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How far can I make it?

Discussion in 'Yacht Crews' started by Buck2.0.0, Oct 26, 2016.

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  1. Buck2.0.0

    Buck2.0.0 New Member

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    I want to preface this by saying the amount of support I've gotten from people within the yachting industry to take on certs/training/entry level positions is encouraging.

    Working on a yacht would be a dream job.

    But before I get ahead of myself I have doubts. As a black American male, what can I expect in the industry? Will I be heavily discriminated against on board? Do I have a lower chance of getting work? Is there any room for me in a sea of sun varnished white faces?

    There isn't much info online so I thought I'd ask here. Thanks
  2. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Like everything in life, it s all about attitude and words like "sea of sun varnished white faces" are pretty revealing.
  3. SeaEric

    SeaEric YF Historian

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    IMHO - enthusiasm, attitude and willingness to learn will dictate how anyone coming in to the industry will be treated.
  4. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    No, I see crews with crew members from all races and countries. It's all about attitude, respect,presentation and doing a good job.
  5. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    That's a good question to ask. There is a lot of discrimination of every type in the industry. What we're dealing with is a lot of independent owners and captains and some of them have their own prejudices. However, none of that keeps you from having your dream job and going far. You can't do that for all owners, but you don't need all owners. You just need those owners and captains that select based on skills and performance.

    From the day you start your career, your first day of training, you like all new and young people who enter the professional must prove yourself. You do so and someone will notice and the person who won't hire you is the one you wouldn't want to work for anyway.

    It's a very personal industry and personalities play a role. There are bigots who won't hire any minorities, but there are also those who have operated their businesses with openness and equal chances and insist on the same on their boats.

    You will fight stereotypes but when it comes to how well a black person can captain, there are not a lot of industry stereotypes, just lack of seeing any. We have three female captains and one female engineer. They fought a battle similar to that you'll face but they excelled. They didn't let being minorities take them down, the just were diligent in their work, trained and still learning and willing to do what they were called upon to do. They fully earned their jobs. They felt they'd have to show more than men would to get the opportunities, so they showed more, they did the extra work, they got along with the other crew.

    I mentioned from the start of your career. There have been students to hurt their careers before they started but not getting along well in crew houses or by going out and getting drunk and being seen that way. However, many young students have gotten opportunity because they impressed the manager of the crew house or because they impressed one deck hand. That deck hand then was working on a boat with a no show, and mentioned their friend.

    You must not attribute anything that happens to your race, even if it might have been. If a captain is a jerk, then don't jump to the conclusion he's a jerk to you because you're black. If you do, you'll only dig a hole you'll fall into. Instead show the captain that you can take it with the best of men and impress him with your professionalism, even when he isn't. Sometimes your first position is with a horrible boss but by sticking out a year with them, everyone else knows you can work with anyone, even the worse.

    You just can't enter this or any profession thinking the cards are stacked against you as that will be a self fulfilling prophecy. A lot of my success in business came from hiring those others others rejected for the wrong reasons. I take advantages of any prejudice.

    My business today has great employee diversity at all levels. Years ago, I was in textiles and it was very difficult to recruit blacks into the industry. So there weren't many to promote. We worked hard to increase our presence of black managers and engineers when we had so many black employees. We did the same on females. Still, I got turned down by blacks who with their wives had decided on areas they would not live.

    In boating, we have no black employee for one simple reason. We've had none presented to us as candidates. Our senior employees didn't work with many in the past so don't know a lot of black captains or engineers.

    If you go for 10 interviews and get 1 job offer, you'll never know if race played a role, so you have to proceed on the basis it did not. Maybe 3 rejected you based on race, all of who would firmly deny having any prejudice, maybe 5. On the other hand maybe none and maybe the person who hired you was attracted more to you because of your race.

    In other parts of the world, there are many blacks in the profession, far more than the US. Simply more have pursued it. In the US there just isn't a groundswell of young blacks seeing themselves as future yacht crew. See, the stereotypes work both ways. Young blacks don't see themselves as yacht crew because they don't know any others who are. Captains don't see hiring because they're not use to black crew.

    I think if you enter with the right attitude, perform at 110% level of professionalism, listen to more experienced crew, continue to learn, and be willing to do anything asked without fussing about it or making faces, you'll find success.

    I have crew that has beaten every prejudice and stereotype they've faced in the industry and life, but they always assumed the best and never considered themselves as going against the odds. If I had always thought of the true odds against things I've done in my life, I'd have never had the success I have had. No one told me I couldn't do the things or if they did, I didn't listen.

    One last word. There will be those black and white and every other group trying to stir you up. They'll be trying to convince you that you're getting a raw deal. Ignore that type person, they aren't your friend. I remember when the Denny's discrimination hit the front pages and apparently they really did in that location. I was talking to a couple of black friends at the time, and based on our Denny's experiences, we just asked "how would you know?" Service was bad to everyone.

