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starting salary engineer / things that break down

Discussion in 'Yacht Crews' started by balboa, May 20, 2007.

  1. balboa

    balboa Guest

    We'll be looking for an engineer (with some Spanish skills) later this year and I'm wondering about the salaries. It seems to me yacht crew generally is paid a premium and I don't quite understand why. Except on charter yachts, from personal observation I've noticed the crew is not too busy. Sure, when the owner is on board with guests, they'll make long days, but, compared with crew on merchant marine vessels, ro/ro vessels doing the caribbean, they hours are long for months in a row and the pays is a lot less.

    Are they just paid a premium because the owners are millionaires so what do they care? What if you're not a millionaire owner or running a small charter business?

    In the case of an engineer, we'd be looking at an engineer who can actually work on a main engine (a Deutz 628 in our case), change a cilinder liner, adjust the vales and has a thorough understanding of trouble shooting electrical systems. Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems that on mega yachts, engineers are busier trouble shooting auxiliary systems and keep the engineroom spotless and never open the main engines.

    I'd also love to hear from engineers what kind of trouble shooting they encounter most common. I've heard vacuum toilets can be nasty :).

    Looking forward to your comments and I hope I didnt' offend anybody ;)


  2. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    My Office

    There is a simple equation here: "Pay peanuts get monkeys"

    You have already dug yourself a hole here by saying you need someone who can change a cylinder liner, then go on to say they must have good electrical skills, while lambasting yacht engineers for working on auxiliary things too much.

    A Deutz 628 isn't that different to any other diesel engine, it runs by compression ignition, the crankshaft goes round and round and the pistons go up and down. What's the "specialist skill" required to change a liner on this engine. If the guy can do this he will also need to adjust the valves when the cylinder head goes back on.

    On your blog you say it was recently overhauled so an internal component inspection is probably not something you need to look at in the near future.

    You will find that your carefully low cost converted trawler has other problems far removed from the Main Engine, reality bites in that you really need to find someone who can take care of the Auxiliary things and has a basic knowledge of medium speed small bore engines in preference to someone who can do crank deflections while the engine is running!

    I intend no offense to your question, I am an Engineer originally(with a valid STCW95 Chiefs ticket) myself so I speak from experience
  3. balboa

    balboa Guest

    salary/engineer work

    Yes, the "Pay peanuts get monkeys" is true everywhere, regardless of the profession so I don't think it explains the salary difference.

    I've also worked as an engineer but in the merchant marine and I cannot escape the impression I had to work a lot harder for my money and got my hands dirty more frequently then the typical yacht engineer.

    I do not I think lamblast yacht engineers with that observation. It's certainly not the intention. With many of these yachts spending more time in port, obviously the main engine doesn't require as much attention.

    I agree with you about the type of engineer I'm looking and I hope this forum will answer some of my questions and/or give me a better idea of what yacht engineer do.

  4. CaptPKilbride

    CaptPKilbride Senior Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Live in Maine, work in the Gulf of Mexico
    Maybe I will be mistaken on this, but it is my perception that crew in the commercial sector works a rotating schedule wherein you work, for example, 14 days on and then have 14 days off, or 21 days on and then 21 days off.

    Yacht crew, on the other hand , depending on schedules of owner use and charter, will generally work at least 5.5 or 6 days a week, and when on charter or with guests aboard will work 7 days a week.

    This alone could account for the difference in pay scales...
  5. balboa

    balboa Guest


    That's a good point. Certainly the case on charter vessel. The 2-weeks on, 2 weeks off is quite common in the off-shore industry. In the merchant marine it is (or used to be) more like 4-5 work, 1 month free. The working schedule would depend on how many days you spend at sea and in or near ports. At sea it would be a normal 8 to 5 pm day.

    Certainly different from a mega yacht in many ways.

