What to expect when Day Working – by an experienced Deckhand

What to expect when day working?

Here I give you the ins and outs of Day Working, courtesy of an experienced Deckhand.

Starting out in the yachting industry can be tricky, especially if you come in having no idea how the industry works or what is expected. As a Deckhand I found that the way to work your way up to getting a job is through “Day Working”.

What is “Day Working”?

To put it simply, Day Work is experiencing the working life of a Yacht crew member. From morning till dusk you follow the lead of the boats crew, get paid and then leave at the end of the day with an extra bit of experience, a pocket full of money and the feeling that you could be that bit closer to nailing a permanent job.

But, what should I expect?

Expect to be given the worst jobs. You have to graft in this industry.

They could be the most tedious, and sometimes the most tiring of tasks. Daywork days will be long and hard. Usually the experience is tougher because you don’t have a boat to permanently live on, you’ll still be doing your own laundry and getting up very early to make it onboard in good time.

You’ll get a taster of things to come for when you secure a permanent role, so when you’ve found yourself scrubbing a teak deck for 8 hours, just stick with it. Don’t complain about anything and you’ll make the job far easier on yourself.

Here are a few points on what to do during these days as a Day Worker:

  • DON’T BE LATE. It goes for any job, but especially this one. You don’t want to damage your reputation. Turn up for your Day Work with at least 15 minutes to spare so that you can get ready and meet the crew.


  • DON’T trust the French train systems! They are incredibly unreliable and you don’t want to be late. Plan to catch a train that’s going to allow you to get to your port at least 30 minutes before work, which should allow for delay time and walking.


  • Turn up looking no less than eager and fresh faced. First impressions count, and you are judged on appearances a lot in this industry. If you don’t arrive looking well-presented and ready for work then you run the risk of being turned away. It’s easy for boats to turn someone away if they don’t look like they will get the job done quickly and efficiently.


  • Always ask for permission to step aboard and make sure to take your SHOES OFF before boarding.


  • Do not questions what you’re told to do. Follow whatever the crew member directing you wants, the way they want it. If you think you know better, firstly, you probably don’t, and secondly life is so much easier if you just knuckle down to work and do it exactly as asked.


  • Ensure that every job you are asked to do is undertaken with both precision and speed. Also, make extra sure that you are not being sloppy. You don’t want anyone having to go back over your job because you’ve failed to complete it to a yachting standard.


  • Always be RESPECTFUL. Don’t speak out of term to anyone in a higher position, which is everyone. Do not swear or talk about inappropriate things and keep in mind that the boat may be looking to potentially hire someone in the future, thus making a good impression could lead to a future job or a reference.


  • Never ask what time you’ll be finished unless absolutely necessary. Keep working until your boss tells you to stop.

Jobs to expect whilst Day Working:

Two parting the teak decks: Two parting a deck is essentially where you use an acid and then a neutraliser/base, scrubbing each in. Before teak can be given any coating, it must be completely clean. Part 1 is the acid, part 2 neutralises the acid for part 1. Whilst doing this you want to keep the deck wet at all times, always wear gum boots (Boson should provide these) and scrub as hard as you can.

Wash-down of the boat (windows, hull, inboards/outboards, deckheads) This job consists of getting a bucket of soapy water and scrubbing the exterior of the boat. Firstly ensure that the surface you are soaping is wet before starting, secondly do not allow the soap to dry onto the surface, it is likely that you will be working in hot weather so always be aware of drying soapy water. A final tip for this is if the salt is thick and built up put some vinegar in your bucket (Vinegar is amazing for cleaning)

Stainless wet polishing: This is where the stainless on the boat is wetted and then buffed up with star bright wet polish (or a similar wet polish) to make the stainless shine. Target rusty areas but be sure to wet polish the whole surface area. Again do not let the polish dry and keep and surfaces close to where you are working wet
(especially teak)

Stainless dry polishing / detailing: Different to wet polishing in that no water is used in this process. Dry polishing (detailing) is where you look for any imperfections on stainless and use a dry polish e.g. Flitz to remove the mark/rust on the stainless. Be extremely careful when doing this as the product is very strong and if you get it anywhere you could end up doing more damage than good.

The above  are the most common jobs however this does not mean you won’t be asked to
do other jobs such a bilge cleaning or cleaning tenders etc. Please also note that descriptions of how these processes are done will vary from boat to boat.

What I learned while day working:

To stay motivated – Just keep working, don’t look at a clock. Think of the time, breaks and just think and appreciate where you are – on an amazing yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean or Caribbean! How many other people get this opportunity? You’ll also come out of the day roughly 100 euros better off, pretty sweet deal, right?

About work ethic – Just grind, grind, grind. People really do notice – do not be that gobby good for nothing who annoys everyone by not pulling their weight – you get out what you put in.

All crews are different – Be very aware of this, on occasion you may get the most well-mannered, kind and fun crew imaginable, at other times it may be an unfriendly, unwelcoming and dismissive crew.


Comments 5

  1. Good tips, Emily! I wish someone had taken the time and care to inform me of the ins and outs of some of the jobs i”ve had! This is very kind and generous of you to share your expertise!

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