If you’re new to the world of yachting or looking to break into the superyacht industry, dock walking is an essential skill you’ll need to master.
I landed my first job after dock walking and have since worked my way up the ranks to Chief Stewardess. I’m now on the receiving end and have encountered hundreds of eager yachties as they hand out their CVs when dock walking.
Here are 10 tips for dock walking to ensure you land your dream job!
Table of Contents
Firstly, What is Dock walking?
One way to find a job on a yacht is by walking the docks of marinas where super yachts are docked in the hopes of getting temporary work.
Not only does this day work pay well, but it also gives you a chance to gain valuable experience and could potentially lead to permanent work. If you impress the yacht crew members, it could also lead to a positive referral.
If you want to secure a temporary or permanent job on a yacht through dock walking, it’s important to have a plan.
Top Tips Before you do the Dock Walk
- Take a change of clothes with you in case you get daywork and need to get stuck into dirty jobs
- Wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking
- Wear an outfit that makes you look like a Yachtie (polo shirt and smart shorts/skort)
- Remain polite and professional with everyone you encounter
- Have a few copies of your Yacht CV printed out and ready in a plastic folder
- Be aware of the time of day you approach vessels (don’t go during lunch time or breaks)
- Do NOT approach a vessel if there are guests onboard
- Keep your phone on silent, but keep an eye on any incoming emails or phone calls for potential work
- Take a spare change of socks. If you get taken onto a boat, you will need to take off your shoes, and those feet have been walking for a few hours
1. How to Approach Boats when Dockwalking
When approaching a Yacht, you need to be polite and professional.
You’re either going to ring a bell at the passerelle (this is the platform or staircase used to board a vessel), or hopefully catch the attention of a deck crew member working outside.
Ask to speak to a department head, such as the Chief Stew or Chief Officer, and let them know you are available for day work. Briefly mention your experience and skills to showcase why you would be a good option.
If you’re wanting to become a yachtie and have no experience, that is ok. Sometimes eager and positive attitudes go further than someone with experience.
2. What to Wear when Dock walking
If you want to work on a yacht, you should look the part.
- Wear a polo shirt or collared shirt, shorts or a skort, and a pair of sneakers or boat shoes
- Ladies, go easy on the make-up and jewellery, and have your hair tied up or looking very neat
- Gents be clean shaven and have a neat hair cut
3. What is the Best Time of Day to Dockwalk?
A working day usually starts at 8 am, so you want to get to the docks by 7 or 7:30 am. You won’t be the only person dock walking, so get in early.
It is not advisable to approach the crew during tea time (9/10 am) or lunchtime (12/1 pm) as they may not appreciate the interruption. The ideal time to approach them is in the morning.
You may also have a chance to get work towards the end of the day (4-5 pm) if they require help for the following day.
4. The Dock Walking Seasons
Keep in mind the seasons when planning your trip.
The Mediterranean Summer Season
Crewing for yachts in the Mediterranean season begins as early as March and lasts until May, making it the ideal time to be in the Med.
During October and November, there is a high demand for yacht assistance as many boats prepare to cross the Atlantic for the Caribbean season.
Keep an eye out for boat shows during this time. Consider heading to the following locations:
- Monaco Boat Show: End of September
- Cannes Yachting Festival: Mid-September
The United States Winter Season
If you’re planning to go dock-walking in America, October would be the best time to visit. This is because boats are either preparing for the Boat Show (FLIBS) or getting ready for the season.
- Fort Lauderdale Boat Show: End of October
- Antigua Boat Show: Early December
5. Prepare your CV
Before you head out to the docks, have copies of your CV printed out and ready. I recommend putting them in a folder to keep them neat.
Remember, first impressions are everything, and a crinkled piece of paper probably won’t make it to the Captain’s desk.
- Have a good head and shoulders photo of yourself. Look smart, professional, and friendly. DON’T TAKE A SELFIE!
- Write a simple yet captivating objective. Highlight the job you are aiming for as well as why you are the best candidate.
