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New to the Industry
Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2009 3:56 PM
Joined: 13/06/2009
Posts: 42

Hi Ya'll!
 I am hoping to be new to the Yachting World in the next couple of months. I have been reading and reading all kinds of articles and blogs, and books that I can get my hands on for the last several years.
I am a prior chef in the US Coast Guard, and have sailed Merchant Marine on ships and workboats. I have been wanting to get on to the yachts for as long as I can remember going back to high school.
I had read with some anxiety that people going bald were sometimes let go, but I saw an article on here that said otherwise, and as I keep my thinning locks tidy, don't now feel I have to worry about it. But a few things I have seen are people complaining about the "pretty boys and girls" and tattoos.
 I am not a pretty one, clean cut, but I have tattoos. I have a HUGE coi fish on my calf, the Chinese for good luck on water, and a few smaller, tasteful, colourful ones. All of which will be seen at some point. None are gang or white trash ones. They are are related to my extensive traveling as a career seaman.How much of a problem is going to be?
I have ten years of maritime service behind me. I will be starting classes in the next two weeks, starting with my 200GT Mate and 100GT Masters, and hopeing to add the rest needed for a 1600GT/3000IT Mate/Masters by the end of the year.
I have been told to just present myself cleanly, and personably and if asked tell them I have tattoos then. How much of an issue is it?
Thanks ahead for everyones advise.

Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2009 4:54 PM
Joined: 29/10/2008
Posts: 7


I wish you all the best and LUCK mate...I've been trying to get into the Yacht industry for the past 9 months, as a Chef.. but with no luck yet.... Most owners/captains are ALWAYS looking for crew members with "YACHT" experience!!!! Sometimes they must be wearing "blinkers", and not looking at the bigger picture...The way I see it is..that just "maybe",  there are people who really want to make a career out of this industry, and will make better crew members than the current crew our there..but just need that "little break"!!

As for your tattoos...most Yachts require "no tattoos"..

Hope you get the break that you need mate...


Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2009 5:28 PM
Joined: 13/06/2009
Posts: 42

Hi John,
 Thanks for the well wishes. Sorry to hear that you have been having a difficult time to get hired yourself. Hope your luck turns around also.
 I have been looking through here the last couple of days, and it seems like someone or another is always arguing. From what I understand, this business is very big on who you know. Maybe some of these people shooting themselves in the foot talking bad will be a good thing for us who want a career, and owners will not care anymore where your from, or your tattoos, as long as you are qualified, hard working, clean and personable, like most jobs. I am hoping someone will see the effort I have put into getting trained, paying for it myself, longevity, and dedication to the Maritime world and take a chance to see what I am capable of producing for them. I guess in the next couple of weeks I will find out.
Good Luck to you

Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 7:06 PM
Good luck to you, Andy in finding a job. Sorry to say, this is possibly the WORST time to be seeking employment in's simple supply and demand. Tattoos may be okay on some boats, but I haven't worked on one as yet. It's a very preppy sort of image- 'the yachtie' If they aren't visible while you are in uniform, then you may get away with it.
Crew Confessor
Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 7:46 PM
Joined: 20/11/2008
Posts: 94

Dear Andy,

Sorry to hear about your trouble finding your first position in the yachting industry. As one of the respondents pointed out, your timing could be better. Even in the best of times getting that "first job" in the industry can be the hardest one of all. In the past doing day work served as a popular way to get your foot in the door, a way to prove yourself while earning enough to live on, gain skills, and very often an informal trial period with many workers getting job offers from the vessels they day worked on. These days not only are there less permanent jobs available, yachts also appear to be hiring less day workers too.

You have an impressive list of credentials and the Crew Confessor is also pleased to learn of your continuing plans to gather more. This speaks highly of your dedication and professional attitude.

Now, about those tattoos. The fact of the matter is the yachting world is very image conscious. I spoke informally with a few captains who said that their owners would not tolerate a crew person with a lot of visible body art. Something unoffensive and relatively discrete is one thing, but multiple highly visible ink is a deal breaker. Times have changed somewhat though, a young lady with a small inoffensive tattoo at her ankle is far less likely to run into opposition these days than just a few years ago.

That said, times have changed and I have no doubt there are yacht owners out there who care not if their crew is illustrated with body art, but you may be searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. But, the large and visible tattoo you sport on your calf is of a fish, hard to see anything offensive there, and with the qualifications and dedication you appear to have I suspect there is a yacht for you out there, somewhere.

You might also consider pursuing a career as an engineer. Qualified engineers are so valued in this industry and often make more than the captain. They are such a commodity that I can almost guarantee that your tattoos will matter not at all if you have the right tickets.

There does appear to be a greater number of sport fishing crew with tattoos, and this might be a segment of the industry for you to pursue.

As for your lack of hair and GQ looks, I wouldn't give that too much worry. Be clean and well groomed, and a hard working polite team player and your future will be bright.

