Super Yachts

Whether you’re a stewardess or a deckhand, time spent working on board a luxury super yacht is an exciting prospect and offers an opportunity to visit exotic locations around the world, whilst enjoying an expense free lifestyle and being paid a considerable salary.  Whether your graduating school or varsity and looking for a gap year, or older and looking for a total career change, this experience will open up the world for you!

So whats it all about?

Super Yachts range from 35meters up to 150meters, and are owned by some of the wealthiest and most influential people around. These Super Yachts boast helipads, submarines, cinemas and even missile detection systems! There is no level higher than this in terms of net worth individuals!  Just think who you might be rubbing shoulders with?

Staff new to the industry typically start as Junior Stewardesses (girls) or Deck Hands (boys).  These positions will see you working very hard, often long and unsocial hours, but wages are substantial (and tax free) and the travel opportunities and other perks of the job are fantastic.  Progression up through the ranks will depend on your work ethic and level of motivation but this can be a wonderful career choice.

The essential thing to do ahead of jumping on a yacht is to get a sound basic qualification that will ensure Captains take you seriously when you’re applying for a position on board a yacht.  Chilli Adventures work with key industry partners to ensure you get world standard certification and training and the best possible foundation to prepare you for life on board a luxury Super Yacht.

*Undertaking Super Yacht training and other sailing courses are a fantastic experiences in themselves. So whether you ready to head overseas or still assessing your options, you cant go wrong.


In order to work on a Super Yacht you need to fit the following criteria:

  • Aged 18 years or older –mature 17 year olds may be considered.
  • No criminal record
  • Be able to swim
  • Medically fit to pass a Seaman’s’ Medical Examination.
  • Sufficient funds to pay for program fees, flights and all additional costs
  • Be independent, self-motivated and customer service oriented.
  • Looking to work for a full year or longer


Season & Duration

There are a couple different Super Yacht seasons within a year.  If planned correctly you could travel to a vast array of countries and exotic destinations in a short period of time.

European Season
The prime cruising season in Europe is during their summer,  June to September. Antibes (France) and Palma de Mallorca (Spain) are two yachting mecca’s which welcome the largest numbers of job-seeking crew members.

American & Caribbean Season
For the American season, Yachts usually depart early winter for cruises (September). Ft. Lauderdale (USA) is the hub for yacht crew leaving from mainland USA.  The Caribbean is pretty active all year round but the busiest season will be in the US winter months (October – March) when many super yachts move south to warmer climates.

Also, popular all year round. However, crew from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida will typically be flown in for work in the Bahamas as required.

Why work on board a Super Yacht?

Starting out in the super yacht industry is an exciting and rewarding choice for employment. Some choose the experience as a gap year, while others follow it as a long term and extremely rewarding career path.

If you have the right personal qualities and attitude, working onboard a Super Yacht can be a life changing experience. Just think, in a single year, you could for example visit the Caribbean, the Bahamas, followed by the East coast of America, do two Atlantic crossings, and visit the Norwegian fjords, Sweden, the north of Germany, as well as the entire Mediterranean from Gibraltar to Monaco and the hidden niches in Croatia. Now doesn’t that sound like traveling!?

The earning potential onboard is also significant. Starting salaries for new crew are in the region of $2,200 per month. Thats also tax free and with no expenses as you’re living costs are paid for onboard.

Job Placements – What will you do?

If you have experience or additional certification you may start higher up the placement ranking, but for most, the entry point into the industry is as a Stewardess or Deckhand.

Stewardess – As a ‘Stewie’ your tasks are many but essentially you are responsible for taking care of the interior of the yacht.  Think housekeeper, butler, florist, waitress, child minder, safety officer, guest liaison, butler, laundry queen….. and all whilst looking pristine!   You’ll be doing a great deal of cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning!  But stewies also interact with guests, leading recreational activities, serving drinks and food, so ‘etiquette’ and personal communication is important.  You’ll be rubbing sholders with some seriously influential and famous people – from pop stars to presidents!  Knowledge and skills with different types of food service and wine are important, so anyone with a hospitality background will start with an advantage.

