Crew Life » Career & Training » Hiring Green Crew - A Captain’s Point of View

Hiring Green Crew - A Captain’s Point of View

Following our previous article where we shared insights from recruiters on the evolving landscape of green crew, today we explore how newbies present from the perspective of superyacht captains who have the final word on whether or not to hire them.

Working on board is very demanding and new crew members need to be well prepared and well trained, so we spoke to Captain Wendy Clark in the US and Captain Darryn Timm in South Africa, to get their thoughts on whether the landscape has changed.  

Captain Wendy Clark – Director of Marine Operations at Sunburst Yacht Charters

Captain Wendy Clark’s career sheds light on the critical role of guidance and educational pathways in the superyacht industry as she gives us a glimpse into her own journey from deckhand to captain..

Wendy's yachting career began in Southern California with a Mariner Certification program at a local community college. Concurrently, she gained practical experience working on deck aboard a local charter vessel offering day trips and longer charters. Through education and practical progression within the deck department, she ultimately achieved her Master 100T Near Coastal License.

Today, as Director of Marine Operations at Sunburst Yacht Charters, she manages the company's three vessels, overseeing charter operations, maintenance schedules, regulatory compliance, and crew coordination.

Our conversation begins with her perspective on the differences between the green crew of today compared to just five years ago -  a seemingly brief interval that has nonetheless witnessed significant shifts. “Today’s crew members have a much higher level of confidence than those from five years ago,” she says. “Candidates nowadays have a strong personal idea of what the industry has to offer.”

She also questions whether too much confidence can skew a candidate's expectations,  stating a common concern with her observation that, “These strong personal ideas of what the industry has to offer, unfortunately also come with a lack of flexibility in both job description and teamwork.

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‘’What worries me the most is the trend that greenies feel entitled. Influenced by big dreams on social media and TV shows, candidates are not always equipped to enter a workforce that is very physically and emotionally demanding, resulting in a culture shock.’’

Asked what she looks for in new crew members and which qualities she values most highly, she says, “I look for a good attitude and a willingness to listen and learn. Basic safety is a plus, so is situational awareness, but I will take a good work ethic and attitude over experience or a book full of certifications.

‘’I think the absolute best quality in an entry-level candidate, for any position or industry, is the ability to immerse oneself in the new environment and to learn from it. The candidates that I have seen struggle don’t, or can’t, do this.’’

Captain Darryn Timm – Fleet Captain

Captain Darryn Timm’s yachting career began with simple curiosity and research, seizing an opportunity to gain practical experience by sailing from South Africa to the Caribbean to deliver a 45ft catamaran.

Eventually finding himself in Florida, he pursued any and all connections, and after three months of dayworking, he landed his first job as a junior deckhand and gradually worked his way up to bosun. After 16 months he moved to a 63m vessel with a worldwide itinerary and continued to progress up the ranks. When the vessel changed hands, he transitioned to smaller sailing yachts, first as a captain and later managing a fleet of 22 vessels, which he has done for the past five years. 

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Commenting on his own experience of the way new crew approach the industry nowadays, he says: “The explosion of social media has cast a distorted lens on the industry, promoting overconfidence without proportionate knowledge among new crew. Today's green crew ooze self-confidence, which can be a good thing, but they often lack a fundamental understanding of yachting.

He also worries about the explosion of training courses which are often unnecessary or mis-sold to newcomers. “Many are enticed by gap year adventures and the huge influx has also led to a number of starter schools selling licenses and certificates that new crew are not yet equipped to utilise. Let’s be honest – a superyacht is not going to let a green crew member jump onto a jet ski and instruct a guest straight away, so why do the course at the start of your career when you do not need it?”

Asked which qualities he values most in new crew, he says: “I seek crew who exhibit a clear sense of direction and a basic understanding of their career trajectory. A friendly demeanour is valuable, but skills and experience develop over time through hands-on work, so I focus on identifying individuals capable of long-term commitment who possess a foundational grasp of the industry. It’s important to equip yourself with knowledge, humility, and a genuine understanding of what you are choosing to pursue. If you convey this in your interviews it will go a long way.”

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Preparing the next generation of superyacht crew

Throughout our conversations with crew placement agents and yacht captains, each with considerable exposure to entry-level crew, the most common theme to emerge is the need for green crew to have a more informed understanding of the yachting industry and the realities of working on board.   

Similarly, the best training courses are those that not only provide the necessary knowledge but also the practical skills taught in an authentic setting, affording a deeper understanding of what the job actually entails.

This is why the team at Academy by Ephemeris endorses the Progressive Crew Career Programme (PCCP) which offers aspiring crew access to foundational e-learning courses before they invest in further training. PCCP instils a comprehensive understanding of yacht operations and the different roles on board, setting them on the right path to a successful career. PCCP also offers additional opportunities for hands-on application and professional growth through practical training and apprenticeships.

For all newbies considering a career in yachting, Academy by Ephemeris provides invaluable resources and guidance in a step-by-step approach to help you navigate a prosperous path.

For more information about Academy by Ephemeris and the Progressive Crew Career Programme, please click here.

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