If, like me, you are constantly tugged at by the call of the running tide, some kind of sabbatical or sea change is probably never far from your mind. My next guest blogger, Peter Buckley or “Bucko” as he’s known to his friends actually turned the dream into reality a few years back and headed to the super yachting mecca that is the south of France to try his luck on the dock. Reading this post is a must if you are thinking of escaping on the high seas or know someone who is. But parents beware….if you suggest this to slow moving gen Y offspring as an eviction strategy…it might be some time before you see them again…
Over to you Bucko….
About two years ago I made a plan to escape Sydney, work, traffic and the tax man! Sounded easy… fly to Antibes, France the super yacht crewing capital of the Mediterranean, and put your CV around and wah-lah…job, bulk cash, amazing yacht and a lifestyle we all dream about.
Pre departure I went and did my STCW95 course (AUD $1500) at Newport up on the northern beaches of Sydney (this is a must for those thinking of escaping) it’s similar to the course you need before you can pull a schooner in a bar except a bit more on fire fighting and first aid. After a week putting out fires with bloody big hoses and applying band aids I was qualified!
On arriving in Antibes I realised there were a lot of people with this same cunning plan… and they were younger and better looking than old sea dog Bucko…
What followed was endless queuing at crew agencies and copious amounts of “dock walking”. They even have a magazine called “dock walk” so when you’re not dock walking you can read about dock walking! If you have no luck getting a job you do “day working” which is doing all the cleaning and varnishing the already employed crew are too lazy/hung over to do! This gives you enough money to eat baguettes but not enough to get drunk or have any sort of fun (unless you find paying 55euro’s for a hotel room that is so tiny when you stick the key in the door you break the window fun).
By chance I was day working on a 170ft gin palace, giving the teak deck chairs an unneeded coat of deck oil…when an old friend walked on to the vessel along side… and asked why I was day working and why my baguette only had butter on it? After some chit chat he offered me the chance to meet his boss and try out for a job as a captain on a 62ft Oyster sailing yacht…. Within six months the boss decided this sailing lark was quite a hoot and we trotted off to the Genoa boat show to spend the life savings of everyone you have ever met, on a 100ft carbon fibre Southern Wind Yacht to advance his learning to sail programme.
Myself with girlfriend in tow headed off to Cape Town for six months to oversee the build of this monster and bring it swiftly and safely to the owner who would be waiting at a nice restaurant near Capri to see his new summer toy for the first time.
The yacht has just had her 1st birthday, has covered over 15,000nm and is now in Antigua waiting for further instructions. For those with the inkling to follow this sea change I will take you into a normal day with guests onboard…
- 6am wake up
- 6am-2am work like your hair is on fire.
- Do this for approx 10 days then have 347 rums and collapse…repeat 6 times per season or until you go bonkers.
We are a floating hotel with restaurant and chef, a water sports park attached, all requests are met with enthusiasm and the word NO is banned. If you like the sea, magic locations and hard work and when the boss is not around enjoying the spoils of someone else’s hard earned …then get your bum to France it all starts with YOU!
- Have your CV well sorted and register with all the agencies you can before leaving home
- No visible tattoos or weird piercings
- Have as many tickets/courses as you can e.g. dive ticket, yacht master, power boat level 1 etc…
- Get your B1-B2 American visa sorted (as many vessels go across the Atlantic) you will need it and it takes time
- Get an ENG1 medical done they will often ask for one
- Smile till it hurts