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Old 05-08-2008, 20:51   #1
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Super Yacht Career

I have had a few PM’s from Forum members such as this, asking advice on how to succeed in the super yacht business….. so I thought I would answer for all and maybe Sean and others can pipe in with suggestions.

“Greetings, Pelagic.
I saw one of your posts in a thread about crewing on big yachts and you mentioned that you had 20+ years as a master on some of these yachts.

If you have a moment, can you give some advice to someone aspiring to a similar career?
I'm 29 years old and have found a love for sailing. I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing. I've started out with sailing classes and joined a sailing club so I8 can take their boats out in the Puget Sound as often as possible to learn the art. I'm also going out as crew whenever I can in the local races.

I was hoping you could give me some insight on what sort of education, experience and career path leads up to "master of a superyacht". What sort of degree would I need? What other education (certification?) is important? What's the best job to seek? What sort of decisions could I be making right now and in the next few years to point my life in that direction?”

Hi!
My first advice is to get actual experience “working” on boats so that you can develop recognizable skills and hopefully have a successful track record with employers who become your future references so that you can get in the super yacht door.

It will only be then that you can confirm the less romantic reality of working at sea as your chosen career.

Once you get in the door of working on your first “crewed yacht”, mentally separate yourself from those in the industry who see this as a “short time gig” and focus on learning your trade.

On yachts of +150ft with over 14 crew, the 4 departments are; Catering, Deck, Engineering, Hotel. Volunteer your help with every department to learn all the skills so that you are better prepared to lead later on in your career.

You said you aspired to command so I would focus on “big D little e” (engineering) in getting formal training and licensing. (There is lots of info in the “Training. L. & C.” part of the Forum)

Distinguish yourself as a perfectionist but still very much a team player who is loyal to your supervisor and employer and you will receive more career help from those senior to you.

Keep in mind that the primary activity is usually water sports so you should develop professional experience in sailing, scuba, fishing, waterskiing all at an instructor’s level. I did all of those things in my 20’s while working commercial marine to develop my command licenses and yacht deliveries to prove my worth in that field and to maintain my love of water sports

There is no easy “menu” to being placed in command of private yachts now costing $60 to $200 million USD, carrying deluxe cargo and sometimes the security protocols that go along with it.

Obviously your employer expects the very very best of those given major responsibilities. Rest assured, a proven command record and management style that suits the owner’s philosophy, will be closely scrutinized as well as any issues in your past.

Being in command of a sophisticated super yacht that travels the world is a never ending research project with steep learning curve, so you need to develop study habits that are effective.

My early education started out majoring in philosophy and psychology, switched to marine biology before going to Marine College over the next few years until I reached master mariner levels.

I also formally studied; Hotel and Restaurant management, Accounting, VIP Security Training, Wine Appreciation, Marine Law, Naval Architecture, Fixed and Rotary pilots license, Human resource management.

The point I am making is that any education is useful if you know how to apply it.

By the way, I never consciously thought that I want to be this or that….I just did my job as best as I could, correcting my weaknesses as I went along and things sort of fell into place.

The important thing is to never loose sight of the inner joy you get from helping others fulfill their dreams on the water and inspire your crew to do the same.
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Old 06-08-2008, 03:58   #2
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An excellent paper on “Training and Certification” (with feedback commentary) from just4engineers (yacht crew placement agency):
Goto: http://www.just4engineers.com/pdf/TYR53_Enginee_Col.pdf

See also, “Recruitment Strategies”
Finding a job is a job in itself....You need a recruitment strategy.
Goto: Just4Engineers
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Old 06-08-2008, 04:38   #3
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Gord, the feedback commentary on MCA is very telling as it highlights what a self serving scam this whole yacht standard MCA was all about.

The origin of this came about in the early 90’s, when the French who insisted that the manning requirements for French owned super yachts, should meet commercial standards.

Then they started putting pressure on the British crewed yachts based on the French Riviera to fall in line.

