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Inside the World of Yachting: Exclusive Interview From Crew Member Turned Crew Agent Jessica-Thomas Green.

Hello Everyone,

This is the first in a series of many interviews with experienced yacht crew, sharing their experiences and thoughts on the yachting industry, its progression and what we as crew can do to enhance the industry.

Jessica Thomas- Green- Founder of Hello Sailor Crew

A lady in front of yachts
Jessica Thomas-Green- Founder Hello Sailor

"Hi Jessica, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, can you start by telling me a little about yourself?"

"First I want to say thank you for arranging this interview, Mel. I know when I was thinking about leaving yachts I found it interesting to read what other ex-yachties ended up doing, so I hope to inspire some of your readers, or at least provide an interesting blog entry."

"So my name is Jessie, I am in my early thirties, and I am the founder of Hello Sailor, the first crew agency for sailing yachts only. I am from the South coast of the UK, but I now live in Mallorca with my husband, our baby boy and our rescue dog Bailey."

"Oh wow, a baby boy, a Dog and a new business, you're a busy woman. How long did you work onboard and what type of yachts did you work on?"

"I worked on yachts for about 11 years altogether, always on sailing yachts. I worked on a beautiful classic yacht, a high-performance ketch, a 43m Vitters build superyacht, a catamaran, a J-class and an Oyster 82. I was lucky enough to experience working onboard some amazing boats, and a real variety of S/Ys. I got to travel to the Pacific, NZ, Central America and Scandinavia, as well as spending plenty of time in the Caribbean and the Med - it was fantastic."

"That's a fantastic range of yachts, I'm a real lover of classic yachts personally. Travelling is such a huge benefit of working onboard, What prompted you to go shoreside and how did you find the transition?"

"I left yachting just before I turned 30. I had experienced the death of a close family member recently, and I had an ongoing health issue that I really had to commit to getting fixed, so it was just the right time. My boyfriend at the time (now husband), who I was working with, agreed. The transition was hard in a way as we left yachting in February 2020 - not the best time to find land jobs! However, we were able to pick up some freelance yacht work and deliveries, which tied us over nicely. We also loved living in an actual house and not working crazy yachting hours."

"Then I became a recruitment consultant, gained some experience in this area and opened Hello Sailor a few months ago. Oh, and we moved to Mallorca, got married, took on a big house renovation, adopted a rescue dog and had a baby - it’s been a busy, but great, few years!"

"My advice to anyone looking to move ashore would be to get a dog, as then you can’t leave them to go and work on yachts again, and you’ll be so attached to them that you wouldn’t want to anyway."

"Working away can make family situations that little bit harder, it's great you had a good support system with your husband. I've always said the first thing I'll do when I go shoreside is to get a Dog. I love them. "

" It’s fantastic you have created a crew agency solo for sailing yacht crew, what was your inspiration for this?"

"Thank you, Mel! When I worked for my previous company, we set up a sailing yacht department, with myself at the helm (excuse the pun), and it had a great reception. So setting up a sailing yacht-only agency seemed like a natural progression for me, and when the name Hello Sailor popped into my mind I just had to take the plunge."

"Plenty of S/Y captains are excited to have a crew agency dedicated to their needs: sailing yacht crew need a whole set of specific skills, with even stewardesses needing to know how to stow the interior to allow for heeling over, for example.

Sailing yacht crew also tend to have a slightly different attitude from their motoryacht counterparts - they have a real love of the ocean and of working onboard yachts. "

"Since I have worked on deck, in the interior and the galley on so many sailing yachts, I understand what captains and HODs are looking for in their crew, and what S/Y crew are looking for in their next role. "

"There are so many brilliant motor yacht recruiters and crew agencies out there, and there are dedicated chef and masseuse/personal trainer agencies, so I’m glad to be adding to the crew agency lineup with a new concept."

"I couldn't agree with you more, there is something special about sailors, the crew dynamic is much stronger in my experience. There was a gap in the recruitment market for a Sailor to recruit for sailing yachts."

"Aside from specialising in sailing yachts, what else would you say sets Hello Sailor apart?"

"There are a few values that I am trying to uphold with Hello Sailor.

Firstly, I try to reply to all crew that send their CVs over, even if just to let them know that I have received their CV and it is on the database. It takes forever but I know how demoralising it is to be sending your CV off and getting no replies from agents or captains - I’ve been there, and I see you, green crew!"

