How to become a skipper

So you want to be a yacht skipper?

Many yachting graduates choose to start their careers on smaller yachts where they have the opportunity to refine their sailing skills and develop a great reputation. Being a Flotilla Skipper, Charter Skipper or Delivery Skipper is a great way to start working afloat in an industry you love.

What’s a skipper?

A skipper is a person who has command of a boat or watercraft and is more or less equivalent to a captain in charge of a ship. The skipper may or may not be the owner of the boat.

There are a number of types of different roles including flotilla, charter and delivery skippers.

Flotilla Skipper

What does a Flotilla Skipper do?

A flotilla skipper is responsible for the running, sailing, maintenance and guest care of a yacht forming part of a holiday flotilla or sometimes the entire group of up to 20 yachts, which form the flotilla.

Flotilla holiday companies often operate in the Mediterranean, you can earn anything between €100 – €250 per week (depending on operator) but can also earn some reasonable tips.

Working as a flotilla skipper is a great way to build on your miles.

Personality traits

You will need to be an outgoing and friendly personality who can accommodate guests at all times. You will need to be organised and efficient to cover all admin and paperwork as well as deliver safety and technical briefings, conduct general maintenance and assist guests with sailing.

Flotilla Skipper Salary

Flotilla holidays companies often operate in the Mediterranean, you can earn anything between €100 – €250 per week (depending on operator) but can also earn reasonable tips.

Flotilla Skipper Jobs

The types of jobs vary on different vessels. Some of your tasks will include but not be limited to:

  • De-fouling propellers and replacing anodes before launching
  • Checking and replacing all deck fittings where necessary
  • Assisting engineers with out-of–water work
  • Checking skin fittings
  • Launching
  • Replacing running rigging
  • Hoisting anchors
  • Servicing winches
  • Hoisting sails
  • Fitting biminis
  • Fitting guardrails
  • Checking dinghies
  • Splicing and whipping ropes

Charter Skipper

What does a Charter Skipper do?

A Charter Skipper manages and captains a yacht that has been hired out to paying guests. This role typically involves taking command of 35 – 60ft yachts (catamarans are particularly popular) operating in the Mediterranean or Caribbean.

You will have a busy schedule with a high turnover of guests during the season that will want to pack a lot into their 1 or 2-week holiday.

Personality traits

You will need to be an outgoing and friendly personality who is committed to providing the highest level of customer service.

A hard-working attitude is required, as you will be responsible for all aspects of the charter operation from maintenance and passage planning to the general management of the yacht.

Charter Skipper Salary

Charter Skipper salaries range based on experience, position, size of yacht, and type (charter vs private). Here is a simplified break down of monthly skipper crew salaries in dollars:

80-99 ft. 100-119 ft. 120-139 ft. 140-159 ft. 160-179 ft. 180 ft. +
Captain $5,000 – $10,000 $7,000 – $11,000 $8,000 – $14,000 $10,000 – $16,000 $12,000 – $18,000 $13,000 – $20,000+
Chief/First Mate $3,000 – $4,500 $4,000 – $5,500 $4,500 – $5,500 $5,000 – $6,000 $6,000 – $7,000 $8,000 – $10,000+
Bosun $2,500 – $3,000 $3,500 – $4,500 $3,500 – $5,000 $3,500 – $5,500 $4,000 – $5,500 $4,000 – $6,000+
Deckhand $2,500 – $3,500 $2,500 – $4,000 $2,500 – $4,500 $3,000 – $4,500 $2,800 – $5,000 $3,000 – $5,500+
Charter Skipper Jobs

There are several responsibilities for a charter skipper. These include but not limited to:

  • Planning the entire passage to the proposed destination, possibly over a number of days
  • Navigating the vessel
  • Knowing how to operate and maintain all the equipment on board
  • Taking care of the safety of the vessel and the crew
  • Management of the vessel in all respects
  • It is the responsibility of the skipper to ensure that whatever trip the vessel is making whether for fishing or for holidays, he follows the regulations and maritime laws

Delivery Skipper

What does a Delivery Skipper do?

A delivery skipper is responsible for the safe journey of a yacht to its new owner or meeting the owner of the boat at a particular destination.

You are your own boss when working as a Delivery Skipper, you don’t have the responsibility of guests but it is up to you to make sure that the boat gets there safely and on time.

Delivery skippers usually work on a freelance basis or for an agency, either way, both will be looking for skilled sailors so your level of qualification and experience on the water will determine how much work you will pick up.

Personality traits

You will need to be a determined and reliable person with a good work ethic. Taking on this type of role means that you will have the benefit of a flexible lifestyle, you could be working for long periods of time followed by long periods of time at home, this role could also take you to any part of the world.

Delivery Skipper Salary

Your travel and food expenses will be paid for while on a delivery, freelance delivery skippers often negotiate their own wage but on average you could expect to be paid between £100 – £140 per day. As a newly qualified Yachtmaster, you will need to build on your miles and experience before taking on the role of skipper.

You can do this by joining a delivery as a crew member (often unpaid).

Delivery Skipper Jobs
  • The safe handling and navigation of a vessel
  • Ensuring that all activities are carried out in accordance with Safety and Operating Procedures
  • Leading and supervising the regular crew and any relief crew and volunteers
  • Looking after the welfare of clients, crew, volunteers, and trainees, including morale and discipline
  • Dealing with unexpected issues which might arise, such the need to implement emergency repairs
  • Maintaining paperwork
  • Being professional, and acting with tact and diplomacy at all times (both on and off the vessel)

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