What’s your job really worth?
New crew entering the world of yachting are blinded by the big shiny boats, exotic travel, and über wealth. Get paid and travel? Images of being bikini clad, drinking champagne, and fanning yourself with hundred dolla’ bills yo! Once a Greenie lands their first job, their initial question is, “What am I going to get paid?”. Hey, isn’t that what working is all about?!
If you’re just starting out, don’t expect to make $5000 a month. You don’t have the knowledge, skill set, or dues paid to earn that sort of money. Most likely, you’ll be placed in a basic junior position making anywhere from $2400 – $3000 a month. If you charter, you’ll get tips added on to your base salary. While new crew might scoff (at such a pitty pay), it just shows they are not thinking of the true benefits they’re earning.
For this post, I’m going to low ball it and use a very realistic base salary of $2500 a month.
Room vs. Rent: While you might share a cabin on a yacht, at least you’re not spending $1,000 on rent per month.
Utilities spent alongside rent: Electric/gas: $70. Water/sewar: $40. Trash (if not provided): $20. Cable/Internet: $100. Cleaning supplies/improvements (detergent, sponges, lightbulbs): $20. Renters insurance: $20.
Meals vs. Groceries: Average spent per meal/per crew member: $10. Three meals a day = $30. $30 per day x 30 days = $900. So you’re fed about $900 worth of groceries and meals on board per month that you didn’t have to even make! (unless you’re a chef!) In the default world, the average person spends about $200+/- a month on groceries for themselves. Add on restaurant visits – well, the skies the limit you lobstah lovin’ snob!
Car payments: Varies. If you’ve sold your car, you’re saving anywhere from $250 – $600 a month. Depending on vehicle. Oh, and add on car insurance for another $100 a month.
Car storage: If you didn’t sell, and can’t keep it with friends or family, you’ll need a storage unit… another $100 a month.
Gas: When in Fort Lauderdale, I spend an average of $200 – $300 a month on gas. Which is on par with average US fuel consumption. However, this depends on how much you drive and what you drive. I drive a fair bit, and love my
(hungry-hungry-hippo) Hemi powered Grand Cherokee. Don’t even start, you hippy Prius drivers…I’ll run you over. If you’re not driving, you’re not spending. Trust me, no crew is filling up the crew car, owners boat, tenders, and/or toys out of their own pockets!
Cell phones: Most Americans are forced to sign contracts for cell service, so quite a few of us still keep our cells active. Monthly bills can be anywhere from $85+ for these services if you are an active smart phone user. If you’ve shut it off due to high travel, you’re saving all that money on service! (FaceTime and Skype along with free Wifi seem to be the apps of choice for international travel)
Toiletries: Certain toiletries are provided by the boat. General hygiene items such as: toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, shave cream, deodorant. While not all of these products are purchased every month – say you purchase them every three months. Every three months you go through $60+ worth of products, that’s an extra $20+ a month in your pocket. (Makeup, perfumes, specialty face washes/lotions, specialty hair products are all on your own dollar)
Medications: Any medications you need such as Advil, Benadryl, cold medications, sea sickness tablets, bandages, and well being items are provided for your health and safety aboard. While you may not be a hypochondriac, most people do use trivial amounts of these items per month.
Health Insurance: Health insurance is damn expensive – especially for an American! A few boats offer full medical and dental. You won’t be covered for the first 3-6 months, as per insurance company policies, but it’s a perk to stay on board! Feel great knowing that while working, any accident you have aboard the boat, the boat is responsible for your medical care. This pretty much goes for any job, but yachting especially.
Uniforms vs. Clothing for a desk job: Your uniforms are provided for you. At a bare minimum, you have three polos and three pairs of shorts (one on you, one in the wash, and one in the closet). Most yachts have two or more sets of uniforms. If this is the case, the boat has spent $60 on each polo (with embroidery) x 6 polos = $360. About the same price on shorts. $360 x 2 = $720. That’s $720 for just shorts and polos for guest appearances!
This is not including jackets (regular and foul weather gear), sweaters, work t-shirts (long and short sleeve), work shorts, shoes, and dress uniform (if worn). Say these uniforms are changed out every season or two. That’s a big clothing budget for just one crew member!
A desk job usually requires fresh, crisp, and smart looking clothing. Nice clothes cost money1
Travel and days off in exotic locations: Whether its a weekend away, or two weeks in the desert (see The Burner Yachtie: Why Yacht Crew Excel at Burning Man.), I tend to spend a few thousand dollars on me-time away from the boat each year. We all need time away so we’re not completely 100%
If you’re not able to spend time away, think of your days off. Say you get 7 “fun” days off per month (or season if you’re like us) in the Caribbean. Do you understand how much people pay to fly, stay, and eat there for one weeks vacation? Add. That. On.
Sure, there are plenty of trivial items missing from this list, but the basics benefits and values are covered. I could spend the entire day building charts, adding and subtracting numbers, and coming up with a solid monetary answer. I’m not going to do that. Most of you are intelligent enough to get the gist.
So, that $2500 you started with? It has easily doubled without you even noticing!