Let me give you two words and, without thinking about it, note the first images you picture. Ready? Okay, here goes: yacht jobs. You can see them, right? Starched white uniforms, honey-brown tans. Twenty-three-year-old mate, originally from Australia, currently in a crew house off Andrews and Davie. Forty-eight-year-old captain, originally from Indiana, now has a condo in Harbordale.
There they are, all in their 20s and with accents representing most of the rugby-playing world, blowing off steam at karaoke night in a bar off the causeway. Here he is, spending just a couple days in the city before flying off to some new port to bring the boss’s yacht back to a yard off State Road 84. These are the jobs most people can imagine.
In this, our yachting and boating issue, we hope to expand that imagination.
Writer Ryan Pfeffer spent time with some of the folks trying to let young people know about an industry they don’t always think of – one that, in Fort Lauderdale, provides a lot of good-paying, skilled tradesman jobs. Writer Mike Seemuth takes us into the crew schools that are a big and growing part of the Fort Lauderdale yachting scene. We also take a look at two extremely different jobs and skill sets – yacht galley chef, and fuel delivery service. If you didn’t realize how many different sorts of careers are offered by Fort Lauderdale’s famous industry, you will by the time you get to the end of this magazine.
And if you didn’t know, don’t feel bad. I’m a Lauderdale native, and I didn’t really have any idea about the depth and breadth of the yachting and boating industry until I started this job editing a magazine that covers the entire city, including the industry.
I’ve got a couple theories as to why this is. First, our local industry is made up of many smaller businesses. There’s no one colossus, no Ford or Boeing, that somebody you know is likely to work for. And second, our city just doesn’t feel like that sort of place. Other than stretches of Marina Mile or the bits of boatyard visible from the interstate, the side of our economy given over to tending to yachts isn’t so visible. This place doesn’t look like a factory town. We’re not the Rust Belt – and come February, when we’re only scraping ice because we desire cocktails on the rocks, we will feel grateful about that.
But if we don’t have the look, we do have the jobs. This city offers careers to people who want to be well reimbursed for learning a trade and working with their hands. The rest of us might not always think about that when we’re sitting at a drawbridge waiting for a big one to pass through. But it’s there, and it’s a big part of what makes Fort Lauderdale work.