The career of a professional skipper appeals to many people, and it’s easy to understand why they consider this job worth the sacrifices that it requires. Karl Weber, who runs his own yacht delivery company in Florida (At The Helm), says it best:
“I love being out in nature most of the time. I love the variety of different boats and different cities almost every week. The biggest advantage is freedom. No clock to punch. No boss breathing down my back.”
Freedom. This is what this job is all about and this is what primarily attracts young sailing adepts. Sometimes, freedom can manifest literally; Paweł says that the vast spaces on the sea, no crowds or traffic jams, and the quietness of sailing without the motor on are what he considers the biggest advantages of this work. But freedom can also apply to money; Michael notes: “As a professional seafarer, the income is also good and with a bit of planning, you can secure your future.”
The numerous travel opportunities are also considered one of the main benefits of this job. You’re basically paid to reach different destinations, some of which are unknown or hard to reach for a regular tourist.
Pristine beaches in the Seychelles or Caribbean can be reached by yacht quite easily. Photo: The Boat Trip / Tomas Piotrowski
I got a glimpse into such a lifestyle when I sipped morning coffee on board a yacht overlooking the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. I knew that this blissful moment wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been on a sailing trip.
Such moments still happen for me, an amateur skipper, from time to time. For a pro, they may become a daily routine. Many of the skippers whom I interviewed found it difficult to pinpoint just one or even a few places that made the greatest impact on them; there were just too many breathtaking moments to remember. Some stories are truly incredible; Karl describes his experiences:
“The Rio Dulce in Guatemala was pretty amazing. The reefs in the Cayman Islands and Mexico are unbelievably beautiful. The water in the Bahamas is indescribable. The Panama Canal was cool. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty was an amazing feeling. Two nights ago, we were three miles away from a SpaceX rocket launch. It went right over our heads! Too many amazing experiences to choose from.”
Karl Weber, sailing close to the Statue of Liberty.
Michael says he’s in awe of many places in the world: “The cold and icy north, Svalbard, Spitzbergen, Norway … I love the Baltic Sea, but the Azores are unique as well … Then there are the untouched places in Asia, or this fantastic place Lord Howe Island in Australia … Usually the places I am most attracted to are the ones that are hard or nearly impossible to reach unless on a yacht—and there are still many out there that I have yet to explore!”
He’s already preparing for another epic journey, an “Ice to Ice Challenge” as he calls it, which will take him and his crew from Svalbard all the way down to Puerto Williams in three months. He also dreams of circumnavigating Earth by using only celestial navigation during the next Ocean Globe Race.
Kuba mentions that the opportunity to meet interesting people is another perk of this job, especially if you work primarily as a cruising skipper. In his case, though, spending time with your crew isn’t only about amusing conversations and the usual sightseeing, but also about establishing authority as a leader: “I was able to learn how to manage a group of people and cooperate with various individuals at a very young age. This skill is crucial nowadays, not only in sailing.”