If you love to dream and plan how to live on a boat or just take one out for the day, explore the ports and meet new friends.
What exactly is "Dock Walking?" #
For the uninitiated, dock walking is pretty much what it sounds like. People looking for jobs on the boats simply walk the docks and ask crew members if they are in need of help. As the superyachts are almost always short of day workers whilst in port, it is a great way to get your foot in the door and possibly secure a longer-term position. At worst, it’s a great way to get your CV out there, without having to go through an agency.
Come Prepared #
Before you even think about looking for a job on the yachts, there are a few things you should do to smooth your path to success. The first thing to know is that most employers won’t even talk to you unless you’ve completed the STCW basic training course. It is the bare minimum you must have and the courses run 4-5 days. You learn some essentials such as sea survival, general first aid, personal safety and firefighting. Pretty cool stuff to know, and a big plus for employers.
If you want to work as a deck hand, it’s not a bad idea to get your Level 2 Powerboat licence so you can captain the tenders (FUN!) or do a course in deckhand work to have a basic idea how to sand, vanish and tie knots.
Finally, have a relevant and current CV handy. Day work isn’t probably what your end game is so have a CV with you so you can hand it off at the end of the day and try for that position you REALLY want.
What Kind of Work to Expect as a Day Worker #
The type of work you’ll be expected to do as a day worker varies depending on the requirements of the boat. You may be asked to do outdoor deck work such as polishing, varnishing or washing down the decks. You can anticipate tasks like cleaning cabins, assisting the crew with mess duties, or helping clean the bilges if you are offered interior work. This is a sample list only, of course, but is typical of the sorts of work needed.
These jobs may not be the most glamorous, but they are integral to the workings of the boat and create teamwork. If you are serious about finding work on the yachts, don’t pass up anything.
If you have no experience, this is a great way to get some and to build a CV… it also will help you decide if this kind of job really is for you, without having fully committed yourself to a season. Additionally, you get a chance to meet people already working who may be able to help you out in future and recommend you for a full time position if one comes available.
How to Dress and Act #
This may sound superficial, but first impressions can make or break you. Mostly, use good common sense and manners. Politely introducing yourself and asking to speak to someone about work is a good start. It may be a little intimidating at first, but remember, many of the crew you are speaking with obtained their first jobs by doing exactly what you’re doing and will most likely be helpful if possible.
On the sartorial front, you can always go with the traditional white polo shirt and khaki shorts or trouser look. If that isn’t really your thing, a pressed shirt with nice pants, shorts or a skirt (not too short, ladies!) in neutral colours will do the trick nicely as well. Boat shoes are also a must.
If you are hired on for day work, you may find yourself doing a something messy. Bring a change of clothes with you that you don’t mind ruining, so you don’t destroy your job-hunting outfit.
Keep in mind that day workers are usually hired first come first served, so be out there and ready to go early. That being said, rarely are crew officially working until 7h30-8h00, so don’t begin before then or you may not get a warm reception. Neither is it a good idea to “pop in” during lunch hours or after 18h, when many crew members' day have ended.
Where to Go #
The Mediterranean season is starting to gear up, and around Easter is a fantastic time to be looking for a summer gig in Palma. There are three main areas for dock walking in Mallorca: Palma, Puerto Portals, and Port Adriano. Know that not all marinas are friendly to dock walking, so do your homework, ask around and make sure you’re not wasting a day on a place that will deny you access. Palma’s security measures have tightened over the years, but it’s not impossible to get access, especially if you look and act the part. With a bit of preparation, and a willingness to put yourself out there, you’ve got a good chance of landing just the right job for you!
By Stephanie Horsman
26 March, 2021