Marine leisure’ is a broad term covering the thriving global leisure boating/watersports industry. More and more people are spending their leisure time at the coast, or at sea. Careers range from the engineers and naval architects who design powerboats and yachts to watersports instructors. Just some of the opportunities are described here. For information on careers in boatbuilding and design, naval architecture and marine engineering, see the relevant sections of this brochure.
What opportunities are there?
Crewing yachts There are around 5,000 ‘superyachts’ owned by the very rich, and thousands of smaller ones – both sailing yachts and motoryachts. There are temporary and permanent work opportunities for crew members, including those described below.
Jobs are available on private yachts and through yacht chartering businesses.
- Skippers (or captains) are responsible for the navigation of the yacht and for everyone’s safety. They need to be familiar with every system. Skippers keep records, set budgets and plan itineraries.
- Engineers deal with engine mechanics and maintenance; they also ensure that the plumbing, hydraulics, refrigeration and electrics work properly, troubleshooting when necessary.
- Deckhands, or ‘deckies’ perform many tasks and are responsible for maintaining the exterior of the yacht – washing, waxing, polishing, buffing, painting etc.
- Stewards/stewardesses are responsible for the interior of the yacht – they clean, do laundry, vacuum and help prepare and serve meals… all in a confined space!
- Chefs have to plan extensively to ensure that new and exciting menus are available for, what can be, long periods at sea. They also buy the food and prepare dishes.
Working on a private yacht appeals to those who want to see the world! Jobs can be found through specialist agencies and websites or by simply asking crew at marinas. Jobs in marinas - There are marinas all over the world – from St Tropez to Florida! They provide facilities for boats and yachts, including berthing and dry storage. Larger marinas may offer fuel, lifting equipment and winter storage, and specialist companies, a chandler’s shop and restaurant may be on site.
There are job opportunities of all kinds, e.g. for marina managers, boat handlers, riggers, crane operators, engineers, boat repairers, as well as for security, administrative, restaurant and retail staff. Marina managers organise staff, deal with budgets and planning, and with contractual, marine, health and safety and environmental laws and regulations. They may be responsible for the maintenance and dredging of the marina. Yachting and watersports - There are jobs for suitably qualified instructors all over the world at schools specialising in sailing, diving, surfing and many other watersports. Some people are employed, often on a seasonal basis; others work as volunteers.
There may also be opportunities for managers, assistants and crew members. Watersports may be provided as recreational, educational or self-development activities. As an instructor, you’d need to get on well with people of all ages and backgrounds. In the UK, all commercial providers of hazardous sports to under 18s have to be licensed by the Health & Safety Executive. Brokerage - Brokers manage the purchase and sale of boats, acting on behalf of the seller and buyer. They negotiate prices, assess value, check on legal ownership and may organise insurance and finance.
What skills and personal qualities do you need?
Apart from competence in your particular area of expertise, you also need:
- to be safety-conscious
- to be responsible, reliable and able to keep calm in an emergency
- excellent teamworking/ leadership and communication skills
- organisational skills
- fitness and stamina. Ability in a foreign language is useful.
What about entry, training and qualifications?
Many people work in the marine leisure industry because of an existing interest, such as sailing. There’s no set career pattern – people usually develop their expertise whilst working. To improve your chances of finding work, try to gain as much relevant experience as possible. There are NVQs for those already working in the industry. Marine Apprenticeships are available for young people.
For higher education entry requirements, see page 34. For some crew jobs, you don’t need any specific qualifications. For others, such as to be a chef or engineer, you usually need training. Yacht engineers may need a commercial engineer licence to work on large vessels. Deckhands often have some experience of carpentry, plumbing or mechanics, for instance. Stewards/ stewardesses may have hospitality, catering or cleaning experience. To skipper a yacht, you need to be an experienced sailor and hold an appropriate qualification. Suitably qualified, experienced and competent yacht engineers can apply for professional registration through the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).
Staff with a wide range of skills are needed to work in marinas. Skilled craftspeople can work in companies providing shoreside facilities. Marina managers have to be confident handling all types of boats, qualified in operating VHF radios and need a sound understanding of local weather and tides. Marina managers tend to work their way up and qualifications are available for those already in the role.
To teach yachting or watersports, you need an instructor qualification in your chosen area. To find work, you may need first aid and life-saving qualifications. You may also be subject to criminal record checks. Various training centres offer courses leading to Royal Yachting Association instructor qualifications (see RYA website below). For details of sea schools and training, see: www.nfss.co.uk Brokers require a wide knowledge of boats. They also need negotiation and marketing skills. Some have general sales experience or work their way up from junior jobs.
What about future prospects?
There’s expected to be further growth in the marine leisure industry, so prospects for those with the right skills and qualities are good. There’s a shortage of qualified RYA instructors and people to work on boats and yachts. However, competition for some jobs can still be fierce, especially in the more glamorous locations! In most career areas, with experience, and possibly further qualifications, promotion to supervisory or management-level positions may be possible.
Where can I find out more?
- British Marine Federation – tel: +44 (0)1784 473377. Careers information can be downloaded from: www.britishmarine.co.uk
- British Sub-Aqua Club – tel: +44 (0)151 350 6200. You can search for schools offering instructor training on: www.bsac.com
- Institute for Outdoor Learning – tel: +44 (0)1768 885800. Website provides careers information and a searchable database of activity providers (including watersports) in the UK: www.outdoor-learning.org
- The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) – tel: +44 (0)207 382 2600. www.imarest.org
- Royal Yachting Association – tel: +44 (0)845 345 0384. www.rya.org.uk Working on Yachts and Superyachts – published by Vacation Work. Continued from p31