Best route to commercial sailing or working on yachts?

Uricanejack

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I drifted another thread about solo sailing into this question so I thought I’d start one.

The Zero to Hero training is advertised by quite a few sailing schools and appears to be quite expensive 10G was mentioned. Which probably doesn’t include the time off work to do the course.
I notice a lot of schools offer this type of course along with traditional one at a time courses.
Do these courses actually lead to work which will reward the cost? Is it worth while? Or is it just a good money maker forvsailing schools churning out commercial sailors, with no jobs to go to.

I worked myself some time ago as an instructor for a sailing school. The instructor course was the first actual sailing course I had ever taken. (I had learned Nav ect already for a comercial cert).
The cost of the course wasn’t high and did come with a garantee of working as an instructor for the sailing school.
Which I enjoyed. As a financial plan wasn’t great. It took at least a year of instructing before I made more than I paid for the course.

Although the RYA isn’t accepted here. I have and will look at hiring RYA. I have hired a few people who have worked on yachts. I have also given references to people who were looking for work on yachts.
I ussualy want to see, where did they get trained. Where did they work. There again, I hired a brick layer a kayak guide and an ex pastor. With zero expierience just a basic course.

Which is why I wonder about the 10G course. The course I was looking at is about a quarter of this.
 

Wansworth

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I imagine you cannot be taught quite a few important facets of being a yacht skipper or sailing instructor....a very good people relationship person,able to impart information effectively,cool in a crisis .Captains of boats of all sizes have to be able to take their own council without reference to a diplomatic opinion of the rest f the crew,the skippers I have sailed with made their own minds up..
 

lw395

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The best route will depend on your personal circumstances.
My route was to grow up in a family that had boats, learn to sail lots of different boats, race different boats, do unpaid work on the boats I raced on, do YM theory, buy small yacht, get varied experience, do YM practical, get commercial endorsement. Cost in actual courses, about £600? Time taken? 25 years I suppose, I started learning at about 10years old?

Depends what your end goal is. It's quite different aiming to have part-time work doing a few deliveries or instructing, compared to being a full time superyot captain.
 

dunedin

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Have met a few people on these fast-track yachtmaster courses. Quite a few (though by no means all) were people who had worked in other roles but wanted a lifestyle change. Some of the courses were funded by a redundancy payoff.
Whether or not they ever recouped the financial expenditure, the ones I met seemed to have enjoyed and benefitted from the time out from their previous work grinds (probably helped that these people did their course in the stunning environments of the Scottish islands)
A handful were sailing novices. Many though had some sailing experience, but no theory and no paper qualifications.

Unlike when I did sailing instruction, certificates and qualifications are necessary (but not sufficient) for most jobs in the sailing industry, unless you have very good personal / family connections to jump into a role.
Many of the jobs are not well paid, so hence why a lifestyle change rather than an economic proposition (unless have the connections and talent to become race rearguard or superyacht skipper)
 
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i couldn't make it pay on par to what i could earn sat in a warm office which finances my sailing "lifestyle" as opposed to the other way around.


i did all my courses (to YM inc exam) separate over about a 2 year period alongside having my own boat to do the miles and qualifying passages, as much as id love to get paid for sailing full time in some capacity it definitely would be a lifestyle change, im quite happy doing part time stuff though
 

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IME the zero to hero training is aimed at people wanting to crew super yachts which tend to require Yachtmaster Offshore and STCW for deckhands. In this role it is reasonable to expect $2000 a month tax free with all living expenses met so the course is a worthwhile investment and not being a very good sailor at the end of it is of little relevance.
I don't think it's such a good idea if you actually want to use the Yachtmaster to be master of a yacht. I did the YM as my first RYA exam on my own boat and, with 1st Aid cert. kindly provided by my employer, it cost me £130. I think the current exam fee is around £200.
 

Fr J Hackett

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IME the zero to hero training is aimed at people wanting to crew super yachts which tend to require Yachtmaster Offshore and STCW for deckhands. In this role it is reasonable to expect $2000 a month tax free with all living expenses met so the course is a worthwhile investment and not being a very good sailor at the end of it is of little relevance.
I don't think it's such a good idea if you actually want to use the Yachtmaster to be master of a yacht. I did the YM as my first RYA exam on my own boat and, with 1st Aid cert. kindly provided by my employer, it cost me £130. I think the current exam fee is around £200.


