Dock Walking – 9 tips to increase your chances of getting a job

If you’re new to the world of yachting or looking to break into the industry, dock walking is an essential skill you’ll need to master.

Navigating through marinas can be a challenging task. You may encounter obstacles such as security checks, unfriendly crew members, and potential rejections.

It can be a bit overwhelming, so following these 9 tips for dock walking will increase your likelihood of getting a job.

A cleat with lines from the yachts hooked onto it. The background is the marina and other yachts
Don’t be afraid to approach both motor and sailing yachts of varying sizes

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.

This gives you a chance to gain valuable experience and could potentially lead to a permanent position. If you impress the crew 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.

#1 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.
  • For more help on writing a good CV check out my post on Writing a CV and introducing yourself
CV's on a desk. Next to glasses, a pen and a small plant
Photo credit: depositphotos

#2 Prepare your Route

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.

A girl sitting on a rock on a hill looking down over a view of the coastline of Monaco. You can see the whole city and the marina
Beautiful views of Monaco and the marina below

#3 Timing is Everything when Dock Walking

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 if they require help for the following day.

The Mediterranean Summer Season

Keep in mind the seasons when planning your trip. Crewing for yachts in the Mediterranean 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

a man and a woman standing on a scissor lift giving a thumbs up to the camera
2014 Dock Walk Magazine Online Snippet – Our very first daywork job

#4 Your Appearance

If you want to work on a yacht, you should look the part.

  • Wear a polo 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

#5 Be Polite and Prepared

When approaching a Yacht, you need to be polite and professional.

You’re either going to ring a bell at the passerelle, or hopefully catch the attention of a crew member working outside. Ask to speak to a department head 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 have no experience that is ok, sometimes eager and positive attitudes go further than someone with experience.

#6 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.

#7 Networking

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.

#8 The best locations to dock walk

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 less boats, but there will also be less dock walkers so you have better chances of finding work.

#9 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.

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 world of yachting is about to begin and that is most certainly something to smile about.

Hi, my name is Lisa, a Chief Stewardess in the yachting industry with 10 years of experience, as well as 8 years of hospitality experience prior to that. Being in the yachting industry has been a whirlwind of adventure, growth, challenges and some of the best experiences of my life, and I am excited to share my knowledge and experiences with all of you.