You would think that green yacht crew looking for their first job in the industry have it hard enough, but in the recent climate of global uncertainty and tightened security, dockwalkers are the group within the superyacht industry who have suffered the most.
Many a seasoned crew member will often cast their minds back to a bygone era of yachting; where jobs were easy to come by and marina gates were thrown wide open to anyone who chose to pass through them, CV in hand. But today in the yachting hubs of Antibes, Barcelona and Palma, accessing some of the world’s most prestigious superyachts in order to seek employment has become practically impossible.
What’s the reason behind this?
Naturally, in the era of ISIS, Donald Trump and a deteriorating relationship between the EU member states, heightened security measures around potential targets are a given. The current threat level in the UK is ‘Severe’, and I think we could all agree that if you owned an extremely valuable superyacht and fancied parking it in the centre of Barcelona for winter, having a safe and guarded perimeter around your prized asset would be of major concern.
Indeed, many green crew have been taking to online forums with the same question: how do I find work by dockwalking when I can’t near any of the yachts?
Is dockwalking still relevant
Tim Clarke, QuayCrew Managing Director, still believes dockwalking is one of the most important methods of breaking into the ever-more competitive yachting industry; but only those who go the extra mile will be rewarded.
”I have strong views on how dock walking should and shouldn’t be done but I’ll save those for another time! Dock walking is inherently tough, not physically but mentally. Basically, you need to accept you will face an awful lot of rejection for that one ‘Yes’. I always compare it to chatting up someone in a bar or nightclub. Awful but it gets better with practice! The first boat you approach it is really hard; you lack confidence and your words don’t come out very smoothly or confidently. But, the more you do it, the better the conversations you have with the person on the gangway become, yielding better results over time.”
Crew agencies rarely have jobs available online for candidates with no prior yachting experience, so it is still imperative that you step away from your laptop and use your face-to-face networking skills to find work – even in the digital age!
How to get around security to dockwalk (the legal way!)
Reports coming from many individuals in Spain and the South of France say that security on marinas is tighter than ever this year, with no access granted to anyone without an appointment. Often you need to be pre-cleared with marina or yard security staff, and some marinas even require boat-personnel to escort you from the gate to the yacht.
Tim’s advice for keen dockwalkers is to make the most of any opportunities you have on the other side of the barrier, or even better to avoid the barrier altogether!
”Dockwalking is getting increasingly challenging and every year I think more and more crew make less of an effort with it. Security has been tightened at many marinas, both in France and Spain and this has resulted in dockwalkers being denied access to some prime yachts. So what can the dockwalkers do? Be more organised, investigate other ports, countries even, and get travelling. Just hitting up Monaco and Cannes and getting denied by the IYCA security in Antibes doesn’t cut it. You absolutely have to get further afield. Walk to those ports that don’t have a train stopping conveniently outside. Get down to Italy and hit up the ports there. You also have to make the most of your opportunities. You secure day work in La Ciotat? Then hit up every yacht there on day 2. Then again on day 5. Get an interview on the International Quay? Hit up every boat there after you have finished your interview. To steal a quote from someone far more intelligent than me, ‘the extra mile is never crowded’ and never is that truer than when it relates to dockwalking”
Our Quick Guide to Dockwalking in 2018
Ports with heightened security (tough to dockwalk in):
• Antibes (IYCA)
• Palma (STP, Port de Mallorca, Pantalan Mediterraneo, Astilleros, Club de Mar)
• Barcelona (MB92, Marina Port Vell)
Places to give a try:
• La Ciotat
• San Remo
• Nice Port
• Genoa (Molo Vecchio)
• Try Antigua – if you can afford to fly over and find a cheap place to stay (Marsh Village is a good example) there are plenty of boats who will change out crew after crossings or the first charter. Yachts will often favour qualified crew who are already there rather than flying someone in.
• Consider travelling to Fort Lauderdale to find work if you’re not a US passport holder – you’ll be breaking the law.
• Ever try to break into a marina or port to dockwalk – you could find yourself being reported to the authorities.