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How important is my appearance? (Dreadlocks)
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2011 3:08 PM
Joined: 15/07/2011
Posts: 1

Hello all, After several years teaching and working in various engineering/vehicle restoration roles I'm now looking for a change in career direction. Ideally I would like some sort of on-board marine engineering role and have looked into the various courses/qualifications and experience I need to build up. However, before I shell out potentially a lot of money on courses, travel, accomodation etc I would like to canvas opinions on whether my apperance will preclude potential employers from offering me work. I have dreadlocks. I am not a crusty hippy, my hairstyle is for personal reasons and as such, I am reluctant to remove them. My hair is clean and as far as dreadlocks go, tidy. I am able to tie my hair back into a ponytail and I usually wear a bandana whilst working in my garage. As mentioned, I have been a high school teacher for 5 years without any complaint from my employers. If you are an employer I would welcome your opinions on whether dreadlocks would put you off hiring a candidate. Thanks in advance, Mack
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2011 3:45 PM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1026

Well Maximus...Yachts are a fickle place. Dreads wouldn't go down well with Captain Jeeves and his Janitorial Department on the big Gin Palace . Best to look like one of those goofy characters off " Love Boat " if your gonna go down that road. If youre an engineer its a different story. Engineers who know their trade well can have green skin , look like a chicken with lips and still be successful. Sharpen up on your engineering skills and go down that route or dumb down, get a haircut and present the stereotypical Gin Palace Janitor look. Your choice.
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2011 9:52 PM
Are you really asking this question? Image is important and I am going to be polite when I say marine engineering and the automotive trade are distant cousins and leave it at that. If you wish to become a marine engineer you must be prepared to reinvent yourself and your image before you can become one, I've had my fill of casual dudes that want-to-be marine engineers because they rarely work out. If you want this enough your dreadlocks need to go, its that simple. Your best shot is blow boats, sailboaters are an entirely different breed and much more accepting to alternative looks and have main engines the size of shoe boxes so your automotive skills are more applicable. As for junior and his comment about janitorial departments on gin palaces, I am going to say tone it down mate. I am no janitor and take great offense when people diminish the worth of competent engineers on yachts. The reason why good engineers get what they want is because they are a rare breed.
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2011 10:37 PM
Dont change your image if you dont feel you have to but it will certainly add limitations to your choices as far as yacht jobs are concerned even if you are god's gift to yacht engineering. Not to mention the safety aspect of getting your long hair caught in moving parts while you maneuvre around a small engine space in a vessel under way at speed.

People WILL judge you on your appearance. I never work for FAT captains as they are usually very demanding of all except themselves.

James Ward
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 8:01 PM
Joined: 15/10/2008
Posts: 15

lose the hair. it matters. You will survive
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 9:32 PM
Joined: 03/03/2011
Posts: 100

Dreads aside, I switched from automotive to boats around 6 years ago. Those chumps at the MCA would not take into account any of my automotive qualifications so I have just finished taking the long route - final exams later this year for a Y3 ticket. To date I can safely say the cost of everything, courses, flights, accommodation has cost the best part of 15 grand so if you do decide to cut the dreads, just be aware of what lies in front of you.
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 9:34 PM
Keep your hair, your sanity and your individualism. Teaching has rewards far greater than the loss of your soul to the giant clorox bottles on the sea, owned by those soulless masters of the universe who will never see you as an individual, just as another faceless bilge rat there to make his life cushy.
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 9:36 PM
SORRY MATE. One thing is a year off college, and earning a few bob, but this is a serius bussines, new born pack backers, travellers, should keep to that. yachting even as large as it is, it is very small comunity and the people who own the yachts, not allways wright , but still the owners whant some class and decorum. SO just for you. Agood and fresh well shaved presence does the job. ihave three tatoos non to be seen. just because i work in this industry. And i love it even if i have to shave some tymes twice a day
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 10:03 PM
Joined: 13/12/2010
Posts: 3

