What not to ask at interview…

This is something I get asked quite a lot and it can come from green crew all the way up to Captains looking for their next position. Asking some good questions at the end of an interview can really make you stand out from the crowd, and equally, one poorly chosen question can undo all of your good work in seconds. So this is a brief article to give you something to think about.

One piece of feedback I hear consistently from Captains and HODs is about the attitude of crew. Specifically more and more crew have an attitude of ‘what can this boat do for me?’ when it should be ‘ this is what I can do for you’. Remember those words and those attitudes and take it into the interview with you. Be that potential crew member with the winning attitude.

You’re going to need to have at least 5 questions planned but I would suggest up to 10 is better if possible. You don’t have to ask all of them but it’s good to have them up your sleeve even if you end up not needing them. Only having a few questions planned and then having the Captain answer all of them in his opening spiel isn’t ideal.

‘Any questions for me?’

‘No’

To me, that screams of a candidate who isn’t prepared or isn’t that interested and let’s be honest, neither look covers you in glory.

Don’t dive in with the money question at your first interview.

This is the first tip and it’s the most important one of all. Do not ask questions about money and how much time off you will get during the first interview because both can leave a bad taste and hopefully the interviewer will give you that information anyway. Make sure you have a notepad ready and take notes if necessary, especially if the interview is over the phone. If the interviewer doesn’t tell you about the money etc then speak to your crew agent. If the crew agent doesn’t know then get a new crew agent. If there is no crew agent then save those questions for the second interview.

Questions to avoid at your first interview:

Can you pay more? – We have had this several times recently. Every time for jobs which are already being well paid and the greedy/delusional crew member has pushed it further and asked if it can be stretched. The answer every time was, possibly, but not for you. Not because they weren’t good candidates but because they looked money grabbing and had an overinflated sense of their own worth.

How much holiday will I get? – Can I have a week off in June to go to my sister’s wedding? 95% of the time if it is in season then the answer is no. You chose to be in yachting and missing weddings is one of the sacrifices you have to make. Your options are limited here and I could probably write a whole post about this alone. I would suggest that you nail the interview do your best to impress and then find out nearer the time if it is a possibility. But mentally be prepared to miss it.

How busy charter is this boat? – Don’t forget to make sure it is actually a charter yacht. People shoot themselves in the foot all the time by asking dumb questions.

A few others to avoid include:

Some of these questions are perfectly acceptable depending on the context, your potential position on board and what has been said at interview etc. But the questions above will shaft you more often than not and paint you in a bad light. As always I would suggest saving them for the second interview or at an appropriate time in the interview eg ‘Do you have a partner who works in yachting?’. Answer, ‘Yes I do and in an ideal world I would like to work with her at some point in the future. However, I completely understand that is pretty rare so we are more than happy to work apart. Having said all of that… are you couple friendly?’

A slightly different situation… If you are a Chief Stewardess with an excellent CV coming from a busy charter yacht then I also don’t think it is unreasonable to ask how many charters you did on previous seasons, how many are booked in for this season and do you have many enquiries currently?

Questions that will make you stand out (in a good way):

Generally, you will have found out the basics about the boat and how it is run so questions about itinerary etc should be redundant.

Try and ask questions that show you are career minded and want to commit for the long term.

For junior roles:

To be clear, there are loads more questions you could ask and there are also various techniques you can use when asking questions that can be beneficial to your cause too. But… I’m not going to spoon feed you everything. And if everyone just asked the same questions it would get a little boring!

For senior crew roles

For senior crew who want to find out more, drop me an email to tim@quaycrew.com and I will send you a document with some more in-depth questions in there.

How to ask about salary, holiday etc

These are always tough questions to ask without sounding a little mercenary. But if you have exhausted your options and you still don’t know then I would always make a statement along the lines of…

‘Whilst money/time off isn’t the most important thing for me, in accepting my next job obviously it is important. What salary bracket are we looking at for this role?’

‘For me I really want to be working on a well-run yacht, with a happy, motivated crew. That is my first priority…’

Keep it light!

Award winning yacht designer John Munford on what it takes to design a superyacht

Many crew will walk onto their new yacht and not consider what’s gone into the build let alone the creative conception and design of what can only be described as a masterpiece. Today superyachts are pushing the boundaries left, right and centre but some of the most famous and most beautiful are the classically designed yachts that just work perfectly – for owners and crew.

A couple of years ago our very own Tim Clarke caught up with the multi-award-winning and lifetime achievement award winner, John Munford, to find out exactly what goes into superyacht creation and you’ll be pleased to know that the crew are kept in mind from the beginning.

Tim Clarke: Firstly John, how did you get into designing yachts?

John Munford: I actually trained as a furniture designer in the early 60s and was influenced by furniture related to its environment. When I started out there was no such job as a yacht interior designer or stylist. My first job was with a small boatbuilding company in Chichester where we designed and built the interior ‘pods’ or structural elements for most of the companies on the south coast, which they soon adopted and started making themselves. This was followed by architectural firms, exhibition design studios and shipyards, developing practical based designs. In 1965 a chance viewing of SHEMARA in a Camper & Nicholson shipyard on the Solent inspired me as a young man and giving a direction for life. Five years later I was working in their studio and later at Fairey Marine, both being a fantastic grounding in yacht design.

SHEMARA, the yacht that started it all | Image credit: edmiston.com

TC: What was your first design to be built?

