10 Tips for Newbie Deckhands

2 July 2008 By Matt Brown

“Excuse me. Where do I find the squeegee for the deckhead?”

In the searing Mediterranean summer heat, I was under pressure to dry after beginning a wash down. Even though I'm relatively new to this industry, I know that if water droplets fall on the deck and dry it will leave marks and ruin the effect of a solid yacht wash down effort.

Knowing the little things about working on deck can make the difference between being a successful deckie or a sorry one.

My career as a deckhand has opened my eyes to the sorts of things that you simply won’t know until you have gained experience working on board a superyacht.

So I’ve put together 10 tips for new deckhands working in or looking to get into the megayacht industry:

10. Wash Down Basics

It's vitally important to avoid repetition when you are working as part of a team. So when doing a wash down, remember to start from the top down and work from the outside in.

Always hit the deckheads first, then clean the outside of the hull and finally work your way down the bulkheads. Doing this will avoid unnecessary repeat work and repetitive use of the chamois.

9. Ask Questions

The more questions you ask the better. If you are ever uncertain about what you need to do or how you need to do it, ask. Believe me, no question is a stupid question if it will improve how you do your job.

8. Know Your Products

One of the most cared for aspects of the yacht's exterior is the deck itself. It is always made of teak – a type of hardwood, which can comfortably deal with all types of weather conditions. However, it can be easily stained or damaged when subjected to the wrong type of cleaning product.

Typically, any alkaline-based product will damage the teak [e.g. Simmy cleaner], so always read the label and instructions before using it.

7. Patience Is A Virtue

The old analogy of “less haste, more speed” is especially true when parking a tender. Make sure that you take your time, firstly with your positioning and secondly with your knots when tying up the tender to the dock.

When collecting guests or the owner, be as smooth as possible with your docking and driving skills. The care you show toward the guests and the equipment may go a long way toward boosting your reputation as a true crew professional.

Besides, if you mess this up it could cost you a generous tip -- or even your job.

6. Drilling Precautions

Punching a whole through any surface on a yacht is risky business. There are two basic precautions before you start drilling.

Firstly, check behind the surface where you are drilling to avoid drilling through wires or other potential hazards.

Secondly, always punch a whole through the drilling surface before you start drilling to avoid the drill tip sliding away from your target entry point.

After your successful drilling, make sure that you clean up all the “swarf” [filings]. This is especially important if this debris is lying on the deck, as it can easily penetrate the bottom of someone’s feet (nearly everyone on board is barefoot).

5. Don’t S#@T On Your Own Doorstep

Beware of the stewies. They are a vital part of the crew dynamic and are the managers of your home at sea's interior. Always treat them with respect and be sure to make a concerted effort to help them out (see next point below).

If you don't treat them with respect, stewies can make your life extremely difficult. After all, they are the ones doing your laundry!

4. Many Hands Make Light Work

Always be prepared to help out wherever necessary. This is especially important when things are not necessarily your responsibility. Being flexible with your time and keen to help others will serve you well in the long run.

3. Keep a Positive Attitude

Always be eager to learn. You should never stop learning on a yacht. Every day will present to you new opportunities to learn something, so take advantage of these opportunities and absorb knowledge like a fresh, new sponge.

2. Stay Professional

The megayacht industry depends on extreme professionalism. You need to maintain your own professionalism at all times, whether you're working on deck, down in the crew quarters or spending downtime at a local marina. When on board, avoid running or yelling: It looks really unprofessional to guests and owners.

1. Respect Is Earned, Not Guaranteed

Always have a healthy respect for your captain. Realize that you will make mistakes, but make it a point to learn from them. If the captain has a go at you for getting something wrong, don’t take it personally. He or she expects you to grow in this position and you should always be enthusiastic to learn and develop your skills.

This is a tough business. Crew like to work hard and play hard – it’s just part of the territory. You can't be overly sensitive, but you should always be open to new challenges and opportunities for growth.

Enjoy the ride. I know I am...

Do you have any job tips to share? Any fabulous discoveries you've made early in your career or sage advice you've received from veteran crew? Share it with your peers. Leave a comment below.

Matt Brown is a dedicated and reliable British deckhand working within the megayacht industry. Contact Matt Brown directly by email with your questions, comments and career offers at [or visit].