Med Dockwalking Job Prospects

2 June 2009 By Louisa Cowan

Last winter was a difficult season for some yachties with poor charter bookings and several yachts making crew cutbacks. However, in April, we read that the industry was hoping for a better Med charter season; boats were on their way over and things were looking up.

Does this mean that the job market has also increased in the Med and boats are crying out for crew this summer?

“This year has certainly been interesting so far – different from any of my previous years of working as a crew agent,” says Louisa Gallimore of Blue Water Yachting. “It has been both negative and positive…. The positive side is that many people who were out of work over the winter spent the time getting qualifications and tickets, so the choice of experienced and professional candidates per job is tremendous; for every job we can submit a brilliant selection of top-notch candidates. The negative side is that those who are new to the industry are struggling.”

Traditionally, dockwalking in Palma and Antibes at the beginning of the season offered the opportunity of daywork and often a job offer if you were able to prove you were hard-working and keen. If you’re prepared to stick it out, it’s still possible to find jobs this year.

Gallimore says, “Many of the smaller yachts, 35 meters and under, are hiring crew from the docks rather than using an agency.”

Ross Smith has been in the South of France since the beginning of May looking for his first superyacht job. He says, “At the moment, it seems as though there are far more crew looking for work than available jobs. There are so many of us chasing after those entry-level deck and stew positions…if you don’t have experience you aren’t even getting a look in.”

However, Sally Finbow from SAF Recruitment says, “There really are no more new crew walking the docks down here than normal, but they aren’t being filtered off quite so quickly because boats are being a little more cautious about their recruitment. Captains and owners are tending to wait until the charters are booked until recruiting new crew.”

Finbow’s advice to new crew trying to break into the industry is, “Hang in there, the jobs are out there and I know there are some good new people who need to be introduced to yachting, otherwise we will have a real problem in five years time. Everything is just happening a little later this year, but it is happening.”

Both crew agents are hopeful that June will be a busy month as the charter bookings increase and there is a sudden need for last-minute crew.

Gallimore says, “We anticipate June being a very hectic, last-minute month and hopefully this summer will be as busy and profitable as always.”

Good luck to all of those looking for work in the Med and we wish you a happy season.

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