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Although many people dream of becoming wealthy enough to purchase a yacht, few ever dream of being well off enough to afford the crew needed to safely sail it. Even the smallest yacht requires a captain and a deckhand to properly sail, and as craft get larger, so do their need for a crew. Although salaries often depend on the size of the yacht, they’re also variable by experience.
Deckhands are general laborers on a yacht. They’re given daily duties to attend to and may work inside or on the deck of a yacht. Entry-level deckhands begin work on a larger vessel so they can learn the ropes, then may be placed on smaller craft when they’re experienced enough to work independently. Deckhands’ average salaries don’t usually vary by the size of the ship, and most earn between $30,000 and $44,000 a year as of December 2010, according to the Luxury Yacht Group and Crewfinders.
Stewards and Stewardesses
Stewards and stewardesses attend to the needs of passengers on board yachts, providing room service and, in some situations, help in the kitchen. Stewards earn $30,000 to $40,000 annually as of December 2010, according to the Luxury Yacht Group. Chief stewards manage the steward staff and manage on-ship needs. Those on vessels between 100 and 140 feet long earn between $36,000 and $72,000 per year, while those on larger boats earn salaries of $60,000 to $108,000 annually.
As the second in command on the bridge, the first officer assists the captain in piloting and navigational duties, and commands the yacht when the captain is off duty or indisposed. First officers’ annual salaries as of 2010 start at $48,000 to $60,000 when serving on craft between 70 and 100 feet in length, and may exceed $80,000 annually when serving aboard ships longer than 190 feet, according to Crewfinders.
Holding captain licenses and certificates and serving as the general manager for a yacht while it’s on the sea, the captain commands the yacht and is the final authority on every staffing detail. Captains must have engineering knowledge and understand nautical safety perfectly. Captains on the smallest yachts earn $48,000 to $96,000 annually as of 2010, while senior master captains, with a decade or more at the helm commanding yachts larger than 120 feet in length may earn $96,000 to $204,000 each year, according to the Luxury Yacht Group.
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.