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Greenies with wrong idea
Posted: Monday, April 26, 2010 4:58 AM
Joined: 07/10/2008
Posts: 3

I have just read a blog on this site “empty offers” where the writer complains about being offered a job for only 700 a month. [Moderator's comment: read original blog here.] Last year was a tough season and because of my experiences in Antibes 2009 looking for work I couldn’t help the thought that he should appreciate any opportunity he gets, so here is my reply.. By the looks of it I'm guessing (sorry if Im wrong) that this is your first year? So I ask myself the golden question.. Why are you searching for a job? Is it really for a career or just for fun and some good money? For those of us who were in Antibes for the 2009 season (and there were thousands might I add) I must say that being offered a job for 700 euros would have been a golden opportunity. I made friends with many people who spent thousands of dollars on tickets, flights, accomodation etc who went home empty handed. Too many young guns head to Antibes expecting to be handed work getting paid outrageous amounts of money purely because they have an STCW.. I hope your not included. I think it is entirely fair to offer newbies low wages for there first season (i do agree that 700 is way to low! i think something in the 1500 range would be fairer) It encrouages them to work hard and see what the industry is really about.. its not all glory, sun and parties like the training centres build it up to be. Im not trying to take the moral high ground or anything along those lines, but I was one of the lucky few who managed to find work last year.. and you know what? I was only getting paid 500 a month plus tips. Yes I think I was taken advantage of and yes I think its damaging to the industry if this becomes common-place. BUT I needed work, I wanted work and there were 100 young deckies behind me fighting like “a pack of hyenas on red bull” to take the jobs if I didn’t. I worked like a dog for 8 months getting paid lower than minimum wage. More importantly I learnt all aspects of deck work and living on a yacht, in close quarters for months at a time. Now I’m heading back to Antibes for round 2, in search of a good job on a good yacht with a good wage and a good crew. I’m not even in Antibes and I have been offered interviews and job opportunities when I arrive. So maybe there is a lesson to be learnt from this? I think it is time that the industry thinks about introducing an apprenticeship style introduction to the industry for greenies. They can work a first season for average wage in return for a yacht/captain to take them on and teach them the skills and facts they need to know about working on a yacht. If thought about properly this could help weed out the young deckies/stews who come to the industry for all the wrong reasons. Recently there was a passionately debated article written in the forum about new stewardesses and there faults and failures. Each year thousands of young people are promised a life of luxury from the training centres, this is attracting a crowd who want to party and live the high-life. Yachting needs to think of a way to attract young sailors who want to work on yachts for their love of the sea not for their love of the party. Maybe such an apprenticeship system could help with this? I don’t claim to have all the answers or extensive experience. But I do feel sorry for all the young people who spend thousands trying to break into the industry only to not quite make it. Also I’m sure there are plenty of captains out there who are tired of hiring greenies only to see them party themselves into the ground and end up back on the dock.

Posted: Monday, April 26, 2010 6:51 AM
We used to call greenhorns "Tucker Deckies", because they worked for food. They would do the delivery voyage and work on the boat during the first two weeks of the Banana prawn season as extra hands. After two weeks of hard work, limited sleep and pitching waves the majority of greenhorns vowed never to work on boats. Yachting might not be commercial fishing but the moment you press newbies they cry like babies, the long hours, limited time off and realization that life on a busy yacht is not party virtually assures the fulltime dream becomes a short time career.
Posted: Monday, April 26, 2010 9:50 AM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1026

Sure, Money is a poor reason to work on yachts....then again if you dont make money you cant pay the rent and stay in the game. And of course..... proving yourself to be worthy of being paid is important . Frequently crew are taken on in an apprentice role at minimum salary or even room and board, but this implies that the yacht is actually doing something other than launching jet skis and washing down... help for a transatlantic delivery for instance. Its not correct to be at the dock in the South of France maintaining an owners multimillion dollar machine for free. Any yacht that plays that game is poorly run...either the captain has not been authorized to hire a crew and since he is to dam lazy to wash the boat himself he looks for an desperate "innocent " to do his work..or the captain is a crook and is pocketing the boat money budgeted for daywork, temp crew. Im a cheap cheap as they come and At present I am forming a general operating budget for the next 6 months. Since I know I will need extra help, I requested 12,000 euros for labour. This equals to 2000 euro a month for a deckhand salary or if I choose not to hire a deckhand , 12 euros an hour for day work, 100 euros a day for delivery work. All yachts that I know operate this way. If the owner says no, I dont hire a crew and dont use daywork. If he says yes, the money gets spent on labour. Nothing in between. To many of those South of France guys operate in the " in between " twilight zone. Dont let them take the piss out of you .
Posted: Monday, April 26, 2010 1:43 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1064

BenH wrote:
Each year thousands of young people are promised a life of luxury from the training centres, this is attracting a crowd who want to party and live the high-life.

