Working as an engineer onboard a yacht is very different from the commercial world and any other jobs on land. In the yachting world, the key word is team work. You are working closely with a team where everyone has to make sure the yacht is in perfect condition at all times and the owner/charter guests are enjoying a good vacation.

Yachts are normally privately owned, but there are also private yachts which are chartered. When the yacht has charter guests on board for a week or more, you are working full time and have to cooperate with the crew to ensure the guests are enjoying themselves. If you are not busy in the engine room, you help the other crew members in their respective departments to make sure that everything is running perfectly.

The workload on privately owned yachts, used only by the owner, can vary quite a lot. Some owners use their yacht 4 to 5 months a year, while others only use it for a couple of months. A few yachts are sailing around the world with the owner onboard at all times, while others sometimes order their yacht to be sailed to a specific destination. In those cases you will be quite busy as an engineer depending on the sea time of course.

As an Engineer on a private yacht, it can be a more relaxing job when the owner is onboard for only 2 or 3 months, meaning there will be more time to maintain the yacht.

If you are working onboard a yacht that is also doing charter, it’s more hectic and busier at times. Some yachts are almost fully booked with charter in the high season. After high season, they have a short shipyard period where all the work and maintenance that could not be done during sailing time, is carried out.

Your job as an engineer is to make sure that all electronic, electrical and mechanical systems are fully functioning at all times. Some of your responsibilities would be the main engine, generator, water makers, freezer system, refrigerators, stabilizer system, fuel system, fresh water system, seawater system, bilge system, fire system, air system, steering gear system, rudder system, radio system, washing machine, dryer, air-conditioning, icemaker, black water system, grey water system, black water treatment system, elevator, electrical system and many other systems that you will be in charge of. This will give you a wide variety of experience and responsibilities.


Typically you will have 4-8 weeks of vacation in a 1 year period. Travel expences to the yacht and return is paid for, as well as accomodation and food. Sometimes the work period is 5 months followed by 1 month’s leave; 4 months followed by 2 months leave or 3 months work followed by 3 months leave. On some of the larger yachts it’s becoming more common for Engineers to work on rotation. Bigger yachts ranges from 60 meters and up.

The Salary is generally slightly better than in commercial sailing, usually you earn around double salary, but you also work for longer periods.

What do I get out of working on a yacht?

Work on a yacht is both interesting and fun, but maybe it really should be called a lifestyle. It’s like starting a new life with adventures, great experiences and new friends from around the world.

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