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How to Become a Yacht Delivery Captain

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Professional yacht delivery work involves safely transporting a vessel by water to a new destination. Examples of yacht deliveries include: yacht manufacturers that send new vessels to their dealers, owners who send their vessels to the Caribbean for the winter, and yacht brokers who send newly purchased vessels to their new owners. Regardless of the delivery’s purpose, each yacht is captained by a licensed professional who supervises the crew and ensures the well being of the vessel.

Broaden your boating experience. You will be required to step onto vessels of all sizes and configurations, and competently captain them to their destination. Captained vessels might include 30-foot sailboats with straightforward operating systems.

Conversely, you might be tasked with delivering a 65-foot motor yacht with complex operational systems and a shipboard computer. To increase your capabilities, gain more sea time with other captains and boating associates. Serve as unpaid crew if necessary.

Obtain your Coast Guard Captain’s License. To be considered for delivery work with reputable manufacturers, brokers, and owners, you need to acquire a United States Coast Guard Captain’s License. This license may also be necessary for the delivery trip to be covered under the vessel owner’s insurance policy.

There are several different categories of Coast Guard Captain’s Licenses. Progressively higher-level licenses require more days of on-the-water time, plus broader written and practical exam knowledge. The licenses range from a “Six Pack License,” which enables the captain to assume paid command of a vessel with six or less passengers, to a 100-Ton Master License. The latter license enables the captain to command a vessel up to 100 gross register tons that is Coast Guard certified and that carries more than six passengers.

Choose your yacht delivery boundaries. Decide how far you want to travel, and for how long, for a yacht delivery job. Consider your personal commitments and the cost effectiveness of the job. If the compensation and job duration are attractive, you may accept that opportunity.

Prepare your yachting resume. Assemble a detailed summary of your boating experience. Include details on the size and type of vessels you have captained, plus completed courses or certifications. Highlight special skills such as engine repair or systems maintenance from your military or professional career.

Market yourself to yacht brokerages. Yacht brokers may need yacht delivery captains for transport of listed vessels to the brokerage; or to move just-sold yachts to new berths. Visit regional brokerage offices to offer your delivery services. Yacht brokerage offices can be located through the Yacht Brokers Association of America.

Visit upscale marinas and yacht clubs. Make the rounds of nicer marinas with well-appointed vessels. Ask marina management about seasonal yacht delivery opportunities.

Yacht club access may be possible through a friend or colleague who is a member. Inquire about yacht transport work at the beginning or end of a boating season.

Visit regional boat dealerships. Target dealerships that have larger vessels scheduled to arrive from the manufacturer. Because the vessels’ dimensions make them difficult to transport by land, delivery captains may bring the vessels to the dealership.

The dealer and manufacturer may be willing to include an additional captain in the vessel delivery rotation. If captain opportunities aren’t feasible, consider signing onto the delivery as crew to build your on-the-water time.


When presenting yourself for work as a yacht delivery captain, you may enhance your credibility with a professional appearance.


When completing logbook entries for your Coast Guard Captain's License, be aware that all entries must be signed by the captains with whom you sail. Any attempt to falsify logbook entries may jeopardize the issuance of your license.