How to become a yachtie!

You’re sitting in your office cubicle at 3.45pm, your eyes dart to your watch, and with a heavy sigh you peer out the nearest window onto the neighboring grey office block wondering if life will always be this mundane. Do you wish your office could be out at sea with gorgeous destinations, sunrises, sunsets and a tax-free salary? Well, it can – join the yachting industry!

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Recently, I have had many email queries about how to get started in the yachting industry. So friends of friends, blog followers ;), acquaintances and anyone else who desperately wants to abandon their office job on land and head out to sea; here is a list of how to get started:

1. When and where?

The Mediterranean season runs roughly from April until September and the Caribbean season kicks off in November and runs through until end March. There are Atlantic crossings/deliveries in between these seasons. The best places to get started in the Med is Antibes, France or Palma, Spain. For the Caribbean season, start in Fort Lauderdale, USA or maybe Sint Maarten, Caribbean.

2. What qualifications do you need?

You will not be employed without an STCW 95 Basic Safety course certificate. You can do this Mon-Sun course at the Academy of Maritime Medicine in Cape Town. The course includes Elementary First Aid at Sea, Marine Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention and Personal Safety and Social Responsibility with Personal Survival Techniques. This course can also be done in Antibes and Fort Lauderdale. Secondly, you will need an ENG 1 medical certificate to indicate that you are fit and healthy to work on any vessel.

For stewardesses, there are courses that you can do but these are pricey. If you have waitressing and service experience you can learn on the job. For deckhands, you will need a PowerBoat 2 certificate so that you can drive tender boat and play with jet skis. It is advisable for stewardesses to get their PowerBoat 2 certificate as well. Also for any crew position, any experience on yachts from sailing to deckhand courses will be advantageous.

3. What visas do you need?

For South Africans / non-EU passport holders heading to the Mediterranean you will need a Schengen Visa and for non-USA passport holders heading to the USA/Caribbean you will need a B1 B2 Visa as well as a Seaman’s Discharge booklet.

4. How to find your first job?

Sign up with all yachting agencies online such as Luxury Yacht Group, Blue Water, Peter Insull, Crew Unlimited, Crew Network, Elite, JF Recruiting, YPI, and many more. Dockwalk is a great online platform to keep you updated with yachting news, forums, blogs, job adverts and they also publish a great magazine.

Join yachting groups on Facebook where job adverts are posted daily. I even created a group for fellow Saffa yachties which has proved to be a great platform for finding jobs and sharing info on visas etc. Join SAFFAs unite in the Med and Caribbean and learn from the Saffa yachting community.

Market yourself! Spam every port in the area with your CV and have a batch of business cards on hand with a cheerful photo of yourself, your qualifications and contact details.

In the Med, walk the docks (aka dockwalking) early every morning to try get ‘day work’ (often a yacht will employ you on a day-to-day basis). In USA, it is illegal for foreigners to dock walk so do not even attempt. Sign up with Daywork123  in USA and upload your CV to get day work. This will add experience to your CV and if you get your foot in the door, work hard and impress the captain you could secure some more day work or even a full-time position.

4. Stay positive and keep on smiling!

It took me a month of dockwalking in France and Italy everyday, regularly checking in with agencies, and applying for every junior stew position advert to find my first job. There are hundreds of young travellers pursuing the yachting industry so the competition is tough but as I used to say when dockwalking for the 20th or 30th time, ‘Be optimistic, don’t be a grumpy, just smile and smile!’ Keep your chin up, keep on going as something will turn up. You just have to wait for that moment to shine. Good Luck!

Still staring at that grey office block? Perhaps it’s time for a change. Follow the sun, let the tides take you in a new direction – on a super yacht! See the world, save your tax-free salary and meet like-minded people from around the globe. Trust me, every sunrise and sunset view from out at sea makes it worth it.

I have only covered the basics in this post so let me know what else you want to know [In the comments section below] and I’ll reply or write another informative blog like this one 😉

You’re welcome.

