With the wind in your hair and a deep tan all over your body, imagine spending your days in the sun, sailing the deep blue ocean with a sense of unbeatable freedom. Now imagine getting paid to do it.
With the hustle and bustle of city live becoming an ever more stressful experience, more and more people are turning to sailing as a way to escape and find freedom on the open sea. No traffic jams, no boundaries, and that amazing sensation of feeling at one with nature. This means that there is an increasing opportunity for sailing jobs.
The best job opportunities in the US tend to be in urban areas near large bodies of water, such as Chicago. There are fewer sailing job opportunities as you move out into rural areas. The other place you are going to find good sailing jobs is anywhere where there are sailing holidays. Popular sailing holiday locations include the UK, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, South Pacific, North America, Thailand or even Australia.
There are a range of sailing jobs that you could do, either staying in one area such as the Mediterranean, or travelling the world following the sailing seasons. Jobs include deckhand, skipper, cruising instructor, sailing instructor, marine engineer, sailing host or professional yacht master. Should you want to have a more permanent sailing job, you could progress to being a sailing school owner, or you could even use your entrepreneurial flair to create a business selling new and used yachts to your more wealthy clients. If you really want to progress onto larger vessels, captains on large superyachts (>50 metres) could expect between £6,000 and upwards of £10,000 per month. Monaco here I come!
Sailing Job Roles, Responsibilities and Skills
Marine Engineer Jobs
As a marine engineer, your job will tend to be based around the yachts, sailing base and ports of call. At the start of the sailing season you will be required to carry out any fleet refits. This involves painting, cleaning and repairing the yachts in preparation for the sailing season.
Since you will be providing a service for sailing holiday clients, you must be positive and sociable, with experience in a customer focussed environment. A marine engineer has to be a fantastic problem solver, being able to quickly identify issues and resolve them. At the end of every yacht rental, you will have to complete turnaround service checks, yacht preparation and deck washing. At the start of every rental, you will have to brief clients on the boat’s mechanical systems and safety equipment.
Between sailing holiday rentals, engine servicing has to be carried out as required. Maintenance of outboards for tenders will also be on your job list. You will of course have to respond to emergency call outs for breakdowns on any of the yachts.
The technical skills you will need to have to be a marine engineer include:
- maintaining diesel engines
- maintaining 2 & 4 stroke outboards
- a working knowledge of 12V DC electrical systems
Sailing Instructor Jobs
The job as a sailing instructor requires technical knowledge, skill in sailing, and just the right combination of quick thinking and physical command. Your time will be split between the classroom and on board the yachts.
If the sailing holiday company is UK based, wherever you are in the world you will be expected to deliver Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses to the highest standard complying with the RYA regulations and company standards.
You must be able to deliver sailing holiday company specific courses and liaise with the chief yachtmaster instructor regarding any maintenance requirements or damage to the yachts. It isn’t all practical work though. You will also need to ensure that the correct paperwork is completed as per local laws and regulations.
The practical aspects of the sailing instructor job includes:
- providing rescue boat cover
- running weekly yacht races and mini-flotillas
- carry out beach duties, including rigging and de-rigging of boats and the launch and recovery of all boats
You have to do all of this whilst maintaining the safety of the guests and the sailing craft. As a customer facing role, you have to be great with people, and provide excellent customer service at all times. This will involve not just working on the sailing yachts, but also to carry out transfer day duties, such as representing the company at the airport.
Sailing qualifications you will need to get a sailing instructor job will most likely include:
- RYA Yachtmaster Offshore with Commercial Endorsement
- RYA Cruising Instructor
- Powerboat level 2
- Safety Boat Drivers certificate
- Knowledge of health & safety legislation
Sailing Skipper Jobs
As a sailing skipper, you are responsible for sailing the yacht for clients who don’t want to do the sailing by themselves. You will have to prepare the yacht on turnaround days, including cleaning the deck. You have to brief clients on safety and yacht systems and advise on sailing questions.
