Whether or not you need a crew for a yacht depends on several factors. In this article, we will help you figure out exactly what you need.
Do You Need A Crew For A Yacht?
With the appropriate boat licenses, you can typically operate a boat up to 75 feet without a crew. It’s important to have autopilot installed in order to take brakes and stay the course without help from assisting crew members.
Here’s everything you need to know about when you will need a yacht crew.
What exactly do you need a yacht crew for?
Yacht crews do a lot of things to help maintain the boat and keep it running smoothly.
Some of these duties include:
- Accounting or managing the operating expenses
- Cooking, bartending, or other types of services for guests
- Engineering and/or regular maintenance for onboard appliances and ship mechanics
- Piloting and driving the boat
- Cleaning the interior and general housekeeping duties
- Supervising the crew
Depending on your boat and your experience, you might not need all of those duties to be done. For example, superyachts might need a cook, while sportfishing yachts might not (even if they have a grill). Some boaters prefer to do the piloting and engineering on their own, while others just want to lounge around and enjoy the weather.
Make sure you are analyzing your reasoning for having a boat before you hire people you might not need to employ.
Do you consider boating to be a social activity? Or do you prefer to boat alone, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet that can only be found on the water?
If you’re in the latter group, you may have pondered over one or more of these questions before:
- Can I pilot this boat on my own?
- Do I need a crew?
- Why do I need a crew?
What is the biggest boat I can get without having to hire a professional crew?
For a recreational boat, it really does depend on your experience and how comfortable you are on your boat. Well, that is, unless you’re looking to buy a boat bigger than 100 feet.
That is a lot of boat for just one individual to handle.
For avid and experienced boaters, anywhere from a 50’ to a 74’ sportfishing boat is a decent size which they can handle on their own.
There are many things to consider when figuring out what boat to buy, especially if you plan on operating the watercraft on your own. Remember that you’ll probably need help (even if it’s just your family and/or friends) who can help you cast off the lines and tie up when you need to dock.
Also, keep in mind that you’ll need an autopilot if you plan on using a powerboat on your own. Here’s everything you need to know about which yachts have autopilots.
Yes, a lot of people can handle these tasks on their own, but they also have the help of electronic guiding, pod drives, and bow thrusters, which can help hold the boat’s position while you casually tied off.
Which licenses do I need to operate a yacht without a crew?
We have written another article with everything you need to know about boat license types.
There are several different licenses you need to know about when we are talking yachts. Especially if you are bringing guests (if they are paying for the trip).
Does every motor yacht need to have a crew?
When it comes to boating, there are many different types of people who are drawn to this recreational activity. Some want to race, others fish, while still others just want to cruise around the harbor while catching some rays. In addition to that, some want to spend that time with friends and family, while some just want to enjoy some peace and quiet while out on the water.
There is nothing wrong about being a “do-it-yourself” type of boater, whether you’re into sailing yachts or motor yachts. However, there are plenty of reasons why boating with a crew can come in handy.
Having a crew is safer. It is always safer to go out on the water with other people. In cases of emergencies, when something unexpected happens, or even if you just need a hand with something, it is safer to have other passengers and crew members there for you to count on.
When you are out on the water with a limited crew or by yourself, you have to be extra careful since there isn’t anyone there who can rescue you if you fall overboard. Of course, wearing a life jacket on a regular basis can get cumbersome. Because of that, short-hander boatmen have decided to use the “Lifesling”, which is a horseshoe-shaped collar secured to a victim or towed behind the yacht to help people who fall overboard.
What do I need to own and sail a yacht?
If you choose to set sail on your own, it is important to have the right disaster and spare equipment on board in case of emergency.
In addition, a common checklist of everything you need to do from trailer to getting underway to cleaning the boat can also be handy in case of emergency. After all, it can be difficult to think of what to do when your adrenaline is through the roof.