JM: It wasn’t until the late 70s that I started my own design studio which by coincidence was in one of the ship’s stores of the old C&N Northam yard renamed Shamrock Quay. Yacht design work had to be supplemented with visualisations, pubs and commercial work to start with. The real break came in 1981 when I was commissioned to design the interior and all the deck structures of gaff rigged schooner JESSICA (now ADIX) soon to be followed by the staysail schooner AQUARIUS. The cherry on top was when Elizabeth Meyers commissioned me to design the resurrection of the J class yacht ENDEAVOUR in 1985. However, the ultimate gentleman’s yacht came in 1989 with the 50m AURORA being the first of 10 yachts with the Feadship yards culminating with 69m ARCHIMEDES that launched in 2008. Of course, there are many fantastic yachts, owners and craftsmen that I have enjoyed working with over my long career in the yachting industry but that is how it started.

TC: What challenges do you face laying out the interior of a yacht?

JM: Many and varied is the easy answer. First, it is necessary to listen to the client’s requirement, motor or sail, private or charter, leisure or performance, business or pleasure, approximate length, how many guests, classic or modern, cruising waters, toys, tenders, equipment, communications, pools; gyms, cinemas and so on. Then you’ve got to think about how many crew are required to run the vessels efficiently whilst maintaining the owner’s requirements. Once you have that the naval architect and designer can form the body of the yacht.

TC: Do you prefer designing for motor or sailing yachts?

JM: Both as either is like a Rubik’s cube personalised for each project. Of course, much depends on one’s relationship with the owners and the other professionals involved.

TC: Is it easier to design from scratch or design a refit to an existing yacht?

JM: New builds are in most cases the cleaner project but working with true classics like ENDEAVOUR, VELSHEADA or FAIR LADY is a wonderful experience as you have to respect the original master designer’s principals.

TC: Which of your designs would you feel was your biggest achievement and why?

JM: Gosh this is a hard one as all the yachts feel like a family to me. JESSICA, ENDEAVOUR and AURORA established my direction in yacht design so they are particularly special. However, ARCHIMEDES is probably my greatest achievement because I was able to inject 30 years of my experiences with many of the facilities I have always wanted to see in a motor yacht. She is the modern classic.

ARCHIMEDES | Image credit: Vdloz Images

TC: Which elements of crew life do you consider when designing the yacht?

JM: The crew is the binding factor onboard and they have to run the vessel like a well oiled machine. First, they have to be accommodated within the MCA, SOLS and other regulations. There has to be uninterrupted access around the ship to all areas that make the yacht function whether it’s the helm, engine room, galleys, pantries or tenders but also to be able to discretely service the owners and guest areas. They are there to perform efficiently. Our job as designers is to secure the right space for them to do that. So, it is as important to consider their living and operating spaces as much as any machinery onboard.

TC: Have there been any extreme requests from clients in the past when it comes to the ‘toys’ to be installed?

JM: Pools and Jacuzzis are common requirements but MARGAUX ROSE was well known for launching a hot air balloon from the foredeck and amongst its tenders, it also had a couple of one-man Messerschmitt super fast jet boats. The 70m REVERIE had a central cast bronze fireplace sculpture in the observation lounge plus a stone clad pizzeria with oven. Apart from the usual gym it also had a fully equipped health spa with hairdressing saloon and steam room.

TC: And lastly, what would be your one piece of advice to someone looking to work as crew in the yachting industry?

JM: We are all there to do a job so take your experience with you but be prepared to absorb new skills with an open mind and anticipate requirements in advance. It is all in the detail and working with the highest standards within other people’s timescales. The camaraderie is fantastic and you are blessed with working with highly skilled people in a wonderful environment so make the most of it!

The importance of recruitment | The importance of being thorough

As you can probably imagine I talk to Captains on a daily basis about a variety of subjects. They mainly revolve around recruitment obviously but lots of topics are covered. Something that comes up consistently is the most challenging part of a Captain’s job which is managing the crew. Some of you may find that hard to believe but I can assure you it is true. Unbelievably, a significant percentage of crew are a pain in the arse to manage. I know, who would have thought…

This can range from an attitude problem to being nice but crap at the job, alcohol and/or drug issues, or just generally spreading bad vibes around the boat. The list is endless and can have far-reaching implications which makes it all the more surprising that so many yachts don’t prioritise the recruitment of crew. A good crew is integral to the success of a yacht, the happiness of the owner and it makes everyone’s lives easier.

To be clear I’m not talking specifically about Quay Crew’s clients as many of them do an excellent job but rather of the industry as a whole as I regularly see and hear horror stories. I see crew being employed repeatedly who should never work in yachting again and great yachts offering really good packages employing average crew as they have limited options by the time they prioritise filling the role.

I think there are a few key points to making your recruitment as successful as possible regardless of whether you are using an agency, word of mouth, a job board or Facebook. This is a relatively brief blog but I will cover how to interview in far greater depth in future ones.

1. Work out exactly what you need and what you can offer.

Take some time to work out a few things. What exactly are you looking for in your next crew member? That may sound obvious but what specifically does the leaving team member bring to their department? What are they lacking that you would like to bring in? These don’t necessarily have to be a skill set, it could be a personality trait.

Then you need to be a little self-aware. What can you offer a good candidate? Again I’m not talking about salary and time off. I’m talking about what makes your yacht appealing. Why would people want to work on board? There are lots of things that can be done which don’t cost money. A good atmosphere on board, good longevity amongst the crew etc are all appealing. If you can’t think of anything particularly appealing about working on your boat then you need to reassess a few things as you are probably having to do a lot of recruitment.

2. Don’t leave your recruitment to the last minute.

Start the process early and give yourself time to find a good candidate. If you know someone is leaving on a set date then start looking 6 weeks before then. That gives time for the interview process to unfold and time for someone to work their notice period. Don’t think you have weeks to sort something out, the clock is ticking and suddenly you’ll be in danger of facing a last-minute nightmare because your options are limited.

