The Step-by-Step Guide to Entering the Super Yacht Industry & How I Got Into Yachting

Rybovich Super Yacht Marina - West Palm Beach, Florida

Rybovich Super Yacht Marina – West Palm Beach, Florida

The Superyacht Industry is very niche and not something I ever heard of until I started solo traveling. 

When I first started blogging, I would mostly talk about solo travel. I want to tie in my yachting experience as I have had a lot of questions lately about this industry and how I stumbled upon it. Another reason for blogging about this industry is to inspire others to get into it if they want the opportunity to do something different and against the grain that will allow them to also make money whilst traveling the world!

It was 2014 when I decided to move my life overseas to the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I had originally gone over to Australia to complete a one-year teaching degree at USC, with the plan to move back to Toronto to settle down and begin my teaching career. 

I fell in love with the Aussie lifestyle and decided to stay in Australia for another year on a working holiday visa. I accepted a full-time position as a secondary school English & History teacher. After 6 months of working full time as a 23-year-old teaching high school kids and feeling like I was literally thrown in the deep end without a floatation device, I was yearning for something more. 

Although I enjoyed the experience of working in the corporate world and having a steady income with a professional wardrobe, I didn’t feel passionate about what I was doing.  At the same time, I was living my life to the fullest while on the opposite side of the world. I took up kiteboarding and was always going off on spontaneous adventures whether it was surfing, hiking, rock climbing, skydiving, or going on solo backpacking adventures on my time off from study and work.

Growing up in Canada, yachting wasn’t something I’ve ever heard of. Being raised in a traditional and conservative family, I always thought that I would graduate from University, start a career, get married, and have kids by the time I turned 25. Fast forward to now, I’ve been living and working overseas since 2014, working on superyachts and traveling the world, and now living the digital nomad life running my own coaching business full time.

The most common nationalities that work in the yachting industry are South Africans, followed by the British, Australians, and Kiwis. There are definitely more Americans in the industry than there are Canadians, mainly because one of the main super yachting hubs is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as well as in Newport, Rhode Island.

How & Why I Got into Yachting:

I ended up meeting someone on Tinder who introduced me to yachting. I may not have found the one through a dating app, but I have met some interesting individuals to say the least. I’m glad I did put myself out there though, because being open to meeting new people is what has given me the ideas, experiences and opportunities that I’ve had thus far in my life.

It’s funny to admit that’s how I found out about the industry, but I’m all about being open and vulnerable!

When I met my South African tinder friend, I picked his brain about this niche industry. I found it intriguing how you could travel on someone else’s dime and get paid to work on a luxury yacht for the rich & famous. Being the naive Canadian that I was, I had no idea what being a ‘Yachtie’ actually entailed.

As I continued to work at my 9-5 teaching job in Australia, I spent my lunch breaks and evenings googling everything about the yachting industry. As soon as my friend told me about the job opportunities I could have working on yachts, I knew that it was something I needed to try before I turned 30.

I decided that it would suit my nomadic lifestyle perfectly. I wasn’t ready to settle down just yet, work a government job, or get married anytime soon for that matter. I most certainly wasn’t ready to go back to Canada as I didn’t feel like I could be a part of the rat race in Toronto.

I was never a city girl, nor was I ever someone that felt like I fit into the norms and molds of society. I always wanted to do something different, be different, and experience new things. Maybe that’s why the sound of working in the yachting industry caught my attention.

But I already had plans to go live and work in New Zealand after my visa was up in Australia. I knew that I had to do it, or else I would never come back to this side of the world. At least not right away. I was aware that working on yachts was a different form of a 9-5, In fact, it was even longer hours and very hard physically demanding work. But, in exchange, you would get many different perks. I will talk about what a job in the yachting industry actually entails in a future post.

Some of these perks include:

  1. Traveling to off the beaten path locations where only the rich may get the chance to go.

  2. Traveling to these amazing places on someone else’s dime.

  3. Having memories and experiences to last a lifetime.

  4. A pretty good starting monthly salary for someone who has NO prior experience working on yachts/boats.

  5. All expenses paid: including repatriation flights, all meals, accommodation, toiletries and uniforms.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Why I went the deck route:

I decided to go the deck route, as I was always more of a tomboy growing up, being into all kinds of sports. After living in Australia & NZ for 4 years, I had become a water sports addict, and felt like my experience with kiteboarding, scuba diving and surfing would help me land a deckhand job. I also had 7 years of experience working as a lifeguard and swim instructor under my belt, which definitely came in handy for giving me that extra confidence in terms of being a strong swimmer and having knowledge about first aid & safety. 