Your Crew Confessor
Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 10:38 PM
Joined: 13/06/2009
Posts: 42

Hi All,
 Thanks for the words of advice. I actually have not run into the problem...yet. I leave this coming Monday to drive down to Fort Lauderdale, and start my classes. I am hoping that, like you said, the skills I have, along with continuing to add to them, will do me well.

You mentioned engineering. While I am not the most diesel inclined or even engine room for that mater, I have actually thought about taking some of the Marine Diesel Mechanic classes, so if for any reason, to be able to follow what the Chief Engineer would be talking about. Do you already have to have engine room time, like seatime, to be able to take those classes? Or can I can take it just for the certificate?

I am hoping that by the time I get some classes put away, that October will roll around with the boat show, and there will be maybe a few more jobs. Until then, for doing the dockwalk, is it as simple as being clean and presentable, and just walking up to the yachts at the piers?

Thanks for the advice again,

Posted: Saturday, June 20, 2009 7:06 PM
Joined: 08/09/2008
Posts: 6

Hi Andy

As John pointed out, the one word on everybody's lips are" yacht experience". This unfortunately translates to image and being presentable to guests, rather than being proficient in your work. This whole image thing has reached rediculous proportions, where Skipper's, Mates and even Engineer's are judged and ultimately hired for their customer care capabilities, rather than their functional qualifications. The result of this tendancy is clearly visible when things go horribly wrong....the grounding of two yachts in  the last two weeks comes to mind. Both these incidents were the result of some very, very basic mistakes, that even a deckhand with 2 or 3 seasons experience could have foreseen or prevented.....but the Skipper is very good at mixing Pink Drinks, and knows all tthe good hairdressers in every port.

One of these days we will see a Silver Service certificate as a requirement for a Skipper. At the same time, owners are trying to save money by looking for Stewardesses with engineer skills??? On one of the recruitement sites they were looking for a Mate or a Bosun with a Helicopter License...come on!! 

Crew Confessor, Anon and John has summed it all up well. Just be humble, present a well groomed, friendly, yet very professional person  and you will be noticed. I have seen yacht crew with tatoo's on some very large yachts and this is clearly an indication that some owners actually do look for real experience, rather than looks. So don't let this spoil you dreams my friend, go out, get yourself qualified and be prepared to work your butt off.


Posted: Saturday, June 20, 2009 8:30 PM
Joined: 13/06/2009
Posts: 42

Hi Starrider,
 Again, thanks for the advice. I am actually quite optimistic about the whole thing. I am leaving the Florida Panhandle on Monday to drive down, and classes start the following week at MPT. I have been reading a lot of the posts on here, and like you said there seems to be a few people that have stated like you did the silliness going on. I have read about Captain's doing interviews and people chewing gum, showing up late, dressed like a hippie, and to top it all off not being very qualified. So, hopefully the fact that people are noticing that, will make me all that more attractive to potential employers.

Thank You all once again for the advice, and I look forward to meeting what seems to be positive people like yourselves.

Fair Seas and Following Winds,

Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2009 5:44 AM


As a captian of large yachts for 25 years, I will tell you that a large tatoo on your calf will prevent you from being hired on most yachts. Doesen't matter how well presented you are otherwise, tatoos are the death nell for being hired on a respectable yacht. None of my owners will accept tatoos that are visible in a normal polo shirt and shorts uniform. 

Sailing yachts might be more tolerant of tatoos which may be a considration for you.  

You mention that you were a chef in the Coast Guard, however that gives little qualifications for a deck position on a yacht. What else have you been doing for 10 years? Can you document any experience?

Glad to hear that you're going to MPT for training as they are the best. You have a long road ahead, as it should be. If it was easy, anyone could do it.




Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2009 8:47 AM
Joined: 13/06/2009
Posts: 42

I think I might have not been clear in how I said what I have been doing. I was in the US Coast Guard for five years during which time I was a cook. After leaving the USCG, I went to go work for Military Sealift Command as an Ordinary Seaman, standing watch, gaining seatime, working on deck, ran a 700' Tankers Bo'sun Locker, made Able Seaman. I have even helmmed through the Suez Canal twice, helmmed through the Straights of Hormuz, and even into Dubai and Singapore harbours, as well during Underway Replenishment with several aircraft carriers 50meters alongside at 13knots. After a few years with them, I went to go work Offshore in the Gulf of Mexico as an Able Seaman, and gained even more seatime. I have now amassed enough Deck seatime to take the classes for 3rd Mate Unlimited. I have over 1080 days of 8 and 12 hour watch days at sea, with a large portion working on the bridge. I am looking to finish classes at MPT by Spring (Slowed down due to financial reasons) all the way to my 1600GT Mate Oceans. I don't really have the desire to work ships as a career. Working as a cook would not be an option for me. I left the Coast Guard because I saw after five years the rest of the vessels operations, and wantedd to be a Boatswain's Mate, but because my rating as a cook was a critical rating, I was not allowed to switch, so I took the chance and left to re-educate my self in the deck department with the goal of becoming a Captain. I have spent the large portion of the last four years actually under-way to get to that goal. For my Deck experience, I have my seatime on record with the USCG, I need to turn in my last seatime letter, which will be done with my classes. I also have my TWIC, STCW95, an MMD card of Able Seaman, I was Investigator qualified Damage Controlman in the CG, did RFPNW, Shipboard Damage Control, Shipboard Helo Firefighting, Small Arms Qualifications with 9mm, M-14 Rifle, and 12gauge Riot Shotgun, Baton, Shipboard Security Tactics, Use of Deadly Force, Anti-Terrorism Awareness, Marine Enviromental Programs, Chemical, Biological and Radiological Defense, various forklift and lift operator courses, Explosive Cargo Handling, Cargo Storage, and Underway Replenishment.
While at MPT I am using my GI Bill, so as it goes along I am going to take more classes. I am starting with 100gt and 200 upgrade, Advanced Firefighting, and FCC MROP. I am planning on taking Medical Provider, Med. Person in Charge, and then the 1600GT classes, and adding Celestial Navigation so I can make it an Oceans Endorsement. I am also a dual citizen of the UK, so once I get some docking experience, I am going to take the Yachtmaster when I can. Also, quite frankley, to be able to add any classes is soemthing I enjoy, as I get to be able to put together more from what I have seen, and understand the vessel around me more. Never ending learning process.

