When I tell people I’m working on a yacht in the Mediterranean this summer, I see a flicker in their eyes as they imagine what a charmed life this must be. Nevermind that I have 8 square feet of personal space, I work 14-hour days including weekends, and I start each morning by scrubbing toilets. But I’m doing this on a yacht in the Mediterranean. It’s tough work but it’s got its perks. So if you can handle the long hours and tough work in exchange for a crazy wonderful life experience, then the next question is where to start? How can you get your first yachting job? Since I’ve managed to secure my first yachting job and have seen many friends do the same, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned.
How To Get Your First Yachting Job
There are three certifications you need before you can get your first yachting job. First, a passport and the necessary visa. If you’re coming to the Mediterranean, you’ll need a Schengen visa. And if you’re going to the Caribbean, you’ll need a B1/B2 visa (which you apply for through the US government). Since I have a US passport, I get a Schengen visa stamped in my passport upon arrival, which is good for a 90-day stay in Europe, but not to work here. Yachting work is done on the boat in international waters though, so it’s no problem. And with a US passport I don’t need to worry about getting the B1/B2 visa either. Those of you from other countries will definitely need to apply in advance for the B1/B2, and some will need to apply in advance for the Schengen (like South Africans).
Then you’ll need to get your STCW95, which is a basic boating safety type course. It usually runs for a week and costs about $1000, and it’s required before you can work on any boat. This course is offered by a number of private schools, at a variety of different ports. You’ll also need to get an ENG1, which is a medical certification which says you’re fit to work on a boat. Only certified doctors can do the ENG1 for you. Then once you have your passport and visas, your STCW95, and your ENG1, you’re ready to go get your first job!
Write the Perfect CV
Yachting CVs are different from all other types of CVs. You should follow the format indicated here, and note that you’ll need to include a headshot, current location, the position you’re looking for, your maritime experience and certifications, and three references (it’s okay for greens to use land references). Print out a few, but be prepared to rewrite and revise it often as you get feedback and daywork to add to it.
Be Where the Boats Are
There’s very little chance of getting a yachting job if you’re not already where the boats are. In order to be able to go to interviews, you have to be at the port already. No one’s going to fly you out to where the boat is, especially when you’re green (have no yachting experience). So where are the boats? In the summer, they’re mostly in the Mediterranean, either in Palma de Mallorca, Spain or in Antibes, France. I chose to come to Antibes because it’s the biggest European port. In the summer, most yachts are in the Caribbean, and the major hub there is Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. There are other smaller hubs too, if you want to try your luck closer to home!
3 Main Job Channels
One of the reasons location is important is for dockwalking. This is a chance to walk around to all the yachts in the marina and ask if they have any open positions or any daywork available. Don’t be all business, take this opportunity to chat with the deckhand and make friends. Most green jobs are given for a personality that meshes well with the crew, since you don’t have yachting experience anyways. When you have to live and work 24/7 in tight quarters with the same people for months at a time…well, good crew chemistry becomes important real quick! I think dockwalking is the most effective way to get a job as a green (it’s how I got my first job!). You can and should also register with the agencies and join the various crew recruitment facebook groups (they’re usually port-specific). Start and end each day with dockwalking, and fill the rest of the day by following up with agencies and applying to job postings on facebook.
I Drink for Networking Purposes Only, I Swear
This is also an industry that is networking-heavy. More jobs are had over a beer at the bar than in any other industry, I think. Make as many friends in the industry as you can, because you never know who will hear about a job and be able to refer you for it. Along those lines, I also recommend staying in a crew house. It’s like a hostel but only for people searching for yachting jobs. I not only made loads of yachting friends at the crew house, but I also learned from their experiences. I wouldn’t know half as much as I do or even have this job now if it weren’t for the crew house. I also had so much fun living with all those people that went from strangers to friends to family in a matter of days. Most days they were the only reason I didn’t have a meltdown about another day of unsuccessfully looking for a job.
Take What You Can Get
Whether its daywork, temp work, seasonal work, or a permanent gig, take what you can get. You’re green, you can’t be picky. Any yachting experience helps. Then put that experience, along with the tasks you handled, on your CV and keep looking for the next gig. Once you have a season under your belt, it’s so much easier to get your next job!
Patience, Young Grasshopper
I had ZERO patience when I was looking. I would freak out every day that I didn’t get a job. I got my job after only two weeks which is not only quick for this industry but for any industry. Try to learn from my impatience and just appreciate the time you have living in the beautiful south of France with great new friends. Because once you get your first yachting job and you’re working crazy long hours and you haven’t had a day off and you’re stressed and sick of being stuck on a boat…you’re just going to wish for that time of funemployment again!
I hope this helps you better understand the industry, how to get into, and what to do to try to get your first yachting job. Good luck, little yachties!
Want to know more about yachting? Think you’d like to take a try at working on yachts yourself? I’ve written a comprehensive guide to getting rich working on yachts, which you get right here:
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