I thought about going the stewardess route, having 5 years of hospitality experience as a bartender and waitress, but I wanted to do something completely different. Plus, stewardesses do a lot of boring work like laundry, making beds, ironing – which I HATE doing. 

Going the deck route gives you the opportunity to be outside in the sunshine all day and out in the water.  I grew up doing household chores like laundry and cleaning bathrooms, so I decided to gladly pass on that…

The more I learned about what the role of a deckhand entailed, the more intrigued I became. Learning new skills like handling lines and fenders, dropping and heaving the anchor, and driving tenders all sounded super cool to me. In fact, I believe those are rad skills to have. I can’t wait to have my own boat one day (little yacht lol) and be a boss woman who knows how to handle her.

I imagined what it would be like doing all of those things, and how amazing it would be to work outside in the sun and on the water rather than being stuck between the 4 walls of a classroom. 

I was always an ocean baby, and the seas were calling me.

How I prepared to enter the yachting industry: 

I listened to my gut and lived in New Zealand for two years after finding out about this industry, with the goal to enter yachting in April of 2017. During the shoulder season in Queenstown (the few months between winter and summer when nothing was really going on), I decided to sublet my room and book a trip to Cape Town, South Africa.

Hiking up Table Mountain - Cape Town, South Africa

Hiking up Table Mountain – Cape Town, South Africa

After doing my research on the industry, I decided to book my courses in South Africa.

I studied, lived, and traveled through South Africa for 2 months. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I would definitely recommend a visit there one day. I wouldn’t suggest it as a first time trip for solo female travelers, as it definitely isn’t the safest place in the world. But, I felt extremely prepared and proactive about being cautious and safe while I was there and luckily had a fantastic experience without any problems.

While I attended SYSA I opted in for an entire package that offered all the basic courses, as well as some extra ones to ‘fluff’ up my CV. 

  1. STCW & PDSD- This is a basic training that is MANDATORY in order to land a job on yachts. It includes fire fighting training, First Aid & CPR, Safety & Security & Rescue Swimming.

  2. Deckhand Course – This was an intro course to handling lines, fenders, anchors, doing wash downs, using different products (teak cleaning, polishing, varnishing, etc). It gave me a good idea of what I would do on the maintenance/manning side of the job.

  3. Powerboat Level II – this course was extremely useful as it gave me an international RYA license to handle and operate a tender. This course is necessary to have for insurance purposes when working as a deckhand on yachts, especially if you will be looking for a job in the Mediterranean. 

  4. PWC Jet Ski – this course was also useful as many boats require you to have this license for insurance purposes too. Now, I can also rent a jet ski internationally which is quite handy as well.

  5. RYA Radio – This course was pretty interesting as I learned how to use and speak through a VHF radio for communication purposes between the crew, as well as sending out Maydays or distress calls from the bridge. Not rocket science, but good to be prepared for this before joining your first yacht and having one less thing that the boat needs to “teach” you.

  6. Food Health & Safety – Hygiene Level 2: This is an extra course to take if you are thinking about becoming a stewardess or a chef, as you need it for food handling. At the time, I thought about going down the stewardess route, but I didn’t end up going through with the course (There are Stew & wine courses you can take if you are planning to go that route).

While I don’t suggest you need all of the above courses really, here are the basic courses you truly need to get into yachting as a “greenie”:

  1. STCW – described above ^

  2. ENG1 Medical Fitness test → is a medical exam that is mandatory & you need to pass in order to get a yacht job. You can read more about it here

Everything you need to know about HOW to get into the Yachting Industry:

  1. Apply for a B1/B2 visa for The States → Check to see whether or not your nationality/passport gives you automatic entry into Europe, or if you require this visa.

  2. Apply for a Schengen Visa for Europe → Check to see whether or not your nationality/passport gives you automatic entry into Europe, or if you require this visa.

  3. Get an ENG1 medical fitness test → you can also get this done when you arrive in the States or in the Med. Or, you can get it done in other places in the world or at home (Aus, NZ, The UK).

  4. Do your courses before or when you arrive at the yachting hub spot → Arriving earlier in the season gives you a couple of weeks to finish the courses and then be ready to look for work when the season starts.

What is a Crew House? →  A crew house is exactly like a hostel. It is a shared budget accommodation that you pay for at a weekly rate.