You are at all times responsible for the safety of your clients throughout the week. Skills you will need to have include:
- RYA Offshore Yacht Master with Commercial Endorsement or Coastal Skipper
- The ability to work under pressure and make difficult decisions
- Experience in a customer focused environment
- Sociable and positive personality
- Strong organisational skills
Sailing Yachtmaster Jobs
This is one of the top sailing jobs. As a sailing yachtmaster, you will be responsible for the management of all operational aspects of a yacht sailing school, which includes the delivery of the RYA syllabus, day to day management of staff, driving revenue and ensuring yachts are set up to company and RYA standards.
This is much more of a leadership role, managing a team of sailing instructors. You will have to:
- Co-ordinate paperwork and instructors for all courses
- Drive revenue and promote courses available within resort
- Maintain the standards of training delivered on shore based courses
- To monitor customer feedback of RYA Training and investigate comments where necessary
- Liaise with the RYA and other governing bodies to ensure that the syllabus delivered are up to date
- Ensure yachts are clean and set up per company standards and RYA requirements
- Ensure that any changes in the SOPs are communicated to instructors, and that this is documented
- Provide support and guidance to instructors, and provide on-going training as necessary
- Develop course material to support existing and future course requirements
- Ensure before yachts set sail correct paperwork has been completed as per company and local law requirements.
- Ensure company policies and procedures are kept to whilst instructors are at sea
- Lead and motivate the instructors
- Provide excellent customer service at all times
Your sailing skill set will of course have to include a qualification as RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, with previous years experience managing a team. Knowledge of health & safety legislation and the RYA Sailing School syllabus and standards is essential.
Sailing Host Jobs
As a sailing host, you will be living aboard the leadboat with the sailing flotilla skipper and marine engineer. You will be responsible for ensuring that your 50-60 guests each week have the holiday of a lifetime. The primary requisite for a sailing host is to be lively, bubbly and self-motivated to advise the clients of all the local attractions and amenities along your Flotilla route.
Although you are there to look after your guests, with previous sailing experience you will need to support the Skipper mooring up your fleet of yachts and with the general day to day running of your leadboat.
If you have the right temperament, you will love the tasks of organising group meals, BBQ’S, Punch Parties, competitions, local tours for guests, and socialising with guests. The less attractive tasks include accounting and running the flotilla budgets, cleaning the decks of the yachts to a high standard, and performing regular inventory checks of both the domestic & safety equipment on board each yacht.
Key skills to demonstrate will include experience in a customer facing environment, yacht sailing experience (ideally with a RYA Day Skipper or Competent crew qualification), be able to work under pressure, have experience of working with large groups of clients, and of course have experience working with children.
So How Do I get Started in Getting a Sailing Job?
The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) offers a whole host of sailing courses from complete beginner right through to professional qualifications. Run through the RYA’s network of some 2,500 recognised training centres both in the UK and abroad, you should be able to find a course to suit you.
To get you started many RYA Training Centres, sailing clubs and charter companies throughout the UK and abroad run taster sessions/days providing an ideal opportunity to get out on the water for the first time and help you decide if sailing is for you and if you wish to go ahead and sign up for a sailing course.
If you decide that yachting is for you then the RYA’s Start Sailing and Competent Crew courses are the perfect way to learn the basic principles of sailing whilst meeting like-minded people and exploring new locations. If you can already sail, then sailing holiday companies to work for include Sunsail in both the UK and US. Sunsail Events also run racing and corporate events, so there are opportunities for short term crew jobs during sailing events such as Cowes Week.
If you are just starting out in sailing, one great way to learn to sail is to go on a sailing holiday with companies like Sunsail or Neilson. You can spend a week in the sun learning how to sail and get your RYA sailing qualifications. If you like it, you can explore your options by talking to the staff who will be able to tell you exactly how you can get to see the world differently as part of a sailing crew.