The Best Sailing Jobs

By Eric Hammer

Sailing jobs come in all shapes and sizes. For example, some sailing jobs involve working and actually paying a small amount of money for the privilege of doing it. While this may sound a little Mark Twain like, it's not. In essence, boats cost a lot of money to run and keep in good order. Never mind the cost of the crew salaries, if salaries are paid.

Sometimes, in order to save money, a boat owner will offer to allow people to work on his or her boat in exchange for simply sharing the basic costs of sailing. This will typically entail a few dollars per day (as little as $20 per day and as much as $100 per day, depending on what kind of boat you work on). The idea is that you are like a partner in the boat's ownership, you get to enjoy the sea along with everyone else and simply work the way you might if you actually owned the boat.

Other times, you can get jobs where you work for free crewing a small ship (typically, by taking care of the delivery of a ship) and then your "pay" is the chance to go and enjoy sailing. Some places will even pay for your airfare to go home.

The final kind of sailing jobs involve actually getting paid as crew on things like a luxury yacht. The catch of course is that you need some experience in order to land these kinds of jobs. You will also typically be signed on for long term contracts rather than working for just a few days or weeks. However, if you can find jobs like this, the pay can be pretty good.

How Much Can You Make?

As noted, many sailing jobs don't involve getting paid at all. However, for those who do work as paid crew on a boat, the money can be decent. Professional captains for example on luxury yachts typically earn their salary based on the number of feet a boat runs and can earn as much as $1,000 per year per foot (so for a 250 foot yacht, not at all uncommon - even quite small by many standards, one might earn as much as $250,000 per year). According to Salary Expert however, a more realistic number for a professional boat captain would be in the range of $100,000 per year.

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Remember that no one wants to hire you if you don't look like someone they can trust. You need to present yourself as a professional when looking for work and not show up looking like, well - a drunken sailor.

Be sure to check out the people you'll be sailing with. Make sure they are people you feel comfortable with because you will be out on the high seas for an extended period of time with them. Once you're out there, in the middle of nowhere, there really will be nowhere to go so you need to know you can trust these people.

Also, remember that storms and other problems can be hazardous. Be prepared to get soaked when your ship is sailing through a storm.

Qualifications / Requirements

Even if you know nothing about sailing, it's often possible to get work as a sailor by offering to work for free or offering to help pay the costs of running the boat. Just keep an eye on costs. Some people will try to take advantage and charge you way more than it costs to run the boat, thus turning a nice profit for themselves. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, given that they tend to lie about what's going on, these people should be avoided.

First Steps

While some jobs are available on the Internet, the best sailing jobs can still be found by going where the boats are. Fort Lauderdale, Rhode Island and the Bahamas are all popular places for private ships to dock. Often, they are looking to take on crew and this is your chance. If you have no experience or very little experience, plan to work on short hauls where you either pay a nominal amount to share the cost of running the boat or where you work for free in exchange for crewing the delivery of a boat. Just drop by the docks and start talking to people. The jobs are generally easy to find, especially if you have experience, though as we said, even those who have never sailed can often land some kind of job.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about sailing jobs:

Work on a Boat - This is a listing of actual jobs currently available to work on a boat.

Sail Net Forums - A great place to ask all your questions about getting sailing jobs.

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