If you’re reading this, you dig travel. You’ve either caught the travel bug long ago and are struggling to keep track of the number of countries you’ve visited, or the idea is a little more new to you and the wanderlust has just begun to grow.
Either way, you’ve likely considered your option of working abroad. There’s so many benefits to working abroad – the two most stand out ones being meeting new people and thus learning a different style of life, and the ability to make money while ‘on the road’ so you can continue your nomadic lifestyle for as long as you please!
I want to introduce you to an idea that you may not have heard of before, or if you have, may not know a whole lot about.
Yeah, those huge, wildly expensive, beautiful yachts owned by the financially elite humans of the world.
What are they?
Firstly, I’m no guru. However I know a heck of a lot more than I did when I was first introduced to the idea. I worked on one particularly beautiful, busy and well-known (in the industry) superyacht for 17 months recently. Before I joined it was more like “Super What?”
You’re probably familiar with cruise ships, right? The concept is similar, with some major differences. Superyachts generally range from around 40 – 100m (130 – 330ft) and carry 10 to 100 people on board, instead of thousands as on cruise ships.
The crew reside on board for the duration of their employment (short or long), work to maintain the boat and cater for any and every need of whoever is staying on board – owners or guests.
They are either privately owned, in which case only the owners plus close friends and family come onboard, or they are chartered (rented) out, in which case anyone with quite a few spare dollars can enjoy staying on board for a week or so at a time.
There are many ports all around the globe where you’ll find such yachts docked, the most common being places like the French and Italian Riviera in the Mediterranean, and the various small islands of the Caribbean such as St Martin and Antigua.
Why work on a yacht?
I consider three main benefits of working on a superyacht. The initial two are more obvious: travel and money.
It’s true. During my time on board I earned more money that I knew what to do with. I also went to about 10 new countries during that time, and got to explore countless breathtaking coastal areas I previously knew nothing of.
The third benefit that is equally, or more (in my opinion) significant is the people you will meet. And I’m not talking about the guests who come on board – although I won’t deny it’s pretty cool meeting A-list celebrities, musicians and co-owners of giants such as YouTube and Twitter.
The guests can be quite remarkable, though the friendships you will make with your fellow crew will be solid, tight and lifelong. You live, work and play together in a very close and somewhat high-pressured environment so you end up getting to know each other very well, very fast.
What do you do on board?
The most entry-level and transient roles are that of Steward(ess) and Deckhand. Stews are more commonly female-filled roles, while deckhands are generally guys, but that is only a trend and not at all a rule.
The work time of the crew can be broken into two categories – when on charter with guests on board, and between trips when there are no guests on board. In the down time between charters or owner trips, the boat requires some serious maintenance, inside and out. For deckhands it is mainly washing down the exterior of the boat, and for stews it is mostly detailing (cleaning to an intensely precise standard) the guest cabins and interior areas.
Whilst on charter, or with the owners staying on board, the main role of all crew is to attend to the guests’ every beck and call. This may range from the captain helping decide on a sailing itinerary, to the chefs choosing what to make for lunch; from the deckhands taking the guests on jet ski and snorkelling trips, to the stews locating misplaced designer sunglasses and stain treating expensive ball gowns.
The jobs that you find yourself doing throughout any given day as a superyacht crew member really are extremely varied. While the work itself is not particularly hard work, the hours and days are long. On charter, most crew will find themselves working 12 hour days, sometimes quite a bit more.
There are also no days off as long as any guests or owners are on board. If a boat has back-to-back charter trips for three months, then the crew will work three months with zero days off. This sounds pretty extreme, but it is not unheard of. It’s times like these, when given one glorious day off in a short period of down time, that you really learn how to utilise and appreciate your time well.
Could this be for me?
Working on a boat requires you to be able to hack long hours, share close living quarters with others and think on your toes, moving from one task to another seamlessly.
It allows those with a sense of adventure to thrive.
To those who give their all, this opportunity gives back tenfold.
Throughout my experience in the industry, I have literally met every type of person. I’ve worked with people of different ages, backgrounds, skill sets and levels of experience. For some this is a long-term journey, a lifelong career.
However for many of you reading, it’s an idea for something relatively short-term. You want to get amongst it, experience the rollercoaster ride that this job entails, travel to some gorgeous and exotic places for free, earn yourself a nice, comfortable (not so little) nest egg, and meet some wonderful and inspiring people along the way.
I hear that. And I’d recommend it.
Be it this or some other form of travel or working abroad… go challenge yourself, experience things you’ve never dreamed of before, give it your all and take everything it will give you.
You’ll thank yourself.
Are you interested in learning more about this opportunity?
Head over to this page to share your interest in a live Q&A webinar hosted by Grace.
If you’ve got the questions, she’s got the answers.
About the Author:
Grace O’Carroll is a traveller, dreamer, life student, entrepreneur and self-confessed multi-potentialite from New Zealand. Her varied background includes living and going to high school in the States, studying biology at university, working on a superyacht, doing a bit of digital marketing consultancy and starting a business based on celebrating vulnerability. Her happy place is in the sun, near water, going on outdoor adventures, music playing, good friends around and a kombucha in hand.