Original image: Stef Bravin
For Captain Jason Downes, owner of Antibes-based crew house The Crew Grapevine hails, the set-up offers a sense of unity for uncertain crew dipping their toes in new waters. “We see an incredibly sense of family created as uncertain crew bond over shared concerns and recently displaced people coalesce in order to share, cope with and learn about the experience they are dealing with. Entry-level job hunting is getting more competitive and the network and support provided both from other crew and diligent crew-house owners can be crucial to self-esteem and, ultimately, job success.”
Captain Downes touches on an important point. Diligent crew-house owners will have many crew hailing their efforts, yet there are other crew houses that are less deserving of praise. “Crew houses can be a place for partying hard and drugs and alcohol have been known to be around – not helpful if you’re trying to study or prepare for a job interview or you have been dayworking for long hours. A number of crew house owners are known to be freakishly interested in everything that goes on inside their walls and seem to miraculously appear when a ‘friend’ of the opposite gender comes for a visit. Moreover, there can be ridiculous rules and very swift retribution for infringements,” explains Captain French.
"Much of the information shared around the yachting industry is by word of mouth and the crew-house scene often provides instant access to rumour and gossip."
And this takes us to a completely different type of crew house – one where the owners actually take it upon themselves to help these entry-level crew. “Crew houses seem to come in two distinct species: those that promote job seeking, networking, guidance and a friendly simulation of on-board behavior expectations, and there are others that just provide a bed,” explains Captain Downes.
“The informal nature of crew houses means their standards and rules are quite inconsistent. Some are way better than others, so it pays to do some research first,” concludes Captain French.
As Captain French highlights, crew houses are certainly born out of necessity and there is very much a place for them in the industry. However, finding one at the professional end of the spectrum is crucial and, if achieved, can be a great first step into yachting.