New crew coming into the yachting industry have to outlay a significant amount of money before they even get close to approaching their first crew agent or walk their first dock.
Yacht training is a huge business and newbies are constantly told which courses will be essential when it comes to landing that all important job. However, there is one course that everyone needs to take and that’s the STCW95 Basic Safety Training.
It’s a requirement on all boats that their crew hold this important piece of paper, but let’s not forget that it’s also about safety. The skills learnt on this course may well save your life or the lives of others on board. This may be an industry renowned for fun in the sun, but working on water needs to be treated with the respect it deserves.
“I am completely new to the industry,” says Ross Smith, “but did my STCW95 before leaving the UK. Now at least I would have some idea about what to do in an emergency.”
Getting your STCW95 Basic Safety Training Certificate isn’t cheap though. Depending on where in the world you decided to do the training you could be spending between $850 and $1,900 (USD). Doing your training whilst stateside is definitely the cheaper option with courses starting at about $850. Europe is more expensive; in France and Spain you could be looking to spend up to $1,900 and about $1,300 in the UK. Doing the course in Australia would cost you about $1,600. This, however, is the price of the complete certificate, which includes Survival Techniques, Fire Fighting and Prevention, Elementary First Aid and Personal Safety and Responsibility.
Is it your responsibility as a new crewmember to flash the cash and get this training requirement before you start handing around your CV or should you be expecting your future employer to cover the cost?
Capt. Mark Batten says, “If you are serious about getting into this industry then getting your STCW95 is a must. Firstly, by spending the money you are proving that you are serious. Secondly, I wouldn’t even look at a candidate for a permanent job without their STCW95. I see at a basic requirement on everyone’s CV.”
So you’ve got your STCW95, but what other financial outlays do you have to consider when starting out?
“Whatever you do, have some money in the bank before you start!” says Ross. “In the last six months I have had to pay for flights to Europe and then to the U.S. I’ve covered all of my accommodation costs, food and travel and only had a handful of days of day work in return. When I was in Antibes, there was the advantage of everything being within walking distance, but in the U.S. I’m paying the same amount for crew accommodation and instead of a cramped dorm I share a room with just one other guy and the house has a pool!”
Mel Ferris flew straight to Antigua when she was embarking on a career in yachting earlier this year. She says, “I arrived in Antigua armed with my STCW95 as well as a Powerboat Level 2 qualification and VHF Radio Operators License. Initially we stayed at the Waterfront Hostel with a load of other crew. I shared a room with a friend for about sixty dollars a night. We were ploughing through money, but eventually managed to get a house in Marsh Village with four other crew for just one hundred fifty dollars each a month. It was an easy bus ride or walk from Falmouth Harbour which kept my travel costs down.”
There is a lot to think about when entering the yachting industry but the advice seems quite clear; get your STCW95 Basic Safety Training before you start your job hunt, whether you are starting out in Europe, the U.S. or the Caribbean, and don’t underestimate the cost of living.
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