Working on a yacht is an exciting and rewarding career choice, offering a unique blend of travel, luxury, and professional growth. Yachts require a diverse range of skilled professionals to ensure their smooth operation and the comfort of their guests. From captains to engineers, chefs to stewardesses, each role is vital in maintaining the high standards expected on board. In this blog post, we will explore the various types of yacht staff, their roles and responsibilities, the ideal crew size, and more.
Types of Yacht Staff and Their Roles
The captain of a yacht holds the most senior position onboard and is responsible for the overall operation of the vessel, the safety of its crew, owners, and guests. The captain’s roles and responsibilities are extensive and encompass various aspects of yacht management and navigation.
The Captain’s typical tasks and responsibilities include:
- Safe Navigation and Operation: The captain is responsible for ensuring the safe navigation and operation of the yacht, making crucial decisions related to the vessel’s route and safety.
- Compliance and Regulatory Matters: The captain must ensure that the yacht complies with all relevant laws and regulations, including MARPOL, ISM, and other major regulatory requirements.
- Crew Management: Hiring, leading, and managing the crew, including administrative duties such as maintaining the logbook and other transportation records.
- Budget Management: Setting and managing budgets for the operation of the yacht, including planning itineraries, shipyard maintenance, and refit periods.
- Voyage Planning: Planning and overseeing the yacht’s itineraries, including passage planning and ensuring that the vessel is prepared for annual flag surveys, class surveys, and port/flag state controls.
- Overall Safety and Security: The captain is responsible for the overall safety and security of the yacht and its occupants, including crisis management and adherence to international maritime regulations.
The specific responsibilities of a yacht captain may vary depending on the size of the yacht, its usage, and its cruising itinerary. On smaller yachts, the captain may need to be a hands-on problem solver and multitasker, while on larger yachts, the captain has dedicated teams and heads of departments under their command.
2. First Mate/Chief Officer
The First Mate, also known as the Chief Officer, is the second in command on a yacht and plays a crucial role in overseeing the deck department and managing the day-to-day operations of the vessel. Their responsibilities are extensive and encompass various aspects of yacht management, safety, and crew supervision.
Some of the key responsibilities and tasks of a First Mate/Chief Officer on a yacht include:
- Assisting the Captain: The First Mate supports the Captain in all aspects of yacht management, including navigation, safety, and overall vessel operation.
- Deck Department Management: They are responsible for managing the smooth operation of the deck department, including its general maintenance and supervision. This involves overseeing the deck crew and ensuring that all deck operations are carried out efficiently.
- Safety and Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring that the yacht is in compliance with all relevant laws and maritime regulations, including SOLAS, MARPOL, and other safety and environmental standards. This includes arranging regular safety drills and conducting weekly and monthly safety checks and maintenance.
- Crew Management: Managing the deck crew and maintaining crew discipline, including arranging regular safety drills, setting watch schedules, and ensuring that the crew is well-trained and prepared for their duties.
- Navigation and Watchkeeping: Assisting with navigation, overseeing docking procedures, and setting watch schedules to ensure that the vessel is properly manned and operated at all times.
- Maintenance and Inventory: Overseeing the maintenance of deck equipment, managing deck inventory, and ensuring that the yacht is properly stowed for sea.
- Guest Services: Handling guest requests and complaints, and ensuring that the exterior of the yacht is maintained to the highest standards to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for guests.
- Leadership and Communication: Demonstrating strong leadership and communication skills, and the ability to delegate duties effectively and diplomatically.
The First Mate/Chief Officer is a key member of the yacht’s crew, responsible for supporting the Captain, managing the deck department, and ensuring the safety, compliance, and overall smooth operation of the vessel.
The engineer on a yacht is responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of all mechanical and electrical systems onboard. Their role is essential in maintaining the safety, performance, and efficiency of the vessel.
Some of the key responsibilities and tasks of a yacht engineer include:
- Maintenance of Mechanical and Electrical Systems: The engineer is responsible for the daily maintenance of all mechanical and electrical systems on board the yacht, including the main engines, engine room systems, and other equipment such as refrigeration, air conditioning, and watermakers.
- Monitoring and Troubleshooting: They monitor engine, machinery, and equipment indicators when the yacht is underway, troubleshoot any issues that arise, and perform repairs as needed to ensure the smooth operation of the yacht’s systems.
- Safety Practices and Compliance: Implementing good safety practices and ensuring that the yacht complies with all relevant maritime regulations and safety standards.
- Inventory and Maintenance: Maintaining an inventory of all parts and equipment, as well as ensuring the cleanliness and maintenance of the engine room and associated machinery.
- Assistance During Shipyard Periods: Providing assistance and expertise during shipyard periods, refits, and maintenance to ensure that the yacht’s systems are properly maintained and upgraded.
- Guest Services Support: In some cases, the engineer may be called upon to assist with troubleshooting and repairing personal items for guests, as well as maintaining and servicing the yacht’s toys and tenders.
