Safety Training to a bespoke programme to teach you all you need to know to get started.
The course is great fun, you will learn loads of new skills and meet like-minded people who, like you, are thinking about a different career path.
13. Can I make a career in Yachting?
Yes, and many have. Becoming a Superyacht Deckhand can be a career, and what an amazing career it can be. Every Deckhand starts out as a Junior Deckhand, then as you gain time and experience onboard you can progress to Lead Deckhand/Bosun, then on to Officer, and finally, Captain.
Not only is there progression but becoming a Superyacht Deckhand offers the travel and adventure that we all seek. You will meet some of the world’s rich and famous, as well as make some friends for life.
Let’s find your dream job!
Flying Fish delivers regular recruitment days in Antibes, France for all graduates of our Superyacht Deckhand and Stewardess courses. This day is exclusive for Flying Fish customers.
The day is designed to complement our course, delivered by our industry expert who lives in France and works for a major recruitment agent. The day provides the knowledge you need to start looking for that dream job.
Want to find out more?
Contact our team at Flying Fish today for information on our Superyacht Deckhand course, life as a Deckhand, qualification advice and much more!
All the skills you need in one 2 week course
Superyacht Deckhand Course
This 2 week course provides the essential qualifications needed to enter the Superyacht industry as a Deckhand, including STCW Basic Safety Training.More information about this here
STCW Basic Training: The Minimum Requirement
STCW Basic Safety Training Course
STCW Basic Safety Training is the minimum requirement for anyone wishing to work on a commercial.More information about this here