With this you have hit upon the great fallacy of crewing a yacht. You do not live a life of luxury, you live a life surrounded by, creating and serving luxury. You are "the help", you do not attend the high life parties, you work the high life parties. The parties you attend are the same low life parties you've always attended.

Posted: Monday, April 26, 2010 4:36 PM
I would say this about the unemployed youth flocking to Antibes, Palma and elsewhere. The abundance of crew looking for their first job reduces their market value and those that get a job must understand that it is a golden opportunity. Nothing worth having comes easy and the moment you are about to quit is the precise moment before you achieve success. Unemployed people are very often unemployable because of their own actions and inability to press forward when it counts. If you want to be percieved as a skateboarding backpacker that enjoys a more casual lifestyle a serious makeover may be the smartest thing to do. Realistic expectations about salaries, working hours, time off, living quarters and how clean you and your cabin must be is sure way to keep a job if your fortunate enough to get one. I've watched more than one u shaven and rustic looking skateboard dude crawl out of his cabin four minutes before start time be told to sort himself out and learn how to groo himself for a days hard work on deck.
Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 6:19 PM
How about start living the so called life of champagne on a beer budget, times are tough right now, any young gun at the moment should just be happy to get a foot in the door, considering they are only mop boys and window washers, not seaman.
Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 7:25 PM
Joined: 08/08/2009
Posts: 17

I think if you're new without any experience tell them you'll work for free for the 1st 3 months. Get some experience and if they let you go then at least you have some sea time if not ask for a salary. You can also try doing deliveries to build sea time like most of the old timers in this industry used to do. Both myself and my 1st officer had to cut our teeth doing this even though I had years as a commercial skipper. It was worth it in the end as the difference between the commercial and yachts was immense. No harm in asking and it's a good way to get your foot in the door...hell with the salaries I've heard that some of the nationalities are taking as skippers it's next to free anyway so a deckie will surely be picked up for food and lodging. And yes you know who you are taking $3000-$4000 as a captain on a 100 footer or only screw yourself in the end and make it harder to ask for a fair wage for those of us skilled enough to ask for good salary.
Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 9:44 PM


I'll try to contribute with my small to date experience.

I've started my first paid boat job ( many years after painting bottoms, sanding & varnishing, etc  in boats),  receiving 250e month plus 100e each time we sailled (with nautical eng. course) . You know what? I've stayed more 2 years until asked raise. Got 400e+days at sea. Some months with no exits, some with 4 days out!   Stayed. Took more licenses, did more on board than asked, tryed hard to do it well, to be informed.  

Sometimes I drove\moored the boat, sometimes was serving drinks, changing engine oil, fixing tender or assisting kids!!!!

And let's not forget the late washdown ( allready miss it )

 Their expensive toys, with expensive maintennence, and we can get lucky enough to be invited to participate, as said before, serving\working.  If you enjoy what you do, you'll eventually do it well, if you do it well,  sooner or latter you'll get well paid.    I believe, if you love the lifestyle you'll get well paid.  Most owners whant reliability, ( I guess)

    My advise, give 110%.  

Hey!  I'm still looking for a well paid position,  but wouldn't change the lifestyle for any other !!!




Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:51 AM
Joined: 19/02/2009
Posts: 12

had a newbie complaining about the 2500 a month she was making, plus ins 200 plus food 600 plus use of the boat's car (call it 270 including insurance) plus internet 50 plus skype phone plus laundry plus three paid for restaurant meals (min) a week 120 total 3720, x 12=  $44640.00 Newbie at McDonalds 56.00 a day plus 20 lbs of extra thigh and butt weight. 4 year college degree? 27-33 k to start.6 months to benefits, 1 year til 401k eligible. there is no point here other than - what are you really being paid?

