In the world of superyachts, it’s not cold-calls or sending resumes to human resources departments.
If you want to work on a yacht, you’ll need to start with some solid dockwalking.
So what is dockwalking?
Ultimately, it’s just what it sounds like: walking around marinas and talking to boat captains and crew in the hopes of finding yourself a job.
Dockwalking can be tiring. It can take persistence and good luck to find the right job at the right time.
But it’s also seen as a necessary evil, a rite of passage to break into the industry. So bear in mind that you’re not likely to find a job your first time out on the docks.
That said, you can maximize your chances by following these key suggestions:
This may sound like a no-brainer. However, if you’re transitioning from school or working a desk job, just what does “professional” mean on the docks?
Wear comfortable, broken-in deck shoes that won’t give you blisters. Pants or work shorts with a polo or a neat top will make you look prepared for the type of job you’re looking for. Don't show up as if you are on a trip to the beach. Leave the sleeveless shirts and bright patterns at your crew house.
Whoever you are speaking to is likely in the middle of working, and you may stand between them and a completed task, a deadline, or a break.
Be friendly but brief, and leave a copy of your resume. You may be one of many job-hunters they’ve seen that day. Don’t pester, and always be pleasant, even if they're unfriendly to you.
Highlight any transferrable skills and yacht-specific certifications and training. Other things to point out: medical/survival skills, foreign languages, hospitality experience.
Include a current passport photograph so crew can recognize you and put a dockwalking face to a CV name.
Spell check. Then spell check again. Yacht captains probably don’t care about your GPA.
If you are new to the industry, explain your relevant skills, but don’t try to claim knowledge you don’t have. Have a short explanation ready for why you want to work on a yacht. (Hint: Everyone is interested in the money & travel. Have a better reason.)
Especially if you are staying in crew housing, or visiting the same bars and clubs as active crew, be aware of your reputation. You don’t have to be a saint, but don’t be a problem. And this counts for your social media accounts, too!
You may walk down to the docks hoping for a seasonal gig on a yacht where you can learn new skills. Maybe you love warm weather and want to stay in the Caribbean.
Next thing you know, you’re offered a permanent gig on an Alaskan-bound yacht that needs a deckhand. Don’t limit yourself and stay flexible in terms of your expectations and availability.
If you’re struggling to find a position, your best bet may be to take on short term work. A day job can lead to a future offer of a longer-term position; if it doesn’t, you’ll still have gained experience, a positive reference, and gotten your name out there in front of working crew.
Did you catch that? If you do some daywork, be certain to ask for a reference!
Go early. Go often. Vary your locations. Seek out smaller marinas and smaller boats. Notice when boats are returning from a trip.
Be available. If you’re a regular presence on the docks, people will start to recognize you, and when that job comes open, they may think of you first.
FreshYacht can walk you through the entire process, from training to job hunting and more!
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