The Dock Walk and the Sailor

It’s only a few days into the dock walking thing and as I write this I wonder how much of a toll the search for that illusive yacht job will have on me. I hope that the physical toll is a drop in 2-3 kg’s but I fear that emotionally speaking it will be a roller coaster ride.


To dock walk means to gather your CVs, put them, along with some water and a snack, into your backpack and wander around the marina dressed in your best yachtie clothes. These range from long or short black, camel or blue pants and a polo shirt- usually white. They say the trick is to strike up conversation and try not let the question of a possible job come up until it does so ‘naturally’. However, the fact that I am wearing the above mentioned clothes alone singles me out as someone who is looking to be hired. So that makes striking up a genuine conversation a little tricky.


Now that we all understand what ‘to dock walk’ means. Let’s understand how it can go one of two ways. Either the member of crew that you see onboard gives you a look and as if you don’t deserve any better, just shakes his head meaning ‘there’s nothing available here’. Otherwise people are generally friendly. I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how few the blunt and unfriendly responses are compared to the number of helpful and encouraging ones.

Most of the time, at this early moment anyway, the yachts you approach are fully crewed or are looking for someone with prior experience (aka not me). Still they tell you to ‘keep smiling’, ‘don’t give up’, ‘you’ll be fine’. And because you want to believe that they know best….. you do what you can to take it to heart.

Sometimes you come away feeling good. You chatted to a few people and handed out a couple CVs to boats hiring for your position (stew/deck hand/cook etc.). Other days are not so positive. Take for example today- a friend arrived from the UK and before hitting the docks, registered with one of the crew agencies. A few hours later she had an interview.

Although everyone is generally very supportive of each other, something like that’ll really take the wind out of your sails. Tell you what! This just enhanced my annoyance at travelling with a South African passport (please don’t read as anything anti-nationalistic…it’s no secret the Green Mamba is an inconvenience).It’s not unheard of for South Africans to job hunt for up to six weeks before anything surfaces. I just have to keep in mind that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

IMG_6701bAntibes is the biggest port in the Med. It really doesn’t seem that way to me. Perhaps it has something to do with the earliness of the season and the lack of yachts actually in the harbour but I really did expect a bit bigger and better. Today I found myself meandering in amongst some sail boats where I would almost certainly not find what I’m looking for but it was there that I struck up conversation with someone very interesting. After chatting to the Frenchman for a while he invited me to kick off my shoes and come on board. He gave me a little lesson on how things work, showed me the cabin and then told me, ‘now I’ll invite you for some tea and then you piss off.’ Turns out he was glad for the company and we chatted for about an hour while he mentored me on how to adjust my attitude from ‘how hard it is out there’ to ‘just try harder’. We spoke about the business and what it means for romantic relationships, alcohol and drug abuse and world travel. Then it was time to go. ‘I hope I don’t see you again,’ he said ‘cos that means you got a job.’


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