Recruitment should be somewhere near the top of the priority list. There are always things that are more immediate eg the audit/survey, the upcoming charter, the interior refit and recruitment slides until all of a sudden you need someone in 10 days. Then you only have those that are immediately available or crew who are prepared to stitch up their current job which doesn’t bode well or speak highly of them. I appreciate that things can be extremely last minute on occasion in which case you are limited in what you can do.

3. Don’t cut corners.

Do things properly. An interview should take at least 30 mins in my opinion and no longer than an hour. You should be prepared to put aside in total ½ a day to a day to recruit for one role. Have an interview sheet of standard questions you work your way through for each candidate and make sure you have some different questions to ask that aren’t just the boring norm. If you need some suggestions for good questions just drop me an email.

Interview a few candidates, not just one you like the look of and try to interview face to face where possible. I know that often isn’t feasible but skype at least. For more senior roles I would recommend you interview the candidates you like twice and, where relevant, have a Head of Department or the Captain interview the candidates too.

4. Get in touch with references.

Do your due diligence before you make an offer to anyone. Call all of the references on the CV and have a chat with them. Try and speak to the Captain who isn’t on the CV as well. Do some digging and see what comes up. As a crew agency that does things properly, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of verbal reference checking. This is what will save you from employing the wrong crew member and all the issues and costs further down the line that can entail. Even better speak to us and find out why Quay Crew is different to all the other crew agencies out there and how we can help you crew your yacht.

5. Don’t hang around.

Be quick! The best candidates don’t last long. If you don’t have something incredible to offer crew then they will be looking elsewhere. Once you have identified a good candidate then make them that offer and get them secured.

As a side note if you waiting for that perfect crew member then it could be a long wait. Finding someone who ticks all the boxes can be impossible so don’t ignore the strong options you have in front of you. This is even more applicable if you don’t have a massive budget for salaries, rotation etc.

To sum up: Prioritise recruitment. It is the most key (quay 😊) thing you can do to ensure you run a good boat. Literally, everything else is a by-product of what the people on board produce. As all who have worked on a boat know, you only need one crew member who is a bad fit to disrupt everyone else. Good luck with your recruitment and don’t hesitate to contact me if I can assist in any way at all.

Drinking sensibly will help advance your yachting career

So this is blog post is probably one I have the most experience in (for all the wrong reasons) and despite the title, it definitely isn’t encouraging you to go out and have a good time on a regular basis. In fact, this is the total opposite. This is about being a sensible drinker, something I’ve always struggled with. So do as I say and not as I do and avoid the mistakes that I and others have made…

We will start at the beginning when you are looking for your first job. Antibes and Palma have an array of alluring bars and a fairly debauched nightlife. When you first get there you will be surrounded by gorgeous people, everyone in the same boat (sorry) and the temptation to go out is huge. However, you are looking for a job. The fewer hangovers you have, the more productive you will be in the job search and the longer your cash will last. Possibly not good news for your love life but that should be down the priority list anyway! I always had a job so I didn’t make any screw ups at this stage in my drinking/yachting career. Those all came later!

So you’ve secured a job and its happy days. Loads of cash in the bank account and hitting the bars at every opportunity. Having a great time basically. Which is amazing but how long can you do it before it starts to have a negative effect? I reckon you get one season of regular, heavy boozing before it is to your detriment. If it’s a seasonal role then you don’t even get one season of messing around. Here are the reasons why…

Career

If you get a reputation on board as being a heavy ‘socialiser’ it is unlikely you are ever going to be the person picked for internal promotions. It might happen but generally, you will be put in the ‘great for crew morale but not leadership material’ category. You can get a few good years on one boat but you probably won’t progress. Your reputation will possibly precede you onto your next boat too.

Safety

Yachts, especially on deck can be dangerous. Driving tenders, dealing with lines, being in the anchor locker, up the mast etc all carry risks. If you are doing it first thing in the morning the risks are multiplied. I almost got hit by a ferry in St Tropez in a tender with charter guests on board as I had been out with them till 5am. Wasn’t a great moment for any of us to be honest. If you are the crew member who was made to party all night with your guests make sure someone else is driving!

References

Any decent agency or boat will call your references. If they ask the right questions and probe they will find out you spent more time propping up the bar than anything else and unless it is a party boat it instantly damages your chances. Some Captains and HODs will semi defend you and say it was never an issue. Plenty will bury you though. The upshot is… you won’t get a job on an amazing boat and will be left with something average.

Health

This goes without saying. Being a drinker and/or smoker isn’t adding years to your life expectancy.

Drinking horror stories

In the interests of making this blog less boring here are some examples of how not to do it. Some of these are me and some I witnessed…

1. Carried back to the yacht by charter guests in Cannes as overindulged (me).

2. Dragged off principals daughter on the dancefloor in a headlock from principals bodyguard.

3. Going out for Halloween during your first week, hooking up and come back to the yard the next day. Unfortunately still dressed as Harley Quinn and an hour late back to the boat. End result sacked…

4. Drinking in a guests Irish bar the day after charter finished. Get smashed, lose the ability to walk and get taken to hospital in an ambulance.

5. Getting in a fight outside the Hop Store in front of a crew agent who has just sent you to 4 boats. I was the crew agent and let’s just say he didn’t get a job via me.

6. Missing curfew and therefore have to stay out drinking till 8am (me).

7. Missing curfew and rather than stay out till 8am deciding to swim back to the boat and gain entry. Night spent clinging to bulbous bow trying to survive ( he did survive but it was an incredibly bad drunken decision).

8. Being carried back to the yacht by the police and an extremely keen police dog. End result sacked and a trip to hospital for the dog bite!

To be honest the list of drunken escapades and disasters is endless and I could write a dozen blogs on it. I know it’s boring but my main advice is to only drink to excess when you’ve got the next day off. Your wallet, liver and older you will thank you. I have shot myself in the foot more times than I can remember through drinking and with the benefit of hindsight, none of those nights out were worth it.