All these skills and more will be taught as part of a good Stewardess training course.  In addition, all stewies are required to undertake the STCW 95 which ensures that the basics of first aid, fire and safety procedures are understood.

Deckhand –  Just as Stewies take care of the interior of the yacht, deckhands take care of the exterior.  Typically, but not always, they are guys rather than girls.  Tasks vary but include inspection and maintenance of the outside of the yacht inc. cleaning, painting, repair, polishing and maintenance of pools and spas.  As a deckhand you may also be responsible for driving and stowing the tender boat (rubber duck) and ferrying guests to the shore or taking them waterskiing, jet skiing, snorkeling or scuba diving.  Escorting or driving guests during trips on land is also likely.  In addition to these skills deckhands also need to be familiar with boat handling, navigation (by satellite as well as by the stars), communication devises as well as of course, safety and firefighting.

The level of formal qualification required varies between skippers but the variety of skills required means that deckhands need a solid base level of training ahead of being hired.  The absolute minimum is the STCW ’95 Basic Safety Certification and then training in day skippers, powerboat, radio operations and tender boat drivers license.


Training Courses

If you are seeking work in the yachting industry for the first time, certain courses are essential and others are highly desirable in the eyes of potential employers. You will find it difficult to obtain a job in yachting without training relevant to the industry.  Listed below are a couple of the training courses on offer through Chilli Adventures and the key industry partners we work with.  Which courses you chose will depend on your current skill level, the time and funds you have available and where in the country you’d like to do your training.  As well as giving you the grounding that you need to work onboard a super yacht you’ll meet new people and have lots of fun.  The courses are worth doing in themselves!


deckhand trainingThis course is less focused on sailing and leisure based smaller ‘yacht’ qualifications and more oriented toward an entry level qualification for the much larger super and mega yachts. The opinion here is why learn to sail a 40ft sailing yacht when actually, you’ll be cleaning and servicing guests onboard a much larger yacht. The MCA Deck Rating Certificate for Yachts is understood to provide you with the skills you’ll really be utilizing.

 Essential Modules

  • Module 1: Theory / Practical (lectures in the morning and sailing in the afternoon)
  • Module 2: “Standards of Training for Certification of Watchkeepers” (STCW) – first aid, fire fighting, personal safety and sea survival training
  • Module 3: MCA Approved Engine Course (AEC) & Hostess Course
  • Module 4: MCA approved Small Power Boat & RIB Master Course (enables you to legally drive a tender boat) 

Deckhand – Basic sailing, navigation, helming, drills, weather forecasting, customs and etiquette, anchoring, terminology and knots.

Stewie – Money management and budgeting, Mixology and wine appreciation, Menu planning, Table setting and napkin folding, Laundry/cleaning of vessel, Presentation of meals and garnishes, Preparation of vessel for charter, Cleaning, Etiquette and PR, Flower arranging.

Dates: Courses start first Monday of each month
Location: Durban, KZN
Duration: 4 Weeks
Cost: R15, 000
Accommodation: NOT included

Course 2: Stewardess / Steward Training

stewardessAs a ‘Stewie’ your tasks are many but essentially you are responsible for taking care of the interior of the yacht. Interact with guest and rub shoulders with some seriously influential and famous people.

Essential Modules

• STCW 95 (Fire fighting, 1st aid, Sea survival)
• Stewardess training
• RYA competent crew
• RYA power boat Level 2

Dates: Monthly
Location: Langebaan, WP
Duration: 3 weeks
Cost: R20,050
Accommodation: Included. You’ll live on board training yachts

Course 3: Super Yacht Career Course – RYA Day Skipper

skipperThis course offers a stepping stone into the yachting industry, including the largest super yachts, which offers a wealth of travel opportunities and experiences. The day skipper qualification will open up employment opportunities as deckhand or crew on board yachts of all sizes. This is the ideal course for you if you want to do a gap year in the yachting industry or want to get a foot into the door to a future career in the industry.

