Becoming a deckhand on a luxurious yacht is perhaps a dream for many seagoing workers in South Africa. Do you think you have got what it takes to be a superyacht deckhand? What about the qualifications? Let’s take a realistic approach to these questions and find answers in this article.

Who is a Deckhand?

A deckhand on a yacht or any other type of ship, such as commercial cargo transport ships, tugboats, or oil tankers, is an essential part of the ecosystem. Why? Because the deckhand crew is mainly responsible for deck operations. These operations include watchkeeping, deck maintenance, cleanliness, docking and anchoring, and much more. Of course, the responsibilities may differ on different types of ships, but the core responsibilities are more or less the same.

On a superyacht, the deckhand is mainly responsible for maintenance and cleanliness of the deck and other faculties; attending to guests and their requests, such as setting up guest areas or assisting them with superyacht toys; and driving the tender for guests or supplies.

While this may sound doable on paper, deckhands tend to work long hours every day to fulfill their quotas of work. There is a reason why deckhands are in consistent demand: not everyone can keep up with the work pressure and stay away from family and friends for months.

Becoming a Deckhand on a Yacht in South Africa?

Even though deckhands occasionally face harsh realities, the hard work is worth it for many. Why? Not everyone is the same. Some people love jobs that offer adventure, high pay, and the satisfaction of maintaining a high-end superyacht and providing hospitality to the guests onboard. A deckhand on a superyacht earns about 2000-3000 USD in entry-level positions.

So, how does one become a deckhand on a yacht in South Africa? There’s not much to it, really. In terms of qualifications, you only need the three basic, but most crucial qualifications of the marine industry.

The STCW Certificate. STCW stands for The Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping. This 5-module course aims at educating candidates regarding safety, hazard response and prevention, and international maritime regulations regarding the safety and security of human lives as well as sea ecosystems. A must for every seagoing worker.

The ENG1 Medical Certificate establishes basic standards of fitness. This allows employers to understand whether a candidate is fit to work on a yacht or not. Candidates who are not fit may just become a liability to others’ responsibilities or even their lives on the vessel. The ENG1 medical certificate of fitness will ensure that you are fit to work on a vessel.

The RYA Powerboat Level 2 certificate. As superyacht deckhands are often required to drive a tender and other superyacht toys for various purposes, this certificate is a must for superyacht deckhands.

What about the Deckhand Course?

As a marine institution in South Africa, we highly recommend the Deckhand Course for newcomers to the industry. If you have never been on the sea for any sort of work, the Deckhand Course will prove useful for you.

However, we must mention that it is not a mandatory requirement to become a superyacht deckhand. While that is true, a deckhand course by a reputed marine industry can help you grasp the ropes faster and even help you with placement recommendations. This will be a strategic and economic decision in your pursuit of securing a deckhand position. However, if you can, we highly recommend the deckhand course before sending out applications or doing “dockwalking”.

Dockwalking is where you go to popular sailing locations with a dense crowd of yachts, personally meeting superyacht captains deckhand recruiters or employment agencies to secure a job. This too is an economically strategic decision as you may have to go overseas (UK, US, France, Italy, Spain etc.) to seek a job.

Related: Best Seasons to Find Entry-Level Deckhand Work

And apart from that…

You need to appear presentable, and clean and know your etiquette. You are applying on a luxurious, high-end superyacht, after all. Candidates who are upfront, polite, presentable, and quick-witted stand a better chance at securing the job, regardless of their experience.

Our Thoughts on the matter

The true purpose of this article was to provide a realistic approach to the superyacht deckhand career while providing useful information. This does not mean we discourage you from securing the job. In fact, if you look past the hardships, the fruits of the deckhand job on a superyacht are ever-sweet and well worth it. The superyacht industry recognises and respects those who work hard for their earnings—all while enjoying the luxuries of the yacht and experiencing the adventures of the seas and the world.

So, are you interested? Then what are you waiting for? Get your qualifications in order with the right marine institution in South Africa, such as Skipper Training SA, and take one step closer to becoming a deckhand in South Africa. For more information, feel free to give us a call.

Becoming a Yacht Deckhand in South Africa | A Realistic Approach

One thought on “Becoming a Yacht Deckhand in South Africa | A Realistic Approach

Comments are closed.