In issue 66 of The Crew Report, Martin H. Redmayne praised the decline of ‘summer jobbers’ in the crew industry, however Captain Sue Mitchell entered into a dialogue with The Crew Report and shared a very different view. The trend of young dockwalkers is, she said, “becoming an epidemic”. We spoke with Captain Mitchell further to gain a better picture of today’s state of affairs.

“The industry as a whole has become ‘public’ and the youth of the world are finding it harder to gain meaningful employment in their own home countries – speaking with the dockwalkers each season, they simply cannot obtain a basic job after graduation. They speak to their mates who have a job on a yacht or who have heard about ‘yachting’ and next thing you know the explosion of the young dockwalkers has commenced. This trend has been happening for quite some time, particularly in Antibes, but it is becoming an epidemic. Yachting has become that magic tool to enable travel whilst being paid. There was a trend about twenty years ago in backpacking around the world, picking up jobs here and there, finding and making random friends and being in the group in trendy locations around the globe. I think yachting has become one of those ‘trendy’ things to do.”


Captain Sue Mitchell believes the trend of young dockwalkers has turned into an epidemic. Credit: Mike Jones

Captain Mitchell recently hired two dayworkers – two young girls who met at a crew house in antibes, one 19 and one in her early 20s - during the 2013 Mediterranean season to assist with the interior cleaning of a yacht ensuring it’s readiness for display at the Festival de la Plaisance de Cannes, and the experience confirmed Mitchell’s view of the dockwalking trend. “Neither had worked on yachts; neither had any idea what they were in for. The younger of the two had been speaking to a friend who had given her a load of false information, but she was willing to give it a go and actually secured a permanent position on a yacht some weeks after. The other returned to the UK saying it was not what she expected.”

It is near impossible to disregard the social media’s role in the trend Captain Mitchell is describing, and is a factor she feels is damaging the industry. “The fact that the internet, social media and more communication options than ever before allow everyone to be in touch instantly, plus the gathering of the young in the congested crew houses creates a ‘scene’ of young and hopefuls. It appears that the migration of the young, keen, unemployed younger generations are flocking to this industry, thinking it is relatively easy to jump on board a yacht and travel to some spectacular locations whilst being paid a healthy sum, when in fact it should be relatively hard to obtain a job on board a yacht.”


"They speak to their mates who have a job on a yacht or who have heard about ‘yachting’ and next thing you know the explosion of the young dockwalkers has commenced."



Captain Mitchell’s comments serve as a reminder of something the industry should have been aware of for some time; that is, the way we market the industry is paramount and today its promotion is not only resisting the aptly suited potential crew, but is also problematic for those already with the crew industry. “There are so many inexperienced crew walking the docks or gathering in locations such as Antibes and Fort Lauderdale – far more than there used to be say even five years ago,” concluded Captain Mitchell. “Each year the numbers seem to grow. The wasted time dealing with myriads of CVs and hopefuls gathering at the passerelle each day and every season is amazing to say the least.”