What is Dockworking?
Dock walking is the process of walking along the dock, going up to the yacht, and talking to the crew on board to secure one of the following: You can leave either a day job, a permanent job, or a resume.
To me, this has proven to be one of the most nerve-wracking processes of finding a job on a superyacht…
Monday morning 0630, I wake up early for the morning. I live in a crew house with many super yacht crews. They are all working hard for jobs on super yachts, all competing for the same job on a limited number of yachts. I want to get up early, take a shower first before people line up for a shower, and shave on the first day of walking the quays of Antibes. Presentations are important in this industry and my clothes are ironed and tidied up the night before. I shower, shave, and have breakfast. Nerves erroneously fill the stomach, reducing appetite. Pack your essentials, sunscreen, and water into your bag and leave the crew quarters with a selection of recently printed resumes and references in neat plastic folders. I want to be the first to get out of the crew house to the dock in case I can catch the initial crew on deck.
It’s a beautiful, crisp morning, the salty smell of the sea lingers in the still air surrounding the little cobbled streets of Antibes. The sun has just risen and the sky is clear with white airplane trails against a blue background, and the air is getting cooler, announcing the approach of autumn. Leaving the gravel road behind, you will encounter a vast number of yachts moored. All overlook the beautiful Golden Fortress overlooking the port of Antibes. The rising sun highlights the golden color of the fortress. As I walk along the pier side, a sea of scavengers rushes into the hedges, shuffling leftover pizzas from ripped trash cans. The water is still and the town is empty. The time is 0730 and the port is quiet.
I walk towards International Dock, the main dock that houses some of the largest superyachts in the world. Pass by more modest Gulet Rental that are still very impressively sized by home standards. My anxiety grows, my heart beats faster, and my fear of being rejected grows more and more as I get closer to the entrance to the main marina. I walk through the security barrier through an open door looking like a schoolboy about to start his first day of school with a backpack, clean ironed clothes, and a resume folder. I definitely look like a newbie. Entering the International Dock, the words ‘D I L B A R’ written in large letters on the side in glittering silver, the reflection of ripples glittering on the yacht’s hull and the distance; My heart rate increases more and I’m trying to be almost certain it’s not a good day for dockworker and I’ll try because tomorrow will be easier… I know I have to keep going.
Sitting at the dock is 0735 and there is no one around the bouncer bar and he doesn’t seem at all interested in my intentions here this morning. I sit by a flower bed overlooking the expansive yacht spread out in front of me (the yacht’s rear facing the dock), moored to the stern, and trying to understand the changes in the world I’m experiencing in just two days. Two days ago I was working at the office, watching the rain fall on the busy road… Now, unemployed, I am sitting and admiring this amazing yacht.
Slowly more dockworkers appear, some appearing to be very seasoned dockworkers, walking with unmistakable confidence and heirs of knowledge, some talking politely and briefly, some focusing purely on the yacht and passing by unacknowledged.
It’s 0745 and I decide to walk to the other end of the dock and start the dock walk at the far end, hoping I can catch the crew before they get interrupted by other dock walkers. The larger yacht is first, and we expect this to attract the most attention from dockworkers, so we choose the smaller yacht (still over 60 meters long!) first. When you walk to the end of the marina, the yacht starts to come to life. The deck crew emerges from the side door of the yacht and walks along the side of the yacht to the stern (behind). Seeing the long-awaited moment when the crew comes out takes my anxiety to the next level. My heart is beating now at a level where I can feel the pulse and blood throb all around my body. It’s a feeling I haven’t felt since standing up to give my best man speech last month. As I approach the first yacht, my mouth dry and my armpits sweaty, the crew member looks at me and laughs as if I’ve got his attention before he looks down and heads for the second yacht.