Last point, some of you will be reading this and thinking I am a hypocrite having seen me drunk in Antibes on occasions on school nights. They would be 100% correct, I am a hypocrite. But I am also right and I’m (mostly) a reformed character so this just about means I can lecture on this. Just!! Lastly… I have a very forgiving boss (me) for my screw ups, you probably don’t…

The idiots guide for what to do and what not to do in yachting: Part 1 – Getting a job

Some of these have been tried and tested by me. None of them are a good idea. Some of this advice will be painfully obvious and no doubt plenty of you will read it and think ‘I wouldn’t do that’. Well, every season plenty do and I could give you multiple examples for all of the below. If you’re trying to get a job in yachting, make sure you aren’t doing these…

Being rude.

You are looking to start a new career. You don’t know who’s who. So be nice to everyone. It could be a Captain or a crew agent you are being obnoxious too. Why be obnoxious when you could be charming?

Drinking.

It is so, so easy to get dragged into impromptu nights of partying. I have been there so many times so I know what it’s like. Try your best to resist, you are there to get a job. You manage that then you have years of drinking ahead of you in lots of cool places when you don’t have to worry about your money. So save the debauchery for when you are employed.

Not dock walking.

If you are green then most of you will get jobs from your own hard work and networking. They’re unlikely to come from a crew agent or from you responding to adverts on Facebook. You are one of hundreds applying for that job so the competition is fierce. It is hard to stand out from the crowd on paper so hopefully, your face to face charm and charisma can get you day work whilst you are dock walking.

On the subject of dock walking, don’t roll up on your skateboard and tell the guy on the aft to get the Captain for you. On that occasion, it was the Captain who didn’t appreciate being called ‘Brew’ either. Be smartly presented and clean shaven. Don’t reek of last nights booze. Have some crap clothes in your rucksack you don’t mind wearing for rolling around in the bilges in and treat each day of day work like it is a trial and work your arse off because you never know where it could lead.

Being late.

Know where you are going ahead of time and know how you are going to get there. French public transport is notoriously unreliable so give yourself some breathing space and get the earlier train. Being incapable of getting to an interview or a day of work at the appointed time isn’t a good look and isn’t that challenging either.

Drinking Again.

If you have day work or an interview the following day don’t go out drinking the night before. If you absolutely must go out for a couple then you are an idiot. If you are anything like me then a couple means you have no idea when you will be going home. In fact, the only thing you do know is that tomorrow you will be hungover and less than 100%. Unless you have incredible will power it is far, far safer to stay in. Iron your clothes and work out some intelligent answers to interview questions for the next day.

The Interview

An interview is a notoriously stressful situation and then you factor in that you are skint and have to fly home imminently if you don’t get a job asap. Remove some of this pressure by being organised. Make sure you get there early so you aren’t panicking and covered in a fresh sheen of sweat and practice your interview responses to all the classic / cliched questions you will be asked:

• Why do you want to work in yachting?
• Tell me about yourself
• What are your strengths/weaknesses?

There are dozens more examples I could give but this isn’t a blog just about interviewing. Do some research and look at questions online. Run through in your head what you think a good answer would be. Then practice answering questions with one of your fellow greenies. You will feel awkward and possibly look stupid too but I guarantee you that this practice will make you perform better in an interview situation.

Try to avoid any answers that are going to make you look like an idiot. A few quick examples would be saying you would love to work on a charter yacht or a dual season yacht which travels when you are interviewing on a private or a Med based boat. Or that you would like to get your foot in the door as a deckhand before pursuing your goal of becoming an engineer further down the line. Have some intelligent questions to ask at the end which don’t revolve around salary, holiday, tips and wanting to work with your partner. Questions of this nature often make you look bad and are virtually guaranteed to shoot you in the foot. These sorts of mistakes are made daily.

Be enthusiastic and positive about the role. You are a green member of crew. For the vast majority of you that means you are bringing little to the table for a potential employer. Your attitude is pretty much it, so make sure it is a winning attitude.

Post Interview

Send a nice email thanking whoever interviewed you for their time. If you don’t have it, a polite text would also be fine. Keep it to just a ‘thanks for your time.’ No further questions. You had your chance at the interview for that. If you got the interview through a crew agent now would be a good time to update them on how it went and tell them how keen you are on the role (if that is the case). It is always in your best interests to keep the crew agent in the loop and to have a good relationship with them as they control whose CV gets sent where. Sounds obvious but many crew seem to forget. This is a relationship that will hopefully last for years and be beneficial for everyone involved so make the effort.

Be realistic

So you smashed the interview and you are being offered a job. The yacht loved you and thought you would be a great fit and have offered you 2300 euros to start whilst you complete your probation. Accept it. Now is not the stage in your career to be negotiating. Far too many green crew have completely unrealistic expectations and have an inflated opinion of what they are worth. Unless you are bringing an excellent, relevant skill set eg boat building, carpentry, paid for maritime work experience, worked in high-end hotels/restaurants then the harsh reality is the main thing you bring is your attitude.

Pulling pints and serving burgers in a pub doesn’t make you any different from the thousands you are competing with. Growing up driving a tender and wakeboarding doesn’t either. As soon as you start negotiating you lose the appealing attitude you displayed at interview.

Turning down jobs because a yacht isn’t charter or isn’t paying 2500 straight away, or you want a 70m yacht and this is only 40m is not the path to go down. Very few people get amazing boats in their first role. Those that do normally have that something that sets them apart from their peers. There is also a very good chance you will live to regret these rash decisions to turn down boats for arbitrary reasons in the future.

Ultimately it’s up to you

On a very regular basis, people have ignored my advice and done what they think is best. That is fair enough, it is their future and their decision to make. Sometimes they have got lucky and scored that amazing job. But my advice is always honest and the vast majority of the time correct. (I am slightly cringing as I type this as I am aware it sounds fairly arrogant, sorry!).

