Not all that glitters is Gold
Dockwalk got in touch about a piece they were writing about the 'below deck' effect. I've written about this before, but it's good to re-iterate that not everything we see on 'reality tv' is real.
It may sound obvious but I've met a few people lately, some on courses I've taught and others via friends that have said something to the effect of. "I watched Below Deck, it looks cool, I want to go do that". While I'm the first one to encourage people to do what they enjoy, I also make a point of explaining that while many aspects of what you see on the show are real, albeit dramatised, there is no shortage of hard work, sweat and tears involved in this business.
Working on boats definitely isn't for everyone and we've done our best over the years to prepare our students for what comes after the courses. We've been there ourselves and have placed thousands of crew over the years and one of the most common complaints we have from employers is that crew don't 'get it'.
What they mean most often, is that crew don't understand that their needs come second to the needs of the boat, owners and guests. This is of course a harsh reality for some, but the sooner we realise that we are staff, we have volunteered to be staff and no one has forced us into this, the better. We've gone willingly but unfortunately in many cases unknowingly into the Yachting business. Make no mistake, it is most definitely a business but because the lines can become blurred when you live and work with your bosses and colleagues, crew often overstep the boundaries which leads to discontent on both sides of the equation.
Ask any crew member what they dislike most, and you'll hear a lot of different answers but I'm willing to be that most will tell you that their time isn't their own, they have minimal personal space, they miss their family and friends and are at the beck and call of the guests 24/7.
So why do it? Well that depends on your reason for wanting to work on boats. It is a fantastic way to experience new places, cultures, learn new skills and get paid to live on a yacht and have all your expenses covered. You can save as much or as little as you want to and get to meet some fantastic people but do your research. Know what you're getting yourself into, what is expected of you and manage your own expectations.
Some people see the yacht they live & work on as a floating paradise, others see it as a floating prison. Perspective is everything.