How Easy Is It For A South African To Get A Job On A Super Yacht? A Saffa Stew Tells All

There’s a growing trend for young South Africans to work aboard luxury super yachts, earning dollars and seeing the world! But how easy is it to get a job? Here’s one young South African’s firsthand account of her experience looking for work in Antibes…

Antibes in the South of France has become home to many South Africans seeking work aboard yachts. Photo: Pixabay

Saffas in Yachting

I left South Africa for Antibes in the South of France on the 9th April this year for my first yachting season. Extremely excited, and fresh out of university, I was ready for something different… writes Jayne Thomson*.

The amount of organizing and effort it took to even begin my yachting journey was enormous; from visas to extra barista and other courses to try help increase my chances of landing a job.

I moved into a crew-house which was essential for a “greenie”, new to the industry.

The Old Town of Antibes on the left with the super yachts in port on the right, and the Alps in the background. Photo: Jenni Baxter

However, I was a little shocked at how competitive everything was. Everyone was competing for the same jobs and stress was extremely high. Things like “I got an interview today what about you?” or “wow you still haven’t gotten daywork?” or “you’ve been here longer than I expected you to be” were often said to me.


I wish someone had prepared me for the mental battle that comes with struggling to find a job.*

It is very tough and you constantly go through ups and downs of: getting an interview only for them to choose someone else and having to start the process all over again. And, as much as you try not to, you compare your journey to everyone else’s around you.

The dream… travelling to places like Portofino, Italy, but it’s not all smooth sailing finding a job on a superyacht. Photo: Jenni Baxter

Constant questions like “how much longer can I live on the Euro before I run out of money?” and “when do I cut my losses and just fly home?” and “WHY is no one hiring me?” surround you.

Some South Africans also have a bad reputation in yachting. We are extra work for the captains because of our visas as well as there just being SO many of us haha! I remember giving my CV to a captain that said “another South African?? You are about the 70th one today.”

It took me a total of six weeks to find a job, I did not even get daywork haha!

I got my job through a final desperate decision to make a funny Facebook post on the yachting groups (even though I promised myself I would never do it). It was a success and I got many interviews from it, and finally a job.

My yacht is very different to other yachts in that I had to figure out my visa myself. It was definitely a problem trying to stamp myself onto the boat but after three attempts it finally worked!

Now that all the negative stuff is out the way, I would say yachting is one of the best things I’ve ever done!

Living completely on my own in a foreign country for six weeks was incredible to experience and so much fun. Meeting the most amazing people and learning life lessons such as not everything in life comes so easily and if you really want it, you have to earn it 🙂

The Blue Lady pub in Antibes – a favourite amongst the South African, British, Kiwi and Australian crew members… along with Drinkers’ Club, Happy Face and the Hop Store.

My chief stew is also my long lost best friend, we have become so close in the three months I’ve been on my boat that she has booked her flights to South Africa for December to come visit!

My top tips for getting into the industry would be to make yourself stand out from the other thousands of greenies. Too many yachts wanted someone with a masseuse qualification, or a tender driver course, so do any extra courses that would help make you unique. I would also say keep at it! A positive attitude gets you so far 🙂

Also make sure to not blame yourself for not getting a job (unless of course you’re not actively doing everything you can to get it ;)), it’s often that people get over 250 emails or have seen 100 dock-walkers that day and just cannot help everyone.

So stay positive, work the hardest you’ve ever done and you will definitely land that job! 🙂

Good luck to all the new greenies out there!

*Not Jayne’s real name.

Send us your questions

Our next article will deal with another hot topic surrounding expat tax 2020 and how it will affect seafarers and yacht crew. Please send through any questions you may have about working on boats, how expat tax will affect you and other financial considerations to admin@sapeople.com. These will be addressed in a Seafarers FAQ article to be published at the end of September.

Training in South Africa

*If you’re in South Africa looking to work in the yachting industry, contact Lauren Norton at Trilogy Luxury Training, the only internationally accredited GUEST trainer in South Africa and she also trains for the British Butler Institute of London. Follow Trilogy Luxury Training on Facebook here.

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