If you are looking for your first job then the most important thing is to find a well run, safe yacht with a happy environment on board. If a yacht has all of those things then you are laughing. With those basic points in place you are much more likely to stay for a year or two and build a good foundation for your yachting career. Then you can be picky.

If anyone has any thoughts or disagrees with any of the points above please feel free to comment. We are all here to learn and I would love to hear another point of view. Good luck in your job search and don’t forget fortune favours the brave!

This is what could make or break your yachting career

This article is primarily directed at junior crew in their first year or so in the industry. It is also aimed at people who want to make this industry their career. If you are only in it for a year or two and a great time then disregard everything below and do whatever you fancy. However it is applicable to everyone and hopefully there is some useful stuff in here about temp roles, time out of work and it may make you smile once or twice! With that out of the way…

Longevity is the single most important thing you can do to make yourself as appealing as possible to yachts. Demonstrate longevity on your CV and you will have far more options open up to you when you do eventually decide to move on. So many crew leave jobs far too easily, far too early for really minor reasons.

1. The boat isn’t travelling enough

Sit in La Ciotat or whichever delightful port you are in for the winter, suck it up and get a dual season yacht next time when you have a year of experience on your CV. Hopefully you are near a mountain.

2. I want to work on a busy charter yacht

Don’t we all! Everyone wants to earn 20k a season in tips. Well guess what? 95% if not more don’t. So that means there aren’t enough to go around and you probably won’t get it so stay put.

3. I’m underpaid

If you are earning somewhere around €2,500 p/m with a season’s experience you aren’t being underpaid. You just need to get on with it. If you are being paid say €2,200 p/m with a season’s experience then yes that is underpaid. But you’ve done one season already, so steel yourself mentally, do another and then you will have a year on your CV and be far more desirable!

4. The boat is too hard work

Ah, poor you. You will learn a lot on a busy boat in a short time frame which is great. You also won’t get so much of a chance to blow your money on ill-advised nights out on shore. Some boats are constantly hard work. All boats will be hard work for at least a few weeks every season. If you can’t cope with that then maybe you need to reassess if yachting is for you. One last positive… Your next yacht will be a walk in the park in comparison!

5. I want to be with my partner

Everyone does but again, there aren’t enough roles on couple friendly boats for this to work. Most couples end up compromising hugely to be together and this brings its own challenges. Find a good yacht individually then get your partner on there.

There are many more reasons but these are the main ones. It is very easy to leave and far harder to stay if everything isn’t perfect. But all yachts have one or two issues with them. There is no such thing as a 10/10 yacht. So don’t go looking for it. To use a cliché, the grass isn’t always greener.

What is longevity?

If you are junior crew in your first role then I would say you need to do at least one year, ideally 18 months to 2 years. That will really set you apart from the crowd which is the aim of this. If it is a seasonal role then you need 18 months in your next job I think. Then you have had 2 jobs taking 2 years up of your career so an average of a year each.

Once you have been in yachting a few years and have decided it is the career for you then you need to be staying longer. In the industry 5 years and worked on 5 boats? That looks pretty average to me, unfortunately. Factor in you have probably had a year off over that 5 years when you have been in between jobs and it looks worse too. Once you move up, you need to commit for longer periods of time, eg 2 years a job if not more. This is what will make you stand out from the crowd and make the chances of securing that dream rotational gig much more likely.

Why should I stay?

The longer you stay on one yacht the more likely you are to be internally promoted which always looks great on your CV. If you have been internally promoted then you are clearly doing something right to get given that role. Even if you don’t get promoted, the longer you stay the more responsibilities you will be given.

The crew that get multiple offers and get snapped up by great yachts are the ones that have demonstrated commitment to their career and stuck it out. Suffer in your first year in yachting a little and then if you do things properly you won’t have to suffer again for the rest of your yachting life. To sum it up, if you build a solid foundation for your career lasting 12 to 24 months then you are setting up yourself up to have an amazing career.

Gaps in career

Some gaps are unavoidable and beyond your control. However, plenty aren’t. If you have done 1 season or 1 year in the industry, saved up hard and are now planning on living the high life for 6 months or longer don’t. Working for a year and then having the best part of a year out isn’t a good look, although I can see why it would be very tempting. Do 2 years (on 1 boat obviously) and then travel for 5 months. Don’t go for longer than that. Also, factor in, it will take you a month or two to find the right job.

If you leave yachting and then come back having had 1, 2 or more years out then you are in essence starting from scratch. Whatever the reason is (I hear a lot of fiction about this) you can no longer walk into your previous role on a decent boat commanding the same salary and perks as you were on 2 years ago. More often than not you will have to take a hit of some kind. That will most likely be in the form of the quality of the boat. So be a little realistic.

Temp Roles

These are great for boosting up the bank balance and providing you with some exposure to how a yacht does things. As a green member of crew take whatever you can to get some experience and to get a good yachting reference.

However, if you’re seasoned crew too many temp roles makes your CV look bad as it looks like you have jumped from yacht to yacht. People scan CVs very quickly and form a judgement in seconds and lots of jobs on different yachts isn’t appealing. For a cynic like me, I will think some of them are permanent positions which haven’t worked out. Make it very clear on your CV if it is a temp or relief position and avoid getting caught up in the temp role cycle.

Hopefully, this helps some of you make some decisions on your future career decisions. Best of luck!

Featured image credit: matadornetwork.com

This is what happened when I got my first yachting job

I thought it was time to cast my mind back to 2006 when I was taking my first tentative steps into the yachting world in Antibes. Hopefully, it will give any first timers a little insight into what it could be like, though I know everyone’s experience is different. This is also a great example of taking what you can until something better comes along. And when I say better I mean a normal, fully crewed yacht, not jumping ship after a few months for a couple hundred more euros or something which may seem superficially more appealing.

