Meet the Girls On Deck: Introducing 3 Female Crew

YPI CREW proudly showcases the talents of skilled crew and matches the best candidates with the most appealing yacht crew jobs, regardless of gender. We took the time to speak to three female deckhands to learn more about how they got into the yachting industry and what their roles involve.

The questions asked:

1) Where are you from? What’s your background?

2) How did you get into yachting?

3) What is your crew position? What do your tasks involve?

4) Did you have any transferrable skills before you thought about yachting? ie hospitality experience for interior crew, mechanics experience for an engineer etc.

5) Do you feel like yachting needs to be a male-dominated industry?

6) How did you find your current crew position? What size yacht are you on?

7) What are your career aspirations?

8) What advice do you have for females hoping to break into the yachting industry?

Chantelle Hardie, Deckhand.

1) I’m from Cape Town in South Africa. I have two degrees in business, marketing, entrepreneurship and enterprise management. I worked to climb the corporate ladder for 8 years and then was advised to join yachting by my brother, who had been in the industry for 6-7 years.

2) I went to Antibes, dockwalked every single day, did lots of daywork and networking, and the job offers just flew in. I did register with a yacht crew agency and saw them weekly. Social media is an amazing tool these days to find work.

3) I started in the galley, working as a head chef and Sous chef on a few boats between 50m and 65m. I was in the galley on a Friday afternoon and all the boys were washing down outside. I got ‘fear of missing out,’ and that’s the day I decided I wanted to work on deck permanently. I then got my first break as a deckhand and have never looked back. My deck duties include all exterior maintenance, driving tenders, watersports and navigational watchkeeping.

4) I have a little bit of hospitality experience but the most transferable skill was physical strength and fitness.

5) I feel like there is an amazing dynamic going on in the industry at the moment, from female bosuns and chief officers to male chief stewards. The industry is really starting to catch up with the times.

6) All my positions have been through contacts, word of mouth and networking. Dockwalking was the start of it though. I have just left a 50m boat.

7) One day, I would like to work towards my master 3000 and become a Captain.

8) For anyone coming into the industry, the best thing you can do is listen, learn, be wise, have common sense, and have an ability to roll with the punches. It’s not an easy job or an easy lifestyle, but the rewards do far outweigh the sacrifices. Networking is the most essential part of what we do, whether it is with crew, agencies or guests. A good attitude and a likeable personality will get you so far.

Sarah, 38, Deckhand.

female yacht crew

1) I’m from the US, but lived in the UK for 10 years. I previously worked for the Probation Service doing group therapy.

2) I disliked my job so I went travelling for six months, which included a sailing trip on a 46 ft monohull. I absolutely fell in love with sailing and asked the captain if I could stay onboard and help out for free while he taught me how to sail. He said yes and I was on the boat for 2 years, eventually getting a paid position. I found out that there was a huge yachting industry in which more money could be made so I took some courses and got a job! I’ve always loved the water so it was the perfect job for me.

3) I am a deckhand. Right now I’m working on a motoryacht/river barge, cruising through the canals of Europe. The role entails overseeing the line handling through the canals, polishing exterior stainless steel, doing washdowns, teak scrubs, cleaning the tender and general upkeep of the exterior. I am also required to assist with interior duties as needed.

4) I worked in restaurants when I was going to university, so I had some hospitality experience. My background in psychology certainly helps me deal with tough crew dynamics and making guests happy and comfortable!

5) No, not at all. It is male-dominated which is a shame. However, I have met many amazing male captains and deckhands who have shown me how to do the tasks that require strength in alternative ways. By using other tools or using my body in a certain way to get maximum strength, I can do every job with ease. This has taught me that anything is possible!

6) I found my current position on a 30m yacht through Facebook.

7) At the end of the season, I’m going to take the Yachtmaster Offshore exam. I don’t want to be a captain because there is a lot of responsibility and issues to deal with, but I would love to work as part of delivery crews to make money for the boat I will one day buy.

8) For each male chauvinistic that is out there, there are lots of good guys that will restore your faith in the industry, so don’t let the bad ones ruin what could be a great career. Choose your battles; sometimes it’s worth speaking up for yourself and other times it’s best to save your energy. The important thing is to have confidence in your own ability and to ignore negativity from others.

Kirstie, 25, Deckhand on 100m+ Superyacht.

female yacht crew

1) I am English and I have a background in oceanographic science.

2) I always wanted to work at sea. I had a friend who did a season on superyachts and I thought it would be a good way to pay off university debts and travel – little did I know it would turn into a full-time career.

3) I am a deckhand but we are really hands on. I do everything from watersports to tender driving and launching, whipping and splicing lines etc, washdowns and teak maintenance, safety drills, accompany guests, bridge watches and more. It’s all maintenance, like painting and sanding wood and metal repairs etc. I love it!

4) I actually had 8 years of hospitality experience, as well as lots of watersports and sailing experience. I have also worked on lots boats for scientific purposes: I worked as an academic demonstrator, teaching 6th form students (16-18 year-olds) science on-board a research vessel.

5) Not at all. I think that it works both ways. I’ve met good and bad deck/engineers/stews of both genders. It doesn’t need to be about gender. If you can do the job then great. I’ve been lucky in that most of the guys I’ve worked with haven’t given my gender a second thought and I’m currently with an awesome team where it’s not a problem. I also feel for the stewards trying to make it on the interior. I think the sexism debate in yachting goes both ways. It’s definitely becoming more inclusive though and attitudes are certainly changing.

6) I found all my positions through yacht crew agencies. I am currently on a superyacht that exceeds 100m in length.

7) I am currently working towards my OOW unlimited with an aim to end up on a larger expedition boat, in order to bring a bit more science back into my life! I’d love to use my degree a bit more.

8) My advice would be: don’t give up. Most people are willing to help and I was lucky to meet an amazing crew who gave me 2 months of day work and some great advice. It was a real leg up into the industry but it took me 3 months to find that. Just keep plugging away and if you want to be a deckhand or an engineer, don’t settle for stew work. I took deck/stew and engineering day work but I stood my ground to get where I wanted. You just need hard work and persistence. The same goes for having to prove yourself a little on board. It will take a bit longer to prove you can do things so just get stuck in and get on with it and people will realise your worth in the end!