As part of my “So, You Wanna Be a Yachtie” series, the next step is to get your foot in the proverbial door. By the way, it should be a cute Sperry clad foot.
In grade school, you learn the 5 W’s of report writing. The who, what, where, when, why, and of course how. For some reason they seem to forget the sneaky little H in the whole mess. So, as a basic start to yachting, I’m going to reuse those essential elements to help you break in.
You! The potential yachtie. The eager wanderluster looking for adventure, hard work, and little bit of the unknown. First things first – have your shit together. Do not just give up the safety net of your own place, job, car, dog, and family. Pay your bills in advance. Have a nest egg. There is no guarantee that you’ll find a job before you run out of funds.
What are you looking for?
Your first job. You’ve got to start somewhere. Usually through agents, daywork, and dockwalking. Personally, I’ve never dockwalked, but I also haven’t lived in a crew house either. I’ve been lucky enough to get work through word of mouth, friends, crew agents, and the internet.
Where are you going?
For the sake of my abundant knowledge of Fort Lauderdale, I’m using this shotty location as the basis for job seeking. While Antibes is the prime location for the Med and Antigua is great for the Caribbean, I believe Fort Lauderdale is always decent no matter the time of year. Remember, they don’t call it the Yachting Capital for nothing!
When should you go?
Spring and fall – but don’t discontinue the rest of the year. There are crew who get fired midseason. If you aren’t there to replace them, you’re shit out of luck. It’s happened to us, letting crew go midseason, and unfortunately the pool to choose from in South Florida was less than desirable at that time. Please see “The Flyer” for reference.
Why are you going?
You’re here reading this post. I’m assuming you’ve also read the first part of this series, “So, You Wanna Be a Yachtie“. If you survived that post and are still interested, we know why you’re here.
How will it all go down?
∗ You’ve gotten your life together.
∗ You’ve packed your bags, booked your ticket, and kissed your Mommy goodbye.
∗ Now you need to make arrangements for a place to stay. Typically that’s a crew house if you don’t already have friends in the area. They’re basically hostiles where you share your living space with a bunch of other “green” crew, or you pay extra and get a room to yourself. They’re a great start for networking and making new like-minded friends.
∗ Sign up for courses at a local crew training school (STCW first, then a silver service class, tender driving course, ect). The more knowledge you have about yacht operations, the more desirable you are to those hiring. These classes are not cheap, so once again, have a nest egg.
∗ Once classes are complete and you’ve signed up with all of the crew agents, left your CV around town, and posted your availability online (Daywork123 & Dockwalk) – check in constantly! If not, you will be forgotten or plowed over by all of your new “friends” preying on the same positions.
∗ Be prepared to be scrutinized. Your CV will be torn apart, your photo judged, and even your Facebook profile will be stalked. People do judge a book by its cover in this industry, so polish it up, but don’t lie. You will be caught and look very silly. Want to know what your potential Chief Stew could be looking for? Check out my Top Secret: Questions for Candidates (note: these are MY questions for MY boat – a unique position).
∗ Next, and hopefully your final step, is to wait for a bunny to take your carrot. Consider all options, but weigh the pros and cons. Go with your gut feeling.
Personally, I couldn’t ever imagine trying to break into this industry again. I’ve mentioned in conversation about the “old days” of yachting. For those who’ve been in for many years, you get it. Even 5 years can be considered the “old days”. So much has changed, so quickly! We all started out as rum drinking crazy pirates. As crazy as we were, we’d always wake up and finish our job to the 110% best of our abilities.
That “work hard, play harder” mentality seems to be lacking in the new crew coming into the industry. Maybe its the stricter rules? Entitlement issues? Maybe its the “I just wanna be seen” attitude? Clearly my Treasure Trove/dive bar/noshitsgiven mentality doesn’t coincide with these new age kids, but there are exceptions to the norm! Always. So, don’t be a dick. Have fun. Enjoy your time. Live your yachtie life to the fullest.
Oh yeah, and wear a polo you damn hippy.
- Side note: I’ve added some relevant links in this post. Most links have multiple options for housing, agencies, and ect. chosen by Julie Perry and her book/website: “Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess“. I thought it would be pointless to reiterate all the information she has here, plus, I don’t want to choose favorites. She has most of the majors in each category listed. There are some companies I prefer to use over others, so if you’re looking for specifics here, please feel free to contact me directly!