I had secured my first job on an old 35m Feadship and had high hopes for my first yachting experience. This was before Facebook and everything you can possibly think of being on the internet so I had a limited idea of what I was getting into. Everything was new and it was the epitome of getting thrown in at the deep end.

Heading into the unknown, knowing that whatever happens it will be an adventure.

There were three permanent crew; the Captain who was a great guy, a cantankerous old engineer and yours truly, the proverbial green deckie who didn’t have a clue. The boat had been undercrewed over the winter and needed sorting before the season started. There was no chef and no stews so I was winging it and fending for myself. I even had to cook my own food and do my own laundry which took some adjusting to for someones who’s culinary skills went about as far as ham sandwiches… It was pretty dull in the evenings on my own and with a lack of digital entertainment in the crew mess there was a lot of thumb twiddling and constantly being on watch.

I was given a flying induction in cleaning products, two parting a deck and varnishing all the capping rails. At this fledgeling stage in my yachting career, I didn’t realise varnishing was black magic, a mystical art that should inspire terror. After multiple coats on my own, I wasn’t a bad varnisher, which is a decent effort 3 weeks into your yachting career. All of this I was shown how to do once and then left to get on with it all day. No supervision or encouragement really so I had to get stuck in.

Things didn’t go that smoothly across the board it has to be said… The first time we left port was a challenge, and the first time we came in was an absolute disaster. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a clue about the lines and what to do with them having never been told. The engineer was screaming incoherent instructions when we were 5 yards from the dock so it really wasn’t a success. It was, however, a learning experience…

Have a big team around makes such a difference to moral | Image credit: yachting-pages.com

I was on here a couple of months before I got the opportunity to day work / have a trial on a great 52m which had other crew and you were cooked for 3 times a day. In comparison, this was a dream, just working alongside other people was a massive bonus on its own.

The first yacht I worked on was tough. There was very little training or support given, it was isolating and working on your own the whole time wasn’t much fun. However, it was character building, I learnt a lot (I had no choice) and it made me really appreciate everything I had on my next yacht. So, in essence, a little hardship can be a good thing if you take it for what it is. And far worse things can happen than working on an average yacht. So, for most of us who don’t stand out from the crowd of thousands, take what you can in your first season and give it your best shot. Work hard and learn as much as possible.

Cover photo image credit: northropandjohnson.com

Dear Yacht Designer here are some things you need to know

When it comes to superyachts I can truly say, beauty is pain and sometimes just a royal pain in the… neck.

Often I find myself lying on the floor with my arm at full length, under a wardrobe or cupboard that has no business being exactly 5cm above the floor. Flailing it back and forth amongst the dust bunnies, (which are near impossible to catch with the vacuum cleaner in such a narrow gap) I’m trying to reach some or other guest item that has been kicked under there this time. It’s at times like this I think to myself if I was a yacht designer how would I build a boat?

Well, unfortunately, that question is somewhat beyond the scope of my 3 hour stewardess certification. However, with the backing of some of my own experiences and the firsthand accounts of people I have worked with, I can fairly confidently mention a few things that I would not do.

Those rusty teardops are making me cry

I would avoid selecting metal flecked marble, especially in the shower. While this creamy white finish with gentle gleams of copper is gorgeous, it is not beyond the science of corrosion, metal and water makes rust. My days of taking a toothbrush to a 2 metre by 1 metre shower to remove the rusty teardrops are something I look back on with relief that they are over, a slight throb returning to my index finger as I recall the scrubbing.

In fact, please don’t use or create any surface with metal insets. Especially the types that tarnish easily like nickel. Tarnished metal requires polishing and polishes often at times are slightly abrasive. This can make it really difficult to avoid scratching the surrounding material, especially high gloss and pitch black mahogany. Not to mention the tiny space between the wood and metal which inevitably requires a toothpick and a lot of patience to remove any excess polish.

You don’t understand the pain

Then there are the glamorous glass displays, intricate in their design, sometimes spanning 2 decks, often nestled within the hard to reach grips of a staircase. If inspiration strikes and you see fit to create one of these elaborate monstrosities, please I beg of you find some way to seal your design against dust and damp. Few things are more frustrating than a perfectly clear and clean glass wall on the outside with a fine film of dust and sometimes stray droplets reflecting light on the inside, ‘so close and yet so far’ has never rung so true.

Electrical things are like cats, they HATE being wet

Then on behalf of the boys and girls on deck, (especially those on sail yachts reaching high speeds in the whipping wind and sea spray) three special and, I believe, blindingly obvious words, waterproof helm stations. Not sure if you realise this, but electronic equipment and salt water don’t run so well together.

Then while I’m on the topic of electricity, and water, and running I must mention the craziness of a hydro-powered backup generator that needs electricity to start. Such a glorious waste of space.

We don’t want to sound greedy but…

Speaking of space, more please. We need to store all manner of drinks, snacks and cleaning products for weeks and weeks at a time. Not to mention the spectrum of crew clothing which needs to be stored on board to replace tired crew uniform and cater to new crew at a moment’s notice. Picture a floating Publix or Carrefour. Please be kind and give us some decent storage space. Preferably not only the bilge variety where we have to crawl through an obstacle course of pipes carrying a container laden with a case of 1 litre bottles of San Pellegrino. If we wanted to take on a challenge to test our physicality, fitness and agility we’d enter a Tough Mudder.

You’re still amazing though

All these things considered, it wouldn’t be right to sign off without a brief thank you on behalf of all of us out travelling the high seas, on some of the most beautiful vessels ever made. Without you there wouldn’t be boat owners constantly upgrading to the next big thing, or first-time buyers entering the fray, or even charter guests trying the luxury life on for size. Without you there wouldn’t be yachts, yacht jobs and the dollar bills that go with these positions.

