When The Rain Starts Falling You Are Here With Me Dock Walking – Getting a Job on a Super Yacht

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Dock Walking – Getting a Job on a Super Yacht

What is dock walking?

Dock walking is the process of walking along the dock, approaching the yacht, talking to the crew on-board to try to secure any of the following; Day job, permanent job or leaving them with one of your CVs.

For me this has proven to be one of the most nerve wracking processes of finding a job on a super yacht…

0630 Monday morning, I woke up early in anticipation of dawn. I live in a crew house with several other ‘wannabe’ super yacht crew, all desperately trying to get a job on a super yacht, all competing for the same job on a limited yacht. I wake up early, I want to be the first in the shower (before people line up to shower) and walk to the docks in Antibes to shave for my first day. Presentation is important in this industry and my clothes are ironed the night before. I shower, shave, and eat breakfast, my appetite scant as my nerves fill with a certain uneasiness. I pack my bag with the essentials, sun cream and water, armed with a freshly printed CV and references in a clear plastic folder before leaving the crew house. I want to be the first person out of the crew house and onto the dock if I can catch any early crew on deck.

It’s a beautiful fresh morning, the salty smell of the sea lingers in the still air that surrounds the small cobbled streets in Antibes. The sun is about to rise, the sky is clear and there are white airplane trails on a blue background, there is a chill in the air that is approaching autumn. Leaving the cobbled back roads I am greeted by a large number of moored yachts, all overlooking the port of Antibes with a beautiful golden castle, the rising sun showing off the golden color of the castle. As I walk along the dock, a sea urchin runs into a hedge, pulling some leftover pizza from a torn cardboard bag. The water is calm and the town is empty, it’s 0730 and the harbor is calm.

I walk to the International Dock, the main dock home to some of the world’s largest super yachts, more ordinary yachts, which are still very impressive sized yachts by home standards. As I approach the entrance to the main dock my anxiety grows, my heart racing and my fear of rejection creeping closer. I pass the security barrier through an open gate, looking like a schoolboy about to leave for the first day of school, wearing a rucksack, cleanly ironed clothes and carrying a folder of my CV; I definitely look like a newbie. As I entered the international dock, I was greeted by a large yacht with ‘Dilbar’ written in large letters on its side, in glittering silver, the reflection of the water ripples glinting off the yacht’s hull and the yacht’s prow stretched forward. distance; My heart beats faster and I almost try to convince myself that it’s not a good day for a dock walk and that I’ll try tomorrow, because it’ll be easier… I know I need to keep going.

Sitting on the dock it’s 0735, no one around the security guard and he seems completely uninterested in my intentions this morning. I am sitting on a bed of flowers overlooking a vast array of yachts in front of me, (facing the back of the yacht to the dock) all moored, struggling to comprehend the change in the world I have experienced in just two days. Two days ago I was working in an office watching the rain fall on the busy street outside… Now I sit, jobless, admiring these incredible yachts, the blue sea and sky with the drop behind that old golden fort.

Gradually more dock walkers appear, some very experienced dock walkers, walking with a certain confidence and knowing heritage, some people I speak to politely and briefly, some people are completely focused on the boat and walk on without a receipt.

It’s 0745 and I decide to walk to the opposite end of the dock and start my dock walk at the far end, hoping to catch the crew before they disturb the other dock walkers. The bigger yachts are first, I hope these will catch the attention of the most dock-walkers so I choose the smaller yachts first (still over 60 meters in length!). As I walk to the end of the dock, the yachts begin to come to life, the deck crew appear through the side doors of the yacht, walking down (back) the side of the yacht. I saw the crew coming out, a moment I had been anticipating for a long time, and my anxiety grew. My heart rate has now reached a level where I can feel my blood pulsing and pulsing around my body, a feeling I haven’t felt since last month when I stood up to deliver a great man’s speech. My mouth goes dry and I feel the sweat under my armpits, I approach the first boat, the crew member looks at me, I think I’ve got his attention, I smile, raise the flag on the back of the yacht before he looks down and heads to the other deck, I Sure he notices me, but my polite English nature doesn’t bother me and I convince myself that they must be completely crude and so I should look elsewhere. As I was leaving, I realized that I had failed at the first hurdle in my search for work on a yacht.

I was disappointed but my heart beat a little lighter, I continued along the dock, determined not to be scared off by the next boat, I swear this will be the only boat I don’t go to, a new beginning…

The third boat, someone behind the yacht is also putting up a flag, I approach, heart pounding again, but with courage and determination I call out to the chap, “Are you looking for a crew?” The chap looks down, smiles and indicates that they are fully staffed. Although I feel a huge sense of accomplishment at being rejected, I have overcome the fear of asking for work on one of these yachts and am a little more prepared to begin my journey to finding work on a super yacht.

That morning I was able to talk to the crew on five different yachts. Walking back to the crew house I feel more confident than I did this morning and am glad I managed to deliver some CVs. I have completed my first morning dock walk, the start of many more dock walks to come.

My dock walking skills improved with practice, it took about a week for me to feel confident doing it and for the feelings of anxiety to go away. The process improved over time, I became more agile in asking if they needed day work or new crew, managed to leave more CVs and references with yachts, even though I wasn’t looking for crew at the time. I always tried to make polite conversation with the crew before I got out, hoping to develop some kind of polite relationship that would help me stand out from the crowd. I was surprised to find the staff incredibly helpful and welcoming to me as a dock-walker. The fact is that most on-board staff have endured the dock walking process at some point and understand that finding work on a yacht is a necessary part of empathizing with you and helping you where possible.

My dock-walking took me to several docks, Antibes, Cannes, Monaco, Nice, St. Tropez, among the other two. The best I found were Antibes and Monaco. I spent several hours walking the mile dock, handing out several CVs and talking politely to several crew members. It was frustrating at times, as no leads seemed to come from my efforts. I always tried to stay positive and keep going, even though it was hard at times and I knew the clock was ticking fast, coming to the end of another season; These boats will soon leave the Mediterranean for the Caribbean.

However, hard work, persistence and patience eventually paid off. I got a day job on a couple of yachts which built my experience on my CV, making me more employable.

Without realizing it my dock walking days were coming to an end as I approached a yacht that was docked late one night. The normal job seeking routine followed with polite glee, I handed the crew member my CV, he asked about my qualifications and I didn’t have my yacht masters qualification, to his dismay, he informed me that Captains only employ deck crew as a qualification. I left disappointed as the yacht had an interesting ride and the crew on-board seemed really friendly. The next morning while walking on the dock I passed the same yacht I had handed my CV on earlier in the afternoon, a crew member called me over and offered me a few days work. It progresses from a day’s work, to a week’s work, which leads to a trial period, which leads to a permanent job, and all from that fateful day of talking to that person and handing them a CV.

From hours of dock walking to a super yacht completely off your own back, getting the job done is an incredible feeling. Working on that yacht was a day full of pride for me as I moved all the assets on-board from being a dock walker to a full time crew member. Coming from an office job a couple of months ago and now stepping on-board to start a new life working on one of the top charter super yachts in the world was a beautiful moment in my life.

Looking back, dock walking was the most nerve-wracking part of the job search process. But with time and practice it gets especially easy, you’ll have to overcome the fear of asking for that first yacht.

As humans I think we need to be more comfortable accepting fear and uncertainty, because it’s often the things that make us feel uncomfortable, fearful or anxious that can lead to some of the most exciting changes and opportunities in our lives…

… You never know that one decision you make, one conversation or one person you meet could change the direction of your life or career and take your life on a new exciting adventure.

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