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Are you considering taking holiday on a yacht? Well, it turns out you’re not alone!

The pandemic has resulted in not only a huge surge of interest from travelers looking to charter yachts and even purchase their own, but it’s also lead to an increase in people looking for employment onboard yachts.

If you’re new to the world of yachting, here’s a bit of an introduction to living the high life on the seas.

How You Can Experience Life on a Yacht and What to Expect

Introduction to Yachting

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You may be thinking that yachting is just for the ultra-wealthy, and in most cases you wouldn’t be wrong. Purchasing and maintaining a yacht definitely doesn’t come cheap, with many yachts costing the same as a really nice house.

Of course there is the ability to charter a yacht for a luxurious vacation that will give you a taste of life on the seas without being among the masses of people found on mega cruise ships.

You can also seek out various employment opportunities that are offered both by charter companies and private owners looking for staff to run their yachts.

Crewed yacht charters are definitely one of the most relaxing and stress-free holidays out there, or if you want a bit of adventure and have the appropriate boat operating licenses you may be able to captain your own boat without a crew if it’s under roughly 75 feet in length.

Whether you’re interested in booking an all-inclusive crewed charter, wish to captain your own yacht, were contemplating working on a yacht, or simply curious about yachting, here are some things you should know.

Cost of Yachting

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Let’s first look at what you can expect to pay for either purchasing your own private yacht or simply a holiday charter. As far as purchasing a yacht outright, prices can range considerably.

A 20-30-ft, 50-year-old yacht that is in need of much maintenance might set you back around $20,000, whereas a newer entry-level 50-foot yacht might force you to go well over $100,000.

You then of course have fancier modern yachts that can cost as much as a nice home or may even reach into the millions. However, more importantly than the original upfront cost of purchasing a yacht is the ongoing expenses it will take to maintain it and add upgrades.

For instance, you may need new sails, a dinghy and motor, safety and communication equipment, a life raft, new batteries to run onboard appliances, features like autopilot, and the list goes on. You will likely need to factor in an additional 30-50% above the purchase price to get the boat in the shape you want or need it to be.

… vs Chartering

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As for chartering a boat, you can expect to pay anywhere from 1,000 per night all the way up to well over $50,000 per week for larger ultra-luxury yachts. There are two options when chartering a yacht, all-inclusive or “plus expenses”.

The all-inclusive options means you’ll be getting nearly everything you’ll need including a crew to run the ship, food and drinks, fuel costs, and use of water sports equipment.

Going with a “plus expenses” charter will see you paying an upfront advance provisioning allowance to cover any additional expenses you incur which can add up to be over 30% above the base price.

Both charter options will often also add extra charges to your final bill for docking/mooring fees.

Other factors which can dictate pricing for yacht charters include whether you book a trip in or out of peak travel season and where you book. Prices will be more competitive or cheap where there are more vessels on offer such as in the Bahamas or Mediterranean.

Chartering Vs Owning: The Experience

Having covered the cost aspect, you can now see that it’s likely much less expensive to charter a yacht rather than buy one if you don’t plan on hitting the seas very often due to the ongoing maintenance costs of owning a ship.

There really are so many running costs associated with yachts that although it may seem expensive for a simple 2-week holiday, it’s actually much less per trip than if you were to own your own yacht that you seldom take out.

Chartering is also the much easier and stress-free option since all the difficult work is removed such as cleaning the inside and outside of the yacht before and after trips out.

A crew takes care of all the planning, navigating, cooking, cleaning, and other grunt work. There is also no need to then worry about where you’ll store your yacht when not in use.

Chartering is also much more flexible and allows you the opportunity to experience new boats each trip. You can plan a yachting trip to the French Riviera this year, and then to the Great Barrier Reef next year without having to sail your vessel between two destinations as you would need to do if you would otherwise own your own yacht.

It is important to note that chartering does require you to plan ahead since you cannot simply set sail on a whim as you could with your own yacht. Be aware of how much notice you need and how peak season will affect both availability and rates.

Mooring, Anchoring, & Docking

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It goes without saying that yachts are often not sailing and instead sit idle near shore. Yachts of course need to be secured in place near shore when not on the go.

There are three basic ways to secure your boat and they include mooring, anchoring, and docking.

Times when you may be securing your yacht include when you’re enjoying shore excursions, fueling up, stopping for a swim or fishing, waiting out storms, or preparing for sleep at night.

Securing your boat may be for just a few hours time or may be for months at a time depending on the reason.

Mooring Your Yacht

Mooring is when you tie your boat up to a fixed object such as a dock, mooring buoy, pier, or jetty. Mooring often entails “parking” your yacht in a designated berth spot.

You can also moor your yacht to other yachts, which is called “rafting up”, but most often you will simply moor your yacht in a designated berth of a moorage location among other yachts, much like a vehicle parking space in a parking lot.

When deciding on which yacht moorage is right for, consider mooring your vessel in a more luxurious yacht harbor such as Emerald Landing which is found just outside of Seattle near the Puget Sound.

Premier yacht moorage locations such as this one offer private berthing options with luxuries like security, drive-on docks, fuel bunkering, plentiful shore power, and onsite shipping, receiving, and forklift services which makes arranging deliveries to your yacht easy.

