Dock Walking 101

Getting your first job as a crew member on a superyacht, can be extremely difficult. Dock walking is an effective way of getting your foot in the door.

 

Some might think dock walking is the tedious task of handing out CV’s and equiring about work. It is actually a great way of meeting and mingling with crew and captains in the hope of being employed. Dock walking is a hands-on, interactive alternative to applying for jobs via agencies or websites like Crew HQ. The yachting industry is about networking, and dockwalking helps you do this. It is easy to forget the name on a resume but it is hard to forget a face. (So make sure you actually look like the picture on your CV)

Your appearance must be impeccable.

Presentation is extremely important in the yachting industry. Your state of dress speaks volumes about you before you’ve had a chance to open your mouth. The time and effort you take in perfecting your appearance will communicate, to the captain, how much time and effort you will dedicate to ensuring the yacht is at its best. So it is important that you make sure your clothes are ironed and spotless, that your hair is presentable and out of your face, and that your shoes are shined with no scuff marks. It goes without saying that your CV must be perfect. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and incorrect information can be what steals your chances of being employed. Keep your CVs in a plastic sleeve, file or in an envelope so they don't crinkle or tear.

Tattoo’s are still considered taboo in the yachting industry so make sure yours are covered. However, if asked whether you have any be honest; no captain wants to be confronted with a nasty surprise.

Ever heard the saying, “The early bird catches the worm.” This is never more true than when it comes to dock walking. Try be the first one on the docks. Crew members are getting to their daily tasks and the marina has not filled with other hopeful yachties just yet. Not only will the captains and crew be impressed by your discipline, their patience will not have been worn thin by the parade of other dock walkers interrupting their schedule.

Another great time is just after lunch. The crew will be more relaxed having done most of the daily work. They will be more open to sparing a minute or so talking to you and directing you accordingly.

Getting a crew member’s attention can be quite daunting. You might feel that you’re disturbing them and your nerves could get the better of you. Overcome that anxiety. The only way you can do that is through practise. The more dock walking you do, the better you get at it. Most crew will respond if you stand on the dock next to the yacht, give them a polite smile and wait patiently for them to get to you. Calling out to them should be avoided as  you may be seen as obnoxious.

Never under any circumstances do you shout out to the crew.

Dock walking is a numbers game. You might have a day where you manage to chat to four or five vessels. Other days might be a little slower and you only hand out a single CV, don't be discouraged. Almost every crew member has had to dock walk for a job. It’s a kind of rite of passage. You’ll often find yacht workers are friendly and understanding, even when they tell you they don’t need any more crew. And even if they’re nasty and stand-offish, keep the faith.You will find work soon enough.

One mistake many dock walking crew make is heading straight to the bigger vessels and superyachts. They make the assumption that there will be more money and/or a greater demand for more crew. What they forget is that smaller yachts might have job opportunities better suited to their skillset and experience. You are totally allowed to be ambitious but consider how much help and guidance you can get from others when working in a small close-knit team than trying to find your feet within a fleet of crew. You might miss out on a sure win job opportunity by underestimating the smaller yachts.

Lastly, have fun with it. See every dock walk as a chance to meet new people in the yachting industry, learn new things about the profession and make contacts with people who might help you in the future. When people come into contact with your delightful demeanor they will remember your vibrant personality as a welcomed addition if a job opening does come up.

 

Tell us about your dock walking experiences. Share some insight in the comment section. Who knows; you might be giving a green crew member some helpful advice!

 

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