By Melissa Andersen
“To the bow of the boat”, the captained wailed in a raspy voice as my bare feet scurried across the finely polished Burmese teak of a 23 million dollar floating palace. Launching the oversized “line,” which is what you call a “rope” in nautical language, I then quickly tightened the fenders as the vessel eased its way adjacent the floating dock. I glanced down to see the dock manager Malik and his customary ear-to-ear grin, displaying pearly white teeth underneath kind eyes creased from the intense Caribbean sun. Passing me his weathered hand, he guided me safely to the dock to help tie down the 130’ yacht I called my home. Malik swung a friendly arm over my shoulder as we skipped off into the direction of the sand floored bar to enjoy an ice-cold Kalik beer, the local Bahamian delight. The sun set painted a masterpiece of red, orange and pink over the crystal blue sea. Relaxation was the only goal on the last evening of peace before the guests arrived at daybreak, and the chaos would commence.
Welcome to the world of “yachting”, aka working on a fancy boat. Oh the joys of island hopping through breathtaking tropical water. It makes working your fingers to the bone quite bearable! You can begin as a deckhand, a stewardess or aim to be captain one day. It proves remarkably difficult at times, but you get to travel to places not many even dream of seeing. Plus, the pay is excellent. On top of that, you live aroung luxury and have no expenses. A private chef makes gourmet meals daily. You don’t need to spend a dime while on board.
How do you get from saying adios to your desk job to cruising the Mediterranean, you ask? Firstly you must get STCW certified (Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers). There are multiple training locations, but I would suggest Ft. Lauderdale. The cost is around $1,500 and the course takes only a week. It’s good fun as well! You get the chance to crawl into burning buildings at the fire academy and mimic safety drills in a pool as a part of a team.
Once you have your certification, merely position yourself in the right place and search for day work! Networking is clutch for this job. I would recommend being in Fort Lauderdale for the annual boat show in late October, early November. If you score a job at the show, that’s great! Then work your tail off and pass out business cards to everyone you meet. If you are personable and hardworking, you don’t necessarily need experience for your first hire.
From here just build your resume and network. Yacht dwellers love to drink, so mingle in the local Fort Lauderdale bars, have your cards in your pocket and be ready to start a job at the drop of a hat.
Overall, yachting is adventurous work that pays well. You can say goodbye business suits and dress shoes. If you’re not afraid of a little hard work, and love the smell of the Sea… I would highly recommend “getting your feet wet” on a yacht.