    Attitude is the key. While it's wise to discuss in a forum like this where all is anonymous or most is, if you want to pursue a career in the industry, you must put the thought of racial discrimination out of your head. If you can't do so, the worst you've imagined will happen.

    If you think of yourself as entering a sea of sun varnished white faces, you're wasting your time and theirs as you'll always see some evil lurking in the shadows. If you can instead think of yourself as having the tan the others work so hard to get and approach it with humor and with respect, then you'll have a chance to enjoy the career.

    I'd ask you one other thing. Why do you say it would be a dream job? What is there about it making it so in your mind?
  6. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    Very good advice, OB.
  7. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    Ditto. I'm writing in OB on my ballot!
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I'm not running and refuse to accept if elected...lol
  9. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    Best idea I've heard during this election cycle! Best part about being in the South Pacific is lack of election coverage.
  10. ranger42c

    ranger42c Member

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    Good post, OB, thanks for taking the time to peck all that out. For such a young whipper-snapper, you do sometimes hit the mark the first time.

    Buck, it'd be good for you to come back into and continue this conversation, maybe comment back and forth on what you're hearing here. Where are you now, what do you need next, how do you get there from here. I, for one, applaud your asking that original question, and I'd like to see you decide to take this bull by the horns and get on well in the industry.

    -Chris
  11. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    If not, then get a job on a Yacht with a black owner and a black crew.
    Easy.
  12. Buck2.0.0

    Buck2.0.0 New Member

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    First, thank you OB. Your response went above what I was looking for and you've given me a lot to think about while I plan how to get my feet wet in yachting. Now with two votes in a presidential election, I think it's more than most can say :)

    Why do I want to get into boating? The idea evolved starting from a year I spent in South Florida. I came across a few "boat towns" which was a new site. I'd make it a point to show it off when giving tours to visiting friends and family. They weren't nearly as wide-eyed as I hoped. The thought of working/owning a boat stuck and never settled.

    I've been fortunate enough to travel across many countries and that bug never left. Any opportunity to venture somewhere I've never been is somewhat of a thrill. But to get paid for traveling on the open seas is a much of a fantasy as it is a fleeting. The work required is distant and I want to get rid of that.

    I'm looking forward to long, physical and unforgiving hours if it means growth - which is what I've been lacking recently.

    My answer may not be as strong as I'd like, but as with other points you've brought up, is great food for thought.

    So where do I go from here? Do I gather certifications and training? Do I go around asking for work on docks? A bit of both?

    My plan as of now is to move back down to SF, get what I need to show I'm committed (STCW 95, cert from Chapman's school, gym membership) and log as many hours at sea as I can. This is rough and malleable depending on the feedback I get.

    Thank you for all of your responses. I see my "sun varnished white faces" comment wasn't received well... It was a not very funny joke and had no negative connotations attached to it. I didn't mean to offend anyone.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
  13. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    You do realize that as crew, what you see when travelling most of the time is the marina, the restaurant closest to the marina and perhaps the island from the boat.......
  14. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    And you're too tired to enjoy those. He did indicate long, physical and unforgiving hours so he's listening.

    Your sun varnished comment indicated you saw yourself as standing out different. If you see color, others will. I'm not saying it's never an issue, but you just have to not let it be one. Just a humorous comment like that when new on a boat would get others talking. Once you've made friends with the rest of the crew and established yourself then it changes.

    STCW 95 is a great starting place and if you can just add something more to that it distinguishes you from a few other beginners. I'll mention too that Cal Maritime is near SF and that may be something you can't afford time or dollar wise, but even just their license program is a plus and their undergraduate program will jump start any career.

    Do you have any mechanical ability and/or interest? If so anything from some diesel classes to an marine engineering degree are worth consideration.

    Every bit of training and every day of work on a vessel adds to your desirability as an employee. The more you learn the further along the path you are.
  15. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Speaking of this thread. I was given a mate to run a boat for one of the largest manufacturers between 45- 100' . He works for a yacht management company full time. However, one of the head managers expressed to me how good the mate was and knowledgable, and would like to hire him full time, but just doesn't have a position open right now. The mate is Bahamian and 22 years old. So, there are opportunities and people take notice when you do your job well.
  16. Captain Zemo

    Captain Zemo Member

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    Great write up olderboater Thank You.
  17. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    One thing people fail to realize sometimes about the job market is that you're not after every job, just one. Job hunting is a bit like any sales job. In sales, you're taught each "no" brings you one step closer to a "yes." Salesmen are rejected all the time, but have the mindset to come right back with their next presentation. There is also a lot of luck involved. Timing. Think of the mate you mentioned. What if you'd just lost a mate and needed a replacement? Well, at some point, the mate will "luck" into the perfect situation but like most luck it comes as the residue of hard work. If I had a foreign flagged boat, I might be asking you for more details on that mate right now.
  18. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    He actually has a full time job working for a yacht management business.
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Yes, but he's also the type you try to hire away.
  20. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I considered it actually, but not sure I want to take on enough work to keep him busy full time. My own plate is very very full.

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