What a Day in the Life of a Yacht Crew Looks Like

30 minutes of swim time with the pigs in the Bahamas ON Charter

30 minutes of swim time with the pigs in the Bahamas ON Charter

It’s 6 am, my alarm rings and I spring out of bed starting my day with a CrossFit workout on the sundeck or the dock, followed by a 10-minute meditation and journal. I jump in the shower, put on my uniform, and head into the crew mess to have my morning breakfast. I USED to have coffee with almond milk, but now I swapped my coffee for pure matcha green tea as this gives me NO spike or crash! My go to meal that gives me energy for the day (and is super healthy) is some GF oats made with almond milk, chopped banana, chia seeds, cinnamon, and honey.

Yes, I am a morning person. Not everyone in yachting starts their day as I do. Mind you, this type of routine only works on a private vessel, where you have set hours and time for yourself. On charter, things are different. I’m sleeping as much as I can, and probably squeezing in a workout in the middle of the day on my 3-hour break (if I am lucky enough to get one), or just taking a nap and refueling my body as being on charter can be extremely exhausting both physically and mentally. 

August 18, 2020 (Journal Entry):

It is 8 am and the work day begins. As a deck/stew, I start my day ensuring the crew mess is clean, I throw in crew laundry and I proceed to do my tasks on the interior and/or exterior.  

I take a quick little 15 minute tea break at 10am, having a green tea and an apple. I get back to work, and then we break for lunch at 12 for an hour. We continue to work and have another tea break at 3 pm. Normally we end our day at 5 pm, but sometimes we might work later. In Yachting, you often get stuck in a task, or two or three. You need to be adaptable, and learn to manage time in order to get everything done. When you are working on a private yacht, a schedule like this is easy to follow. If you are getting ready for a trip, or you are on charter, then your work schedule changes and your duties also change.

How do you even stumble upon the yachting industry?

Yachting is a funny industry. It’s not the typical job you stumble upon growing up in your small hometown. At least, it wasn’t for me. I grew up in the suburbs above Toronto. I had no experience working on boats, and nor did I ever think twice about getting a job on one.

I completed a 4-year undergraduate degree at University, moved my life overseas to Australia, and completed my teaching degree. That’s when I found out about this niche industry. I was solo traveling and met someone who introduced me to yachting. I was in the industry for over 2+ years. I started out as a deck/stew, and have mainly worked on both private and charter yachts as a deckhand.

I’ve had hundreds of questions from friends and strangers about what a day in the life of a “Yachtie” actually looks like. Hence, this post has been inspired.

The positions you can get as a yacht crew on Yachts:

Interior → In order of ranking from junior to senior positions

  • 3rd stewardess (green/new)

  • 2nd stewardess

  • Chief stewardess

You don’t need a degree to become a stewardess, but having experience working in hospitality and fine dining and/or housekeeping, as well as having an education will give you a leg up in getting a good job. There are stew courses you can take, as well as wine/cocktail making courses, and even chief stew courses. 

Exterior → in order of ranking from junior to senior positions

  • Junior Deckhand

  • Deckhand

  • Bosun/Mate

  • 3rd/2nd officer

  • 1st/Chief Officer

  • Captain

In order to become an officer and a Captain, you need to complete Yacht Master Courses, an OOW course (Officer of the Watch), and eventually apply to do your Captain’s license. Before you can do any of these courses, you need to complete the required sea hours (being off the dock with the yacht, at sea). This gets recorded into your Seaman’s book, and you will need a couple of years of experience working as a deckhand and bosun in order to gain those hours and the required experience/confidence in order to begin taking these courses. 

Deck/Stew – A position that normally exists on smaller yachts (the position I have held 2 X).

Chef → In order of ranking from junior to senior position on bigger boats

  • Crew Chef

  • Sous Chef

  • Head Chef

Normally, all chefs employed on yachts require culinary training and previous experience working in Michelin star restaurants or fine dining restaurants. 

Engineer → In order of ranking from junior to senior on bigger boats

  • 3rd Engineer

  • 2nd Engineer

  • Chief Engineer

To be hired as an engineer, you need an engineering background, and normally need to do the AEC course as an intro if you don’t have engineering experience. 

