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Does size really matter – at sea?

Yacht parked. Yachts and boats in marina from above.

Yacht Size

Superyachting is a diverse industry. Yachts vary in itinerary, nationality, programmes, cultures onboard, build quality and sizes. One of the biggest varying factors is the size of the yacht. When you are starting out in yachting it is important that you consider what size vessel you would like to work on. Smaller yachts and larger yachts both have their pros and cons, ultimately it comes down to personal preferences.


Superyachts range from 24 metres to well over 100 metres. The operation onboard a 24 meter versus a yacht over 100 metres is very different.


Another way of measuring the size of yachts is to use their gross tonnage (GT). A yacht's gross tonnage is a measure of the yacht's internal volume. The maritime regulatory bodies tend to use gross tonnage when creating regulations around ships. For example a yacht that is less than 500 GT requires different certification than a vessel over 500GT.


At the beginning of your yachting career it is not necessary for you to understand all of these regulations, but it can be useful to be aware of them. Later in your career ,depending on which department you are in, it may become your job to know these regulations like the back of your hand. 


Larger yachts have more crew, smaller yachts less crew. For example Motor Yacht Dilbar, which, until it was seized ,was the largest Superyacht in the world by GT (15,917GT) . Dilbar is 156 metres long and operates with a crew of close to 100 people.


It is not uncommon for yachts of this size to have helicopter hangars onboard, full length swimming pools, hospitals , and the list goes on. Imagine that one person owns this monstrosity , truly mind blowing.


Imagine working and living on a boat with 100 odd people. Very different to say M/Y Stalca which is 24 metres (90GT) and operates with 3 crew. There is a world of difference working on Stalca versus Dilbar:



More crew means more friends, big crew nights out and always someone to hangout with. If you love the idea of being around lots of people and having many different perspectives, a larger yacht could be for you. However, it is quite easy to get lost in the crowd with such a large crew.


When there is such a large crew you tend to spend a lot less 1-1 time with people, and therefore it may take you longer to get to know people on a personal level, this can leave people feeling lonely.


On a smaller yacht you become very close with the crew ,your crew quickly becomes your family, for better or for worse ! The pros here are that you get to know people really well, it's more of a family atmosphere, and things are more personal. On the flip side, being on a smaller yacht with a crew you don't get along with can be difficult.


Yachting is an industry where your personal skills are always being tested. You spend so much time with your crew. You have great days with them and tough days with them, being polite and respectful despite the situation will take you a long way in yachting.



Career Progression

Larger yachts tend to offer a broader horizon of career opportunities and progression. Because there is more crew, and more regulatory requirements they have more roles onboard. For example the deck department on a 100 metre yacht could be more than 10 people, with Officers, Bosuns ,Lead Deckhands and Deckhands. Whereas the deckteam on a 30 metre could be two people, a Mate and a Deckhand. Having more roles provides more opportunity to climb the ladder, earn more money and pushes you to gain certification.


Larger yachts also often have specialist roles like Personal Trainer, Videographer, Yoga Instructor, Submarine Pilot, Watersports instructor, or whatever else the ultra wealthy value having onboard. If you have skills outside of yachting ,they could come in handy onboard.


Working on smaller yachts requires the crew to be dynamic, and therefore provides more opportunities to learn about different roles onboard as well as learn different skills faster. For example as a sole deckhand you will have to do everything on deck from anchoring, tender driving, washing down and basic maintenance work like varnishing and caulking, you may also be expected to help out on the interior. It is a great way to learn a variety of skills quickly.



Larger yachts operate with larger budgets and usually operate dual seasons, therefore they offer better packages. A typical junior deckhand or stewardess on an 100M+ yacht could expect 90 days leave ,a training package and an above average salary. The leave will often be in the form of a 3:1 rotation; 3 months onboard followed by 1 month of holiday.


When you begin climbing the ranks on larger yachts it is standard to have a 2:2 rotation, meaning 2 months onboard followed by 2 months paid holiday. Chief Stews, Pursers, Officers and Captains on larger boats are typically all on a 2:2 rotation. Imagine all the things you could do with 2 months of paid leave.


Smaller yachts tend to offer less paid time off. A junior deckhand or stewardess on yachts smaller than 50 metres can expect to be offered +-40 days of annual leave, with industry standard salaries. This is usually made up for in the off season, smaller yachts are more likely to be single season yachts. A smaller yacht will operate -+6 months a year and the rest of the year they will be winterised. The winter period gives the crew an opportunity for some down time. Weekends off mean you can go skiing, or even fly home for the weekend.



The choice between working on larger or smaller yachts in the dynamic world of yachting is a deeply personal one, tailored to individual preferences and career aspirations. Larger yachts, boasting a larger crew, provide an environment conducive to camaraderie and extensive career progression. With more crew members, one can specialise in specific roles and climb the career ladder. Additionally, larger yachts often offer more substantial paid vacation time.


On the other hand, smaller yachts, with their more intimate crew size, foster a familial atmosphere and present roles that are inherently more dynamic. While they may offer fewer crew members, this environment can be appealing for those who seek hands-on experience in various aspects of yachting. Moreover, smaller yachts often come with quieter winter periods, offering a more routine lifestyle of a 9-5 with weekends off.


Yachting is more than a job, it is a lifestyle. Living aboard with your crew for the majority of the year, this lifestyle demands thoughtful consideration. When starting out in yachting it is helpful to work with an agency like Compass Rose Crew, who offer a personal touch to their professional experience. Having their guidance can help in making these important career decisions.


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