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Working in the Yacht Industry
What It’s All About
Working as professional crew on yachts used for sailing charter or flotilla holidays is relatively accessible and a great way to enjoy your passion for the water. Yacht charter is the practice of renting a vessel for travelling to coastal, inland or island destinations, and is a popular holiday choice for those wishing to explore the world and learn how to sail at the same time. Yacht charter destinations from the River Thames or Norfolk Broads to more far flung dream destinations such as the Caribbean, Far East or Australia, are hugely popular which means there are always plenty of exciting job options available.
Yacht charter is one of the most popular holiday pursuits because it gives the client the freedom to choose from a wide variety of activities ranging from bareboat charter (sole responsibility and use of boat), skippered charter (boat with a professional skipper), or flotilla (cruise in company with instruction).
You’ll also find that most of the larger sailing holiday companies such as Sunsail, The Moorings and Neilson offer a mixture of shorebased watersports holidays, including windsurfing, dinghy sailing, and flotilla sailing, which means there’s always huge demand for positions in the charter industry on and off the water.
Skippers, mates, sailing instructors, hostesses, engineers, sailing base managers and childcare experts are the sort of positions you are likely to find in this field (see page 14–16 for more about job opportunities). The beach teams are an integral part of the set up at most holiday centres so, even if you are not a sailing expert, but have managerial qualities for example, it could be a route worth pursuing. Shorebased beach holidays, however, are instructor- led so you’ll need teaching qualifications if you decide that is the route you’d like to take (see page 64–76 for teaching qualifications and job opportunity ideas).
The choice and size of charter yachts at these sailing bases will vary according to the type of work they are engaged in, but generally the maximum size of a charter yacht – known as a Small Vessel – is 24 m (78 ft). Small Norfolk Broad/ river- type charter boats are likely to start at around 7–9 m (20–27 ft). Because these sorts of boats are working on the relatively flat waters of inland rivers/waterways and therefore based in more confined areas you’ll find they will have relatively low/shallow freeboard (depth of hull) compared with more ocean- going vessels that have to contend with the rigours of large waves crashing over the deck.
Flotilla yachts are those working as a fleet for some of the larger sailing holiday companies such as Sunsail, The Moorings, Nautilus and Neilson. A flotilla holiday is a popular way of cruising in company for those with little or no experience of sailing. Flotillas are often arranged to accommodate singles, couples and small groups who wish to sail together within a fleet of up to 14 yachts.
Some companies cater for special interest groups such as archaeology and culinary and, for those who like to bare all, naturist charter holidays are a popular option, as are companies such as GaySail.com specialising in gay flotilla and charter.
Because flotillas are generally run under the guidance of qualified staff from the charter company, clients have virtually all the advantages of independent sailing, travelling from destination to destination knowing they have the support of safety back- up should anything untoward occur. The size and type of yachts depend on the location and can range between 13–20 m (40–60 ft), but generally on a Mediterranean islands flotilla-style holiday, yachts average out at 42 ft and are generally recognised designs such as Jeanneau or Beneteau.
Another sector in the charter industry is corporate yacht charter, which is a popular choice for the non- marine industry using sailing as a means of rewarding staff or entertaining important clients. Company teambuilding events aboard charter yachts is equally popular with many companies finding the environment of being on the water, away from the office, the ideal place to develop strategy and ideas.