I take being a seaman seriously, and from some of the other posts here, which have been positive, I hope that I come across the owner who can get over a couple of sailor tattoos to see that I dedicate my life to being on the water. I guess tht when it comes down to it, I love what I do, and when someone says that I can't do it, I want to go out of my way to prove that not only can I, but that I can do it well. I was told I could not work on deck and become a Captain by some officers in the Coast Guard, but I proved them wrong, and made it in less time then I thought. Now I have gained my seatime, and have worked through the Hawsepipe to be able to get the life they said I could not.

Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2009 11:22 PM

I truly feel the "Yachting" Industry needs an enema.  As we move forward into the future and with the mounds of wealthy people on this planet who own yachts, does everyone still need to look the same?  I always thought the perfect crew was a "happy crew".  If every member is immaculant, clean cut and experienced - you can't go wrong.  Tattoos and thinning hair...  I always questionned who did the actual hiring when you're out interviewing?  How often is the actual owner of a yacht actually enjoying their vessel in order to be repulsed by their thin-haired captain?  If an owner of a vessel is in the middle of the Pacific and a pirate attempts to board in the dark of the night, who do you think makes him more comfortable?  The full haired captain or the tattoed former Coast Guard.  Keep up with the times people.  We're living in a time where there are "drive by's" in the middle of the ocean.  Can the industry loosen up a little.

From my own personal experiences... the employees of the wealthy are much more uptight than the actual wealthy!!!

Good luck Andy and you may just be the trendsetter of your time.


Yachtie M
Posted: Monday, June 22, 2009 12:38 AM
Joined: 19/09/2008
Posts: 1

Well Andy,  I joined the industry 2 years ago with gray hair and a bit older than 40.  Lots of people told me to dye my hair, but I refused.  I got hired and people hired me not for my looks but for my skills and who I am.  A good buddy of mine was told to shave his goatee (and balding) or he wouldn't get hired.  He didn't shave it off and he got hired.  There will always be a reason for why you didn't/don't get hired.  If they like you and what you bring to the table you will get hired, balding and tattooed, and you're better off getting hired by someone who accepts your skills and accepts you as you are.

Posted: Monday, June 22, 2009 1:15 AM
Don't worry about the owners! Worry about the captains that do the hiring. When they get 50 cv's on their desk, tattoos, baldness, USCG, merchant, "lack of charter experience", almost everything that makes you stand out will in most cases be to your detriment. It makes the recruiting so much easier. Owners don't care about tattoos, but their captains think they do, or will tell you so just to get out of a difficult spot. Play the numbers game! Sooner or later somebody will hire you and actually appreciate your experience. And thats the boat you wanna be on!
Posted: Monday, June 22, 2009 1:47 AM
Joined: 13/06/2009
Posts: 42

Thanks for all the positive encouragement. Some of these posts on here can take a quick spin for the worse, but I am very appreciative of the positive attitude by everyone responding to this post. I hope I get to work with people who have attitudes like ya'll.
See Ya Out There,

Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 9:38 PM
Joined: 05/08/2008
Posts: 83

Hi Andy,

I have read all the advices given to you and many are quite correct. However, I always tell prospective and active crew that working on a super yacht is like working in the 5 or 6 star hotel industry and like it or lump it, it requires for the most part a certain high standard in appearance. Usually that requires non visible tatoos, piercings and wacky hand and toe nail polish. It is as simple as that. Some may say it is old fashioned, but for the current majority they do like the visible "lack of expression or body art". Having visible tatoos does limit your chances in this industry no doubt.

I am sure there is a yacht and owner or Captain that will hire you just don´t give up the drive. Keep the hair short, no comb overs and always dress accordingly as though you were going for an interview at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes France! All the best.

Capt Kaj

 Average 3 out of 5