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 12:47 PM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1026

The original comment from Ben had to do with what is considered minimum wage for an international first year STCW95 deckhand . There is no legal minimum that I know of so guys like me ask 5 or 6 fellow private yacht captains what they are paying their deckie this year , do the math , and at present working a good boats in the west med, the salary is around 2000 euro a month. Im sure the same rule of asking around the other Private yachts applies to average Lauderdale deckie salary. I dont do charter work so I dont know the charter salaries. . When the number is to low 500 or to high 3000, something is wrong. Its very expensive for a crew to live in the South of France. You just cant treat them like indentured servants on 500 a month then expect them to maintain a good attitude, put in the long hours and keep an eye on detail. There also seems to be a line of thought in the comments that new green crew are all lazy money grubbers. Not true... Ive got a young guy working right now that is a turbo of activity, smart and has a good attitude. Plenty of good crew about... simply interview them, put them on a few days a daywork,watch carefully and you will separte the lifestyle blowins from the workers.
Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 2:22 PM
Joined: 28/02/2010
Posts: 18

Henning quite rightly pointed out the crucial facts for the newcomers. Here's also something to consider: be it a private or charter yacht, it is not a party boat for crew. It is for an owner and family and guests or for charter guests. It is also important to have decorum at all times. You want to party then wait till you go ashore. Here's a little mantra to consider for your future in yachting: work hard, work smart, work harder, work smarter - and then one will be able to "live the life you love" and here's the following that I wrote on my website to help you on your way: "hether you utilize the stars, like the shepherds of days long ago, or a sextant like the ancient mariners, or the incredibly superb technologically advanced GPS system of today, or just taking one big step after another towards your intended destination, you are - in effect - navigating a course that will become an adventure. That’s why The World is Your Oyster." I started at the bottom and worked my way up to a captain earning $125,000 + private cabin, superb meals + an SUV (insurance, fuel, etc., included) - amongst other fantastic professional careers. It was not handed to me on a silver platter - my mantra gave it to me: So go and have fun yachting but be prepared to work for it and if you prove smart then you will earn much more.
Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2010 7:59 PM
Joined: 30/06/2008
Posts: 85

my first large vessel job was on a dive liveaboard in 2002. I was paid 400 USD per month plus tips. I made about 2000 a month after tips, selling souvenirs etc.. and thought I was on the BIG time. 48 weeks charter a year and average of about 500 dives a year. yachts to me were come rich guy drving a boat and his wife cooking, i had no idea for years that people could earn a lot more money and work less hours on a white boat.
Posted: Friday, April 30, 2010 2:32 PM
I run a training centre and I just want to make it clear that not ALL training centres promise the newbies the world. We make it VERY clear to our students that the work hours are tough and long and that gaining experience is much more important than the Euro 3000 that some people tell them they will be earning. We always prepare them for the fact that this is a career that you enter - as a professional and that the experience you gain in each job is priceless. We never promise them that they will be having a holiday and get paid big $$$$ - it is a bit unfair to assume that all training centres promise the new guys awesome salaries and that they are telling them untruths about the industry. If our students leave our school, they know to go overseas, be presentable, punctual, professional and be willing to do the job and make a success of it, and they are fully aware that they could be making a low salary in their first job.
Posted: Friday, April 30, 2010 10:00 PM
Joined: 30/04/2010
Posts: 2

This is a healthy debate, but being of the old skool where I lived on tips (if any), a bed to sleep in, food and toilet-paper provided, I enjoyed the chance to enter a great profession. In my 30 years in the trade I still cannot imagine doing any thing else where one can enjoy the business with it's rewards. It's a pain sometimes, but the trouble now is that the money attracts people for the money and not the sailing. But yes, offer a month's free service, bed and board provided, show you are not a pisshead, show you want to learn a priveleged occupation, show you can be trusted to be on watch and the captain can trust you, then, get your qualifications (tickets can be bought, by the way! qualifications take study) and the world awaits you. I'll give you a job! It's a long haul and it ain't easy but it can provide you with what want, you just gotta fit in! Mouth shut, ears and eyes wide open!" Think about it and good luck! From... old fart Mallorca.
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