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Interview: Abigail Doherty - Superyacht Engineer

Abigail Engineeer1

YPI Crew speaks to Abigail Doherty, a superyacht engineer, about her experience of gaining employment in the yachting industry.

One of the most exciting things about the yachting industry is the sheer variety of yacht crew jobs and the possibilities that are on offer to people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

Unfortunately, women still form a minority percentage of those employed in the yacht engineering industry. 

Nevertheless, we’re hopeful for change thanks to skilled female professionals who are challenging the gender bias in yacht crew placement. Here, we speak to Abigail Doherty, an engineer on a luxury yacht, about how she found her way into the industry and her passion for engineering.

yacht engine room

How easy was it for you to get into the yachting industry?

I was very fortunate; I found it fairly easy to get into the industry, mainly thanks to Marjorie, a crew recruiter, at YPI Crew. Once I had spent a few months and quite a lot of money getting all required yachting qualifications, I began signing up to crew agencies online. I had probably applied to over 70 jobs without even one reply before I got to YPI Crew. Within 24 hours of signing up, Marjorie called me to discuss what I was looking for in the industry and to let me know how things worked at the agency.

This was a much nicer reception than I had received so far. Less than a week later, Marjorie was calling me again to let me know she was putting me forward for a job. I didn’t get that job but over the next few weeks she kept in contact and informed me of possible jobs.

This boat I am currently employed on was the second job Marjorie put me forward for, proving that she and the agency are very good at matching people to jobs. I found YPI Crew to be a fantastic agency for yacht crew placement - they seem to work closely with you to find a good match with a boat. I hope to work with them in my future career.

Where does your passion for engineering come from?

It’s a hard question because ever since I can remember, I wanted to understand how things work. I spent a lot of my childhood taking things apart and putting them back together to understand the mechanisms inside them. My dad has always tinkered with classic cars and I started to help, which led to me restoring my own Triumph Spitfire. It was a fantastic project and started my love of automotive engineering. Everything I learnt about bikes also applied to yachts, which made the transition easy.  

Around what age did you start riding motorbikes?

I had friends with off-road dirt bikes growing up, so I guess I started riding bikes fairly early. However, I didn’t ride a bike on the road until I was 18 but as soon as I did, I was hooked. I had my license and a little 125cc within a year.  I’ve owned a bike ever since.

What is your favourite bike?

I certainly have a soft spot for Triumph motorcycles as I worked there for a year, and if I had the money, I’d definitely have a classic Bonneville in my garage. However, right now if I could own any bike I would go for a Ducati Panigale. There is nothing like riding a bike with that much power around a track. That’s why I love working on yachts with big engines I suppose. I guess you could say I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky.

Yacht Bow 2

What was it like as a woman to study electrical and electronic engineering?

Well, as a woman, you are definitely a minority. I was one of 10 women in a university year of 150 people. However, I enjoyed the course and the whole university experience, and I have always had lots of male friends, so I had no issues with the fact there weren’t many women. I think girls are put off by the statistics of women in engineering but I have to say that some of the best engineers I have met have been women. Many of them work on yachts.

Would you recommend this path to other women?

100%. It isn’t an easy path and you have to prove yourself a lot but it is very rewarding. I think despite there not being many women in the industry, it is a very interesting job with lots of variety, so for anyone considering it I would say ‘go for it’!

How do you see your future in the yachting industry?

I have no idea where my future lies in the yachting industry. However, I hope I can progress and become a chief engineer one day. I have loved all my time in the industry so far and would love to travel more. So fingers crossed all goes well with my current position and with the help of YPI crew I will find more yacht crew jobs on another boat at the end of the contract.

If you want to know more about engineering opportunities, contact the YPI CREW engineering team at

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