There are different ways of getting into the yachting industry:
- Get a job through a friend/family member – the lucky
- Get a job through a yachting agency – this will mostly work for experienced crew members or those with transferable skills (read: chefs, carpenters and masseuses)
- Get a job through social media – could work for both experienced and inexperienced crew
- Get a job through dockwalking and/or dayworking – for “greenies” = junior crew with little or no experience on superyachts
So about this last one… it requires a lot of guts as it’s absolutely soul-destroying. That’s the crude reality. I yet have to meet someone who said they enjoyed dockwalking. Walking up to dozens of boats a day, to hear the same old “not hiring right now, don’t need any help” is utterly demoralising.
I remember making plans at the crew house with a friend to go dockwalking the next day. We got up early, put our nicest white polos and skorts on, grabbed a pile of business cards and took the 7 am train to Monaco. As soon as we approached the docks, the nerves got to us and we decided that it would be a great morning to go for overly-priced Monegasque coffee rather than asking strangers for work. It’s though, so prepare yourself mentally.
Also prepare the following:
- Your outfit: Look the part, and you’ll get the part. Don’t show up in a floral little dress, layers of make-up, fiery red gellac nails and high heels. Fair enough, this will work for some yachts, but not the grand majority. Dress like you’re about to start your 8 o’clock day on a yacht: nice polo, khaki shorts or a yachtie skort and some comfy shoes (get ready to walk some miles).
- Backpack Essentials: Phone and phone charger (if you’re running low on battery and are expecting a call from an agent/captain, make a pitstop somewhere to charge your phone). Dayworker outfit that can get grubby in case you get offered daywork on the spot (you might be cleaning bilges, polishing 34 silver platters…) and the yacht doesn’t have any uniform available . Water and a snack. You don’t know when you’ll be getting home. Clean socks (I know, weird one, but if you get daywork in the interior, you do not want to walk around with your sweaty socks you’ve just walked 5 miles in, do you now?). Throw some deodorant in there for good measure too.
- Business cards/CVs. Check out the advise for CVs here and have some nice business cards printed too. A business card should include the following: photo of yourself (people will remember your face more than your name), your desired job title “stewardess”, “stew/deck” or “deckhand”, your contact details (i.e. phone, whatsapp if different from phone, email address and skype if you have it), your certificates (i.e STCW10, ENG1, PB2, …) and other skills you think could benefit the yacht (i.e. experienced sommelier, wakeboarder, hospitality background). PS: I make my cards online with moo.com and absolutely love the quality and they’re pretty cheap too!
- Your Attitude: Though dockwalking is demoralising, it is what it is. Try and stay upbeat and not sound too desperate. Keep up the positive vibe, it will get you further than a cry for help. We want strong, happy, motivated people in this industry. Look at dockwalking as your first test to become part of one of the greatest working communities in the world.
The reality is that only few of the yachts you will be talking to will actually need someone right there, right now. However, after the initial “Hey, do you need any dayworkers or a full-time stewardess maybe?” and the “Sorry, we’re fully crewed right now” do make sure to hand over your card by saying “If you need someone next week or you hear of someone in need”. The amount of times we’ve pinned a dockwalker’s CV on the crew notice board and a few days later actually called them because we needed someone!
Some very important things to consider when dockwalking:
- Depending on where you are from, dockwalking in a foreign country can be illegal. For instance, in America no non-Americans are allowed to dockwalk or look for work. You can be arrested and deported. Look into the country’s regulations before you head out!
- Do not approach yachts that have guests on board. Some telltale signs are flowers on the aft deck table and furniture without covers. Do not go there! The crew onboard will not appreciate it!