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50 Tips for Your First Season in Yachting by David Ball


First season? Here are 50 nifty tips for day workers and deckhand newbies.


1. Do your homework before the season, including writing your sailing CV, registering online with crew recruitment agencies and storing electronic copies of CVs, certificates, references and passports on a USB stick.

2. Get your banking and financial affairs in order and consider giving your parents or someone you trust power of attorney to oversee your financial affairs on your behalf.

3. Superyachts allow you to live and work with virtually zero living costs. Grab the chance to save or pay off debt.

4. Buy a good pair of sunglasses (plus strap) and a Leatherman.

5. Buy a laptop before the season and Skype family and friends back home.

6. Drink loads of water and wear sun cream.

7. Wear in your deck shoes before you start dock walking.

8. Take off your shoes and wipe your feet on the mat before boarding any yacht.

9. Always ask permission before stepping aboard.

10. Never have more than one or two people on the passerelle.

11. Don’t believe rumours or prophets of doom, always investigate for yourself.

12. ‘Please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry’ are phrases that oil the relationships of any crew.

13. Always take the initiative by introducing yourself to people you don’t know.

14. Communicate clearly and concisely, especially when using handheld radios.

15. Never gossip about guests, captains or crew.

16. Don’t whinge.

17. Always look before you step (or you could end up in the bilge with a broken leg).

18. Observe perpetually.

19. Anticipate (weather, guests’ needs, potential hazards etc).

20. If you open it, close, if you use, it, put it back, if you finish it, replace it.

21. When living and working on yachts, remember the little things are the big things.

22. Fold boxes flat and crush cans and plastic bottles to save space.

23. Place extra bin liners at the bottom of rubbish bins.

24. Carry rubbish bags over the side of the boat when taking rubbish off the boat.

25. Stay drug-free and tattoo-free.

26. Go to a yacht chandary and get familiar with marine cleaning products and materials.

27. When washing the boat, don’t nick the paintwork with belt-buckles or broom handles.

28. Learn fast, everyone else had to.

29. Don’t make enemies; the yachting world is too small.

30. Keep your language and the soles of your feet clean.

31. Never turn down an opportunity to daywork.

32. If you’re given a tip-off, keep it to yourself or someone else might scoop your job.

33. During wash downs, always work from the top down and avoid wetting neighbouring boats.

34. Walk softly over the decks and don’t slam doors or hatches.

35. Never drag, drop or throw anything onto teak decks.

36. Be positive, proactive, punctual and professional.

37. Network relentlessly, it really is about who you know.

38. Never ask about salaries during interviews.

39. Collect as many written references as possible.

40. Always keep your CV up to date and always have a copy with you.

41. Lies and/or laziness will get you fired.

42. Be aware of what’s happening around you, for example, the neighbouring boat that is about to leave, the chafing stern line or the person on the quay looking for the captain.

43. Learn the language of boats. (Know your deck head from your doodlebug.)

44. If you have a safety thought, act on it.

45. Kink hoses before removing the nozzle gun and always drain the water from the hose before coiling it and stowing it away.

46. Be obsessive about personal hygiene and cooking hygiene.

47. When cleaning the hull from the tender or raft, attach a line to the suction cups to avoid losing them in the water (like I did!) Don’t try attach the suction cups to the curved section of the hull or you’ll end up in the water, like Matt did!

48. When cleaning the hull from the tender, remove the outboard, if possible, to avoid scratching it against the hull or the dock.

49. Look after your health and weight and stock up on multivitamins.

50. Relish every magic moment (sundowners at anchor, watching the Monaco Grand Prix) because life is short and no job lasts forever.

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