Essential Modules

• STCW 95 (Fire fighting, 1st aid, Sea survival)
• RYA competent crew
• RYA day skipper theory & practical
• RYA VHF radio license (excludes RYA exam fee for VHF)

Dates: Monthly
Location: Langebaan
Duration: 4 weeks
Cost: R23580
Accommodation: You’ll live onboard training yachts

Course 4 : Super Yacht Career Course 

careerThis course is for those who are serious about a career in yachting and are seeking the best opportunities in order to gain the skills and qualifications required for employment in super yachting industry, flotilla, charter, deliveries and instruction.

Essential Modules

  • RYA/MCA Yachtmaster coastal skipper and commercial endorsement
  • STCW 95 (Fire fighting, 1st aid, Sea survival)
  • RYA competent crew
  • RYA day skipper theory and practical
  • RYA VHF Radio license
  • Boat handling
  • RYA Coastal theory, practical, prep and exam (excludes RYA exam fee)

Dates: Monthly
Location: Langebaan
Duration: 7 weeks
Cost: R47780
Accommodation: You’ll live onboard training yachts

Course 5: Super Yacht Career Course

deckhandThe Commercial Yachtmaster Offshore course provides the training, practical experience and preparation for gaining a commercially endorsed RYA / MCA Yachtmaster (Offshore) certificate. Successful graduates are able to work on a variety of sailing yachts, including charter skipper, flotilla skipper or corporate day sailing.

Essential Modules

  • RYA/MCA Yachtmaster offshore and commercial endorsement
  • STCW 95 (Fire fighting, 1st aid, Sea survival)
  • RYA Competent crew
  • RYA Day skipper theory and practical
  • Super yacht training
  • RYA VHF radio license
  • RYA Diesel engine maintenance
  • RYA Power boat level 2
  • RYA Radar
  • Mileage building
  • RYA Yachtmaster theory, practical, prep and exam

Dates: Monthly
Duration: 13 weeks
Location: Langebaan
Cost: R76820


‘The Dock Walk’

With the exception of a few who may excel in their courses or get lucky through contacts, entry level crew are unlikely to be hired directly from South Africa. Instead, at the beginning of each season, hopeful new crew head over to key locations (Europe in April and US in September) with the view to being hired onboard.  This has traditionally be known as the ‘Dock Walk’ and is a right of passage for new crew starting out in the industry.  During this time, captains have the opportunity to meet new crew face to face and interview them for positions available.  You will have some serious competition for positions so this is where a solid training base is vital as well as your attitude and presentation.   The better your foundation and understanding the quicker and more successfully you are likely to be hired.  Captains will accept nothing less than 100% across the board so you’ll have to be on your best game.

Ahead of your departure arrangements will be made for you to stay in a ‘Crew House’ and from there casual work placements on board are offered on a rotational basis.  If you draw on your skills and prove yourself hard working you’ll be kept on for the season.  Recruitment often starts out as day work or a probationary period.  Its as simple as, if you’re good – you stay, and if you’re not, well you leave!


Key Attributes sought by skippers – How YOU can stand out from the crowd:

  • Training and certification
  • English language ability
  • Willingness to work long hours under pressure
  • Professionalism
  • Physical presentation
  • Positive attitude
  • Hard work
  • Willingness to give 110%

How do I Apply?

To apply for the Super Yacht program simply follow these easy steps:

  • Attend an Information Session with your local Chilli Adventures program co-ordinator and get clued up on all aspects of the life onboard a Super Yacht.
  • Apply online and agree to Program T’s & C’s and select the dates you’d like to start training.
  • Pay your application deposit R950 (use your full name as a reference).
    (Note: Application deposits are refunded in full if you are not accepted onto the program by Chilli)
  • Receive your Chilli Applicant Portal Log In and course fee invoice.
  • Pay course fees and attend training courses
  • Receive CV assistance and visa support from Chilli
  • Book your flight and get your visa granted

Course Terms & Conditions

When signing up on a training course you will need to read and sign the terms and conditions of the individual trainer.  Your Chilli coordinator will take you through this process and make sure you are clear on exactly what the course entails.

