The Crew Report: Why Unlimited? There are 34 yachts on the water with a gross tonnage larger than 3,000gt, and just four in build – that’s a mere one per cent of the database. (Source: SuperyachtIntelligence.com)
Captain Malcolm Jacotine: It’s true. It is a rarefied market and the cost of doing the Unlimited ticket is high. There are a couple of fortunate captains in the industry who are being sponsored by their owners to do this qualification, but if you do it on your own you have to take into account the loss of earnings for a year and how quickly you can find a new position after completion of your Chief Mate. Plus there are all the associated costs of actually going to do the course – the course fees, the books, the accommodation, the travel. It all adds up. However, my belief was that there are yachts that, due to their size, would benefit from having a captain with a combination of years of yachting experience and a commercial Unlimited ticket.
TCR: And why Australia? Why not stay at home and obtain your certificate with the MCA?
MJ: With the MCA, after your Chief Mate Unlimited, you would have needed to get 18 months of sea time before qualifying for your Master Unlimited orals; with AMSA you only need to do 12 months. However, although AMSA requires less sea time, it does require you to do it on a vessel over 3,000gt (there is a plan to change this with a rewrite of Marine Order MO3 and reduce it to 500gt in line with STCW). The MCA, on the other hand, requires the sea time to be on a commercial vessel over 24m or 80gt, under MGN 92 (M). So, doing the qualification with AMSA, I had to go back as a chief mate on a vessel over 3,000gt to get my qualifying sea time and that was a bit more difficult and of course the lower salary added to the overall cost, but I think the way I did it benefited me. Ultimately, my goal is to command a vessel over 3,000gt and so my experiences on Katara and Eclipse have provided me with a much better understanding of how those boats are operated and managed.
TCR: Obviously the course to get your Master Unlimited is a long one. Do you feel now, three years after you began the course, that it was the right choice and there are the same options available to you that you expected now you’ve completed it?
MJ: Yes, I believe it was the right choice at the time and I remain confident that there are opportunities out there for someone with my experience and qualification. However, with hindsight, it is not a journey I would recommend lightly, and anyone considering following the same path and improving their knowledge, qualifications and employment prospects should really understand the costs involved and their ultimate goal; after all, you can have an amazing career in yachting without having to exceed the 3,000gt limitation.
Find the full interview with Captain Jacotine in issue 67 of The Crew Report – click here to download.