This threatened many of the existing UK yacht captains and engineers who were well established to go back to school and get commercial licenses.

These captains had a lot of influence in the industry so a deal was made to grandfather some of them in return for them to put their weight behind backing a UK program of yacht certification that was being promoted by a few opportunistic clerics looking for a way to tap into the industry.

The rest is history!

It was sold as a solution and has become THE international standard of accreditation without really having any depth of knowledge or right to do so.

They also got heavily involved in new builds costing designers and architects double digit extra millions to meet MCA compliance by flip-flopping on technical details that were beyond them.

Now as you can see, properly certified masters and engineers from other nations still have to dance to their self serving tune because after all….Britannia waives the rules!

Sorry…old rant but it was a nasty scam
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Old 06-08-2008, 05:13   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
... MCA...
... It was sold as a solution and has become THE international standard of accreditation without really having any depth of knowledge or right to do so.
... Now as you can see, properly certified masters and engineers from other nations still have to dance to their self serving tune ...
Notwithstanding the politics of the certifications (MCA & other), you will need some* kind of certification, if you would like to work as a Master/Engineer on most super-yachts.

Yacht Masters: Basic boat handling (RYA)

Ocean Master: Ocean navigation. (RYA)

STCW 95: Basic safety training courses, required on commercial Yachts

OOW: Officer of the Watch ticket. the first run of the ladder to 3,000gt Mater. (MCA course)

Chief Mate: Second step to 3,000gt Master. (MCA course)

Master 200gt (both USCG and MCA use this name)

Master 500gt (both USCG and MCA use this name)

Master 3,000gt (both USCG and MCA use this name)

Master 200gt (USCG)

AEC: Basic Engineering. (MCA)

MEOL: Medium Engineering. (MCA)

Y4-Y1: Increasing stages of Engineering certificates. (MCA)


RYA: Royal Yachting Association, English basic ship handling qualifications recognised World Wide covers up to 24mt Yachts

MCA:
Maritime Coast Guard Agency deals with commercial certification and writes the laws concerning British Flagged vessels and vessels inside UK waters

USCG:
US Coast Guard deals with commercial certification and writes the laws concerning US Flagged vessels and vessels inside US waters
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Old 06-08-2008, 06:32   #5
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You are correct Gord, (politics aside,) this is a useful graphic link for Deck manning requirements for yachts up to 3000 ton.
http://www.yachtmaster.com/PDFs/mca_requirements.pdf

I think anyone who has gone thru training for a commercial license would consider the above fairly light.

The link below is the New Zealand Standard syllabus which to me is more in line with the experience and training needed before taking a 2999 ton yacht offshore

http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/rules/Part%2032%20FGD%20Amendment%204.pdf

(however MCA still expects them to be re-evaluated)
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:21   #6
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Certification aside.....Politics Aside.....

The bottom line is that you have to have a pretty tough skin to deal with owners and their guests......you are expected to be a babysitter, chief cook and bottle washer, slave, and general waiter waitress....you will feel unappreciated.....

But if you realize that you are riding to places on their nickel....it balances out.

It is a rare occurence to have a friendly aquaintance with an owner......when you find one like that hang on to them....
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:29   #7
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Gord....what is the asterisk for?
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:56   #8
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Excellent letter Pelagic. Seems like a very tough business being at a yacht owners every whim. I can see the draw...working on a mega yacht where you get to go to the pretty places....as opposed to the merchant marine, where basically, you get to see the ugly places. Very similar but very different from the commercial side of things.
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Old 06-08-2008, 23:44   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Engineer View Post
....
The bottom line is that you have to have a pretty tough skin to deal with owners and their guests......you are expected to be a babysitter, chief cook and bottle washer, slave, and general waiter waitress....you will feel unappreciated.....

But if you realize that you are riding to places on their nickel....it balances out.