Course Costs

All course costs are outlined with the course information (See Placement Tab – Training Courses). Be sure to look at what’s included with the course (i.e. accommodation and/or food). More information can be obtained from your Chilli program coordinator

Additional Costs

During your course – In addition to the course fees, you must also factor in the following additional costs:

  • Accommodation for the course if not provided on board (for the 4 week long course in Durban accommodation is approx. R2000 in dorm styled accommodation for the full 4 week course).
  • Food, personal extras and entertainment

When heading overseas to work:

  • Visa Processing Costs (country dependant)
  • Seaman’s Medical – Approx. R2500
  • Return Flight overseas – from R9,000
  • Start up costs upon arrival – Min. $1000



Making the big bucks!

So the money you earn is definitely a big draw card for those heading to work onboard a Super Yacht. As a deckhand or stewardess you’ll typically start on a salary of about $2000 per month, this could increase significantly when you take into account the tips you earn (especially on a charter boat). Living expenses such as uniform, toiletries and medical expenses are taken care of by the employer as you’ll be living onboard the yacht. That means that the money you earn goes straight into your bank account as savings.

At the end of a season successful crew can expect to be asked to return. In this case, you would normally be given an air ticket anywhere in the world for your vacation.  Remember that whilst the Earnings package is high, so are the expectations in terms of your hard work. Determined effort, tenacity, commitment to guest experience and the ability to live up to the very high standards are all required. This job is NOT for everyone, but for the right person it highly rewarding and lucrative.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a mega Yacht?
A: Generally speaking a yacht is a vessel (power or sail) used for leisure purposes that do not carry more than 12 passengers and a mega-yacht is over 100 feet in length. These hugely expensive playthings are either used exclusively by their extremely rich owners or put out to charter at rates of between $30 000 and $300 000 per week. A multi-million dollar asset like these needs to be properly crewed and this is where we come in.

Q: Is the course fee money well spent or will I just be paying for a four- week holiday?
A: Money spent on equipping a young person for a gap year, working holiday or career in the charter industry is most certainly money well spent. Our Partners are the only South African establishment able to offer a range of internationally accredited courses with successful candidates being awarded international qualifications. The fact that you have invested in training will indicate to prospective employers that you are serious about your career. In any case, it is illegal for a properly registered vessel to employ crew without the mandatory safety training, which forms part of the course. Without this one’s earning potential is greatly reduced to the menial level of a “day worker” with very little opportunity for the career enhancement of being signed on as a crew member and working up the ranks.

Q: What will I gain through doing this course?
A: The various modules described in the course highlights are intended to prepare you not only for work in the industry but also for life as a whole. The skills learnt during the four weeks living in close quarters with other students will assist in developing the teamwork, interpersonal skills, diplomacy, problem solving, responsibility, negotiating skills and discipline essential for a successful career in the yachting industry. Self-discipline, self confidence, perseverance and rapid personal growth are amongst the proven results of time spent working in this industry. In addition the overseas work and travel normally associated with this industry develops a global perspective, improves experience, self-confidence and provides a network of friends and contacts to stand you in good stead for future international job opportunities.

Q: What are the initial job opportunities?
A: As with all careers, everyone starts at the bottom of the ladder. The typical first job is to do the physical cleaning tasks. Walking the docks in search of that all-important first chance is frustrating and hard work in itself but tenacity and the ability to handle disappointment will be rewarded. This experience alone is a great eye-opener for young South Africans. People who create the right impression while cleaning and polishing will earn around $10 to $15 an hour for a 5 to 10 hour day. They can expect to be recommended for other work, which will lead to the ultimate reward of being signed on as a crew member. In other words, the way you handle your first job will lead to the next one.