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25 Responses to How to become a yachtie!

  1. Hey! Thanks for the great & informative post!! There’s so much information out there it’s hard to sort through it all and see what has some worth… all of the links are helpful too! We’re heading down to FTL in two weeks to take our STCW, so hopefully we’ll see you there!

  2. katiewilter says:

    Thanks Dana for the follow! 🙂 Enjoy your STCW – you will meet new friends and network and will be on your way to becoming a yacht! Yes stay in touch – I will be in FL for the FL yacht show end Oct 🙂

  3. Teri Smith says:

    Thanks so much for your advise- so looking forward to getting over there now and experiencing it all for my self 🙂

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    • katiewilter says:

      Hi Sharon, I apologize for the inconvenience. I will rectify it right now and will let you know how you can subscribe via email ASAP.

    • katiewilter says:

      Hi again, I have just re-saved the Follow via Email widget on the right hand bar of my blog screen. Try subscribe again otherwise you can follow my blog via your WordPress account on the header (top) bar. Thanks for your support 🙂

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  12. Nathan says:

    Hey, Thanks for the post!
    I’m planning on heading to Antibes in Feb next year to try get a job as a deckhand, do you think i will be able to get a job without my powerboat2 ticket? so just stcw & eng1. Also you said it took you a month to find work, do you think this is about average for a deckhand too? need to know how much money i should take with me.. I appreciate any advice thank you 🙂

  13. Hey, Thanks for the post!
    I’m planning on heading to Antibes in Feb next year to try get a job as a deckhand, do you think i will be able to get a job without my powerboat2 ticket? so just stcw & eng1. Also you said it took you a month to find work, do you think this is about average for a deckhand too? need to know how much money i should take with me.. I appreciate any advice thank you 🙂

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  17. Dave says:

    This is a great article… I am in the industry and know how complex it has become. There is now a new STCW module for boats over 500t. It is security awareness. And another one called HELM. Best people to speak to are they have first hand experience in Super Yachting and provide full support for a reasonable fee. Flights, cv help, course booking they do it all…. Very cool friendly team working there. Good luck and enjoy!

  18. Michaela says:

    Hi there, my name is Michaela, your info is great, Thank you!!!… My situation is ” I am living in Florida at the moment i’m here for my first season of work at a Country club, i’m on a H2B Visa, I arrived in October and my Visa is until May 31, tho we can leave earlier next year.. I wish to work on the yachts after this, but i haven’t done any courses yet. Alot of friends are telling me that it is better to go home for a few months and do the course and Visa that side? Any Advice please?? would really appreciate it..

    • katiewilter says:

      Hi Michaela, oh nice my cousin worked at a country club around there for years too but you make far more money and travel more on yachts…although you fo work extremely hard for it. Im not sure if you can get the B1B2 visa in USA so you should probably come home first. Good luck! 🙂

  19. Jess says:

    Is there a list of docks to visit for dock walking?
    Where is good to stay in Antibes?

    • katiewilter says:

      There are many docks which you will navigate at each port. There are a few places to stay in Antibes such as the Grapevine. Unfortunately I haven’t been there in ages so Google it and if you’re from SA, join my Facebook group called SAFFA Yachties Unite In The Med & Caribbean. Good luck!

  20. Tristan Perry says:

    Hey!! thank you so so much for your post its given me so much clarity.Im planning on going to Antibes next year around March-April.Im just not really sure how much in Rands or Euros I will have to save in order for me to live (rent,food,clothes other expenses) in Antibes while being unemplyed and looking for a job. Thank you!

  21. Alyssa Victoria says:

    This was awesome! I’m actually a speech language pathologist in South Carolina, but I get summers (June, July and part of August) off because I’m in the schools. I am a huge adventure seeker/traveler and actually planned on having summers off to do just that! I have recently become very interested in the aspects that yachting has to offer when it comes to traveling and it would be awesome to meet people, and make a little money maybe along the way! Any and all advice you may have would be awesome!! Thanks again for the tips 🙂

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