But the chances of getting work are low, you only have to sit on the aft deck of a reasonably sized motor yacht in a Mediterranean port and you are guaranteed to be asked by a passing young girl or man if there is any work or crew requirement. All the pro skippers have a list of crew if they need one temporary or seasonal. It's an unrewarding life for those at the bottom and takes a long time and a good relationship with a good captain to move from deckhand upwards and get a reference to move to a bigger yacht. For the women in particular being able to serve food under the watchful eye of the chief stewardess is paramount and more important than being able to pick up a lazy line when docking or handle a fender. Also looks are paramount for both sexes being able to speak well, know just how far to go when engaged in conversation by the guests all these things are the backbone of working on a "super yacht" or even a large 25 to 30M motor yacht. It isn't about being able to sail or helm a small sailing yacht.
One last thing, crew positions on large sailing yachts are as rare as hens teeth.
 

newtothis

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After doing comp crew and dazed kipper, but not getting much more experience than the odd Solent or Med charter, I did a prof sail training course. Not quite zero to hero, more like combined old-style Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster that ended up giving me a YM Offshore.
I know these things get a lot of knocking by the old-school types who were born on a boat and knit their own fender covers, but I found it a great way to get a lot of skills quickly. Being forced to do week on week of pontoon bashing does give you the skills more quickly than you can learn by the trial and error approach.
The course vastly improved my knowledge and skills in a fairly short time frame and left me confident enough in my skippering skills to take a novice out with me, effectively single-handing with a passenger, on several occasions.
You won't be an 'experienced' sailor at the end of it, but if you chose the right school you will be a quite well-trained one, and that's not a bad place to start.
On the other hand, there are endless sailing narratives on YouTube/Amazon about people buying a boat and going off on adventures or around the world. I'm sure that's perfectly plausible too, and I enjoy reading/watching them, but I felt more comfortable knowing I at least had a solid foundation in the basics.
 

RupertW

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I was at a talk with Tracy Edwards after her film was screened last week and one young sailor asked her how she got from being a cook to being a skipper between 86 and 90 Whitbread. She said that it was possible then by starting the project and getting the money but she could not skipper Maiden now even for an afternoon as everybody had to have qualifications for commercial skippering. The CVs she got from basic deckhands now had pages of qualifications.
 

Halcyon Yachts

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The courses will help increase your chances to get paid work as a sailor, but what really matters is professionalism, skill and of course personality. If you have the right attitude then doors will open for you. Yacht delivery companies, sailing schools and superyacht employers want to keep hold of good people. Once you get the basic qualifications you just need a foot in the door. Taking part in yacht deliveries can be great for this. We have helped lots of really excellent sailors start their careers. Some of our best skippers now started with us years ago as crew and worked their way up.

Pete
 

Fr J Hackett

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The courses will help increase your chances to get paid work as a sailor, but what really matters is professionalism, skill and of course personality. If you have the right attitude then doors will open for you. Yacht delivery companies, sailing schools and superyacht employers want to keep hold of good people. Once you get the basic qualifications you just need a foot in the door. Taking part in yacht deliveries can be great for this. We have helped lots of really excellent sailors start their careers. Some of our best skippers now started with us years ago as crew and worked their way up.

Pete

Honestly though can someone make a living and by that I mean maintain at the very least either a boat as a liveaboard in a marina or a flat shore based let alone family commitments as a delivery crew or skipper? Isn't it more a vocation for those with no or few ties or those that have already secured their life.
 

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But the chances of getting work are low, you only have to sit on the aft deck of a reasonably sized motor yacht in a Mediterranean port and you are guaranteed to be asked by a passing young girl or man if there is any work or crew requirement. All the pro skippers have a list of crew if they need one temporary or seasonal. It's an unrewarding life for those at the bottom and takes a long time and a good relationship with a good captain to move from deckhand upwards and get a reference to move to a bigger yacht. For the women in particular being able to serve food under the watchful eye of the chief stewardess is paramount and more important than being able to pick up a lazy line when docking or handle a fender. Also looks are paramount for both sexes being able to speak well, know just how far to go when engaged in conversation by the guests all these things are the backbone of working on a "super yacht" or even a large 25 to 30M motor yacht. It isn't about being able to sail or helm a small sailing yacht.
One last thing, crew positions on large sailing yachts are as rare as hens teeth.

I don't agree. You certainly get a lot of pontoon walkers trying to sell themselves as crew for superyachts, or indeed not-so-super yachts in the run up yo the ARC, but I know half a dozen SY crew and a couple of skippers and none are particularly attractive: one is profoundly deaf and can hardly be described as speaking well. They secured their roles by getting qualified and acting professionally. "It isn't about being able to sail or helm a small sailing yacht."...which is the point I was making.
 
