Dock walking is the process whereby you walk the docks with the aim of getting day work or even landing a permanent job. It involves a lot of rejection as many boats are fully crewed and not looking for employees. In certain locations, you will see many dock walkers and may begin to feel demotivated about your job prospects. The key is to not get down and always be presentable, polite and confident when asking for work and handing out your CV. It may not always lead to a job, but it is a great way to get out there, be seen and to circulate your CV. Some crew may even be kind enough to give you some advice.
There is a strong likelihood of finding day work if you are walking the docks at the correct times.
Dock walking in some ports and locations is not allowed. Ports are becoming increasingly strict in this regard, so it is important to do your research and speak to experienced people who know the laws in the area.
Dock Walking Tips and Advice
How to Dock Walk:
When approaching a yacht, it is important to be polite and confident. Introduce yourself in a professional manner, shake the crew members hand and make eye contact. Ask to speak to the Head of your Department (Chief Stew, Engineer or Officer). However, it is very likely they will be too busy to see you. Explain to the crew member that you are seeking a job and ask if they require a hand for any daywork. Keep it short and sweet, they are busy and have probably seen many day workers and do not want a long-winded story. Thank them and pass on your CV. It can also be good practice to ask if they know of any other yachts needing crew/day work.
Print out a few CVs and individually place them in a plastic sleeve with a business card attached. This will help you appear professional and increases the likelihood of your CV reaching the H.O.D or captain.
If boats are looking for day workers they will likely take the first dock walker that approaches them. Most yachts begin work at 0800. DO NOT disturb boats before this time.
Be presentable and ensure you are cleanly shaven and have neat and tidy hair. You should wear a clean white/blue polo and khaki/blue/black shorts/skort/skirt and boat shoes.
Change of Clothes:
Dock walking often leads to on the spot daywork. It is, therefore, a good idea to carry around a backpack with a change of clothes that you do not mind getting ruined (a white t-shirt and less smart shorts, or an old boat t-shirt). Some boats will give you day working clothes to use, but do not count on it.
Have a Plan:
Many marinas and shipyards have strict security and regulations. Research which ones allow dock walking and plan a route before you start.
Riding a bicycle or a skateboard helps cover more ground in a shorter period of time and preserves energy. However, it is good practice to leave them at the entrance and approach yachts on foot. Many captains and first officers feel very strongly about this. Be sure to leave your bicycle tied up or skateboard with the security staff to stop them from being stolen.
- Never approach a yacht during lunch hours (usually 1200-1300) or outside of work hours (usually 0800-1700).
- Many boats work on weekends and it shows commitment and dedication. Be sure to ONLY approach yachts that are clearly working (crew in uniform working on the deck).
- The last couple of hours of the day (1500-1700) are often a good time to find work, the crew have a better idea of there schedule for the next day and may realise they need an extra hand. There are also less people walking the docks and again it shows dedication.
- A handy tip is to walk the docks in the morning and visit some crew agents afterwards. Take a break and some lunch and then hit the docks again in the afternoon. Reward yourself with a drink between 1700 and 1800 at a ‘yachty’ bar as this will provide a good networking opportunity and you may even land yourself some daywork.
NEVER approach a yacht that has guests onboard or maybe expecting guests. Telltale signs include; flowers on the aft deck, a yacht that is set up (covers off, cushions organised etc.), neat dock arrangements, crew in epaulettes/polos.
Dock walking often leads to day work. If it does, make sure that you are well prepared.