The Dos and Don’ts of Dayworking

22 December 2010 By Louisa Cowan

Whether you are new to the yachting world or between jobs, dayworking is a rite of passage in the industry. It doesn’t matter if you are embarking on a long-term career or filling a gap year, the rules when dayworking are simple to follow. Although dayworkers are at the bottom of the yacht hierarchy, that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to be appreciated. Follow these basic “dos” and “don’ts” and you may get more from your dayworking stint than a pocket full of dollar bills.

Remember, daywork is often handed out as and when extra help is required.

Do: Be the first on the dock. Be there when the full-time crew are beginning to start work. Be tidy, clean, presentable and full of beans. You need to give the impression that you are ready to do a full day’s work to the very best of your ability. Have a clear and concise CV or business card to hand, if requested.

Don’t give up at 9 a.m. The temptation is to throw in the towel as soon as the working day is officially underway, but don’t give up just yet. You need to be on the dock and available to replace those “no show” dayworkers who slept through their alarms. You will also find that boats arrive at the dock throughout the day; often they need dayworkers to help them meet their tight turnaround schedules.

Dayworkers aren’t contracted to the boat, they are casual laborers used as and when required so they won’t be classed as official crewmembers.

Do: Make sure you are legal. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are legally able to work on a yacht, even on a temporary basis. Mark my words, the “they won’t catch me” attitude could be detrimental to your future yachting career so know where you stand.

As a foreign national working in America you have to have an official work visa or be actually signed onto a vessel to work under the B1/B2 Visa. Casual dayworking is not legal using the B1/B2 Visa.

In Europe, Australia and New Zealand you have the option of working under a formal work visa or a working holiday visa. For part-time, temporary employment, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 can undertake short-term work to fund their travels under the “Working Holidaymaker Scheme.” For more information visit

Remember that working illegally can lead to deportation and may jeopardise your chances of continuing a career in the yachting industry.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a reference. You may not be a long-term crewmember, but being able to prove that you are a reliable hard-worker and have some yacht experience is gold dust when it comes to furthering your career. Successful daywork leads to more daywork so make sure that you ask your supervisor if they would be prepared to be listed as a referee on your CV or, even better, if they would provide you with a written reference.

Like it or not, dayworkers are bottom of the pile, but if you want the job to be yours then roll up your sleeves and dive in head first:

Do: Go it alone and take whatever is thrown at you. Dockwalking and asking for work from people you have never met before is a daunting prospect, but resist the temptation to take along a wingman. You have much more chance of landing the job if you have the guts to go it alone. Also, be prepared to take whatever work is offered. Remember, dayworkers are often brought in to help with the jobs that the crew don’t want to face themselves but at the end of the day, a job is a job.

Don’t blow any dayworking opportunities by getting above your station. Asking for too much money is an obvious no-no, as is showing up late or telling the permanent crew how they should be doing their jobs. These are surprisingly common mistakes and you can guarantee that you will be shown the passerelle off the boat before you have even had a chance to pick up your chamois.