Q&A with Sylvester S. Marinov, founder of Monaco-based SSMARINOV-YLC
ML: How did you end up in Monaco and start your own yacht service company?
: I was born in Bulgaria but grew up in Sweden, and the French Riviera and Monaco have always been quick getaway destinations for Scandinavians. I used to come here to visit friends for “Svensk Midsommar”, the Swedish Midsummer and, of course, I came for the Monaco Grand Prix.
In Sweden, I worked in the hotel and spa industry and while I loved it, I felt that it was starting to take over my life and that I needed a break.
During one GP weekend, I met up with a friend who’d been telling me for ages that I should move and do something else. That time I didn’t need much persuading.
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I started working for an American family in 2001 that owned a 60-metre yacht, then I worked for a couple of years as a crew agent and in yacht consulting for a local company in Monaco. In 2007, it was natural to take the step and create something that I had full control over, and try to balance work and my private life.
ML: Tell us about your company.
SSMARINOV-YLC is a Monaco-based boutique brokerage company for luxury yachts and associated lifestyle services. Personal service and confidentiality is very important for us. The company is independent, giving clients complete support as a yacht owner or charter client. Of course, the crew on board plays a very important part in providing the ultimate yacht experience. My team is multi-lingual and I speak seven languages including Russian, Greek and Turkish in addition to Bulgarian, Swedish, French and English.
ML: Let’s talk about crew placement. How competitive is the market?
Very! Especially over the last few years, with the explosion of social media. The crew now has more choice and options. We prefer to keep it small and selective and we hope that the crewmembers that choose to register with us have serious intentions to stay in yachting more than one season, not just for a couple of weeks. The starting salary is around €2000 for a junior stewardess position, and these days most of the yachts provide health insurance.
ML: It seems that people think it’s easy money to jump on a yacht for a few months and work. What can crew members expect from working conditions?
This is why I mentioned that we aim for quality not quantity, so that the crew stays for longer. The image of easy money is a common one, but in reality the crew has to work hard, be flexible and accept to be away from family and loved ones. It’s not as easy as it seems.
Of course, life on a yacht does offer a lot of positive moments as well, like meeting new people, travelling, seeing exiting places and earning money at the same time. This makes for a great life experience.
ML: Do crew members need special visas or training?
Any potential crew members, depending on the nationality and the country they will be working in, may need a visa. The two most important ones are the Schengen or American Visa.
Training and safety is very important part of yachting and crew need some basic courses, like STCW95 (Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping), ENG1 (medical certificate) and First Aid.
ML: What do you look for in a potential crew member joining your company?
Commitment, that they stick around for at least 6 months or a year.
ML: What does a future yacht owner have to consider when it comes to crew?
The owners need to have an honest and direct conversation with the Captain or yacht manager, and let them know exactly what they expect during their time on board. Working onboard a yacht brings with it a long list of expectations, knowledge, and commitments. Safety has always been very important for me, so making sure the crew has minimum safety training is a priority. Of course, the size of the yacht will be reflected in any crew costs.
ML: What responsibilities does a Captain have?
Personally, I think the Captain has most important position on board. It’s a complicated position which requires many qualities and skills. So the Captain is responsible more or less for everything to do with life on board. Although, nowadays, there are many other positions that the captain has to liaise with to service the owners, such as PA, lifestyle manager, yacht manager, villa manager, drivers, doctors, to mention just a few.
Owners also need to recognise that there are many more people involved than only the yacht and the crew onboard like it was years ago.
ML: What do you love about your job?
Freedom and meeting people from all different countries and cultures.
ML: What’s your favourite yachting-related app?
GPSNavX Marine Navigation which gives real-time marine navigation and charting.
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