Hello Planet. Thinking about joining the yachting industry? Not sure if it's right for you? I will try to answer some frequently asked questions about the yachting industry and tell you about my experiences over the past year.
Q1.) What are the first steps to joining the industry?
A1.) Fly to Ft. Lauderdale and take your STCW 95 course, which includes CPR Certification, Basic Firefighting, and Water Rescue. The course is five days and runs around $895. This course is the basic requirement to work on a yacht. The two most popular schools to take your STCW are ICT (International Crew Training) - www.yachtmaster.com and MPT (Maritime Professional Training)- www.MPTUSA.com. Another necessity is to get your ENG1, which is a health exam that basically shows you are not color blind and that you are healthy enough to work on boats. The cost is $150 and is only offered by Dr. Eduardo Grenet, he is one of only two doctors in the United States that offers the exam. You can walk to his office from any of the crew houses, which are all within walking distance of the main road in Lauderdale (17th street). The office number is (+1-954-525-1044).
Stewardesses will take the Interior Crew Certification and or the Silver Star Service course and both deckhands and stewardesses may choose to take the RYA Powerboat course, which provides a license to operate 30 ft. tenders. I highly recommend this course, as it is necessary if you are to operate a tender in European waters. You will also learn a lot of basics in just three days that will be very beneficial to your start in the industry. Don't worry about booking it until after you finish your STCW. The course costs around $600. (Stews may be able to find work without taking courses if they have experience in hospitality and will then be trained on the job.)
One of your first tasks when getting to Lauderdale is to apply online to Crew Agencies. Crew Agencies are absolutely free and they will help place you on a boat. This is arguably your number one resource to find a job. Once you have completed your online applications, you will go visit the agencies in person and you will be given free advice and help with your CV/Resume. The top agencies you will want to apply to are: Luxury Yacht Group, Elite Crew International, Crew 4 Crew, Nautic Crew, Crew Unlimited, and Crewfinders. There are several more, but get started with these. All are located on or near 17th street, and most likely just a ten minute walk from your crew house. You must have an updated photo of yourself on your CV/Resume and business card. Get someone to take your photo with water or boats in the background, and wear a white collared shirt. You want to look like you already belong in the biz.
Q2.) Where will I stay in Ft. Lauderdale? What is the cost of living?
A2.) Most people in the industry stay in crew houses. These houses or apartments are similar to hostel living. They are occupied by young people in the industry, mostly deckhands, stewardesses and if you are lucky, a chef that will cook for the house a couple times a week. There are several different crew houses and management companies that offer weekly rentals that range from $160-$200 per week. Here are a few: Sam's Crew Castle - (+1-954-931-8945), Smart Move Accommodations - (+1-954 525-9559), Mary's Crew House - (+1-954-242-1109) and Neptune Group (+1-954-736-1050). Feel free to google them, or check out their group pages on Facebook. FYI, Crew Houses are safe and fun. You will make good friends in your house and you will help each other network and find jobs. Some crew houses are more quiet than others, so pay for a week and if you don't like it, move to another one. Switching crew houses every so often is also a good way to meet new people. If you are lucky your crew house will have a swimming pool and will often host a weekend party.
Q3.) I don't know if I have enough money to move to Ft. Lauderdale, take courses and pay rent. How long will it take to start making money?
A3.) You will spend a bit over $1000 USD after the STCW and ENG1. Bank on paying $180 a week for housing plus the cost of groceries and liquor. You will immediately begin to look for daywork, which the industry standard pays $15 per hour, sometimes a bit less if you have no experience. If you are American, you may walk the docks and ask any boats if they need a dayworker. You will add each day work experience to your CV/Resume, and once you build up enough experience, you will land your first full time job. I landed my first daywork gig the second day I arrived in Lauderdale, before I even started my STCW course. If you are somewhat social, and are self motivated, you will find daywork in your first two weeks no doubt about it.
YOUR MOST POWERFUL TOOLS:
1.) Networking. Go out. Meet people. Make business cards and hand them out. Go to networking events. Be nice to everyone, it is a small industry and you will be seeing the same people all the time, all over the world. Ft. Lauderdale is the yachting capital of the world, chances are if you go to a bar or restaurant you will meet someone in the industry...Don't be lazy.
2.) This website> www.Daywork123.com. Post your updated CV/Resume to this site at midnight every night to be at the top of the list. Write something creative next to your name to stand out. You are sure to get a phone call for some daywork soon. Note: If you are American, write "American" next to your name, as many boats are American flagged and can legally only employ American crew.
Q4.) What type of boat is right for me?
A4.) If you are like me, you joined this industry because you love to travel and want to work in a warm climate. When I entered the industry one year ago, I was only interested in large mega yachts. I knew they traveled to exotic locations, pay more, have larger crews and I thought it would make for more epic Instagram photos. Let me now clear up some common misperceptions... Large boats only pay more if you are on a chartered yacht, which means TIPS TIPS TIPS. If your first job is on a charter, congratulations, but most likely your first job will be on a private boat until you gain more experience.
- You will be able to take epic Instagram photos on whatever size and type of boat you work on.
I recently returned from a two week charter trip to the Caribbean as a temporary deckhand on board a 200ft. Feadship with 17 crew members. It was my first real charter trip and I really enjoyed the experience. Although it was very hard work, non-stop cleaning with 14 hour shifts, I made good friends with the crew and now have the opportunity to work for that boat again in the future. The yacht was chartered for $500,000 for the week, which meant nearly a $3,500 tip per crew member. Not bad for a week's work.
Bigger boats obviously have more crew, which means more people to hang out with in your down time (If you have any) and more people to network with in the future. More deckhands on board also could mean your tasks might not vary as much as they would on a smaller boat where the captain would have you doing nearly everything. On a large yacht, you could be assigned to a section of the boat and be scrubbing, sanding, washing, waxing or polishing the same area everyday. A big plus to working on a larger boat is that most of them offer health care and dental plans. Most also offer at least a month of paid vacation and another month off to take courses, which the boat will pay for if you've been on for a year, or will reimburse you for the courses after one serving one year on board.
I Currently work as the mate on a 105 ft. yacht which is considered a small boat. I am one of four crew including the captain. I get to steer the boat, do all of the water sports with the guest's children and definitely have a lot more freedom. I also get to take photos and GoPro video to document the owner's trips. I have nobody looking over me at every moment and feel like it is my yacht. I wash down the boat with headphones on and my shirt off. I sleep on board and use the theatre to kick back and watch 3D movies. I can take off pretty much whenever I want as long as no trips are planned. If you are going to be working full time on a boat and you value your weekends, lifestyle and personal time, a smaller boat may be something you want to consider.
There are several factors in determining what type of boat you want to work on. Some people may tell you to take what you get. In other words, accept your first job offer and don't be picky. While any experience is a learning experience, I can guarantee that you will have a bad experience on one boat or another. This is a fun and rewarding industry and there are many great boats to work on and great captains to work for, but the reality is that there is always going to be a bad captain, poor management, or just a boat that you will not feel comfortable on. You will know within the first day or two of working on the boat if it is a good fit or not.
My last piece of advice would be to purchase or find a line (rope) and practice tying a few knots. You can Youtube search Yacht Knots or Sailing Knots. Someone may make you tie a bowline knot in an interview so learn it, you will use it.
Personally, I enjoy the job hunt, the interview process, and I think it's exciting to work on several different boats. Although I began just a year ago, I have learned so much in a short amount of time, and you can too! Just get here! Hope this information helps you get started. If you have any questions or comments, or need your photo taken, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org