What is an At-Sea Yacht Delivery Captain



  • He or she concentrates on one thing — The successful delivery of a seaworthy yacht from Point A to Point B.  He or she is licensed and this license allows the captain to perform yacht deliveries.  Along with that license, there is a documented history of successful yacht deliveries within specific bodies of water.   The captain assumes command of the vessel from the departure location to the destination as designated by the owner.  The captain plans and plots the safest and most efficient course/route to accomplish the safe delivery — then executes the plan.  To ensure the safety of the captain, the crew and the vessel, the vessel must be determined to be seaworthy.  Seaworthiness is accomplished through a thorough and complete marine survey and the survey is completed by a certified marine surveyor prior to the vessel getting underway.  In more cases than not, there may be an incomplete or an inadequate survey that does not prove seaworthiness.  In this event, the yacht delivery captain, may decline the delivery or complete a thorough survey, at the owner’s expense, to ensure a safe transit.  During the delivery, if the vessel is determined to be unsafe or unable to continue the route as planned, the captain may terminate the delivery, leaving the owner with a bill payable to the captain for any outstanding expenses and wages to the point of delivery termination and owner rental charges to the marina where the vessel has been secured.


  • Most people think that being a yacht delivery captain is glamorous.  On the contrary, the captain’s standard of living, during the delivery, is lowered significantly.  With the watch schedules and rotation of the watch, any recovery sleep is at a premium.  Additionally, ac systems are usually down if there is no generator, usually auto pilot is not working, sometimes there is no radar, or the spotlight has become non-operational impeding night transit, there may be infestations of bugs that have not been treated, the compass may not be lighted, in a rough sea, the head may overflow and spew discharge over the cabin sole, the fridge or ice maker, if so equipped, may leak and make the cabin sole slippery, etc., etc.  Clearly the living standards the captain establishes in his/her home are sacrificed by the yacht delivery schedule.


  • The two items that the captain may not control are weather and mechanical breakdown.  Typically, the captain will look for a good weather window during the period of the scheduled delivery.  But conditions may change, and in the Gulf of Mexico, may change very rapidly.  If engines overheat, or otherwise put the captain and crew in jeopardy, the captain must judge the cause.  The yacht delivery captain, is responsible for just a few items.  Usually, checking fluid levels and checking sea strainers are essential.  Is there proper flow of cooling water and coolant, as required by the engine specifications?  The captain may be required to replace an impeller.  But the captain does not provide other mechanical services, such as rodding out a heat exchanger, cleaning a clogged or ineffective exhaust header or rebuilding a fuel injection pump.  These are services above and beyond the capabilities of a yacht delivery captain.   If a weather delay or mechanical breakdown occurs during the delivery and the vessel requires time in the nearest port, typically there is a charge for downtime.  That charge could be the same daily rate for the delivery or it might be a reduced rate designated for the downtime described.


  • Again, a delivery may be delayed, postponed, canceled or terminated due to the vessel being unsafe or placing the captain, the crew or the vessel at risk.  In all of this, the captain, must have the best interest of the crew, the captain and the owner’s vessel.  As stated, the successful delivery of a seaworthy yacht is the objective.