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Qualifications Reqd!
Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2011 6:58 PM
Joined: 21/07/2010
Posts: 2

Hi, as an RYA and STCW Instructor in the UK I am getting more and more enquiries from young men and women who want to gain relevant qualifications to enable them to "get a foot on deck" in the large yacht industry. My experience is very much in commercial shipping rather than the leisure / private sector So I would like to ask of the skippers and experienced AB's out there if the advice I give these people is in essence correct? I base this on the attitudes and requirements I have observed in the Merchant Navy and would like to know if the same hold true for your industry? ------------------------------------------------------------ Qualifications Needed to work as a new entrant deckhand/seaman 1. As a minimum they need thier 4 basic STCW's 2. A medical certtificate preferably ENG 1 or equiv 3. A Valid Passport and any Visas required! Extra Qualifications that may be seen as an advantage to a Skipper /Owner and may add value to thier application. Powerboat L2, Advanced Powerboat, Yachtmaster Shorebased, ICC 24metre Personal Watercraft Instructor. In addition to this though not something we would teach, is basic deck maintenance: painting, varnishing, GelCoat maintenance etc. Once they have their minimum qualifications and any added extras this they should write a 1 page "Personal Profile" that they can hand to the Skipper / Chief / Bosun when "DockWalking"! When looking for a start they should always present themselves as clean, well groomed, happy and approachable. ensure that they come across as flexible with a "can do" attitude. Be prepared to accept a "no" response in just as cheerful a way as you would a "yes". because a no today may be a yes tommorrow! And finally get there early, be enthusiastic and persistent!. ---------------------------------------------------------- Does that sould like good advice or am I missing something obvious. What courses would you advise my students to take? to help them on their way? Many Thanks
Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 10:23 AM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1024

Your take on the situation looks correct. " Trade Skills " to actually work on deck cant be taught in Yachtmaster academy. Seatime or actual hands on marine industry experience is the only way . Skills are almost impossible to acquire in yachting since boats never move and a subcontractor is available for almost all needs. The best deckhands I sail with come directly out of the marine industry with skills , then stop by to pick up a few yacht master tickets to keep the insurance company happy. A very good approach to speed up knowledge acquisition for your students would be to hold professional level yacht equipment seminars for your students or the general public . How to correctly repair a hypalon rib tube ? How to bed a piece of hardware to deck with sikaflex and mold release on one surface to make service easy. How to correctly work with two part paints and varnish ? How to work with modern ropes ? How to work with dissimilar metals ? How to service a winch ? How to work with teak decks ? How to maintain dive gear ? The list is long............... and these are all deckhand skills used daily. The depth and expertise found in the UK marine industry is available to you. . Manufactures representatives from LEWMAR or AWLGRIP or silkaflex or ......should be able to respond to your requests for simple one or two day maintenance workshops. One thing that is lacking in the whole yachting world is basic, deckhand level, yacht maintenance, machinery operation and crewing skills. What does the inside of an anchor winch look like ? How does a chain counter work ? How do you handle a highly loaded dockline on a cleat ? How do you free a winch over ride ?......................................................................................... These new greenhorns have tickets but no idea how boats work...teach them introductory marine industry skills.
Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 12:14 PM
Joined: 21/07/2010
Posts: 2

Thanks Junior, You raise some good points and ones that I will certainly give some thought to. I appreciate your feedback. As you say there is no substitute for experience but there is also no reason at all why the underpinning theoretical knowledge can't be learnt. And practical everyday skills akin to an EDH can certainly be taught. I will definately give this some thought on how to develop a more "rounded" individual. Once again - Many Thanks!
Posted: Saturday, January 8, 2011 4:36 AM
Joined: 21/06/2008
Posts: 17

As Junior commented, you seem to have the essentials down. For what it is worth here is my ten bob’s worth for them. For future deckhands with minimal hands-on marine experience, go get some of that useful experience Junior was talking about before  rushing off down South.  Look for work, or volunteer some time at a smaller boat builder or yard. Look at smaller yards or marinas where you may find people that would be happy to have some help at reasonable rates, taking winches apart, greasing, etc, varnishing .  Or perhaps check out organizations such as the Ocean Youth Club that many times are looking for volunteers to help with maintenance, all great experience.

Fill that resume out as much as you can, learn a second language or at least learn the basics of marine lingo in French, Italian and Spanish. Instead of spending all that time on FB etc checking the same old stuff out, take that time and put it to good use. If you don’t understand some terms or lingo such as noted in Junior’s post, research and learn them, along with popular paint and varnish trade names, what’s a good varnish brush etc, there is plenty of stuff on u-tube on winch/RIB repair, deck maintenance etc, it may not be doing it, but it is a good start if you are unfamiliar with any of these things.
Get on linkedin and do some research on Captains, make notes of who is on there, and on what yacht. Research what yachts are where as much as you can, and make notes, knowing a Captain’s name and Yacht won’t get you a job, but it may make the difference to being remembered,  or give you an edge if you bump into the Captain as he walks off the yacht. Also unless you have a photographic memory, write down stuff as you go, you may talk to 10 or 50 people in a day on different Yachts, keeping that straight is no easy feat, be professional from the outset, show that you are prepared.

Use the resources that are available to you before you leave the comfort of your home, get a free web page, set it up with your CV etc on it, then make some calling cards and put the URL on your cards, together with e-mail address. Make sure all references from past employers are scanned onto your web page with all relevant information, and make sure references have contact info on them. Understand that most Captains and crew are busy people, and make sure you remember what you are dockwalking for, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of hanging with full time crew and ending up having one too many, when tomorrow could have been your day. Stay focused.
Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 11:28 AM
Joined: 09/10/2008
Posts: 134

It may also be worth adding that even with all the certificates listed, the candidate will still only be looking at an entry level deck job, not bosun and not mate!