Docking Your Yacht

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Docking also involves securing your boat to a fixed object such as a dock or pier, but it differs from mooring in that docking is more for temporary stops as opposed to longer term mooring in a berth spot.

Docking also involves a bit different equipment, often involving dock line ropes, rubber fenders on your yacht, and using nautical knots to secure your boat to the dock as you pull up alongside it.

Anchoring Your Yacht

Anchoring is often a less secure way to keep your yacht in one place, but it’s also much more independent than docking/mooring. Anchoring allows you to secure your boat in the water at depths where your anchor can reach of course.

Some yachts now come with built-in anchoring systems which makes the process quite easy. The type of anchor that will attach your yacht to the seabed will depend on whether the seabed consists of sand, mud, coral, or seagrass.

Choosing a Yachting Destination

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There are many destinations around the world that are well-suited for yachting holidays including the French Riviera, US Virgin Islands, Greek Islands, and America’s Pacific Northwest. Even Dubai is now becoming a top yachting destination, with Dubai Marina being the focal point.

The key to choosing a yachting destination that’s right for you and your family or friends is careful planning and taking everyone’s individual preferences onboard.

Some people really enjoy places where there are ample shore excursions while others would rather stay out at sea more. Do you wish to be moored up each night so you can enjoy dining at restaurants or do you not mind settling in for a feast onboard each night?

Another thing when considering a yachting destination if you plan on being the captain is how good your sailing skills are. Some destinations are much easier to navigate than others. You should also factor in the distances between places you wish to sail to.

Lastly, whether you will be captaining your own yacht or going the charter route, be sure to be flexible with your itinerary. Weather can often throw a kink in your travel plans, forcing you to come up with a Plan B in terms of where you sail to and when.

Working on a Yacht

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So, what’s it like to work on a yacht? While I’ve never personally had the opportunity to work on a yacht, I know a number of friends and family that have.

There are two basic employment options when it comes to working on a yacht, working on a private yacht for a single owner and working on a charter yacht that is hired by many different people.

Private and charter yacht employment have a number of differences beginning with the salary. You can usually expect a higher base salary working on a private yacht, with the possibility of large year-end bonuses, whereas charter yacht salaries are often lower but add in tips or gratuities that are paid by guests, which can be substantial in some cases depending on your clients.

Charter yachts tend to travel more, equating to more hours of work and busier schedules throughout the year. Working on a yacht isn’t your average 9 to 5, rather you may regularly find yourself working 12+ hour shifts to keep up with the daily demands of the guests, especially on charter yachts.

There are often many perks working on a yacht including free accommodation in the form of a shared or private cabin, a large wardrobe of outfits/uniforms for different jobs and occasions, complimentary toiletries, and free meals often prepared by the onboard chef as well as a communal staff kitchen where you can dish up your own meals or snacks.

Because there are few if any expenses when working on yacht, you can quickly save a good deal of money. Just know that it is hard work and you may be responsible for performing a variety of jobs.

Some yachting jobs may require you to be quite social with guests, while others will involve you remaining largely invisible and just performing the tasks you are trained to do.

Life Onboard a Yacht as a Guest

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While enjoying a holiday on a yacht is largely a carefree experience where you are pampered and catered to, there are a few written and unwritten rules to follow.

Your responsibility begins with listening to the initial safety briefings so you know what to do in case of an emergency at sea. Then it’s about showing proper etiquette by showing care and respect for both the ship and its crew.

Being friendly to the staff will ensure they go the extra mile to making your vacation truly memorable. It’s equally as important to keep the yacht staff well informed of both your daily needs and of situations that arise whether it’s accidents that happen onboard or you having a change of daily onshore travel plans.

You may also want to have cabins pre-assigned when traveling with friends and family on a charter. Equally important is knowing what essentials to pack for a yachting holiday and what to leave at home since space is often rather limited.

Always allow the crew to do their job, and while you can ask for extra favors, they shouldn’t be expected to do things like babysit your kids or be placed in uncomfortable situations.

Lastly, while you may think yachts are synonymous with drug use, there is often a zero tolerance policy with charter yachts. This is because if caught by authorities with drugs onboard, a yacht can be seized, captain arrested, and various business operating licenses can be suspended or revoked.

Yachting During the Pandemic

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The pandemic has altered many facets of travel life, including yachting. While there’s no need to cancel your yachting plans, there may be greater restrictions and certain destinations that may be off limits at the moment.

The seaports of certain countries may have closed to international visitors or you may need to seek preapproval or be forced into a period of onboard quarantine upon arrival.

Of course, many countries are now also only allowing fully vaccinated travelers entry, along with providing a negative Covid test upon arrival.

If chartering a yacht with a group of people from multiple nationalities, take note that certain nationalities may be prohibited from entering some countries based on prevalence of the virus in certain countries they may be traveling from.

I hope I have been able to shed a bit more light on the world of yachting. Yachting has always been popular but the recent pandemic has taken it to a whole new level, where more and more people besides just the rich and famous are becoming interested.

While it can prove to be an expensive travel experience to enjoy, there are cheaper charter options available, especially in the off-season.

As I’ve also just highlighted, you could get a taste for the yachting lifestyle for free simply by finding employment on a charter or for a private yacht owner.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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