Anchored Crew House - Fort Lauderdale

Anchored Crew House – Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale & WPB

Fort Lauderdale & WPB

Yachting Ports/Hubs & Seasons →

  1. Fort Lauderdale/WPB – Caribbean (Winter Season) → Beginning of October (sometimes even mid-September) – Mid/End of March

  2. Antibes/Palma – Mediterranean (Summer Season) → Beginning of April (sometimes mid-March) – Mid/End of September

You want to go to one of these hubs BEFORE the start of the seasons outlined above. You can also do the reverse, and go to either of these hubs at the end of the season too in order to find job opportunities during shipyard periods.

Fort Lauderdale, USA

Fort Lauderdale, USA

Antibes, France

Antibes, France

What is a greenie? → This is someone who is fresh and new to the industry & has zero experience or knowledge working on yachts. Everyone starts here & normally has to dockwalk and network in order to find daywork to get their foot in the door & eventually land their first job.

What is “daywork?” → Daywork is being hired for a day or more by a boat. This is normally how entry-level crew or “greenies” get their foot in the door within the industry.

NOTE: you should NOT accept daywork rates below the industry standard. The minimum you should accept is about $120/USD or 100 euros a day.

How to find “daywork:”

Normally you can find daywork for 1 day, or more from the same yacht or multiple, depending on if they just need you to do a wash down, some polishing or cleaning, or mooring (helping them move the boat). 

Daywork can be found by “dock walking” 

What is “dock walking?” → Dock walking is one way to find daywork or find your first permanent job. 

Note: Dock walking is ILLEGAL in the States for Non-U.S. citizens. Don’t even attempt it, unless you want to get deported and banned from America for up to 5 years.

Daywork can be found through posts/ads on Yachting Facebook groups.

I go through relevant groups to join with all the links to the websites in my E-Book called “The Greenie Guide!”.

I also provide key yachtie lingo and terms you SHOULD know inside the E-Book.

You can get put forward for daywork jobs/opportunities by crew agents.

You will have to register online with crew agencies. The most popular ones are in Fort Lauderdale and Antibes.

There are plenty of other crew agencies you should register with. Yes, it will be time-consuming, but it is worth it.

I provide all the necessary and relevant crew agents that you SHOULD apply within my E-Book: “The Greenie Guide.”

I have linked all the websites, which will DEFINITELY SAVE YOU TIME!

I also want to give a special shoutout to Yachtie World, which is run by Alex Haubrich. You can join and become an available or premium “Yachtie” looking for work here. If you want more info on the industry, be sure to check this out. Make sure to give them a follow on IG too!

Alex Haubrich - Yachtie World

Alex Haubrich – Yachtie World

Find daywork through word of mouth and by staying in crew houses.

The easiest way to land jobs is to stay in crew houses when you start in the industry. I went over to Fort Lauderdale to start my job hunt at the end of October 2018.

In my E-Book, “The Greenie Guide,” I list other relevant crew houses and prices in both the US and the Med, and HOW you can take advantage of staying there to network. I also talk about the step-by-step guide more in-depth (going over visas, courses, and networking).

Find daywork by networking.

You will hear this word a lot in the industry. Yachting is all about who you know, not what you know. That’s why even if you’re green and keen, you can get your first job by making a good first impression. It all comes down to your character and personality. Yachting isn’t like any other normal job. You live & work with these people 24/7, so employers will look for certain qualities when hiring a new crew.

Last tips:

  1. Be confident, but more importantly be yourself → This is the quickest way that you will land a job. Making good first impressions is key. 

  2. Know what you want, but don’t be too picky → At the end of the day, you want to find a boat that has a good crew on board. I have gone through my fair share of “shitty boats.” 

  3. Network & follow all the above steps I gave you.

  4. Don’t give up → It can be intimidating and difficult at first, but nothing in life comes easy. Be persistent and things will work out in the end. 

  5. Have fun in the process & follow your gut ALWAYS

Let me know if this helped you if you had NO IDEA about anything related to the yachting industry!

If you want to know more about my honest experience of working in the industry for 2+ years, what It truly entails to become a yacht crew, 10 things no one tells you about the industry, the biggest tips for knowing HOW to break into the industry, and 21 Lessons I learned in yachting through the mistakes I made, then you NEED to buy “The Greenie Guide!”

See what some readers are saying:

Love & Light,


CEO & Founder of The Black Sheep Travels



July 1, 2020

  1. Alex Haubrich says:

    It’s amazing to learn more about your experience Karina. This guide is really well put together and I am so happy that you have finally found the right boat. I wish you all the best as your work onboard and your coaching side hustle. Hope to see you soon.

    • Karina Greco says:

      Thank you Alex. I am glad you think it’s put together well. I appreciate your kind words. I hope to see you soon too! 🙂

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