"Secondly, I am trying my hardest to promote equality during the recruitment process. It seems that the industry is making strides towards gender equality onboard - I work with more and more captains who don’t care if their deckhand is female or their interior crew are male, which is fantastic. Plenty of yachts see the value in a more mature crew, also, although age is still unfortunately a restricting factor. "

"Sadly, however, so many captains still ask for native English-speaking crew, and it can be tricky to place crew who aren’t from the West, or even just from UK/Ireland/Australia/NZ/Canada. Personally one of the things I loved most about working on yachts was the cultural exchange that occurs from working with people from all around the world. If a land-based company put a job advert specifying ‘native English speakers preferred’ they’d be crucified - and rightly so! Of course, the owner’s preferences are final, which makes it tricky to change this, but I find that putting forward candidates who match every requirement except the ‘native English speaking’ caveat often results in the captain considering these candidates and sometimes hiring them."

"There are some great initiatives out there making strides in terms of things like crew mental health and environmentally friendly cleaning products, so I am hoping to contribute to the modernisation of the yachting industry by promoting equality in the recruitment process."

"When I think of the crew I've worked with up until this point in my career, so many of them English has not been their first language and for me, it doesn't matter, if anything I think it makes a crew better.

"Thirdly, I made a pledge when I started Hello Sailor to give 5% of our monthly income to Yachting Gives Back, a brilliant charity here in Mallorca that helps out disadvantaged people on the island. Surrounded by glitzy super yachts in the marinas here, it can be easy to forget that there is a huge wealth divide in Mallorca. Yachting Gives Back aims to address this by donating money and items to charities that support the homeless, addicts and disadvantaged families."

"Wow, that is remarkable, is there anything you aren't doing? Yachting Gives Back is such a worthy cause to support, Mallorca is a place loved by so many yacht crews, it's vital we give back to the local communities. "

"From my understanding, the process of setting up a crew agency isn’t easy; how did you find it?"

"It’s certainly not something I would have done without having plenty of yachting and crew recruitment experience. You do need to be meticulous, organised, hard-working, computer literate and a spreadsheet fanatic! As a Spanish resident, there was also a lot of bureaucracy and accounting stuff for me to wade through. I enjoyed the creative process of setting up the website and social media, though. I procrastinate by spending a long time making pretty social media posts now!"

"Procrastination and website design go hand in hand for me, I spent so much time on mine and I am still thinking of ways to improve it. Working onboard yachts sets you up with a variety of transferable skills, that can be used in any other industry."

"What advice would you give someone trying to break into the yachting industry?"

"That is such a good question. Honestly, I would say that the best thing an aspiring crewmember can do is to upskill before applying to yachts. Don’t get sucked into paying €€€s for an ‘interior course’ or a ‘deckhand course’, however - spend a couple of years working in a luxury hotel or restaurant, learning to cook, doing an engineering diploma or learning to sail or improving your sailing. "

"This is what will give you the best chance of breaking into the industry, along with of course writing a proper superyacht CV (head and shoulders photo and DOB, people!), doing your ENG1 and STCW, and heading out to Antibes or Palma in spring/autumn."

"A good CV is so important, it was one of my first blog topics because you can be a great candidate for a job but if your CV isn't polished you can say goodbye to getting that job."

"I love your S/Y of the Day feature on your Instagram feed, do you have a favourite you have sailed?"

"I love all of the yachts I have sailed and worked on for different reasons, but I would probably have to say that in terms of sailing enjoyment, S/Y Nariida (the 100ft Wally ketch) is up there. She sails particularly well, the owner loves to sail her hard, and there was just a great atmosphere onboard - the whole crew really helped each other out, with the captain joining the deck crew chamois-ing each morning. Each crew member turned down a cabin when guests were onboard and the chef/stew was busy cooking."

A Girl Sailing
Jessica Whilst Working Onboard

"That's how a good Crew should be on a boat that size. Sy Nariida is stunning and in fantastic condition for her age. "

"My Final question is, Jessica if there was one yacht, you’d love to sail on but haven’t yet, what would it be?"

"Oh, there are SO MANY! I would love to race onboard a J-Class during a regatta, I would love to hop onboard a Gunboat or a big ketch like Hetairos or Elfje for a crossing, and of course, I’d love to hitch a ride onboard one of the MOD70s just to see what they are like."

"Those are great choices, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me Jessica, it's been a pleasure to get an insight into Hello Sailor and its foundations. I've experienced first-hand the high-quality level of crew you place onboard yachts as you recently found my crew a fantastic new Second Engineer/ Officer who was the perfect fit for our team. "

Thanks for reading the first of shapedbythesea's insight interviews, please go and check out, or Instagram @hellosailorcrew, for the latest jobs, career advice and sailing superyacht content. Take a few minutes to visit the Yachting Gives Back Facebook page.
I'm very excited about this new sector of shapedbythesea, If you're a yachtie reading this and there is a crew member, agent, captain or company you'd like to read about drop me a PM at @shapedbythesea_ on Instagram.

As always, keep smiling, laughing and loving the Sea.

Mel Xo

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