Deck Career Advice

Yacht Deck Careers Advice

Role Responsibilities, Information & Qualifications

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Thinking Of Working On Deck?

Any superyacht you come across, depending on the size of the yacht, will employ between 1 and 15+ deckhands on-board. The role of a Deckhand is to maintain the exterior of the superyacht to an immaculate condition and to retain this at all times. Reporting to the Bosun and Junior Officers, ultimately directly up the chain of command to the Captain.

Below we outline the various roles, responsibilities and qualifications necessary to become a yacht deckhand.

What's the daily routine of working on Deck?

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.

Daily responsibilities:

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.

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What qualifications do you need for each deck job role?

Skills & Experience

In order to gain the required qualifications to work as an Officer, there is a certain amount of time at sea, which needs to be logged as proof of your experience before being eligible to take the necessary modules and exams.

On many yachts, the Chief Officer will be responsible for the day-to-day deck operations, so crew management skills are an important part of the role as well as navigation and watchkeeping. Often on a larger vessel there will also be 2nd and 3rd Officer positions, these more junior positions will often look after safety and navigation on-board, with the Captain and Chief Officer ultimately responsible.

Qualifications

Depending on the size of the vessel Officers will need a qualification allowing them to hold a watch on the vessel they are working on. Qualification include Officer of the Watch (OOW) 3000gt or OOW Unlimited, Chief Mate 3000gt or Chief Mate Unlimited. Some more Senior Officers will also require their Masters qualification in order to step-up to the role of Captain if required.

Skills & Experience

The Bosun is in charge of the day to day running of the deck and is the deckhands direct line manager on-board. A Bosun will create and implement work lists, (working with the Chief Officer) delegate tasks to the deck team and train new deckhands on-board. As the more experienced member of the deck team the Bosun will often be one of the main guest tender drivers as well as completing more in-depth maintenance tasks such as fibre glass repairs or spray painting.

Qualifications

Qualifications will vary from one yacht to another depending on the requirements on-board. A common qualification to need (in addition to the basic legally-required safety qualifications and medical) will be the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore or a Navigational Watch Rating Certificate. Some will require an OOW qualification if the role includes holding a watch when underway.

Skills & Experience

This is the entry level position on deck so it is possible to join with no previous experience on-board in the role of a Junior Deckhand. Once you have your basic qualifications you can start on-board and will be taught the ropes by the more experienced crew members. To begin with your main duties will be keeping the exterior of the yacht clean and with more experience you may be able to progress into roles such as tender driving. Any previous shore-based maintenance skills and experience are desired as well as any previous small boat leisure experience or watersports experience.

Qualifications

The legally required qualification to work on-board for any crew member is the STCW Basic Safety Training along with a valid ENG1 medical certificate. Many yachts will also require a Proficiency in Designated Security Duties certificate. Other industry-standard qualifications include an RYA Powerboat Level 2, Short Range Radio License and an RYA PWC (Personal Watercraft, jet ski license). In order to progress in the industry many deck crew will complete the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore license and others will progress through the MCA Training Record Book gaining their Yacht Rating and Navigational Watch Rating.

To work in a dual role previous work experience in your profession is key as well as relevant qualifications. For example, for divers a minimum of a Divemaster or sometimes a Dive Instructor license will be required. For a carpenter, shore-based qualifications, previous long-term experience, and good references in a carpenter role is crucial.

How to get into a role working on Deck:

Speak to our experienced Deck consultant, Sean!

Sean has a wealth of seagoing experience and is available to help guide you through the role, show you available opportunities and help to develop your application to ensure you have the best chance possible of landing your dream yacht job role.

Each one of our consultants currently has a wealth of seagoing experience in their own area of responsibility. We, therefore, understand the roles, conditions and unique lifestyles of those who serve onboard large yachts.

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