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How to become a superyacht captain?

Discussion in 'Licensing & Education' started by bx1, Apr 17, 2014.

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  1. bx1

    bx1 New Member

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    Hi everyone, I'm looking towards a career in superyachts and I was hoping you could help me. Here's a little bit about myself...

    All my life I've been exposed to the sea. So much so, that I'd like to opt for a career in it to my mother's disapproval. (I don't feel a job behind an office 9-5 is for me and can't see myself doing it.) My ultimate goal is to captain a superyacht. Before you say it, I have done my research and can easily stay at sea for months on end. Those who work on yachts often work unpredictable hours, are far away from home and consequentially are unable to maintain personal relationships. I'm not one to care for relationships so none of that puts me off a career commanding a yacht.

    At around 7 years of age, I was introduced to scuba diving and have continued this a decade later to present day. I'm at a rescue diver grade with PADI and every year for the past 6 years, I have stayed with my dad abroad in Turkey and accompanied him on the boats helping out with whatever I could so my sea time is already quite high. Sorry for that, I thought it would be worthwhile to mention that. Anyway, I know nobody sane would let me waltz right onto the bridge of a multi million dollar vessel and sail the seven seas. So that's why I'm here today.

    I'm looking for some guidance on paths to take to working on a superyacht. Fortunately there's a nautical college close to me and I meet the requirements to enroll in a nautical science course which covers the following:
    Bridge Watchkeeping, Passage Planning, Seamanship, Shipboard Operations, Naval Architecture, Management, Professional Development, Personal Development, and Managing Projects.
    (From the college's website.)

    My question is where to go after this? Thanks in advance and I apologize for the lengthy thread especially as its my first post. :)
  2. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I don't see boat washing 101, hook baiting, fish cleaning or junior swab listed above.
    A large part of your career will be involved doing such work before you're invited to move up.
  3. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Those courses don't sound right. Do they lead to a license, and if so what license. You'll need a Master's License (or the EU equivalent) with appropriate tonnage. That means that your sea time will have to be documented on a like sized vessel. You'll also want studies in engineering, marine electrical, and knowing how to fix Satellite TV,Internet, etc. as well as needing to know the regs for your licensing country as well as for where you might cruise. I don't know exactly what a "nautical college" is. You'll want a Merchant Marine academy. A degree in hotel management wouldn't hurt either. Once you're through all that, you'll start an apprenticeship (which is where Rcrapps suggestions come in). Once you master all there is to master it'll come down to connections and reputation.
    Good luck.
  4. bx1

    bx1 New Member

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    The end result of the 3 year course is a degree in nautical science. Its about the best I can do in my area without leaving the country, although I would if I have to. Do you have any ideas on how to get myself aboard a similar sized vessel? Fortunately I'm tech savvy so all the electronics I can take care of with ease, can't say the same for engineering so I'll work on that. Pardon me, a the nautical college is also known as a merchant marine academy according to the website.

    As of now I have zero connections to anyone in the superyacht industry, so where would be a good place to hunt? Also the same for an apprenticeship. Thanks for your advice.
  5. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    If it's an MMA you're on the right track. When you talk to admissions be very clear about the direction you want to take your career, and tell them about your strengths. They'll help you head in the right direction. Yachts need a variety of skill sets.

    You say you're good with electronics. That's an in-demand field. If it were me, I'd get a job where you are, with a company that services marine electronics. It would probably relate to your studies, get you familiar with yachts and their workings, and help you build contacts and references.
  6. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

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  7. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Then please refrain from attempting to offer advice.

    To the world beyond the US borders, a nautical college is what we call a maritime academy.

