Many delivery skippers operate on a freelance basis but there are also delivery companies that co-ordinate deliveries and use a pool of regular skippers and crew. The arrangements concerning payment for deliveries to either skipper or crew will vary greatly from one company or delivery to the next, so it is always best to ensure you are clear on what has been agreed prior to committing to anything.
The delivery of a private yacht by a paid or unpaid delivery skipper and crew is not classified as commercial use of the yacht. However, if there are paying passengers on board then the voyage is indeed classified as commercial, in which case the vessel, skipper and crew will need to comply with any relevant commercial codes of practice and manning requirements relevant to the flag state under which the vessel is registered.
In the case of commercial passages under the UK codes of practice, the vessel will need to be coded and the skipper will also require a commercial endorsement on their Certificate of Competence. If the yacht is already coded and the only people on board are the delivery skipper and crew then it is likely that the voyage will still be treated as commercial.
The qualifications required to skipper a delivery will depend on where the delivery will take place and also the nature of the passage. However, the skipper will owe a duty of care to the owner of the yacht and, as such, even for non-commercial passages as a minimum it is recommended that the skipper holds the RYA Yachtmaster® Offshore Certificate of Competence and should also have a significant amount of experience on vessels of a similar style and size to that being delivered. For longer passages and trans-ocean deliveries it is strongly recommended that the skipper holds the RYA Yachtmaster® Ocean Certificate of Competence. The higher your qualification and greater your experience the more appealing you will be to a potential delivery company.
Delivery skippers and companies will often require crew. This is a great way to get some extra miles and experience under your belt. These are occasionally paid positions but more often than not crew can only expect to be reimbursed for their travel costs rather than receiving payment for the delivery. Do be aware that whilst experience gained on a passage is invaluable – it is no substitute for some quality training.
The RYA provides a range of courses across many subjects that will assist in preparing you well for a role as a delivery crew member. Having undertaken some training a few delivery passages as crew will see you grow in confidence in your boating abilities.