Boom in demand for skippers: how to become one and how much you earn

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The skipper for powerboats (and also sailboats) is the phenomenon of the moment. The demand for motor boat captains is very high. Our survey explains how to train, what job opportunities the market offers, and how much you earn.

Skipper profession: everything you need to know

Who wouldn’t want to live in the middle of the sea aboard a boat and wake up every dayin a new and different place? It could be a beautiful Mediterranean bay or a Caribbean island or even one of those fishing villages that look like a nativity scene at night.

Certainly being a skipper in reality is hard work, with great responsibility, but there is no denying that it is a versatile profession, relatively accessible and, above all, coveted by many enthusiasts for whom it is a dream in the drawer.

Even in this difficult 2020 plagued by health emergencies and social distancing rules, this trend has not been denied at all, quite the contrary. Cruising by boat has been rewarded by thousands of people, often newbies, as the safest and most fulfilling vacation. So after the winter lockdown in Italy, bookings flourished with numbers that were in some ways unexpected, a phenomenon that sent quite a few charter companies into a tailspin as they had to bottom out their fleets and commit every available skipper.

Step 1: Who is the skipper?

The skipper is the captain of the boat, the one to whom responsibility for the vessel and crew is entrusted. It all revolves around his experience, authority, and technical ability, preferably gained on multiple boat models. At the job level, a skipper has the opportunity to channel his or her experience into many areas: making transfers or performing the duties of a captain aboard someone else’s vessel.

Undoubtedly, however, it is the charter world that is in need of skippers and consequently the preferred field of work for those who want to enter the profession.

The word from charter expert and skipper trainer

Then there is the boat itself that conditions the work because each type of boat has a different target clientele and specific needs. These trends in nautical tourism and their impact on the job of skipper are bound to last.

“Boat cruising in the next few years will open up to an ever-widening audience of people in which true enthusiasts will represent only a small niche,” says Lucas Lucarelli, owner of charter company and skipperschool MadMax. – the boat will increasingly be the alternative to the beach villa or beach resort. It is no coincidence that the catamaran is the most popular craft, and many charter companies are converting their fleets to these boats. Multihulls, however, are more challenging to maneuver, so there will be an increasing need for trained skippers to conduct them.”

What is certain is that the role of the skipper is increasingly important on board. “Today to do chartering well, you need a great skipper. – Lucarelli explains – you can also have the most beautiful boat in the world at the cheapest price in the world and the most beautiful weather in the world, but if you have an incompetent, gruff, and unfriendly skipper on board, the vacation will be a nightmare and the crew will return to shore dissatisfied. And this for a charter company means undoing all the efforts of time and money invested in the business. In percentage terms, I would say that the value of the skipper to date represents 60 percent of a charter experience as a whole.”

How to be a good skipper

To be a good skipper then, or to become one, you need a lot of passion, practical experience, but also rigorous and qualified training. It is one thing to be a skipper with friends or family, another story to be a professional.

What is needed then for those who want to enter this profession is a quantum leap in approach.


“The job of the skipper requires seriousness, competence and professionalism
– explains Lucas LucarelliFacileness and approximation, which were tolerated in the past, are no longer allowed. Yet still today candidates show up who, despite boasting titles and wearing the classic skipper’s uniform with mittens clipped over their fingers, tactical cap and designer oilskin, actually don’t even know how to tack a line, panic at berths in the crosswind or when faced with a clogged toilet close the bathroom door and good night.”

How much does a boat skipper earn?

In short, for those who want to become skippers, passion alone is not enough. It takes dedication, some sacrifice and a high level of technical preparation. But against these requirements, how much do you earn? According to our survey, a competent skipper in Italy aboard a monohull up to 50-52 feet gets 180 euros per day, while on a catamaran the compensation is 200 euros per day.

On larger boats and luxury yachts you can earn 250-300 euros per day. So in one season you can earn 12-15,000 euros, which on yachts becomes 20-25,000. The international job market then is even more rewarding: a “Deckhand,” or deckhand, according to the International Salary Standard on a six-month boarding gets 2,500 euros a month, while a first officer on a 40-meter yacht with an annual boarding gets 6,000 to 8,000 euros a month.

Abroad, moreover, there are gratuities of up to 1,500-2,000 euros per week on certain boats. To work as a skipper there are in any case additional benefits that go far beyond the purely economic aspect: you travel a lot, you have intense experiences, you meet a lot of people, but above all there is the priceless satisfaction of living off your passion for the sea. Do you think you can be a good skipper? There is a world out there just waiting for you!

How much do you make?

TYPE OF BOAT DAY WEEK MONTH SEASON

Up to 50 feet

180/200 euro

1,200/1,500 euros

5,000/6,000

13,000/15,000

Over 50 feet

Over 50 feet 250/300 euros

1,700/2,100 euros

7,000/9,000

22,000/25,000

How to become a skipper? With the MadMax course, the job is assured!

Established in 2008, the MadMax Skippers School is a higher education school aimed at those who want to pursue a career as a skipper. Running it is Lucas Lucarelli, founder and creator of the MadMax method and a catamaran skipper for more than 20 years. The program consists of 21 full immersion days experienced aboard a catamaran. MadMax is the only school that guarantees engagement to all those promoted.

Learning to manage a boat well

Learning how to best manage a boat and crew requires good masters and skilled instructional work. “In our courses,” explains Lucas Lucarelli, “we try to create a working method that covers maneuvers, moorings, anchorages, sail adjustment, so that we are ready to deal with any situation. The same method is also applied to the maintenance of the facilities, the management of a breakdown in real time or even the reception and satisfaction of customers.”

If the job of skipper has changed so much in recent years, the candidates for this profession are also different than in the past. For example, young people who prefer to invest right away in a qualified course rather than go to college, but also women. “The female trend in this sector is growing,” Lucarelli further explains. with the difference being that the women on board must be better than the men to compensate for the lack of physical prowess required to run the boat. A man can also delay a maneuver and compensate for the error by using his muscles. Instead, the woman must be able to anticipate any critical situations.”

Click here to participate in a skipper course: www.madmaxcharter.it

by David Ingiosi

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