As a lead deckhand with several seasons under your belt you will no doubt relish the prospect of more responsibility onboard as an officer. Laurence Reymann (left) and Joey Meen (right) address the paperwork and practical experience needed to make this transition.
Whether it is a promotion from within the ranks or through joining a new yacht, going from lead deckhand or bosun to mate or officer is going to be an important step in your career.
This is going to represent a huge leap in terms of responsibilities and you will automatically start to look at the yacht in a different way. Gone are the days when you would keep your head down. The professional in you will come to the forefront as by now yachting is your career and you are slowly starting to define what type of captain you will one day become.
As mate/officer you will become an integral part of the running of the yacht and will have the captain and chief officers' trust plus have an active role in the in developing or maintaining the work ethic onboard the yacht. You are going to be the link or bridge between the captain and the rest of the crew whilst also having more contact with guests.
To achieve this transition successfully, you will need to have attained a level of maturity and ability to think on your feet. You will need to have a global vision: How is the yacht presented? Are all the tenders well looked after? You will do your rounds to ensure the decks are well laid out for the guests. You will start thinking about the weather and how it affects the decks and the guest activities. You will think about the watersports management. Your role will be about leading, delegating and communicating.
With the title and the certification, you will of course have the enormous responsibility as an officer of the watch (OOW) on the bridge, doing night watches and navigation. You will develop your administrative and budgeting skills, and keep on top of new rules and regulations.
You may be a mate with one deckhand below you or you may be a second officer on a larger yacht. In any case, you will be exposed to all of the above aspects, some more then others depending on the size of the yacht. What counts is that you will need to embrace the new challenges facing you.
A lead deckhand will normally already have completed the Yachtmaster qualifications, either the certificate of competence (CoC) Yachtmaster Offshore or, better still, the Yachtmaster Ocean. You should least have the minimum experience up to this level.
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) or International Yacht Training (IYT) Yachtmaster Offshore will qualify you for Master <200gt (Yacht) limited to 150 miles from shore (unlimited distance with the Yachtmaster Ocean CoC). For vessels over 200gt, it will qualify you to be a mate or third officer.
You are required to complete both the theory and practical elements and pass the appropriate exams. The MCA recognises both the Yachtmaster Offshore and Yachtmaster Ocean CoCs completed either with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) or with International Yacht Training (IYT).
The various codes of practice for commercial craft are described in the Large Yacht Code 2 (LY2) and other relevant publications by the MCA. These describe in great detail the minimum qualifications for skippers and crew. The rules are complex and have many variable conditions; the table to the right provides a brief summary. However, the original text should always be referred to.
To move from lead deckhand to officer or mate might require you to extend your training to the next level by completing the MCA OOW 3,000gt (Yacht) CoC qualification, ideally with the chief mate endorsement.
The fundamental entry requirements to applying for your MCA OOW 3,000gt (Yacht) Notice of Eligibility for your MCA Oral Exam are.