The med summer is almost upon us, schedules have been finalized, charters are booked, private jets are on stand by and the Monaco GP is on. The show is definitely going on in 2021.
We have been inundated with requests for crew and are happily obliging. While many are happy to be joining new yachts, others are coming to grips with another reality. For the majority of South Africans, who account for a large percentage of the crew population. Heading to Europe to dockwalk is not an option as tourist travel is all but impossible.
Entry requirements are simple. Employed crew can apply for seafarer Schengen visas once S.E.A., boat papers and a port letter are provided by their respective employers.
This poses a dilemma: Would-be crew can’t get to the Europe without a job but also struggle to get a job unless they are in Europe. What to do?
Unfortunately we have been made aware of a solution that is being offered by some unscrupulous elements. I have spoken to a number of yacht crew who have informed me that there are a group of individuals selling fake boat papers to desperate people wanting to get to Europe in order to look for work.
What would you do? This question was posed to me by a candidate as we discussed the legal implications of taking these person up on their offer. It is of course easy for one to take the moral high ground if your livelihood is not at stake but in this case, the crewmember wasn’t so fortunate. I can imagine that the reward has outweighed the risk for more than a few.
People exploiting the uninformed and or desperate, is not a new phenomenon, but it hits close to home when yachties are exploiting their peers for profit. Seasoned yachties know the implications of going down this route, but newcomers are more easily convinced by the comforting tagline: “there is nothing to be concerned about, we’ve done this for a lot of people”. Sound familiar? Some comparisons could be drawn to the college admissions scandal that broke recently.
Writing about this won’t stop people from doing what they feel they must. I do hope that addressing the situation raises some awareness about what is happening and encourages other industry leaders to advise their clients, crew and peers to not engage.
Silver lining? Perhaps. It appears that the authorities and embassies are aware of these individuals and are taking the matter up. Hopefully this does not result in legitimate applications from crew being denied due to increased scrutiny.