    The staff at the nautical college is the best source of career information in conjunction with the national maritime authority. They can also advise on certificates of equivalent competency and flag state endorsements required to serve on foreign flagged vessels.
  8. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I'm not here only to offer advice. I'm also here to learn. I recognize that different places call things by different names. However there are also a ton of "schools", in every field, that are happy to take your money and give you nothing worthwhile in return. The OP didn't know they were the same either, and my statement prompted him to check. As a result we both learned something, and I suspect a few others may have as well.
    Your advice is exactly what I gave him (" If it's an MMA you're on the right track. When you talk to admissions be very clear about the direction you want to take your career, and tell them about your strengths. They'll help you head in the right direction".) except that I also gave some direction about what questions he'd do well to ask. Not just where the answers can be gotten. So MYOB. Have a happy Easter Marmot.
  9. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Providing advice and information about licensing and certification requirements to the owners and crews of large yachts has been part of my business for many years.

    It would help if the OP provided the name of the college he has in mind but considering Turkey has only about 3 private colleges that offer maritime training as opposed to 7 or 8 government institutions, Turkey is a signatory to STCW, is on the IMO White List, and it is virtually inconceivable that a degree granting nautical college would not provide STCW compliant courses and certification (outside the US in any event) your comment about a "merchant marine academy" followed by an "apprenticeship" and suggestion that he work ashore in some electronic shop shows clearly that you don't know anything about international certification or training, or the route to a senior officer's position on a large yacht or any other vessel.

    That is why I jumped in, to someone who knows even less, you sound like you know something about the topic which is obviously not the case.
  10. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    The OP did NOT ask for advice on schools nor on licensing requirements. He's not yet at that stage. He asked: "I'm looking for some guidance on paths to take to working on a superyacht". Once he gets advice on THAT he'll be ready to ask more in-depth questions. Marmot, you are brilliant in dealing with rules and regs, and you seem to be an extremely knowledgeable engineer. Stop trying to be so combative with everyone. If someone offers wrong advice correct it. If you can add to advice, do it. Save your attacks for new guys you may be able to scare away from YF. You know that's not me, so don't waste your time. Go to a fight club or Craigslist for fights. This is a place where we try to help and learn as best we can. None of us here know everything nor are we perfect. We just try to use what we've learned to help people, and hopefully learn a few things ourselves along the way.
  11. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    I'll try to be polite. The OP asked "My question is where to go after this?"

    He stated he is looking at going to a nautical college. While there he will learn how the system works, he will learn it by osmosis if nothing else.

    You stated you don't know what a nautical college is yet you provided advice on what kind of school to go to and to get an "apprenticeship" and work in an electronics shop. This clearly shows you are over your head in this area. Why you felt it necessary to provide advice about a system and a career about which you have absolutely no background is beyond my comprehension.

    Unless you know what certificates are required to serve on a commercial yacht and what routes are available to obtain them and how the large yacht industry actually works, your personal experience as a domestic small license holder is of no value to the young man. Having followed your posts here for several years, it is very clear that your knowledge of small boat operations for private owners is adequate for domestic pleasure purposes but the subject about which the OP requested advice is well outside your scope.

    If he graduates from a nautical college he will hold far higher certifications than are required for service on a commercial yacht. He will learn that very quickly after entering the school.

    You may not like what I write or the tone but I have no wish to waste the young man's time or see anyone else confuse the issue with false or misleading advice from someone who has no experience with the subject matter.
  12. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Let's be specific Marmot. What "false or misleading advice " did I give. You've hung your hat on the fact that I didn't pretend to know what I didn't know (what a MMA is called in another part of the world), as if that's a bad thing. So tell us you obnoxious turd (I see no reason to be polite to someone who has decided to take me on) what "false or misleading advice " did I give?
  13. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Guys, none of this bickering is helping the OP out on his quest to become a superyacht Captain. And it's detrimental to the entire forum.

    To the OP. I think a Nautical College is a great way to go. Then you have seatime to acquire. So the choice is do you work your way up in size on smaller yachts as a deckhand/mate where you will get more wheel time and move up in size over the years, or just go straight to being a deckhand on a super yacht where chances are you will get no wheel time (time running the boat) and work your way up to a mate, then possibly a first officer, but that might take a long time if you're on a yacht with little turnover.
  14. bx1

    bx1 New Member

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    Hi Marmot, the aforementioned course will be at Glasgow Nautical College, here is the page detailing the course. Sorry for misleading you into thinking I was in Turkey, I'm in Scotland for the majority of the year and travel to Turkey in the summer where I am at sea on diving boats. As this was a yachting forum I felt it logical to have the location where I'm at sea to be before my home country. (I hold dual citizenship.) Of course the staff at the college would be the best to consult, I wanted to try and get an insight to what I'll need before meeting them on Monday.

