The Captain is the most senior position onboard a yacht and the one responsible for the overall operation of the yacht, the safety of its crew, owners and guests. It’s an all-encompassing position where excellent navigational capabilities are coupled with a high level of administrative and managerial skills.
The role differs depending on the size of the yacht, its usage and its cruising itinerary. Captains on smaller yachts need to be hands-on problem solvers and multitaskers. Under 35m, for example, the Captain’s position also encompasses the role of an Engineer, whilst on larger yachts the Captain has dedicated teams and Heads of Departments under their command.
What does a yacht Captain do? | Yacht Captain Job Description
Commanding the yacht and navigating safe passages across the oceans is just a small part of a Captain’s job. A yacht Captain is also in control of overall safety, crew management, budgeting, administration, refit projects, voyage planning and adhering to all international maritime regulations (ISM, MARPOL, SOLAS).
The responsibilities of a yacht Captain include:
Safe navigation and operation of the yacht
Ensuring that the yacht is in all respects compliant with the relevant laws and regulations
Ensuring that the yacht is prepared for annual flag surveys, annual class surveys and port/flag state controls
The setting of budgets and budget management
Hiring, leading, appraising and dismissal of crew
Overseeing the maintenance of the vessel
Ensuring legal and regulatory compliance
Managing yacht refits and surveys
Managing fuel costs and dockage fees
Being an ambassador for the yacht, hosting and entertaining guests as required
Soft and hard skills required to be a yacht Captain
Successful Captains are excellent leaders, able to set a common goal for their crew and able to communicate with owners, guests, crew, contractors and brokers alike.
The skills of a successful yacht Captain include:
Excellent leadership, management and diplomacy skills
Excellent yacht handling and navigation
Ability to stay calm in difficult situations
Good grasp of finance and legislation
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Organisation and administration skills
How to become a yacht Captain?
Maritime training and sea-going experience is required.
Positions are qualification based, from a Master 200, Master 500, Master 3000 and up to a Captain Unlimited. Training may be completed in a National Maritime Academy, a university or a specialised Sailing School.
Mandatory certificates needed to work on board a yacht
All crew members regardless of their position and seniority need to have a valid STCW Basic Safety Training certificate, along with a recognised Seafarers medical certificate, the most popular being the ENG1 which is issued by an MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) professional medic.
Without these two certificates, it is not possible for crew to work on board a yacht and a Recruiter will not be able to assist you in finding work onboard a yacht.
For more information about mandatory certificates please visit our Mandatory Certificates Guide.
Are you ready to secure a Captain’s position onboard a yacht?
Become a member of YPI CREW through a free registration and let us guide you through your job search.
Each of our recruiters is specialised in crew placement for a particular department and they will do their best to get you an interview onboard a yacht. They will also advise you on how to best present your experience and skills and prepare for a yacht job interview.
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Leading from the helm as a Captain is undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling and rewarding career paths in the superyacht industry.
Photo of Captain Sally-Ann Konigkramer