Q&A with Deckhand Thomas Mortier

11 April 2023 By Claire Griffiths

Claire Griffiths is Dockwalk’s contributing editor in the Mediterranean. She fled to the sunny south of France from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Claire has a background in journalism for national and regional UK press and a career in political and corporate PR prior to that. Claire’s hobbies include eating, sleeping and dancing at inopportune times. She tries to avoid sheer drops and Olympic bobsled runs. Email Claire at

Name: Thomas Mortier
Position: Deckhand
Yacht: M/Y De De
LOA: 44m/144' 4"
Builder: CMN
Time in current position: two weeks
Years in industry:7
Previous Vessels: M/Y Falco Moscato, S/Y Delphine
Nationality: French

A friend introduced me to yachting. He kept posting these amazing photos from the yacht he was working on, so I decided to follow him and started by working in a shipyard in Villefranche-sur-Mer in France.

I started as a deckhand/stew and moved up to lead deckhand. Now, I'd like to work up to bosun. I have my Master 200, and when I have time, I will go back to school and get my Master 500.

If I wasn't on a yacht, I would probably be working in a cafe on the beach in Central America somewhere with my brother.

Credit: Claire Griffiths

Sometimes you can get asked to do some pretty dangerous things. I was once asked to jump onto a sinking tender with the swirl slamming the tender against the yacht hull. We managed to get it out of the water. The pressure can be tough too. We had a man-overboard situation a few weeks ago because he was stressed with the pressure. He was the chef on board.

I think working in a shipyard is a good way to get started: You get to chat to crewmembers and to go on board and do basic jobs like sanding. Especially if you go to somewhere like La Ciotat — there are always jobs there.

If you want to impress on the job, make sure you turn up on time and just get on with your work. Don't ask too many questions. The job's not difficult — grab a chamois and look busy! There is always something to do. Deck work on a sailing yacht is more varied and interesting.

Extra qualifications or skills are useful, but you should be rewarded for them or at least thanked. I know a chief stew who is also a masseuse, but she doesn't get paid any extra and she works longer hours. So it depends.

The most important thing I've learned on board is self-control.

Getting my Master 200 was an achievement for me, and I'll be happier when I have my Master 500, but it's hard to find the time.

The best thing about the job is going to amazing places that you couldn't visit without a boat, like Raja Ampat. It was incredible.

This article was originally published in the January 2023 issue of Dockwalk.


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