- SPELL CHECK!! I cannot reiterate this enough. When we work in an industry that requires you to be meticulous and show attention to detail, spelling errors in a CV are not good.
- Keep it simple and try to highlight ANY attributes or experiences that could be transferable to yachting.
- There are essential pieces of information that are crucial to a CV that you do not want to leave out. You need to list your personal information such as health status, passport and visa’s held, education, contact information, location, and availability. You also need an objective, work experience, any additional courses and skills you hold, references and some hobbies and interests.
- Have a Word document and PDF version of your CV available, as different agents and websites will have a preference.
You may also want to look at having a business card made up. These will be easier for you to carry around. Put your basic contact information on the card, including your desired position as yacht crew, qualifications, and contact info.
6. Prepare your Route for Dock Walking
To ensure a smooth dock walking experience, it’s important to plan which docks you intend to visit and what time you’ll arrive.
Note that some docks have strict security measures in place and don’t permit dock walking. It is essential to gather all necessary information ahead of time.
To stay informed about the yachts in the marina and their numbers, you can check out Marine Traffic. Keep in mind that yachts that have just completed an Atlantic crossing may require additional assistance, so be prepared to approach them and offer help.
However, please do not stand on the dock and hassle the crew as soon as they tie up to the dock. Those crew will be tired and very busy. Come back later in the day when the vessel is settled and ready to take on the extra assistance.
7. Stay Positive
You are going to encounter some grumpy crew, and there will be days when you feel like you are getting no good responses or work.
But stay positive and keep on trying. You will eventually come across a yacht looking for extra hands on deck.
During the hours that you are not dock walking, I recommend heading to the crew agencies you have already signed up for.
Call ahead and arrange a face-to-face interview. This will greatly increase your chances of having your CV taken into consideration.
It is also great to head out socially and meet other crew. Please do not go out there and drink the bar dry. First impressions count – especially the bad ones.
9. The Best Locations for Dock Walking
Now, before you hop on a plane and head to the first spot your friend Instagrammed about, do your research.
It is ILLEGAL to dock walk in America unless you are an American Citizen or green card holder. If you are legally allowed to dock walk, Fort Lauderdale is the best option.
In Italy, you want to head to Monaco, Genoa, Loana, Imperia, or San Remo
If you head to the South of France, Antibes is your best option. You could also try Toulon, Nice, Cannes and La Ciotat.
Another great option is Spain. Here you should go to Palma de Mallorca or Barcelona.
Also, don’t be afraid to head to the smaller marinas with less crowds. There will be fewer boats, but there will also be less dock walkers, so you have better chances of finding work.
10. Last Thoughts on Dock Walking
It can seem intimidating, and you might feel demotivated if you are not getting any job offers. But keep on trying. You will eventually get something.
Keep your phone on you, a Captain could call at any time, and you don’t want to miss the one opportunity you get. Also, be sure to check your emails regularly.
Stay on top of your accounts, social media, emails and networking. Check in regularly as job posts will get filled quickly.
Clean up your Social Media accounts. I can assure you that Social Media accounts are checked before hiring crew members. If your last pictures posted publicly are of you out streaking on the rugby field, you may not stay on the top of the pile.
Stay positive, enjoy the process and learn from all the good and bad days.
And please, keep a big fat smile on your face along the way. After all, your journey into the yachting industry is about to begin, and that is most certainly something to smile about.
What is Dock walking?
Dock walking is the act of walking along the docks of marinas where boats are docked and looking for work.
What to wear to Dockwalk?
You need to look like a yacht crew member. A white or neutral coloured polo shirt (for both guys and girls), a pair of chino shorts or a skort. A pair of loafers, boat shoes or trainers.
What do you wear to Day Work yachting?
If you land yourself some day work, you will want to change into clothes you are happy to get dirty. A plain t-shirt, and shorts or yoga pants. Still, try keep your colours neutral (navy, white, black, beige).
Is it easy to get into Yachting?
With so many people trying to become yacht stewardesses or deckhands, securing a job will not be easy. But if you follow all my tips and tricks, you will drastically increase your chances of landing a job.