Let’s go over some basic emergency equipment for your boat as well as some handy spare parts you should keep close at hand:
- PFD’s, horn, fire extinguisher, and other appropriate safety equipment
- Floatation devices and emergency raft
- VHF radio, a cell phone, or a satellite phone
- A pair of binoculars
- Maps and charts
- Two to four fenders
- Some extra dock and anchor lines
- An extra plug for your hull
- An extra set of keys
- A spare bearing set and tire for your trailer
- Some engine oil (just in case)
- A basic tool kit (look and make sure that the tools match the hardware on your boat)
- A couple of flashlights
- Duct tape (which will always come in handy)
- Brush for your boat
- A trailer coupler lock
- Your boat cover
- Some sunscreen and a hat (and other skin protection)
- Spare alternator belt
- Gear lube
- Spark plugs
- An extra set of bearing and hubs
- Extra prop and hardware
- Another water pump kit
- Spare flags for emergency situations
What training do crewmembers need to operate a big yacht?
If you decide to get a crew, each member of your crew is required to have different qualifications, based on their role on the boat. Two of the bigger training certificates are:
- STCW Basic Safety Training – This should be required of your entire crew if they will be working on a charter yacht or a commercial yacht. It is not required for private boats but it is highly desirable and wouldn’t hurt to have on hand.
- ENG1 Seafarer Medical Certificate – This is a medical examination which is required in order to prove whether or not you’re capable of working on the water. This must be issued by an MCA-approved doctor.
By jobs, each of these individuals must have these following certificates in order to qualify to work on a yacht:
- Yacht deckhands (while they are entry-level positions) are required to have the STCW Basic Safety Training and ENG1. In addition, it looks best when they also have the:
- MCA Efficient Deckhand training (EDH)
- Deck/Yacht training
- VHF radio training
- RYA Radar training and the RYA competent crew training
- MCA Proficiency in designated security duties (PDSD)
- RYA Powerboat (at least level 2) and the RYA Tender Operator
- General GRP and carpentry repairs
- Yacht stewards and stewardesses (the people who look after the interior of your yacht) are required to have the STCW Basic Safety Training qualification as well as the:
- An interior crew-training course or courses, such as the PYA GUEST Program
- STCW Proficiency (Medical First Aid) and the STCW Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats
- VHF Radio Short Range Certificate (GMDSS/DSC)
- RYA Powerboat (at least level 2)
- PWC Personal Watercraft Proficiency
- MCA Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD) and the MCA Human Element, Leadership and Management (HELM) at Operational Level
- Yacht engineers manage the boat’s inner workings and make sure that everything is running mechanically sound. They would need to have at least a MCA STCW III/1 Officer of the Watch Certification. It would also be great if they had the:
- Deck / Yacht Rating
- AEC Approved Engine Course
- MEOL Marine Engine Operator License
- Y4 Yacht 4
- Marine Diesel Engineering
- Operational Procedures & Basic Hotel Services
- Auxiliary Equipment & Basic Ship Construction
- MCA Sea Survival for Yachtsman
- Advanced Fire Fighting
- STCW Proficiency in Medical First Aid
- Chief Engineer Statutory & Operational Requirements
- Marine Engine Theory
- Applied Marine Engineering
Having a crew aboard your ship will help you ensure that you have a fun leisurely cruise or voyage. An experienced crew can help ease your tensions and worries. A crew can help alleviate the chaos and energy that might come with frantically doing things on your own.
There are many yachts out on the water which are operated “short-handed”.
This means that it is being operated on less than the usual number of crew members per square feet of the boat.
It used to be common practice that 70-foot boats had dedicated captains and crew members (at least one). These days, 80-foot boats are being manned by husband-wife teams.
If you choose to go this route, make sure to:
- Choose the right yacht for you (the right size and type)
- Outfit the yacht for extra power and simplicity (don’t make things overcomplicated)
- Prep yourselves by talking through scenarios beforehand, planning ahead, and taking your time.
- Consider anchoring via remote controller.
- Have the appropriate emergency gear on board.
Being a short-handed boater can seem intimidating but it can be a wonderful adventure as well.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.