As it stands, the requirements set out to take the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yachtmaster Offshore qualification are throwing up hurdles for those crew wishing to progress up the ranks to become Officer of the Watch (OOW). With its requirement to have 2,500 logged sea miles (at least half need to be tidal miles and half on vessels between 7m LWL and 24m LOA and all under 500gt), 50 days at sea (five as skipper) and five passages over 60nm in vessels between 7m LWL and 24m LOA and under 80gt in order to qualify for the certification, many working in the superyacht industry are finding it difficult to accumulate the necessary experience. Very few superyachts will allow junior crew to have command experience, but to progress from a junior position to a position of command in the superyacht industry, you have to have this experience – some may call this a Catch-22 situation.
This is currently an issue for one Med-based 49m motoryacht on which the junior crew cannot achieve any of the RYA’s requirements, leaving them unsure about their next step. “We are a professionally operated yacht with a low turnover of deck crew and we use a dedicated cadetship and training plan to ensure longevity,” explains the chief officer. “Vessels such as ours do not qualify for sea-time requirements but I have two hopefuls who I am training up to go for their Yachtmaster Offshore certification, with the idea behind this being that it will eventually lead to them attaining their OOW.”
Colin Schwegman of Professional Yachtmaster Training believes this is just one manifestation of a bigger problem: that the different segments of the yachting industry don’t work together enough. “The requirement that Yachtmaster candidates have sea time on smaller boats was introduced because the RYA understandably felt compelled to do something about the decline in the standard of Yachtmasters in commercial yachting,” he explains. “This is due to many factors, two of which are the facts that the qualification was being inappropriately used as a requirement for deckhand jobs, and that yachts generally do not see themselves as part of the training process. This resulted in ill-prepared people presenting themselves as Yachtmaster candidates too early in their careers and for the wrong reasons.”
Find the full article in issue 76 of The Crew Report, out mid-October and available at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and Global Superyacht Forum.