As previously noted by others if you are intending becoming an engineer, then image is a little less important than in other departments on a yacht. However there are a range of yachts out there from the casual family boat through to the seven star palaces (both power and sail). With your dreads you may find work however it will be much harder and possibly take much longer, even if you have the same or better qualifications as other candidates. The sail boat analogy is outdated unless you are talking sub 80 foot boats or the classic yacht fraternity. The current situation is that owners want a high level of service and can afford to demand a high level of presentation - think of a five star hotel and how their staff present themselves - this will guide you. If your serious about the industry and being a professional then there are costs associated with being part of the industry. Loss of contact with friends and family, no personal space etc etc. How you will have to dress and cutting your hair are among those costs. If your only in for an experience and don't want to cut your hair then be prepared for a lot of disappointment before finding a role that you want and not have to accept because no one else will touch it.
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:37 AM
keep the dreads go make the world a better place... jah wisdom... most yachts are just an expression of wealth...
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:10 AM
Regret I do not employ any persons with dreadlocks. The whole association with Bob Marley and Ganga/drugs is too much even if you are personally a non drug user. I have also rarely considered that dreadlocks can be considered clean, even if you say you wash them, their very "mattedness" obviously precludes cleaning by a good lathering up and shampoo/comb-out as we know it. You will be up against polished,sparkling, bright boys and girls who will look immaculate by dint of their very breeding for a start, and their personality for seconds. I feel sure that you will be taken on by crew agencies but that after a time, you would find yourself backwatered as they find that you are possibly unemployable, with no take-ups after interviews with Captains,or maybe even no interviews at all - and they too might lose interest. AS others have said, yachting is fickle - "guests" that have the social graces of a potty and the charm of a worm may not always resemble Russian Oligarchs, rather Peckham ( S.E London everyone) scrap dealers yet they want to be surrounded by beautiful people and this includes boys aswell as girls. Smiles all round, fit and tanned, trim, not overweight.... the list goes on... oh and don't forget the work attitude. The problem with dreadlocks is that it gives off the "lazy-no-problem, no problem mun!" mist that I have seen so often in the Caribbean where quite a few dreadlocked people are perma-stoned. I hope you receive the advice in the spirit it was given, and for once, I am posting this Anon as many others have done. If you want my advice, as Captain, get a nice haircut, get the quals, and by the time you have finished the quals and spent 15 Grand, you might have grown out of dreadlocks anyway. Good luck.
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 10:25 AM
Joined: 17/04/2011
Posts: 14

Keep them mate. Someone will employ you if you show the right credentials. You´ll get plenty of people that will just say no instantly but I have worked for, and currently work for, someone that wouldn´t be bothered at all by the dreads. I suppose it´s a similar subject to tattoos. In fact a previous boss would have probably held you in a higher esteem for keeping them - providing you work hard!

Like you say, make sure they are kept clean and held in place, horses for courses etc.

Good luck!

Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 2:11 PM
Joined: 03/06/2008
Posts: 1

Don't cut off your dreads. You have to be true to yourself! I have dreads and have been in the business over 20 years. I have been with my current boat for over 4 years. Yes, it makes it a lot harder to find a job. I don't understand what hair has to do with how well someone works. Do guys that are going bald have a harder time? To Mr. Anonymous - thinking that people who have dreads automatically smoke pot is very archaic thinking. Also to say that my hair cannot be clean is ridiculous. I buy special shampoo online and I'm willing to bet I spend more on hair care products than you. Mack- email me and I will give you some helpful info @ ps. Anyone looking for a hardworking, experienced mate/deck/stew (with dreads) I'm "actively seeking" as my boss passed away a few months ago and it is time for me to move on. jan
Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2012 2:08 PM
Joined: 26/08/2012
Posts: 1

Having just fallen over this topic I hope that the dreads stayed, if only to have ensured you steered clear of those in the industry that value aesthetics over skill. I am an extremely well presented, spoken and hard working individual - with discreet dreadlocks as a time-saving style, that working at and in the sea has naturally encouraged; I have much more time to spend on things more important, including my job. The connotations attached to dreadlocks are too irritatingly out-dated for words. The nature of someone's hair and the individual's method of taming/grooming/styling it go hand in hand. A person's hygiene standard however, has little to do with hair. I hope that the general ignorance levels of sadly - a majority of the industry's hirers and firers, one day drop when they come to realise the greater value of longevity, dedication and hard work. Boats can become smaller once aboard and the qualities of a person are much better appreciated when: once their appearance - windswept, their work-smart mindset and cheerful disposition remains well in-tact. Keep positive, be yourself, work hard. It's all in the smile and manner, so as long as they aren't a total screaming statement and don't scare people (!) you'll be fine.

It would be good to hear how you got on considering this topic is over a year old.