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DownWest

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Honestly though can someone make a living and by that I mean maintain at the very least either a boat as a liveaboard in a marina or a flat shore based let alone family commitments as a delivery crew or skipper? Isn't it more a vocation for those with no or few ties or those that have already secured their life.

Not sure, my very limited experience was back in mid 80s. I looked after the Co. big ketch. We paid the skipper 24K in hand, all found, he arranged the crew. When he decided to he wanted to finance his own charter yacht, by dubious methods... He recommended a bloke to replace him. Quite experienced in the Med and had transat experience, but no quallies and quite young (23?) So I sent him off to UK for a YM on a quick course. Came back with a bit of paper and that satisfied the Ins co. which was the important bit.
24K was quite decent money back then. Perhaps the number of people, trying it now, keeps the wages down?
 
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Honestly though can someone make a living and by that I mean maintain at the very least either a boat as a liveaboard in a marina or a flat shore based let alone family commitments as a delivery crew or skipper? Isn't it more a vocation for those with no or few ties or those that have already secured their life.

It's very difficult to make a living on boats in the UK, mostly seasonal and when the short season is over you are out of work. Most professional skippers work long hours for little money. My nephew on the other hand made a good living on super yachts as a chief engineer abroad, but he had to get his qualifications in the RN. But in the UK I would say a youngster with a family would be better off financially working in Asda.
 

dunedin

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Honestly though can someone make a living and by that I mean maintain at the very least either a boat as a liveaboard in a marina or a flat shore based let alone family commitments as a delivery crew or skipper? Isn't it more a vocation for those with no or few ties or those that have already secured their life.

Not exactly breadline stuff if you can break into the superyacht market https://ypicrew.com/ypi-crew-reveals-average-yachting-salaries-for-2017/ (though hard work and not conducive to home life)
 

Fr J Hackett

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Not sure, my very limited experience was back in mid 80s. I looked after the Co. big ketch. We paid the skipper 24K in hand, all found, he arranged the crew. When he decided to he wanted to finance his own charter yacht, by dubious methods... He recommended a bloke to replace him. Quite experienced in the Med and had transat experience, but no quallies and quite young (23?) So I sent him off to UK for a YM on a quick course. Came back with a bit of paper and that satisfied the Ins co. which was the important bit.
24K was quite decent money back then. Perhaps the number of people, trying it now, keeps the wages down?

I have known 3 captains of a 28M motor yacht and a fair number of crew, 2 chefs an 2 engineer 1st officers The captain and engineer were on good salaries and year long contracts the chefs had good salaries too but only for the season and any off season work with the guarantee of next year ( they were good chefs), the crew and chief stewardess were on seasonal contracts with fair wages but not exceptional and if they were good the option of return, most tended to go to the ski resorts or other "sailing areas if they could at the end of the season. One of the captains that had about 15 years in the industry on several boats and had a very good reputation moved on to a super yacht, his engineer took over and 3 years later moved on to a bigger yacht. For some the rewards are good but it is more of a vocation than a job. You have to be very lucky and good, know and work for a good captain for a few years as crew to move up the ladder.
 

Uricanejack

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I know a few people who have worked on a variety of yachts some here in North America or Caribbean and Some in Europe and some in the Midle East. All people I know who have worked in higher positions have a full comercial licence of some kind. Backed up with some comercial experience.
Common theme it was fun for a while. Interesting. Usually paid quite well. No benefits of any kind. Very insecure. How typical this is I wouldn’t know.
STCW time is hard to find here. So there is quite a bit of motivation, to go get time where you can find it. Some of these great big yachts, qualify for STCW time.
I also know quite a few people who have worked in entry level positions on big yachts. Most local to North America a few other areas.
I do know local training centres. As in I know the name of and shake hands with the people who run them.
We routinely send someone to make a presentation or pitch to most classes. Most people taking the basic courses get offers if not from us then competitors who are also pitching job offers. Crewing agents often pitch as well.
We need people every summer. Finding good experienced people is not easy. Particularly for seasonal work. We find some but not enough. So we look in training centres for new hires into entry level positions.

So a young lad with a RYA power boat and a few months working on a yacht. Hired.
Not even to sure what the heck an RYA power boat level is good for.
What I liked was the basic safety requirements, Survival craft and basic fire fighting. Along with some well documented time on a big yacht. On a Sea time testimonial form signed by the Master. (Accepted by TC)

A few people we get from the training centers, head off on yachts for a while. Most come back.
We get the occasional applicant who went to the UK,like the lad with the Power Boat level. Not enough to know which training centers are which.

