A common conversation among crew is ‘life after yachting’. Many see working on a superyacht as a short-term career, but one that does equip them with many valuable skills. However, when crew come ashore, the skills that they learned on board are not always understood or valued by non-maritime companies. The negatives of crew life that are the deciding factors in many coming ashore are varied, but many cite the long hours, prolonged periods away from home and family, and the transient lifestyle, as reasons to consider moving back to their home country.
For those who are interested in roles that are similar to crew-life (yet still enable you to have more freedom, privacy and flexibility), a position within a private household could be the best of both worlds. “The competition for getting onto a yacht is so intense, we find that a lot of people that are coming off yachts are hungry to be able to make a life for themselves ashore,” starts Alexander Nuttall of JUL Private Staff. “It falls in very well with what we are looking for, in terms of the level of service and what staff are expected to do.”
JUL Private Staff work with clients who require domestic staff for large private residences. In recent years, the connection between this realm and yachting has become more apparent. The skill sets expected of yacht crew, and the unique environments where they work, are very attractive to ultra-high-net-worths (UHNW) looking for personal staff. Nuttall recalls a recent placement where a client specifically requested an ex-chief stewardess for a house manager role. “These types of situations are happening quite frequently, especially with UHNW clients who have their own yachts or clients who have chartered a yacht quite recently. They really enjoy the high-level of service and that connection they feel with the staff members.”
The skill sets expected of yacht crew, and the unique environments where they work, are very attractive to ultra-high-net-worths (UHNW) looking for personal staff.
Nuttall explains that traditional staffing companies may have not understood the quirks of a yacht crew’s CV. Chefs, he highlights, often work with multiple yachts in a short period of time, for a multitude of reasons. To someone unfamiliar with the nature of yachting, this may indicate that the candidate is unable to keep a specific role or is difficult employee, but this is often far from the case. For him, recognising the nuances of a yachting career is key in placing ex-crew in land-based roles.
Interestingly, couples working side-by-side – something that is quite common in the yacht world – is also seen as a huge plus in certain land-based roles. “Couple roles are gold dust in domestic staff,” says Nuttall. “If you have a couple who are very good on their feet and are happy to muck in, I could find them a job in the next ten minutes.” For couples that have experienced running a smaller vessel themselves, this could be a smooth transition to land-based roles together.
“One of the biggest complaints from ex-yachties is that they’ve gone from tax-free earnings, big charter tips and no overheads, and suddenly they get a job in London,” offers Ben Sutton, a property manager for WebsterHart who worked as a boson aboard superyachts for years. “They don’t necessarily get the perks from yachting [in a normal role]. But, if you’re working in private residence, you can experience that.” As someone that has been involved in both worlds, Sutton finds that chief stewardess can easily fit into the roles of a house manager, and a chief engineer can use the same skills as a facilities manager of a large property. “Whilst it is a career shift,” he admits, “there are opportunities for people who can’t secure those obvious shore-based roles in the maritime sector.”
“One of the biggest complaints from ex-yachties is that they’ve gone from tax-free earnings, big charter tips and no overheads, and suddenly they get a job in London. They don’t necessarily get the perks from yachting [in a normal role]. But, if you’re working in private residence, you can experience that.”
Some roles, most often outside of London, do require staff to live on site. This not only will reduce the shock some ex-crew experience when they have to start paying for their own overheads, but will also continue the familial atmosphere that they enjoyed on board a yacht, but with more privacy and space. “There’s a shelf live to [yachting],” argues Sutton. “As much as everybody loves it, most people hit a point where they get fed up with sharing a dorm, or sleeping in a bunk bed. They want to be shore-based, they want to see their friends and family, so there is a big attraction to trying to find alternative employment.”
The innate skills of a crew member mean that they are often sought after in comparable roles, interacting with similar employers and demonstrating a commitment to a high level of service. By considering a land-based domestic role within a private household that has many parallel traits to working on a yacht, it can represent an opportunity to exercise their skills in a new environment.
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