Aerial view of Palma's Club Nautico. | A.S.


Following on from last week when we talked about getting yourself organised with the right courses, and the right experience before positioning yourself slap bang in the middle of Palma where all the action is in the Springtime months of March to May, it’s time we address the elephant in the room: Dockwalking…. It’s dreaded. It’s hated. It’s downright despised. And quite frankly I think this might be the only industry left in the world where newbies are expected to go cap in hand from one potential place of employment to another much like Oliver Twist, begging for an opportunity. Is it ever going to go away? Probably not, it’s a bit like an initiation as everyone usually had to do it at some point. Yep, a rites of passage for sure….

So you’re here in Palma, before you set out on the docks to visit the yachts and ask for a job, what else do you need? I’d recommend you wear comfortable shoes. You’re going to be covering a lot of miles. Do you need deck shoes? God no, they’re awful things, as long as you have good clean trainers they’re absolutely fine (and don’t forget, if you’re invited onboard you will remove them before setting foot on the pasarelle anyway). Dress smartly but ready to work. So a nice pair of shorts and a tshirt/polo shirt (ironed please!). You want to be ready to work if you’re invited onboard so don’t wear a suit…. Or a dress. Look like crew. Dress like crew. Channel crew. Be crew.

Make sure you have a few CVs printed out. You might have business cards with a QR code too, but it’s best to have a few of each as some yachts are still a bit old school, you may hand your CV to a crew member who then drops it onto the captain’s desk for him/her to see later.

Then… get out there with a big smile on your dial and even though you’re probably nervous, be confident and positive! Most crew on board yachts will have been in your shoes at some point, and will be kind. If you are unfortunate and come across someone who isn’t, then remember it’s not you. It’s them. Go boat to boat, introduce yourself, and say you’re looking for work, and perhaps you could leave a CV etc… have a chat if they want to, some people will be good enough to give you some advice or you might get some inside info… “the sail yacht three boats down is looking for a decky, go go go and say Olivia sent you!”. Or “come back tomorrow morning, we’ll need help with a washdown”. Be proactive and be interested in what people are saying, make sure you listen.

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A lot of people think if they’ve dockwalked once, that’s it. I’m sorry to burst your bubble but it’s not. You could walk the same docks daily for weeks, some people do! And that’s ok. You don’t have to literally stop at the same yachts every day but you can certainly wave and say “Hi!” to familiar faces. Often after a while you’ll get someone to feel sorry for you, invite you on for a bit of work… so it pays off to be positive and persistent.

Once you get that bit of daywork from dockwalking (you will!) add it to your CV. Ask them if they’ll be a reference for you (they will). Work hard for them and they’ll recommend you to their friends on other yachts too. So you might get hired just for a day’s work but it could lead to other things. Most people get hired via word of mouth for their first jobs, a personal recommendation is priceless!

Every time you update your CV, send it to the agencies again and update your online profile on any online databases you’re a member of. Talking of agents, don’t be afraid to check in regularly and say hello – this will help make sure you stay on their radar. Just because it’s electronic, it’s no different to walking past a yacht on the docks and waving at the deckhand you’ve seen every day for the past week. Keep yourself in people’s minds and they’ll remember you.

That being said, don’t get upset if you don’t get much feedback from agents or online applications. If you’ve applied for a job via Facebook, so have 1000 others. And if you’re applying via an agent, chances are they are asking for someone with “minimum one season’s experience” (seems to be a prerequisite for many yachts!). If you don’t fit the bill, you might not get much in the way of feedback. Also bear in mind that most yachts won’t call agents for a newbie. Why would they want to pay us a fee when they can pick their favourite dockwalker of the week to try out in person?

I hope that helps! Remember: getting your first opportunity can take time and persistence and positivity are everything. Once you’ve got that first job on your Cv, the doors will fly open and you’re on your way.