Working on deck on a superyacht can be very interesting and rewarding, however it’s not only the glitz and glamor of beautiful sunsets and dolphins that you see on Instagram. Your main responsibility is to keep the exterior of the yacht clean and in pristine condition at all times. Other elements of the job can include watersports activities with guests, tender driving and maintenance tasks such as painting and varnishing. As you rise-up the ranks you will have more responsibility in the management of the deck and training deck crew eventually progressing into a Bosun position.
When starting out in the industry a background working on the water can be very useful, any general seamanship skills you have can be valuable on-board. Any experience in watersports, driving small powerboats or practical skills in maintenance such as painting are also sought after. You will need lots of energy to keep up with this often physically demanding role as well as a positive and keen to learn attitude.
There are also dual roles available on-board, where some yachts require a deckhand candidate who has extra skills and qualifications to meet a specific need on-board. Common dual roles include: Deckhand/Carpenter, Deckhand/Engineer, Deckhand/Diver, Deckhand/Fishing guide, Deckhand/Watersports Instructor and Deckhand/PT but can also be a little more unusual such as Deckhand/cyclist or even Deckhand/DJ.
General day to day tasks and schedule will vary depending on if you have guests on-board or not. With guests on-board a team of deckhand(s) will start early in the morning, before the owner/ guests wake-up, to prepare the deck areas to be used during the day ahead. Tasks will include:
- A full wipe-down of all surfaces to remove any condensation or dust which has accumulated over night.
- Clean windows,
- Uncover deck furniture
- Set-up towels
All tasks are completed as quietly as possible to wake your guests. The yacht may have spent the night in port or at anchor so it will also be important to complete relevant checks of the tenders and watersports equipment to make sure it is ready for the guests to use if requested.
Whilst guests are on-board you may find yourself completing tasks such as:
- undertaking a security/passarelle watch to make sure no one unauthorised comes aboard the yacht.
- A beach club/swim platform watch, being on-hand if guests would like to use watersports equipment.
- Keeping an eye on your guests in a lifeguard capacity if they are in the water.
- If you have past experience in watersports you may be tasked with taking the guests out waterskiing/ wakeboarding or towing them in one of the yachts many inflatable toys. This is where tender driving experience is important, depending on the size of the yacht’s tenders you may require either a Powerboat level 2 qualification or even a Yachtmaster Offshore to operate these.
- Driving guests, crew or even just the garbage ashore can also be a regular task on-board for a deckhand, however it can take time to build-up enough experience to be trusted to drive the owners.
- If the yacht spends time on anchor you may be asked to complete an anchor watch for a couple of hours overnight to keep an eye on the yacht’s position and the other yachts around you.
When you’re in the off-season, and not preparing for a guest trip, the role of deckhand still centres around the appearance of the exterior of the vessel but there is usually some time to complete longer, messier maintenance tasks. Whether just a short break from charters or a more extensive yard period this is when any practical work experience will be valued on-board as tasks such as stripping, sanding and varnishing as well as fibre glass repair and painting of both the main yacht and tenders may be on the agenda. Other common tasks in a yard period may include painting the anchor chain, cleaning and painting the bildges or oiling teak deck furniture.
When preparing for an owners trip or charter there will be lots of cleaning tasks scheduled such as, washing down and scrubbing the decks as well as more detailed duties such as polishing and detailing the yacht’s tenders and jet skis.
As a deckhand when the yacht is underway you may be asked to stand on the bridge as a second pair of eyes during a watch. The yacht will also still require regular rinsing with fresh water to stop the salt building up.
General duties throughout the year will also include assisting with mooring procedures whether this is keeping an eye on fenders as the yacht berths or throwing a line. Anchor procedures as well as the launching and recovery of the yacht’s tenders and jet skis, using cranes will also like be a big part of the role on-board.