Profiles

Q&A with Deckhand/Personal Trainer Dylan de Villiers

9 December 2020By Laura Shaughnessy

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd, working on house projects, or binging on Netflix.

Deckhand Dylan de Villiers

Name: Dylan de Villiers
Position: Sole Deckhand/Personal Trainer
Yacht: M/Y Li-Jor
LOA: 27M/88'6"
Years in current position: 6 months
Years in industry: 8 months
Nationality: South African


Initially, I had the mindset to join the industry because I would be surrounding myself with people that have made a massive success in life. I wanted to learn how these people became so wealthy and how I could utilize this information to better my own financial knowledge. My goal is to grow as much as I can while being surrounded by the top 10 percent.

The toughest part of the job is having little time to yourself and not being able to plan the future. For example, I cannot say I want a weekend off in three weeks because we never know until the last minute if there will be the boss on or not.

My advice for those looking to get started is to be unique, be yourself, and when dockwalking, do not dress like a dockwalker because if you wear the standard white polo, chino shorts, and boat shoes, then everyone knows you’re a greenie. You need to stand out, so dress smart, neat, and unique to your own style. When you approach the yacht, ask to speak to the captain because only he will know if there really is crew needed. The deckhand will not know 100 percent who could be needed for the season. Also, this gives a much better impression and makes you look more important that you ask to speak to the captain.

For someone looking to impress on the job, you need to be better than the 50 other people behind you who want your job because if you’re not, you can be replaced in five minutes if the captain thinks you don’t pull your weight. The guys who make it are always positive, hungry for self-growth, hard-working, can-do people. This mindset will go a long way in the industry. Lastly, nobody likes a know-it-all.

The most important thing I’ve learned on board is to create the best work environment for yourself. We work long hours, so we might as well enjoy the time we are spending on board. Keep good working relations with crew — have good banter with the crew to keep the job fun and interesting.

The best part of the job is that the yacht owner really appreciates my hard work and has built up a relationship with me. This has given me some truly awesome experiences, like taking me out with him to super-expensive locations, letting me drive his Bentley from Monaco to the Netherlands, and just teaching me how he became so successful.

My best deck tip: Be the guy who is not scared of any task and gives 120 percent effort. Be someone who wants to learn as much as possible and is fun to work with.  

This column originally ran in the December 2020 issue of Dockwalk.

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