Yours sincerely,

A Superyacht Stewardess called Grace

Our guide to 5 Winter Refit Destinations you’ll probably end up in

The summer season in the med has all but ended, so if you’re not off to the Caribbean this can mean only one thing… You, my friend, are off to the shipyard for a refit.

But what on earth are you going to do all winter (besides sanding and varnishing of course)? Luckily for you many refit shipyards are in or near fantastic destinations, so here’s our guide to some of our favourites:

STP in Palma, Majorca

Image credit: theislander.net

Food: We’re in Spain so think tapas, piles of tiny restaurants and hidey holes where you will find the best food you’ve ever eaten. If you haven’t been yet then you must try Ombu and Forn de San Joan.

Facilities: Dock Bar has always been a convenient place for a catch up in the yard with friends and contractors. To make your refit as easy as possible, there are various onsite suppliers based in the yard too. STP is also in an excellent location, so once you’ve finished work you’ll be back in the old town in minutes.

Things to do: Mallorca is a paradise for people that like to be outside, even in the Winter months. Think amazing beaches, excellent rock climbing and some of the most amazing routes through the countryside and mountains for cyclists and walkers.

Transport links: Taxis are cheap, central Palma is walkable and the airport is only 15 minutes outside of town, with flights to most major European cities and excellent connections via Barcelona.

Nightlife: Palma is world renowned for its night-time culture, and is home to everything from classy cocktail bars like NeoCultural, to big name clubs like Pacha. If you’re looking for something different, head to Abaco which is a cocktail bar situated inside a reimagined medieval Majorcan Palace. Famous yachtie bars here include Corner Bar, Havana Bar and Bar Cuba.

Rybovich in West Palm Beach, USA

Image credit: yachtingmagazine.com

Food: You’re in America, so get ready for all of your favourite US treats such as burgers, ribs, and pancakes for breakfast! West Palm Beach has more to offer in culinary terms though, and you can find everything here from French Cuisine to Caribbean and Cuban flavours.

Facilities: Rybovich is incredibly well appointed in terms of crew facilities. There’s a gym, a swimming pool, and of course the world-famous M/Y Café – a bar and restaurant exclusively for use by Rybovich crew and contractors; and for the occasional crew party or two.

Things to do: The weather in Florida is mostly good all year round, so beach days are still on the cards here. There’s also a wildlife sanctuary and waterpark nearby (you are in the theme park state after all). Feeling adventurous? Head to the Everglades National Park and try out the hovercraft experience on the swamp. Just watch out for alligators, please.

Transport links: It’s a 10-minute drive from the yard to central Palm Beach and 15 minutes to Palm Beach International airport. And if you fancy a trip to Miami you’ll be there in an hour and a half.

Nightlife: There are lots of bars local to the yard, but if you want to go dancing head to The Loft or Rumbass, which are top-rated local night-time spots!

Pendennis in Falmouth, UK

Food: If you’re going to eat seafood anywhere in the UK, Cornwall should be at the top of your list! The Quarterdeck is a MUST visit for posh plates, but don’t disregard the satisfaction you can get from eating fish’n’chips at any one of the local ‘chippys’ in town.

Facilities: The team at Pendennis aim to “provide a professional work environment alongside a welcoming social environment for crews whilst based in Falmouth, providing a home-from-home.”. There are beautiful crew offices onsite where refit projects are managed, a crew gym and a canteen/kitchen which doubles as a social space.

Things to do: Cornwall is one of the most beautiful areas in the UK so if you like walking and sailing you will never run out of things to do here (even though the sea is FREEZING in winter). You should definitely check out the Eden Project which is just an hour from Falmouth, and if you want something in walking distance visit the shipyard’s namesake, Pendennis Castle.

Transport links: The train station connects with the rest of UK and Exeter Airport is 2 hours away by car.

Nightlife: It may be home to Club International, but Falmouth is more ‘cosy pubs and wellie boots’ than ‘stilettoes and hair gel’. Make sure you sample one of the many Cornish ales and ciders on offer at some of the craft-ale hotspots in town.

Integrated Marine in Auckland, New Zealand

Food: This city is home to some of the world’s best cuisine and don’t even get me started on the coffee. Go to Cassia if you want something fancy, Odette’s for Breakfast and Elliot Stables if you like A LOT of choice – this is a super posh food hall.

Facilities: IMG Yacht Support customers get a crew discount card, which gets you great offers at a range of places, including bars, kite surfing shops, beauty spas and a gym. Integrated Marine also regularly organise crew drinks at the Jack Tar, a local pub near the marina.

Things to do: It may be winter in Europe but you are headed to the NZ summer! For a weekend trip go to the Bay of Islands, make sure you check out the vineyards on Waiheke and if you’re staying in town walk up Mount Eden for an amazing view of the city. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping you can jump off the cities highest building, the Sky Tower!

Transport links: The buses are cheap, the train station is around the corner and it is a 25-minute drive to the airport (and they even have Uber here).

Nightlife: This city is awash with great pubs, trendy bars and of course nightclubs. Ponsonby is one of the most popular nighttime areas and has a lot of variety depending on what you like.

Monaco Marine in La Ciotat, France

Image credit: monacomarine.com

Food: This is a quintessentially French town by the water so you’ll find fabulous seafood here. If you’re looking for ideas check out Les Copains d’Abord and ask for a table by the sea.

Facilities: Monaco Marine have a sizeable headquarters building onsite, and inside you can find crew offices and lounges that are perfect for some quiet time off the boat. The company also offer a concierge service for crew living in the yard and plan regular fitness classes and other social activities throughout the winter refit period.