    NYCAP123, I can see the sense in working for a company that covers marine electronics but as I'm in Scotland, the superyacht industry is virtually non existent bar a 1930 steam vessel that is berthed here in Glasgow and because of this, I feel that no reputation or contacts could be gained from working in this kind of field.

    Here's what I've found so far:
    After graduating, I'll be completing STCW95 training followed by tender operation licenses and a VHF. I believe this is right so far as there are a number of sites giving the same information.
  15. bx1

    bx1 New Member

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    Thanks Capt J for the advice. Education is free in Scotland and I thought it could help give my CV a boost. The course also covers seatime according to the site: "All students are sponsored by various shipping companies or training agencies, who provide the sea phases on ships operating worldwide."

    Probably the former of those two options would be best in my opinion because as you said, it may be harder to break free and climb the ladder when diving into a superyacht.
  16. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    Then please refrain from offering advice in a belittling, hostile manner.

    It's a conundrum. Marmot brings a wealth of knowledge to YF. Believe it or not, he's one of the nicest people I've ever met, but from behind the keyboard... :eek:
  17. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Ah so ... herein lies what might be a rub: "All students are sponsored by various shipping companies or training agencies, who provide the sea phases on ships operating worldwide. Applicants should be made via sponsoring companies..."

    If you plan on moving over to yachts as soon as you get your ticket, keep your mouth shut. No shipping company wants to devote resources to someone who is not going to respect them in the morning.

    Are there sponsorships available? This is a training route toward an unlimited deck officer license via classroom and a cadet training program provided by a shipping company. It is the route I would recommend to anyone looking to enter the seagoing side of the marine industry and is dedicated enough to follow that path. An unlimited license opens a world of opportunities at sea and ashore.

    The opportunities for higher level licensed crew are growing with the size of yachts. There are now several over 3000 tons that require an unlimited license and larger yachts in general are hiring more commercially trained and certificated officers for a number of reasons. It is no longer necessary to work your way up from deckhand but even if your certificate covers it, don't expect to start as chief mate. Yachting is not the same as commercial shipping and really is a different world.

    But ... even though going the MCA yacht restricted license route might be faster and far easier, it is a professional dead end. No one ashore knows what a (Y) ticket is and consequently it has no value other than in the microscopically small yacht industry. Unless you are in a hurry to get on a yacht and not committed to a maritime career, avoid the lure of the zero to hero culture.

    You might want to spend some time reading the yacht magazines like Dockwalk, The Yacht Report, and a few others that focus on crew and operational topics. They will give you some insight into the culture. Visit other schools like Warsash and look at their programs and if possible spend some time chatting with students like yourself. It will be time well spent.

    Good luck
  18. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

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    What he just said. That's some of the best advice I read in years. I wish I'd done that 30 years ago.
  19. Old Phart

    Old Phart Senior Member

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    I dunno
    Some Forum readers must wonder if Marmot is my AKA. :D

    So, to spare Marmot any connection, I'll post a thought or two.

    Life is harsh and stepping outside of your safety zone can make it harsher.


    Now, back to the OP's query.

    After reading a bit of the link you provided, it would seem your next step is provided within the link.

    PDA Nautical Science HND | City of Glasgow College


    Relate to the School of Nautical Studies the info you have shared with the Forum members. Ask lots of questions and take notes.

    Remember, you are a student, not a socialite - study, study, and continue to study.



    However tired one might be, a professional will never give the appearance.

    Speaking of which, always remember to dress the part.

    P.S.- Your command of English is admirable.
  20. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Agreed.