Name: Jean-Claude (JC) Leroy Joubert
Yacht: M/Y Belka
Time in current position: two months
Time in industry: five years
Previous vessels: M/Y Beija Flor, M/Y Excelerate Z
Nationality: South African
My goal is to become captain. If l wasn't on a yacht, I would be a financial planner or real estate agent. I left my job in banking after nearly seven years to work in this industry — being able to work outside in the sun with my hands and see the progress made up my mind. It's a lot of hard work, of course, but it is very satisfying compared to an office.
When you're job hunting it's important to keep your profiles updated with all the crew agencies; make sure you visit them every two weeks so they know you're still looking. Use all resources: Facebook groups, the pub, word of mouth, dockwalking, etc.
Decide what kind of vessel you want to work on. On a bigger vessel with more crew, you get a bit more space to hide because there are seven other deckies in the same position as you. On a small vessel, your absence is felt much more, but you know all your crew — you're not just a number like on the much larger yachts with 80 crew.
The toughest part is the lack of sleep. During the season, your day can be 16 hours plus. After a couple of weeks, that can take its toll. It's also labor intensive. In the winter, it's maintaining the vessel, and during the season, it's more service oriented and everything is done before the guests get up. So set up and wash down must be done on your tip toes before guests wake up. You need to be out of sight by the time their day begins.
When you're starting out it's important to be able to follow instructions. No one cares how you used to do things on a previous vessel. You need a hard-work ethic and to keep your head down and stay off your phone, even if it's just a day job.
It depends on the yacht whether extra qualifications or skills are useful. I'd say it makes a difference on 50-meter-plus vessels.
My most significant achievement was finishing my first season. I had a foot in the door and knew what I was getting myself into. After that, you know if the industry is for you or not. It was a relief to know after leaving everything behind and coming here that this is what I wanted to do.
The best part of my job is being outside with the sun, 100 percent.
My best tip is to protect your working area. It will save a lot of time in the long run. Otherwise trying to fix something you broke is going to take a lot more time and money.
This article was originally published in the March 2023 issue of Dockwalk.