The Professional Pecking Order

There is a hierarchy in every profession. It seems to be the only way to run a productive professional space where every member of the team can contribute their unique set of skills and expertise. It is also a sure way to hold people accountable if things go pear shaped.

We’ve broken down the roles of yacht crew members so you’ll never be confused about what your responsibilities on board are, ever again :




The Captain is the closest thing you can get to king/queen status on a vessel. They are positioned at the top of the pecking order; in charge of, and given the final say on how the yacht is run. With great power, however, comes great responsibility.

Not only is the Captain in charge of instructing the crew in order to ensure the passengers are satisfied, the safety and contentment of everyone on board falls on their shoulders.

Captains are human resource managers; responsible for hiring staff, organising visas and vaccinations. They also have to plot out travel courses and consult weather charts etc. This can all be delegated to the Captain's second-in-command (First Mate) but the onus is on the Captain to confirm those decisions.




If there were to ever be mutiny while at sea, and the Captain was indisposed for whatever reason, the Chief/First Mate would then take leadership of the yacht. A First Mate (or Chief Officer) is second in charge to the Captain. It is imperative that the First Mate know how to manage the deck crew and all other operations of a yacht. The First Mate MUST be able to assume the Captain’s responsibilities should a situation ever demand it.

A Second Mate/Officer/Bosun would be considered superior to deckhands but answerable to the First Mate. Being wedged between the two positions means they would be expected to perform many of the Deckhand duties but also assist the First Mate when needed.  




Although most pecking orders go top-down; an Engineer’s position in the hierarchy would be a lateral position to the First Mate. Engineers are considered the neck that keeps the proverbial head turning.


Operating and maintaining a yacht’s diesel engines is a vital yet mostly unseen contribution to the overall success of yacht service. It is the engineers who are responsible for every single electrical or mechanical device on board.




Deckhands are in charge of the exterior of the yacht. Yacht owners pay a lot of money for their sea toys, they want them looking picturesque. As a deckhand you are responsible for the everything outside, on top of, and underneath the vessel. Your duties include washing, varnishing and waxing everything that needs attention as well maintaining the various water toys the vessel is travelling with.

In order to succeed as a deckhand, you need to be extremely energetic as the position is labour intensive.




While Deckhands operate to make the exterior of a yacht look spotless, Steward(esses) are responsible for creating a pleasant experience for the passengers in the interior.


Stews deal with the passengers on board more than any other crew member would so it is imperative that they be polite professionals who provide superior hospitality service. Overall housekeeping, which includes laundry and wardrobe, dining experiences and entertainment fall on the Stews to manage. This is why it is imperative that Stews be skilled in the art of appropriate friendliness.


Chief Stews oversee the steward(ess) team; getting direction from the Captain. 2nd, 3rd and 4th Stews will fall under the management of the Chief Stew respectively.





“Eating is a necessity but cooking is an art,” or so the saying goes. Yacht Chefs need to perfect the art if they have hopes of keeping both crew and passengers happy. There are a number of Chef positions in the galley of a yacht. Head Chefs, Sous Chefs, Chef de Parties and Galley Hands are all responsible for chopping, steaming, frying, blending, mixing and folding food ingredients together to create culinary masterpieces.


Being at sea presents a whole host of challenges. Chefs have to be creative with the limited food options they have. Fresh produce has to be bought and stored strategically as some vessels may stay out at sea for months, if not weeks, at a time. Creating a menu in such circumstances demands a high level of creativity and improvisation. Working in any professional kitchen is stressful, a galley on a yacht; even more so.


We hope our explanation has helped you better understand what purpose each yacht crew member serves. If you’re considering a career in the industry understand it takes an exceptional amount of determination and perseverance. But being part of an excellent crew can give you great happiness and professional success.