The 2020 Mediterranean yachting season is not far away and many of you will be starting to think about job opportunities. I’ve put this article together for those of you that are new to the industry, looking for your first job. It can feel like a daunting task. You should prepare to give yourself the greatest chance of finding a suitable role, which will allow you to get a foot in the door and start building experience.
- Courses and essential tickets
The RYA Powerboat Level 2 teaches you basic boat handling of the tenders onboard. This course lays the foundations and is a key element of working on yachts. Once these skills have been polished, you will be able to assist the operations of the yacht by carrying out runs ashore to transfer guests and crew. You can discuss your training requirements with local RYA centres and be aware that it’s a two-day course. Back this up with a VHF marine radio licence so you have the skills, and licence, to handle day to day operational communications.
It’s advised to secure your commercial endorsement of the powerboat certificate; chat with your local centre for advice.
The MCA STCW Basic Training is a 5 day modular course, which is required for everyone who works on yachts. The course comprises of, Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention, Elementary First Aid, Personal Safety and Social Responsibility, Proficiency in Security Awareness. A full list of training centres can be found here:bit.ly/STCW-courses
The ENG1 medical certificate is required to ensure crew are suitably fit and healthy to work
at sea. You can find a list of approved doctor’s here: bit.ly/ENG1-docs
Explore the options of securing a seaman’s book. If you are the holder of a British passport, research the https://www.gov.uk/ site online for application for a British seaman’s card. Each country will have their own service.
- Have enough funds behind you
It can take time to find your first job and therefore, after investing in training courses, you will need to ensure that you have enough money to support yourself while job hunting. You should consider the cost of accommodation, travel, food and social expenses. There is nothing worse than seeing your bank balance dwindling, while not knowing when you will find work.
- Choose a location
The two most popular options are Palma de Mallorca in Spain and Antibes in South France. It varies from season to season as to where people find the most success in job hunting. Palma tends to have larger number of yachts but these tend to be smaller than those in Antibes. Generally people find the cost of living to be less in Palma.
I would suggest making arrangements for the first couple of weeks before arriving and then taking it from there. You have the choice of crew houses, hostels, hotels (which will be costly) and bed and breakfasts. Some crew hostels require you to have a seaman’s book which might take away that option. Before booking, consider a location that most conveniently allows you to visit the marinas.
- Crew bars-
It is important to meet new people, socialise and network. There are a number of crew bars near the marinas where you will be able to make connections and get advice from people who work in the industry. I would however recommend that you try to avoid getting carried away! Not only will you be on a budget, but remember that you are trying to make a good impression. I have seen people being offered day work from captains, only to ruin this opportunity by drinking too much and doing foolish things in front of their potential new boss. Don’t make this mistake!
- Facebook groups
I highly recommend joining the most popular and largest groups on Facebook which have become the online hub of the yachting industry. Start with Palma Yacht Crew and Antibes Yacht Crew. Read the pinned introduction posts, which provide useful information. A lot of crew jobs are posted in these groups, so watch them closely. If you decide to contribute to postings on Facebook, know that your profile may be looked at by potential employees, so ensure your comments are well-meaning and relevant.
- Dock walking
Aside from social media and crew bars, dock walking is a good way to get yourself out there. It can be a tough process as many of the boats will already be crewed up, so prepare yourself for rejection, but don’t take it personally. Greet every new yacht with a fresh smile, even if you’ve been turned away by the last twenty, you never know if this is the yacht you’ll secure work on! Most crew will be friendly and do their best to help you. Remember to dress in crew clothes and arrive early. Look smart (a plain polo shirt and a pair of shorts will do the trick) and try to avoid flip flops if your feet aren’t nice and tidy; it’s a good idea to have a pair of dedicated boat shoes in your backpack, a printed CV or two in a neat folder, and a bottle of water keeping you hydrated as you walk the docks. (If you invest in a Cleanwave drinking water bottle you can access free water points throughout Palma.) Don’t expect to bring your skateboard onboard should you get work for the day so consider how you’ll travel.
- Day work
You may not find a full time position straight away. Day work provides a means to gain experience on a part time, short term basis, which will help you make contacts and learn the ropes, while providing some income. Once you have a few of these to put on your CV, it will give you a lot more opportunities. Record every yacht you secure work on, the name of the yacht and your tasks for the day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a good CV can be developed if you keep track.
- Crew agents
Generally crew agents are looking for people with specific skills, such as those with experience in the industry, engineers, chiefs etc. It is, however, well worth signing up and going for interviews, but don’t be disappointed if they are not able to find you a placement.
I hope that the information in this article gives you something to think about and helps you to get ready for your job hunt. Remember to be prepared, polite and ready to persevere. It can be tough to find that first job but there is a lot of work around there. I wish you all the best!