All hands on deck for a rewarding career at sea

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2007, 12:00am

Life on the ocean waves can be a rewarding career, with crew earning up to 20,000 yuan a month.

The Shenzhen Longcheer Yacht Club across the border is one of many clubs seeking navigators, deck hands, captains, regatta managers and service staff.

Clubs based in established marinas in Qingdao, Rizhao, Suzhou, Shanghai and Dalian are seeking staff, and new projects in Sanya, Zhuhai, Xiamen, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Weihai, Yantai and Tianjin will soon create high demand for motor and sailing yacht crew.

Cao Zuokun, 25, has experience of working on sailing yachts and is a spokesperson for the Shenzhen club, which offers sail and motor yachts for leisure, sport and commercial activities.

'There are many jobs available and we are willing to hire from Hong Kong,' Mr Cao said.

'There is a shortage of skilled staff and we have to train our new staff to become qualified for the various jobs.

'It's a new industry and not many people are trained. For work on sailing yachts, essentially you need knowledge of navigation and lifesaving, as well as sailboat maintenance.'

Clubs find staff in several ways. Often recruits are club members, or they are recommended by connections or recruited from websites. Some are retired from the navy.

One of the perks of the job is the opportunity to travel.

'It's the same as the tourism business, so when people are on their holidays you have to go to work,' said Mr Cao.

'[Sailboat owners] want to visit many places both domestic and overseas. Sometimes they will attend overseas regattas.'

During their free time, the crew might improve their ocean knowledge, study the weather and wind conditions, wash the boat or provide training for new staff.

'When you are at sea you are working - it's a simple life like that,' said Mr Cao.

'Otherwise, the time is very flexible. But when the boss takes the boat, we have to work. Sometimes you receive foreign guests, so there is a demand for language skills too.'

But being away from home for long periods can take its toll.

'You can experience a high-quality life, having many chances to travel, but it's hard work. After several months of sailing, you may get fed-up of the constant heat of the sun.

'With the weather, there are safety risks too, and you are far away from family. The pay-off is that you can earn good money. It's true that crew can make up to 20,000 [yuan] a month,' Mr Cao said.