I had basically no idea what I was getting into when I decided to take my STCW course in Antigua, but I figured I loved to travel, loved the Caribbean and was happy to work in order to be there.
After being there for 3 months, I wanted to stay longer with my new friends, hot climate and relaxed mentality.
So being with my family who had both been in the yachting industry for many years, they highly recommended it for me and thought it would suit me well. I was a complete novice, not much experience waitressing and cleaning to such a high standard.
But man, as soon as those boats came onto the scene in November/December I was immediately in awe, they’re so enormous you can’t help but stop and stare. And every day you look there’s another one there, more and more people arriving, more and more cars on the streets, more and more restaurants and bars opening as the season got into motion.
I was so excited, and when I got a job in the boat show I decided I wanted to start working on them. So I got my STCW course and Powerboat Level 2 in October.
The courses are so much fun, you have two days at the start of the STCW in a classroom doing your first aid and social responsibility. Then you spend the last 3 doing Firefighting and Personal Survival training. The firefighting was in a container using a proper fire and hoses, all the equipment and gear (which was extremely hot in Antigua as you can imagine) which was a real experience.
The Powerboat Level 2 course was only over 2 days, and is learning about how to drive a boat’s tender. There were only 2 of us on my course so we had loads of time to swap over and practice driving and pulling up and all the man overboard drills, the navigation and the ‘rules of the road’. This was so much fun and we had a lot of practice. I got this course too because it kind of gives you an edge on other people looking for work if you can drive a tender as well.
Then the boat show came around and it was incredible. I was assisting Captain Jan Robinson in the Chef’s Competition, thanks to connections from my Aunt (mostly) and myself with the director of the show. I was so intrigued and this meant I was able to go onboard over 30 superyachts over the course of 3 days, and was able to see the standards required, the mentality, the cleanliness, and the general vibe, I guess, of working on board them. It was like nothing I’d ever got to see before, and I was extremely blessed to have this experience.
Almost immediately after the charter show, I came home for christmas, but went back straight after to really knuckle down on getting work and improving my CV and networking with anyone. Then I started getting more work.
There are a number of ways to find work through my (limited) experience, but I’m going to outline the 3 that I have found the most important. And though this limited experience might put you off listening to me, the first few jobs are the hardest to find, and I’m still in this stage, so the first impressions you make on the industry are very important, nothings a secret so don’t do anything silly.
So here you are:
- Networking is probably the most important thing you can do in order to get work. When in a country that’s popular with the superyachts (I can only talk of my experience from the caribbean), every bar you go to and every restaurant, everybody you meet is bound to either be a part of a crew and working on a yacht, or is friends with yachties. So you have to (try) and be on the top of your game. Go to every bar, every dock party and barbeque, every party and beach picnic. Be as friendly as you can manage, really sociable, funny, not shy, the utopian yachtie is a confident socialite, hard working, humble. The fact that a lot of yachties are like this makes hanging out with them is a lot of fun. Warning: can often result in hangovers.
- Agencies too, make sure you contact all your local agencies, they can be a real help when youre looking for work. Boats go to them and say what they need. They trust the agencies to find the right person for the job, so when you’re approached by an agency you contacted, you can believe they have matched you to a job that will suit you. I recommend that you go down and talk to them in person, so they can get a feel for your personality and better suit you to future jobs.
- There are plenty of online agencies (including facebook groups for each different harbour) too that have millions of jobs constantly coming in so check them constantly to maximise your chances.
So there’s tons of ways to help you on your way to get work, but be as sociable as you can afford to be, make friends with everyone, hang out at the bars the captains go to as well. Don’t lose hope, although it’s easy to see no silver lining on the work front, be persistent and don’t give up, something will always come up.