Things to do: In the town itself there are lots of water sports activities available (if it isn’t too cold), or you can jump in the car and head to Les Gorges du Verdun, considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful river canyons. On your way home pop into the town of Cassis for a coffee and take a wander around its beautiful port.

Transport Links: The local train station means you can easily access the nearest towns of Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Toulon. Marseille is the closest big airport, an hour away by car.

Nightlife: There are a few bars but if you want your dancing shoes to take you beyond ‘On the Docks’, you’ll have to head to one of the bigger towns. Marseille is a 30-minute train journey away but you’ll need to get a taxi back unless you’re out all night.

Featured Image Credit: yacht-shot.com/Stuart Pearce

How to move from one boat to another without burning bridges…

1. Stay put for now.

A job search takes planning and time and in some cases finding the right position on board your next yacht could take months. Staying in your current position while you initiate the process will be easier on your bank account and removes a lot of the pressure. Far too many crew quit their jobs so they are available to find the next one and this can leave them in a tricky situation when the hunt takes a while.

If you are like most crew then the time off will include a very nice but very expensive holiday, catching up with friends, maybe some courses and lots of socializing. Basically, you haemorrhage money those first few months and before you know it the savings account has taken a huge hit. Then you start looking properly for work. Then two months later the pressure really starts building as you haven’t found something suitable so you consider less money, a single season when you wanted two etc. So now your compromising and the risk of leaving 6 months later is far higher. This means your CV gets flakier and there is less chance of finding that great yacht.

So, if you don’t need to leave to become more qualified to get your next role then stay put as long as possible and try to leave in between seasons. If you do leave then budget accordingly. As the old adage goes, “It’s easier to get a job if you already have a job.”

2. Is the grass really greener on the other side?

Take a good hard look at your employment now. Would a change really be worth it? Consider not only salary issues but also benefits, time off and the relationships you have built with your fellow crewmembers. So many crew leave yachts for a couple of hundred extra euros a month, or because they want a busy charter yacht or just because they generally think they can do better. A lot of the time they don’t get that elusive charter yacht or end up on a yacht where all the crew are unhappy and they leave after a season. The most important thing for me is to make sure that the yacht you are joining is a well run, happy one. If it is, the chances are you will be able to stay for years and build longevity on your CV which then opens up doors for better boats further along in your career.

It’s hard to gauge whether you’ll be happier after making the switch. The important thing is to be realistic.

 

Image credit: superyachtnews.com

 

3. Spring Cleaning.

Get your CV dusted off and updated. Include all relevant experience you have had onboard and go into some detail. If you are an experienced crew member though no one cares about the 3 days of day work you did 2 years ago so get rid of it. Equally, compact your earlier roles and go into more depth with your most recent jobs. Next, have a think about your skills and strengths and write a killer cover letter reflecting them.

Don’t forget to take a look at your social media accounts too to make sure they are looking sharp. Or to be more precise, get them locked down so only your friends can see anything of interest. I’ve seen crew miss out on jobs because of pictures from 3, 4 plus years ago when they were a teenager.

4. To Tell or Not to Tell?

You will need to speak to your Captain and Head of Department at some point to let them know you are looking so they are prepared to get calls and emails from agents and other yachts. If you have a good relationship with your Captain this is the time to speak to them. Honesty is usually the best policy, but not always suitable. You may even get a counter offer but the goal is to give the captain ample time to find a replacement.

Use your good judgment but keep in mind that it’s important not to burn any bridges. This can be difficult. As a rule of thumb if you have been with a yacht for a few years then generally it will be fine if you are upfront and honest when say are looking around. If you have only been with a yacht a season or so then you will be significantly less popular.

At Quay Crew we don’t send anyone without verbal references so you need some from somewhere. Maybe contact an old Head of Department who has left the boat for that reference. Personally, I don’t like seeing 2nd Officer, 2nd Stew, Bosun or even Chief Engineer as a reference if that isn’t the department you worked in. It has to be Captain or Chief Stew / Officer / Engineer. Your Head of Department in other words.

5. Stay Focused.

It can be a challenge to stay focused on your current position when you are looking for a new one. Don’t pack your bags before you have left and continue to work hard and be fully present and committed for as long as you are there. The Captain and/or your Head of Department will be able to tell if you have metaphorically downed tools a couple of months before you leave. It isn’t a good look and can definitely impact on your reference too. I have taken loads of references which say ‘he was amazing but the last few months he wasn’t great’ or ‘his head was elsewhere’ or ‘she was clearly ready for a change’. Anyway, I’m sure you get where I’m coming from. Don’t screw up all your previous good work by being below par and prioritizing your job search over your current job.

Image credit: edmiston.com

6. Be careful about what you say.

Speaking out publicly against your bosses, the yacht or your colleagues is a big NO-NO. This type of behaviour will not only ensure that you leave your current position on bad terms but could also jeopardize your new one. If the reason you are leaving your current yacht is due to safety issues, poor working practices or something else negative then you will need to be diplomatic about it. If you feel you have to be honest then do so but steer away from anything too controversial or personal and only do it verbally. Never in writing.

I’m sure it seems obvious but don’t have a whinge publically after you have left the boat. I can think of multiple crew members moaning on Facebook about how they have escaped a hellish existence and now are on a much better yacht. Then someone from the old yacht sees it and passes on this titbit to the Captain which won’t help your relationship with your former yacht or your reference in the future.

Some of this advice should be blindingly obvious but so many fall foul of it. Get it sorted out and behave as professionally as possible.

One last golden tip. If you don’t see eye to eye with your Captain or HOD and you know you plan on leaving relatively soon, then now is an excellent time to build bridges with them! Make an effort to get on with them and stop doing whatever it is that irritates them! Good luck!