Are you new to yachting and want to make sure you ace the interview? What are the best questions to ask before joining a yacht?
You’ll want to make sure that you know how to answer the interview questions, as well as what you should be asking them.
The interview is just as much for you, as it is for the boat. This is when you get to find out everything about the yacht before you join.
You want to be happy when you join a new boat, to ensure you can build some longevity on your CV.
The best questions to ask before joining a yacht.
1. How Long Have The Crew Been On Board?
This is probably the most important question you can ask in your interview before joining a new yacht. It can give you a lot of important information about the boat.
Crew turnover can be a good indicator of whether or not the crew are happy. If the current crew have been on board a long time, it usually means the work environment is a happy and healthy one.
It is a good sign that the crew are not being overworked and that they are working together cohesively.
Usually, it is also a good sign that the boss and captain are easy to work for.
The crew only tends to leave a yacht when they are not happy or being treated right.
If the boat doesn’t have a high turnover it, it is probably a good boat to work for.
However, if the crew has only been on board a short time, you might want to ask a few more questions as to why there has been a high turnover in the past.
2. What Are The Nationalities Of The Crew?
I always like to work for a well-diverse boat, with a crew from all around the world.
This is a big part of what makes yachting so unique and fun. Not many jobs will give you the opportunity to work and live with people from all around the world, and to bond with different nationalities.
The nationalities that are working on the yacht, can also be a good indicator of how the boat is run financially and if there will be any budget constraints.
A red flag can be if the boat only employs Eastern Europeans, South Africans or Filipinos.
This is not always the case, but sometimes captains tend to offer them less than standard wages and they are willing to oblidge.
You don’t want to work for a boat that is cutting costs on wages. Not only will you be working for less, but it can also be a sign that the boat tends to cut corners.
You might have to spend more time at anchor because the boss will not want to pay for dockage fees when he can avoid them.
It can also mean that the boat might not be kept up to the highest standards and tries to avoid maintenance costs where they can.
If you are able to hold out for a boat that has no budget constraints then you will most likely be happier.
Not only will you eat better, but your safety might be in better hands as well.
Working for a boat that is constantly worried about saving money, is not the best idea.
3. How Active Is The Crew?
Staying fit and healthy in yachting can be a challenge. You will be eating more than you are used to and changing locations constantly.
Which makes belonging to a gym a challenge. Also, when you are on charter it is almost impossible to work out.
Finding a boat with an active crew is essential. Staying fit is much easier with a crew that already has a good routine set in place.
Active crew usually means you will be spending less time in bars and more time exploring the places you are in.
You are getting paid to travel, get out and explore the places you are in.
Going to the bars every night can be fun, but this is a good way to blow your whole paycheck.
Finding a healthy balance is key. You don’t want to join a boat where the crew are afraid to leave their cabins and spend money.
Yachting is a great way to save money, but it is also a great opportunity to travel the world with no expenses.
Get out and see the places that are around you so you don’t have to go back later in life. Take advantage of where you are and don’t be afraid to spend a little money here and there.
4. What Are The Cabins Like?
If you are doing a phone interview you are likely not going to see the cabins. And although cabin size shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, it can make a big difference, especially if you are on the taller side.
Some beds are tiny, I am only 5’1 and I have been on boats where I barely fit in them. So this is always a good question to ask.
Some cabins can fit more than two people in them which means you don’t get much alone time.
Cabins can have shared bathrooms or non-attached bathrooms. Always ask what the cabin setup is like before joining the yacht, so you won’t be surprised.
5. Where Is The Boss From And What Are They Like?
This can be a good question to ask to get an idea of what the owner might be like. Certain nationalities have certain reputations.
The captain will usually fill you in on what the boss is like and how often they will be using the boat. Their nationality can also be a hint of how they might treat their crew.
American owners tend to be more friendly and interactive with their crew. Middle Eastern owners are sometimes not allowed to interact with the crew, especially if they are female.
The owners play a big part in your happiness on a boat, so find out as much about them before you join. But whatever you do, don’t ask who the owner is.
However, yachts are very private, you will most likely not find out who the owner is until you are hired.
6. Is It A Dry Boat?
This is another good question to ask before you join. Working on a dry boat means there is no alcohol allowed on board.
Some boats will buy alcohol for the crew and other boats you are not allowed to drink on the boat at all.
This doesn’t always mean that you aren’t allowed to drink, only that you have to do it off the boat. It is a good idea to know this before you join so you know what you are getting into.
Dry boats sound fine, but I have actually found that they tend to be a bit crazier with the drinking.
Since you are not allowed to have a beer or glass of wine with dinner, you tend to go off the boat more often which usually leads to late nights.
7. How many days off do I accrue
Being in yachting you will learn that you will give up your weekends, and your holidays and be required to work long hours.
So it is important that you are compensated for it. Working for just 30 + days of leave a year is not worth it in my opinion. You are sacrificing far too much.
It is important to find a job that is offering some kind of rotation, even if that is only 5 months on 1 month off.
You will want and need the time to see friends and family.
8. Do we work weekends when the boss is not on?
Some boats work you just to work you. These are the boats you don’t want to work on. If there is no trip planned and there is not much to be doing, you don’t want to be working 6 + days, just because they can legally work you.
Find a boat that respects the crew and their work-life balance.
Questions Not To Ask
Now that we have talked about questions you should be asking during your interview, let’s talk about what questions you shouldn’t ask.
I already mentioned before that you should never ask who the owner is, but here are a few more questions you may want to avoid and why.
9. Itinerary For The Boat
Although everyone loves to ask this question, and it is important to know the plans for the boat. The number one thing I have learned after 8 years of yachting, is nothing is certain and everything always changes.
If you chose a boat because it has a busy charter season planned or it is supposed to be crossing the Pacific when you join, then you might want to think again, because yachting is very uncertain.
Joining for that Pacific crossing? Think again. The owner just ran into financial problems and needs to sell the boat instead.
Looking forward to cruising the Mediterrane for the summer, looks like the boat needs some extra repairs and will now be staying stuck in the shipyard in Florida for six months.
Yachting is known for its uncertainty. It’s better to be stuck with a good crew than to have a good itinerary.
10. Do I Have To Pass A Drug Test?
This should be a given not to ask. No one is going to hire you if you ask this question. If you want to work on a superyacht, plan on taking and passing a drug test.
Besides being able to pass a drug test you will most likely have to sign a confidentiality agreement stating you will not disclose who the owner is.
Sometimes you will not be allowed to tell anyone the name of your boat or where you are going. It is also common that crew members will not know where they are going or where they will be docked for security reasons.
Once you are hired on a new yacht, double-check with the crew or captain as to what you are allowed to disclose. It is pretty common for the crew to get fired for posting something on their social media.