A career in yachting is perceived to be one of the glamorous jobs around, up there with cabin crew and perhaps travel writer – being paid to travel to some of the most spectacular corners of the globe. But, while there is a lot to be said for these industries, yachting is perhaps one of the hardest to crack and is a far cry from the “Below Deck” white-washed version that everyone is binging on Netflix. So if you are looking for a career in yachting, how exactly do you get started?
The Balearic Islands are a great place to start with plenty of boats looking for new crew, experienced crew around to help and a multitude of recruitment agencies around to point job seekers in the right direction, especially in the Capital of Palma de Mallorca.
Here are 6 steps that seasoned crew have recommended to get started in the industry:
Step One: Research
Like any new career, do your research! The yachting industry is a very diverse and complex industry with lots of different roles, types of boats and locations around the world with different requirements. Is it a sailing boat you want to work on or would a motorboat suit you better? Are you looking to work on deck or would you prefer to be an interior member of the crew and work directly with guests? In the Caribbean or the Mediterranean? All of these things need to be considered before embarking on a career onboard a yacht.
Step Two: Study
In an industry that requires technical know-how and one in which the crew are responsible for the well-being and safety of the guests onboard, it is no surprise that there are mandatory exams that crew need to study for before joining a boat. The STCW is the first port of call as this is the exam that proves that crew understand the fundamentals of sailing and was created to “promote safety of life and property at sea”. After this, there are lots of other courses to improve the chances of getting a job at sea, including VHF, PowerBoat Level 2, silver service and many more – all of which can be studied in the Balearic Islands. An ENG1 medical certificate is also mandatory on most boats.
Step Three: Dockwalk & Network
Head to any port in the Balearic Islands and you will see young people dressed in polo shirts and chino shorts with reams of CVs in their hands about to head in and “dock walk”. This is encouraged by Captains and crew and involves handing a CV to anybody willing to take it. The islands also host boat shows and events such as the Balearic Yacht Show and the Palma International Boat Show for the yacht industry to meet and mingle so these are most definitely worth a visit.
Step Four: Persevere
Keep going! If a boat has seen the same member of crew dock walking they will see that they are dedicated. Keep going back to the boats on a daily basis and become known around the ports. Also, as some ports have strict entry policies, the more they see the same faces, the more likely they are to wave them through. Don’t be disheartened. Stay earnest, stay eager and stay approachable – everyone starts somewhere!
Step Five: Daywork
Many of the Captains in the ports need some extra hands to help them prepare for the season or change over between guests and hire new crew for these temporary “daywork” positions. It is advisable to take anything on offer (within reason and for the going day rate of between EUR 120-150 per day) in order to gain experience. Often these positions lead to a permanent position if the Captain and crew are suitably impressed.
Step Six: Work Hard….and Then Harder!
Once the ink has dried on a new work contract after all of the steps above, the real work starts. Leave the ego at the port and work harder than ever before. Impress the Captain, bond with the crew and look after the guests. Now that the initial stage of the job hunt is over crew need to retain a job for the season and hopefully the seasons that follow.
Looking for work in the yachting industry is no easy task but it can lead to a career that will set most people up for life, allows them to travel the world and is most definitely achievable in the Balearic Islands. Ask for help, accept advice and stay grounded and there is no reason not to succeed. Good luck!