It’s the reputation of the training center,
If I hired yacht crew I would be looking at training centers as my preferred choice for deck crew. A YM seams a bit OTT for a deck Hand. If it’s what the industry wants then I guess it’s what you need. So zero to hero it is I guess. How much work is there though?
 
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Fr J Hackett

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There seems to be two sides to this discussion:

Working or skippering on sailing yachts as delivery crew.

Working on Super yachts (50M+ motor yachts)

The two are very different. I think with the exceptions of captains, engineers, officers, chefs and senior stewards on the latter they are not jobs that have any significant reward or permanence even throughout the year. I asked the question "Can a delivery crew or skipper or instructor of modest vessels say up to 20M make a reasonable living" I think not. Of course it depends on what one calls a reasonable living. It may be OK for a few years but I doubt that it is a lifetime job.
 

Halcyon Yachts

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There seems to be two sides to this discussion:

Working or skippering on sailing yachts as delivery crew.

Working on Super yachts (50M+ motor yachts)

The two are very different. I think with the exceptions of captains, engineers, officers, chefs and senior stewards on the latter they are not jobs that have any significant reward or permanence even throughout the year. I asked the question "Can a delivery crew or skipper or instructor of modest vessels say up to 20M make a reasonable living" I think not. Of course it depends on what one calls a reasonable living. It may be OK for a few years but I doubt that it is a lifetime job.

It is a sliding scale. If you tried to make a living delivering boats under 30ft then you would struggle. We deliver yachts of all sizes, but once you get above the 60-70ft range most yachts will have a full time skipper. Working with a full time contract on any yacht will give you enough money to comfortably live on, even as a deck hand. The terms usually mean that all accomodation and food is provided, so the salary is all take home and often tax free. It suits the younger person (or single person) as you have to move around with the yacht and don't get much time off. Not ideal if you have a family.

The rates a skipper will earn whilst on a yacht delivery go up with the size and value of the boat. If you are a skipper with lots of experience of vessels over 50ft then you can earn a good rate. One of the challenges, as with all contract work, is that you are only earning when you are at sea. I think for this reason the yacht delivery industry favours people who have had another career, possibly paid off their mortgages, or even have a pension from another job. They can afford to have plenty of time at home and don't need to be earning all the time.

In general, the skippers we have employed under the age of 40 (and who are looking to have a career at sea) will work for a few years on deliveries and will then move onto either a full time contract on a larger yacht or move into the commercial sector (wind farm work for example).

Pete
 
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Fr J Hackett

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It is a sliding scale. If you tried to make a living delivering boats under 30ft then you would struggle. We deliver yachts of all sizes, but once you get above the 60-70ft range most yachts will have a full time skipper. Working with a full time contract on any yacht will give you enough money to comfortably live on, even as a deck hand. The terms usually mean that all accomodation and food is provided, so the salary is all take home and often tax free. It suits the younger person (or single person) as you have to move around with the yacht and don't get much time off. Not ideal if you have a family.

The rates a skipper will earn whilst on a yacht delivery go up with the size and value of the boat. If you are a skipper with lots of experience of vessels over 50ft then you can earn a good rate. One of the challenges, as with all contract work, is that you are only earning when you are at sea. I think for this reason the yacht delivery industry favours people who have had another career, possibly paid off their mortgages, or even have a pension from another job. They can afford to have plenty of time at home and don't need to be earning all the time.

In general, the skippers we have employed under the age of 40 (and who are looking to have a career at sea) will work for a few years on deliveries and will then move onto either a full time contract on a larger yacht or move into the commercial sector (wind farm work for example).

Pete

Thanks Pete, I think you confirm that yacht delivery is not a full time profession for someone starting out on life other than for a few years to get the wanderlust out of the system. It simply cannot pay enough in the context of earning opportunities.

And yes if you are a skipper of a yacht full time then you can make a living and save money, it's a sliding scale and at 60' or there about will pay a reasonable salary but not great, it is when you get into the 30M range of motor yachts that things start to become viable with good salaries and when if you can get the break into the bigger 50M and above super yachts then the money is very good. I think it is also very good for a couple, I have known two a chef and head stewardess and captain and head stewardess and with as you say full time contracts and accommodation all found they made very good money. But it's a difficult market to break into and certainly not glamorous deck hands spend more time fetching beer and polishing than anything else.
 

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