Q&A with Deckhand/Watersports Hand Ross Macfarlane

1 August 2020 By Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy is the former managing editor at Dockwalk. 

Name: Ross Macfarlane  
Position: Watersports Hand  
Yacht: Private  
LOA: 136M/446'2"  
Years in current position: 1 year 8 months
Years in industry: 6
Previous vessels: M/Y Vava II, M/Y Lady Michelle, M/Y Titan
Nationality: British

My goal in yachting has always been to work hard/play hard, take full advantage of the incredible locations we get to visit, and learn as many different skills along the way as I can.

If I weren’t on a yacht, I would most certainly be indulging my watersport passion somewhere. I worked as a PADI dive instructor in Thailand and Australia for a number of years and always thought of opening my own watersports center.

For me the toughest part of the job is being away from family and friends for long periods of time, missing out on celebrations such as weddings/birthdays, and being unable to commit to plans until the last minute.

My advice for those looking to get started is to sign up to a number of yachting agencies. The beginning of April is a good time to start dock walking in the French Riviera. It’s first-come, first-served, so prepare for a lot of rejection and persevere through it.

My advice for those looking to impress on the job is to get your head down, graft, and graft some more. Don’t just arrive at work on time — arriving for work early is an absolute must.

Having a PADI dive instructor, kiteboard instructor, and Jet Ski instructor qualification has resulted in me being more hirable within the yachting industry. Other desirable skills for yachts are surfing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, fishing, and even drone photography/videography.

My most significant achievement was when all my hard work and extra training landed me a job on the most prestigious yacht in the world as the watersports hand.

Whilst working in a French ski resort, a yachtie that I became friends with mentioned that as a PADI dive instructor, I could find myself a yachting job. So, when the snow melted, I got my STCW/ENG1/PB2 and headed straight out to Antibes. The rest is history.

The best part about the job is definitely traveling to some incredible “once in a lifetime” locations whilst working with some amazingly whacky, fun people.

My best deck tip is to keep growing your skillsets and in turn, your onboard responsibilities and job satisfaction will increase.  

This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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