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Copyright Matt Canham.

Getting a job as a crew member on a luxury mega-yacht.

Larry Ellison, Paul Allen and Tiger Woods all have them.

I'm talking about mega-yachts - privately owned floating palaces. In case you aren't already aware, a mega-yacht is any motor or sail powered yacht over 24m in length. They have award winning interiors, the very best navigation equipment available and a permanent compliment of crew who live on board and travel with the yacht where ever it goes.

And the jobs are open to anyone.

The crews are comprised mostly of Australians, Kiwis, South Africans, Canadians, Europeans, South Americans and the odd US citizen. The industry is dominated by hard working travelers, eager for tax free US dollars and the lifestyle.

The lifestyle of being a 'yachtie' and chasing the sun is very hard to beat. Being surrounded by opulence is a lot of fun, not to mention berthing downtown at some of the finest cities in the world.

Most of the work is spent keeping the yacht looking pristine and when the guests are aboard, long hours ensue, but here are some of the benefits:

* Great tax free salary
* All expenses paid including free food, wine, beer
* At least one paid trip home each year
* Travel to some of the best places on earth
* Meeting VIPs, Captains of industry and celebrity types

* Use of the tenders and jet skis

Most of the yachts will move between the US, the Med and the Caribbean, but 99% of them are registered in offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands. This allows people of all nationalities to work on yachts located in the US or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The yachts themselves tend to travel together and frequent the best parts of the world at the best times to be there.

The real work only exists when the owners and guests are on board and then it is all about service. The yachts are used exclusively by the owner or chartered out. The number of guests will vary, but it is not uncommon for the owners and several guests to be on board at the same time.

Below are some brief descriptions of jobs available on mega-yachts:

Captain - responsible for the running of the yacht and yearly running budget Mate - link between captain and crew members from all departments
Bosun - responsible for deck staff
Deckhand - responsible for upkeep of yacht.

Engineer - reports directly to the Captain. Responsible for the myriad systems on board the yacht
2nd Engineer - assists the engineer with engineering tasks and keeping the engine room immaculate.

Head Chef - works with owners/Captain to set menus
Assistant Chef - assists the Head Chef as required.

Chief Stewardess - responsible for entire interior and uniforms for all crew. Like a cruise director in many ways
Stewardess - responsible for keeping interior looking immaculate.

The smallest yachts will have 3 or 4 multi-tasking crew members while the largest have over 50. On some occasions, staff will assist the other departments.

Even though the Yachts are mostly registered in offshore tax havens, as vessels, they still need to comply with the standards set down by the MCA (Maritime and Coast Guard agency - UK).

One of the recent changes is the requirement for all crew members to be STCW95 certified. This course covers survival at sea, fire fighting, first aid and occupational health and safety. Most yachts will require crew members to already have this, although there are still some yachts that will pay for their crew to complete the course.

A word on pay.

Crew on privately owned yachts receive straight salary, but crew on charter yachts - which cost anywhere from $50,000 and up per week to charter - offer tips as well. Usually 10-15% of the total cost, they are usually divided amongst the crew. Charter yachts are hard work, but the money to be made is exceptional.

For the itinerant, hard working traveler, mega-yachts offer a very lucrative way to live in luxury and see the world. As more and more people become wealthy and get into the mega-yacht industry, the demand for crew members will only increase.

Do you want to be out there with them?

Matt Canham has worked on mega-yachts in Seattle, San Diego and Ft Lauderdale. He has a resource site at: http://mega-yacht-jobs.marinerblue.com

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