It is a rare occurence to have a friendly aquaintance with an owner......when you find one like that hang on to them....
Chiefy, I hear that cynical approach to working with these super yacht owners all the time and while I have turned down jobs by prospective employers that didn’t meet my own standards needed in a working relationship, I have never met one who candidly could not handle the truth (even when it hurts)

Respect is a two way street and anyone who takes the attitude of being a “yes man” with persons of wealth and power, will never receive it.

The simple truth is to accept that you are there to be of service but to do it with dignity and honesty, same as we would expect from anyone who was working for us.

I worked for many years with one Employer as his captain and project manager. I helped design and manage the build of his super yacht and now that I no longer work for him, he is considered one of my closest friends.

During the design phase we had some “stormin” arguments and I do remember me once calling him a stubborn *#**ing idiot. Everyone thought I was a goner, but he knew I had the project’s best interest at heart. (by the way…I was wrong on that design aspect!)

I took that new build around the world a few times and not once did he ever question my operational decisions, trusting me implicitly with the considerable cost of maintaining a first class operation.

Interestingly enough the very good Chief Engineer I hired during the build phase was a Texas old boy who had worked on many top yachts by the rich and famous (like the Fords).

He started off as a “yes man”, giving the proper front to the boss (whose first impression was of distrust).

I suggested to the boss we push a few of his engineering buttons with stupid requests to see if he would open up.

When he finally did, we laughed and said.. “that’s what we’re paying you for” and that crusty old engineer is still with the boat after 15 years and is part of the family.

Like any relationship, you have to be upfront about what you need and work at giving each other ...due respect!
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Old 07-08-2008, 00:29   #10
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Another thought to consider on this career path.

I apprentice for 2 years as a chef. I did well and progressed well. However one New Years Eve as I looked through the kitchen porthole I realized that I was on the wrong side of the porthole. For 2 years I missed every Friday and Saturday night out as well as every Sunday brunch and dinner. Not to mention every single holiday.

You really have to have a service mentality to work in a service industry.

I changed my career path and now I sit on the "right" side of the kitchen wall on New Years.

I have a friend who did the Mwgayacht deal. He has the same sentiments. Wouldn't trade a thing for the experience of his younger days but he simply grew out of it.
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Old 07-08-2008, 11:10   #11
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My opinion isn't cynical....as I have enjoyed every vessel that I have and do work on.

My sentiments are not meant to dissuade anyone from that career path...rather to give them a heads up to the realities of being a paid crew member.
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Old 10-08-2008, 17:38   #12
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A little link

Hello all!
I've been reading through the site for a while now but this is my first post.
There was some interesting coverage on superyacht crew on the BBC last friday morning. A UK company is starting an internship this year.
I think the first intake is only for UK passport holders but I thought you might want to pass the link onto any of the interested parties!
Ultimate Crew
All the best.
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Old 11-08-2008, 15:44   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Gord, the feedback commentary on MCA is very telling as it highlights what a self serving scam this whole yacht standard MCA was all about.

The origin of this came about in the early 90’s, when the French who insisted that the manning requirements for French owned super yachts, should meet commercial standards.

Then they started putting pressure on the British crewed yachts based on the French Riviera to fall in line.

This threatened many of the existing UK yacht captains and engineers who were well established to go back to school and get commercial licenses.

These captains had a lot of influence in the industry so a deal was made to grandfather some of them in return for them to put their weight behind backing a UK program of yacht certification that was being promoted by a few opportunistic clerics looking for a way to tap into the industry.

The rest is history!

It was sold as a solution and has become THE international standard of accreditation without really having any depth of knowledge or right to do so.

They also got heavily involved in new builds costing designers and architects double digit extra millions to meet MCA compliance by flip-flopping on technical details that were beyond them.

Now as you can see, properly certified masters and engineers from other nations still have to dance to their self serving tune because after all….Britannia waives the rules!

Sorry…old rant but it was a nasty scam


Great Info!!
Thanks
Chanty
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