- Transitioning Between Engine Room and Guest Areas: Being able to transition effectively between the engine room and guest areas, as well as providing support and information to guests as needed.
The yacht engineer plays a critical role in maintaining the mechanical and electrical systems on board, ensuring the safety and efficiency of the vessel, and providing essential support to the crew and guests.
The chef on a yacht, often referred to as the yacht chef, is a professionally trained culinary expert responsible for the provisioning, meal preparation, and complete management of the galley. Their role is essential in ensuring the highest standards of cuisine and guest satisfaction on board.
Some of the key responsibilities and tasks of a yacht chef include:
- Provisioning and Meal Preparation: The chef is in charge of provisioning all food items and preparing meals for both the crew and the guests on board the yacht. This includes menu planning, meal preparation, and ensuring that all dietary preferences and restrictions are accommodated.
- Food Safety and Hygiene: Adhering to strict food safety and storage standards to ensure that all meals are prepared and served in a safe and hygienic manner, minimizing the risk of foodborne illnesses.
- Budget Management: The chef is responsible for provisioning to a budget, ensuring that all food items are sourced cost-effectively while maintaining the highest quality and freshness.
- Galley and Food Inventory: Managing the inventory of the galley, including stock control, ordering supplies, and maintaining a well-organized and efficient workspace.
- Galley Safety and Sanitary Standards: Ensuring that the galley meets all safety and sanitary standards, including regular cleaning, maintenance of kitchen equipment, and waste management.
- Guest Services Support: Providing exceptional culinary experiences for guests, including creative plate presentation, varied repertoire, and wine knowledge to enhance the overall guest experience.
- Specialized Skills: The chef must possess a vast knowledge of produce and the ability to provision in obscure parts of the world, as well as knowledge of nutrition, diets, allergies, and food safety and storage.
The yacht chef plays a pivotal role in providing exceptional culinary experiences, ensuring the highest standards of food safety and hygiene, and managing all aspects of the galley to meet the diverse culinary preferences of guests and crew on board.
The purser on a yacht, also known as the chief stewardess or stewardess, is a senior crew member responsible for managing several areas of a superyacht. Their role encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, including financial management, crew administration, and guest services.
Some of the key responsibilities and tasks of a purser on a yacht include:
- Financial Management: The purser is responsible for the financial administration of the vessel, including maintaining accounts, handling customer transactions, and ensuring that all onboard money is collected and paid in an organized manner.
- Crew Administration: Managing all crew administration, including payroll, crew certification, and keeping up-to-date crew and passenger lists, and reporting any changes.
- Guest Services: Orchestrating guest activities, liaising with guests and all crew, and ensuring that the highest standards are maintained for every aspect of the guest experience.
- Interior Management: Directing the overall management of the interior department, including interior inventory, purchasing, and provisioning, and ensuring that the interior of the yacht is maintained to the highest standards.
- Communication and Diplomacy: Communicating with onshore vendors, contractors, yacht owners, and guests in a variety of settings, and demonstrating superior communication skills, diplomacy, and delegation qualities.
- Legal and Administrative Hub: Acting as the administrative hub on board a superyacht, overseeing purchasing, inventories, accounting, and serving as a personal assistant to the captain for any legal requirements.
The purser on a yacht plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth and effective operations of the vessel, overseeing financial management, crew administration, and guest services, and acting as the administrative hub on board a superyacht.
A deckhand on a yacht is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the exterior of the vessel. Their tasks predominantly comprise maintaining the exterior of the yacht, including wash-downs, polishing, varnishing, teak cleaning, sanding, painting, and general maintenance.
Some of the specific responsibilities and tasks of a deckhand on a yacht include:
- Regular wash-downs of the yacht
- Deck scrubbing
- Stainless polishing
- Cleaning of deck lockers and bilges
- Performing general maintenance duties such as sanding, painting, varnishing, etc.
- Assisting with docking operations and anchoring
- Assisting guests as required
- Assisting the bosun and mate in maintenance projects
The role of a deckhand is an entry-level position, and the tasks may vary depending on the size of the yacht, the number of crew, and whether it is a private or charter vessel. The deckhand’s main responsibility is to execute any task their senior gives them in a timely and precise manner, ensuring that the exterior of the yacht is maintained to the highest standards for all guests at all levels.
How Many Yacht Staff Do I Need?
The number of yacht staff required depends on the size and type of the yacht. Larger yachts will require a more extensive crew to ensure the smooth operation and guest satisfaction. A general guideline for the ideal crew size is as follows:
- 30m to 40m Yacht: Captain, first mate, engineer, chef, 2-3 deckhands, 2 stewardesses.
- 40m to 50m Yacht: Captain, first mate, engineer, chef, 3-4 deckhands, 3 stewardesses, 1-2 additional crew members.
- 50m+ Yacht: The crew size increases with the yacht’s size, including additional roles such as second engineer, bosun, additional stewardesses, and deckhands.