Feeling Pretty Comfortable? Don’t Forget To Climb The Ladder!

So, you’re feeling pretty settled on a suitable yacht with a great crew. Sounds great, right? But what about your career?

By Sharon Rose • 05 January 2023

What Does the Future Look Like for You?

You know you can easily hang around for 2 or 3 years on this boat before moving on. Maybe more. You want to be captain/chief stew/chief engineer one day, but that kind of initial longevity looks really good on a CV, right? You might not be getting challenged a lot and the boat barely moves — but still, getting paid well to not work too hard: this is the dream, right? And what if the next boat is a nightmare?

As crew agents, we would encourage you to think more strategically about your career at this point. If you really want to aim for the top of this industry and earn the big bucks, you need to put just as much thought into planning your career strategy as you would if you were climbing the corporate ladder on land.

Take it from the experts: a good yachting CV is a fine balance between several factors. 

The Deciding Elements of a Yacht CV

Yacht Use: Charter/Private Busy/Quiet

If you have worked on a busy charter yacht, a crew agent knows that you have experience with different nationalities, service styles, and guest personalities. Quiet private yachts won’t develop your skills in the same way or at the same speed. A crew agent or captain will often lean towards the charter-ready candidate as their skills are more diverse and guest-tested. 

Longevity vs Variety

Staying on one boat for a very long time isn’t necessarily the holy grail —particularly if it’s a yacht known for not doing very much! Sure, jumping yachts too regularly is definitely to be avoided and we generally recommend staying a minimum of 12-18 months…but don’t hang around too long if your skills are stagnating.

Marine Qualifications

We see it all the time. New deck crew not realising that their sea miles are literally the way they qualify to move up the ladder. That quiet yacht you’re working on that never leaves the dock? It’s not going to give you the sea miles you need to get your next ticket. Be strategic: know what you need to move up, and go rack up those sea miles.

Diverse Skills

Some crew get ‘trapped’ in a role that doesn’t develop their skills as an all-round crew member. This is seen a lot on big yachts, where, for instance, the laundry stew never gets any guest-facing time. Be wary of getting stuck in these roles for too long, as you are limiting your career opportunities or at least drawing out your rise with a narrow yachting skillset.

Known Yacht Names 

We would be lying if we didn’t admit that, as crew agents, our eyes light up when we see candidates have worked on certain yachts. The busy charter yachts. The well-known yachts. And yes, the yachts with notoriously tricky owners. (You stayed over a year on Boat X? You are battle-ready and obviously dedicated. We can place you anywhere.)

Varied Cruising Experience

If you want to be captain or HOD one day, crew agents, captains and owners are going to want to see that you’ve moved about. That you have experience in the Caribbean, the Med, or further afield. That you can adapt to provisioning in strange places, and different languages, and organising guest experiences in exotic places. That you recognise different weather patterns, and have done major ocean crossings. 
Staying on the dock for years, pootling about Key West, or anchoring off Cap Ferrat for the summer doesn’t build the cruising experience you need for a distinguished yachting career.

It’s Time to Chart Your Course

When it comes to career strategy, many crew seem to be blown about by the wind, rather than planning it methodically. We suspect that stems partly from the fact it’s often so hard to break into yachting in the first place. Crew can be left feeling they need to be grateful of what they have, and accept any job offer they are given rather than shopping around. They’re often a bit cautious of moving on and throwing themselves back in the hiring pool— even if the yacht isn’t offering what they need to progress anymore.

You need to look ahead, and chart your own course. We are not saying don’t stay on a yacht that you’re happy on and that treats you well. Just remember that part of being ‘treated well’ is allowing you to develop your skills and move up the ladder.

If you’re going to move yachts for the winter, now’s the time to get looking. Bluewater is here to help you do that. Get in touch to discuss your strategy.