Income prevents crew leaving yacht jobs

Aug 6, 2013 by Rob Gannon

As a coach, I speak with many people about transitions, growth and possibly changing careers. One common theme or concern often comes to the forefront, and that is money.

This is a valid issue, indeed. After working in the yachting industry for a few years and being skilled at what you do, you have probably gotten to a decent place regarding wage. You have probably gotten use to the income amount and the life it enables. Some of your skills will transfer to other occupations shore side, but your salary may not. Can you be OK with that?

Working as crew on a yacht is quite a unique position. You are part of the service industry but a very unique part. It is high-end service with high-end clientele and expectations. With the ability to live aboard in most cases, overhead can be low and savings can grow. It’s a great way to put away a nice chunk of money in a relatively short amount of time. If you’re in a good situation you enjoy, it’s a pretty good gig.

I do, however, hear from some that they are growing tired of the life. They think about other interests and ways of life, but the money is keeping them aboard. This is certainly understandable and highlighted by the fact that a move to a land-based service industry position could mean a substantial drop in income.

Captains are in a different situation. These days, running a megayacht can be more of a management position, so captains can certainly claim some management skills ashore. As far as moving ashore and remaining a captain, I think most know — and I speak from personal experience — the money is not going to be the same. Running day trips, tour boats and ferries or doing some kind of instruction isn’t going to bring in yacht-captain money.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. These are just some realities of staying in similar skill and industry choices ashore. The good news is, you don’t have to.

As a coach, I often remind people of their abilities and possibilities. I truly believe we can do more than we think we can. Believe is the key word here. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will certainly limit yourself and you may struggle with change and growth.

Beliefs shape how we view the world. Do you believe there is opportunity and money to be made? Do you believe you are unique and have something to offer this world that is of value?

I could list a dozen more belief questions but I think you get it; what you believe will direct much of your life. If you agree with that statement, look how powerful your beliefs can be. If you believe there is probably no way to make the money you’re making now, you will probably find that true. If you believe you don’t need as much as you are making now, you will probably find that true. Those who believe they can’t and those who believe they can are both right.

I have heard clients put all kinds of limits and negative beliefs on situations without having the facts to really back any of it up. One reason for this is humans want safety and comfort; the ego resists growth and change. We then create scenarios and what we swear are valid reasons not to proceed.

But are they true? Do you really know they are true? Can you speak with such certainty if you haven’t really gathered all your information? It’s important be aware of this tendency to put the brakes on. We can all find reasons not to follow through with things; at this we are good.

Other important questions to ask when considering a change are: is money my primary motivator and can I really predict how much I can earn? What stage of life you are at or entering will affect the answer.

Perhaps money is not the top priority. Are you seeking more meaning or purpose? Most industries have a general pay scale but are you going to stay within that? You don’t have to. You could develop multiple streams of income. Do you believe you can?

This evaluation is specific to each individual. All our financial positions are different. By all means, consult with your financial adviser if need be, gain as much knowledge as you can and then check in on what you believe.

Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach ( Comments on this column are welcome at