  6. yotphix

    yotphix New Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    Southern California
    Another consideration is that a yacht engineer must typically be cabable of performing all of the usual engineering duties, then change his hat and step out to charm, entertain and look presentable to the guests, be they owners or charter guests. Then, once the dog and pony show is over, except on the biggest boats, be willing to pitch in and help elsewhere on the boat, either standing a deck watch, helping in a washdown, or who knows what else.
    All this, coupled with solid engineering skills makes good yacht engineers a relatively rare bird.
    Consider too, that the engineer on many if not most yachts also performs engineering duties on his own. No team of mates and oilers to do the nasty work.
    Oh, and the grass always looks greener on the other side. My brother is a merchant mariner and, while he thinks yachting looks pretty cush, I wouldn't mind his workday or four months per year off!
  7. charleskwinter

    charleskwinter New Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    Ft Lauderdale
    sometimes questions about things as such can be answered with 'supply and demand'
  8. Chevelle

    Chevelle New Member

    Jun 27, 2006
    West Palm Beach
    Most "Good" Yacht engineers are "jack of all trades and masters of none". I have run across very few problems that I could not fix while working on yachts. If you think about all the systems on a's quite mind bogoling. We make our own power and water.....We treat our own sewage...We have state of the art audio/video systems....State of the art Navigation systems....We have Hi-end plumbing fixtures...Expensive jet ski's, tenders, small sailboats and bicycles...BBQ grills....Ice makers, and fridges. 70% of this crap was never designed to go to sea, just to look nice in a house bolted to the ground.

    And yes, we tend to work less on some months and 24/7 for weeks at a time others. So yes, in general we get paid very well. And yes, most of us are very cute and personable and can hangout with owners/guests.

    I think I need a nap now.
  9. C4ENG

    C4ENG Senior Member

    May 19, 2006
    Ft Lauderdale
    Well let's see.. Us experienced yacht engineers usally make in the ball park of $8000 per month on the normal 150 foot yacht. We live and spend 95% of our time onboard these yachts. If I wasn't working I would be at home or some where else so I feel that I am working when I am on board these vessel, even if I am off at the moment, but I am there and will be working at 2 am if an alarm goes off or something..
    24/7 X 30 = 720 hours per month
    $8000.00 per month divided by 720 hours= $11.11 per hour

    11 to 12 dollars an hour is the normal pay for the normal engineer. And some think we are over paid?
  10. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    Fort Lauderdale
    I agree, anyone with a brain can learn how to rebuild a diesel or install a liner. The systems on merchant vessels are very simple for the most part. On yachts there are a lot more systems, they're a lot more complex, and well, you need to know how to do everything from painting, to electrical, to plumbing, to polishing stainless, to washdowns if need be and also island engineering if you have to for the time being.
  11. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

    Mar 14, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    Another reason for the higher salaries on yachts is the lack of job security. Yacht crews deal with very finicky personalities; a bad mood (yours or theirs) and your job (and maybe your career) is gone. Whereas in the commercial trade what matters is getting the job done. Throw a hissy fit at a crewmember from a tug and watch what happens.
    As someone else mentioned, we are also jacks of all. I'm just a small boat captain. We don't have engineers, but I wish we did. You have no idea how much it's worth to have one person taking care of your yacht. Every outside hand that gets into it is trouble, especially if you don't have someone representing you over his shoulder. As a small boat captain I've got to earn my years salary in 7 months, but be available and on call everyday for 12. When I'm out I have to navigate, pilot, troubleshoot, act as personal security, make emergency repairs, act as laison with the yard, maintain a list of competent jobbers in every trade, keep the boat clean and oh yeah keep smiling and be charming at all times.
    And yes we charge more because our employers can afford it and they don't respect anyone who doesn't value themselves. If you analyzed most of my employers jobs based on the amount of work they perform they'd be worth about $10 an hour. That's not what they're paid, because that's not what they're worth, and it's the same for their crews.
    Of course, if it doesn't matter if your engineer shows up drunk or hung over or not at all or tells you guests to stick it I'm sure you can find an engineer who will work quite cheaply. Just decide what you want to pay and I'm sure you'll get exactly what you pay for.
  12. vicky

    vicky New Member

    Jan 30, 2009
    Constanta /Romania
    I am not agree that on merchant vessels the systems are very simple. Every system have his own particularities , and if you are an engineer you must know all of them ,begining with the definition and ending with faults ,efects and how to deal with them.
    In school I learn about all systems from a vessel ,there are no other on any type of ship. This are the modules....only few of them :
    -industrial electronics
    -tehnical design .Tolerances and adjustments
    _internal combustion engines
    -board electrical installations
    -auxiliary mechanisms and installation on board
    -electrical machines and devices on board
    ...all the other are skills (welding ,plumbing etc) and during the school you have workshop practice with exams on the end of the an sea experience= a good engineer

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