Oftentimes on smaller boats, 30m <, Captains look to hire a Mate/Engineer who can be an all rounder. Kind of like the deck/stew position, where there is less crew on board, and one person can step into two different roles on board. 

Purser → This position is normally only on big boats, and often chief stews will take on this role. Big boats, normally 70m + will have a purser, which is a boat accountant that does all the paperwork and admin. 

What are the hours like? 

Yachting is not a normal 9-5 job. Yes, you do work 8 hour days, but you also work 16 hour days. 

Private Yachts:

When working on a private yacht, your typical hours when the boss is OFF (not staying/using the boat), is normally 8am-5pm. You have much more freedom working on private yachts.

Charter Yachts/Boss Trips:

You also work normally 8-5 hours, but when you are on charter or have a boss trip, then you go to working 16 hour days. There is much less freedom working on charter yachts.

In my E-Book “The Greenie Guide,” I go into depth about what the hours and working conditions are TRULY like, the difference between private and charter yachts, and HOW you can decide which one is the right fit for you.

What does a typical ‘9-5’ on a yacht look like:

While you are working 9-5 and the boss is OFF, you are maintaining the vessel to a very high standard. There is a lot of cleaning involved and it’s not as glamorous as ‘The Yacht Week’ sounds.

 A day in the life of a deckhand:

As a deckhand, you are pretty much a glorified boat cleaner and labourer. You are maintaining the exterior of the vessel. During my time as a deckhand, I have definitely learned a lot of ‘tradie’ skills.

When the boss is on, or you are on charter, the roles are different. You are on standby for the guests and what they want to do. Normally, you sit at anchor when the guests are on board and cruise to various different spots. Depending on the type of boat you work on, and what the guests want to do, your day will never look the same. The guests might be chill and easy, which means you won’t have to do much work apart from taking them ashore to a restaurant or to do some shopping. If the guests are active, then you will have to set up water sports and activities on the swim platform, which means putting out jet skis, sea bobs and taking them wakeboarding. 

Rinsing &amp; cleaning the salt off the swim platform when charter guests are off

Rinsing & cleaning the salt off the swim platform when charter guests are off

Teak Cleaning before a Boss Trip

Teak Cleaning before a Boss Trip

Following the Yacht through Amalfi Coast on the Tender

Following the Yacht through Amalfi Coast on the Tender

In my E-Book, “The Greenie Guide,” I go into detail about the different jobs YOU will do both on and off charter as a deckhand.

A day in the life of a deck/stew:

As a deck/stew you pretty much work 80% deck and 20% interior OFF charter/Boss OFF. This is usually the norm. Some jobs may be 50/50, but most are this way. 

When you are off charter, you don’t need to do as much inside as you do outside. The exterior requires more regular maintenance, as you are dealing with sun, wind, and rain. Whereas in the interior, everything is covered. You can detail all the rooms once a month, close the doors and keep dust and dirt out. 

You also don’t need to do any service, as guests are off. You only need to worry about crew laundry and keeping the galley (kitchen) and crew area tidy. This leaves more time to complete projects out on deck. 

When you are ON charter or Boss ON, then it flips to 80% interior and 20% exterior. This happens because now you have guests on board, who require stewardesses to be at their beck and call. 

The Mate helping me Vac Dust the Saloon before the charter

The Mate helping me Vac Dust the Saloon before the charter

Detailing the guest cabins &amp; bathrooms

Detailing the guest cabins & bathrooms

Provisioning for food for guests/crew

Provisioning for food for guests/crew

In my E-Book, “The Greenie Guide,” I go into detail about the different jobs YOU will do both on and off charter as a deck/stew AS WELL as a stewardess.

Well, there you have it. A little snippet of what yacht crew ACTUALLY do behind the scenes for the wealthy.

Love & Light,




July 29, 2020

  1. Elena says:

    This post was SOOO Interesting! I absolutely loved it! There is so much more about working on a yacht than I ever knew or even thought about! Thanks for breaking it down like that!

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