There are four different categories of basic positions on a superyacht: deckhand, stewardess, chef, and engineer. Each class carries out certain duties and together in harmony, they keep a superyacht functional, delivering a 7-Star service to its guests. If you are planning to work on a Superyacht, it is important for you to understand the crew hierarchy. In this article, we are mainly covering the crew hierarchy for a deckhand on a superyacht.

The Deckhand Hierarchy on a Superyacht

Who is a Deckhand?

The Deckhand is one of the most crucial roles of a superyacht crew. They are responsible for maintaining and cleaning a yacht’s exterior and deck, keeping it spectacular and clean while keeping the guests happy. And thanks to them, the yacht stays afloat flawlessly and healthy while keeping it excellently accommodating to the 5-Star standards.

Deckhands are in high demand, especially post-COVID, as the economy and our social lives have started getting back on track again. Let’s understand the crew hierarchy of a deckhand on a superyacht.

a. Deckhand

A deckhand is one of the most basic elements of a superyacht crew. The deckhand role is in high demand in the industry, which is also highly demanding when it comes to working.

To apply as a deckhand, you have to fulfil basic requirements, which are STCW 10, Powerboat Level 2 Course, and ENG1 Medical Certificate.

Related: STCW Marine Training in South Africa – Sail and Power SA

A deckhand often works long hours to maintain the deck and other exterior parts of a yacht. Their responsibility includes cleaning and maintenance of the ship, taking care of the toys, assisting guests with watersports, assisting with mooring and anchoring the yacht, and occasionally, driving tenders for guests.

Occasionally, a deckhand also has to keep a watch out for security within the yacht and for the potential hazards on the waters.

b. Bosun a.k.a. Senior Deckhand

A Senior Deckhand position, often called a Boatswain or Bosun, is the next position in the promotion ladder for deckhands. 

As a Senior Deckhand, your job is to guide and delegate deckhand duties to junior deckhands as required, oversee their work, and report to the First Officer. It is your responsibility to get the tasks done up to the standard and on time and that the yacht stays clean, safe to operate, and functional.

If you would love to assume the senior deckhand position, you may consider applying for the position. Many yacht employers prefer you to have at least 2 years of deckhand experience and qualifications like STCW, RYA PB2, and VHF Radio Operator.

Related: Marine Radio Course in South Africa

c. Chief Mate/First Mate/First Officer

The Chief Mate, or First Mate, is a captain’s second-in-command, their right hand. As a chief mate, your main role is assisting the yacht captain with their day-to-day duties. However, you are also expected to supervise and advise bosuns regarding the work quality and timelines of their tasks

On certain occasions, a Chief Mate also assumes the role of the captain. On larger yachts, the role of the First Mate is often divided into smaller roles, such as First Officer, Second Officer, and Third Officer. Together, they make up the bridge crew.

c. Officer of the Watch (OOW)

The Officer of the Watch is a special personnel that supervises a yacht’s security, navigation, and radio equipment. An OOW is a part of the bridge crew, and the bridge crew reports any navigation-related data to them.

An officer of the watch is also responsible for the radio equipment. They are expected to be proficient with VHF, GMDSS, DSC, EPIRB, and SART procedures. This makes the OOW the most important personnel in terms of handling distress communications.

If you aspire to be an OOW, you will have to take a different route after the senior deckhand position. As an OOW, you can bypass becoming a Chief Mate and can head straight for the captain position given you have enough qualifications.

e. Captain

The Captain assumes full responsibility for the ship and the safety of its crew. Their main responsibility is the safety and navigation of the vessel with the assistance of junior officers like first mate, 2nd officer, 3rd officer, and so on.

A hardworking, dedicated deckhand who fulfils all the qualifications can certainly be the captain of a superyacht. It takes a lot of passion, hard work, and strategy to get to this position. You will have to go through many courses and certifications to reach the position.


As a deckhand, candidates often have the ambition to become the captain of the yacht. It’s a respectable position, and the pay scale also leans towards the higher side. And so, understanding the hierarchy for deckhands on a superyacht is important. This goes without saying, but there’s a lot of grinding, passion, and hardships waiting for you if you wish to be the captain. Not to mention, you need to take proper courses to actually qualify for the position as experience alone will not be enough for you.

Also, we highly recommend checking out YaCrew Website for salary ranges people in the yachting industry earn. Who knows, this information may keep you motivated in the long run. In the next article, we will cover promotions related to stewards and chefs on a superyacht.

If you would like to know more, we highly recommend you contact us and we will be glad to assist you.