Q: Brigitte, Stewardess, 24:
“I recently got off my first yacht after a successful 7 month Med season, but I haven’t had any luck getting a crossing or any interviews for jobs in the Caribbean yet. To make matters more confusing, I’ve also just been offered a season as a chalet girl up in Chamonix. I’d really like to take it as it sounds like fun, but am a bit worried that it might set back my yachting career. What do you think? I feel like I’m running out of time and options for yachts in the Med, is it worth taking the risk and flying to Antigua or Fort Lauderdale? Or shall I just head up to the mountains and come back to yachting in the spring? And if I do that will I be starting from scratch all over again next year?”
A: The Crew Coach:
Yes, it’s decision-time for lots of yachting jobseekers in November, and you do have an important one to make.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with your suspicion that a ski season at this point in your yachting career may harm your yachting career momentum. After your first job of 7 months, you’re just really getting into the swing of yachting, and it seems a shame to take a break and perhaps take the shine off all those new skills you’ve learnt. Additionally, captains looking at your CV next spring may well wonder why you felt the need to take that break so early in your career.
In short, ski seasons are great fun and have some brilliant transferable skills for yachting, and if that’s where your heart is taking you then by all means follow it, but just remember that there will be plenty more winters when you have a more established reputation in yachting and therefore nothing to lose.
So, let’s look at your other question about heading to Fort Lauderdale or Antigua.
Generally, by the end of November most yachts that are leaving the Med for the winter will have left. Not all, but most, so you need to put all your effort into doing whatever you can over the next week or so to get yourself a crossing and gaining yourself valuable sea time (not to mention saving yourself an airfare.) If you don’t manage to find a boat heading over, then it’s time to look at flying to either Fort Lauderdale or the Caribbean.
By the 3rd week of November, the Caribbean may be a better option as the yachts will be heading there shortly anyway and you can be there in time to assist getting boats ready for the Antigua Yacht Charter Show in early December. Ideally you want to arrive around a week before the show to capitalise on the daywork and any job opportunities that might come up then. See http://www.antiguayachtshow.com for further details.
A few things to know about job-hunting in the Caribbean or Fort Lauderdale
1.You’ll need enough money to cover accommodation and costs for a month or two – luckily this is a bit cheaper there than in Europe.
2.You MUST have a departing flight booked out of the country you are entering, in order to pass through customs, whether flying into Antigua or Fort Lauderdale.
3.Remember that if you are not a resident and don’t have the right employment visas, looking for work in a foreign country is illegal so don’t tell immigration (or anyone other than crew on yachts) that you’re on the hunt for a job.
4.Don’t take CVs in your luggage or anything else that could suggest you are job hunting. If you are entering on a tourist visa, you are a tourist. 🙂
5.For the same reason, you need to be careful about dockwalking: you can be deported if you make it obvious that you’re looking for work and this will make it difficult to re-enter these countries for some time.
Finally, the summer of 2015 was an incredibly busy and successful charter season, which has buoyed hopes of a great winter charter season ahead. This means that more yachts will be heading to the Caribbean, which means…more jobs! Sure, it’s always competitive, but with your recent experience of a successful Med season, it’s important to strike while the iron is hot and conditions are good.
Good luck and let me know what you decide!