At the time of writing, the UK is awaiting a government update on the extension of its nationwide lockdown status, while all around the world, there are superyachts moored up, either due to restrictions of movement or reticence on the part of their owners.
We have interviewed a number of captains about the realities of life on board a locked-down superyacht. But, much as the mainstream media have highlighted ways in which we landlubbers can put our newfound spare time to good use, a chance conversation with my fellow Superyacht UK Committee member, Chris Frisby, Director of Training and Operations at UKSA, highlighted how crew aboard static yachts can be similarly productive.
“One of best uses of time would be to spend some time creating a long-term career plan”, Frisby explains. “One of the things we find in the superyacht sector is there is very little CPD [Career Professional Development]. In our experience, crew spend up to five years dedicated to working in the industry and then go off and do something completely different, or alternatively, they do progress to Officer and then come ashore.
“I would really encourage you to spend some time setting yourself a long-term plan with goals. Especially in this current situation, there is real benefit in looking to the future as it will give you a huge sense of purpose alongside offering you some targeted goals to focus on when the current situation lifts.”
But this is no mere sales pitch. Frisby points out that, when life inevitably returns to some sense of normality, the yachts whose crew were reduced to the skeleton requirements will soon need a full complement, increasing competition within the recruitment sector.
And there will also be high demands on crew time, with this low period represents a perfect time to conquer one’s professional admin backlog, such as updating one’s training record log book, or planning one’s next professional steps with an introductory conversation with the many training providers who currently also have time on their hands.
And there is the often-overlooked but vitally important element of reviewing one’s existing training. “One of the things we find in training, centres is students have not looked at Collision Regulations or Navigation since they first trained or some have never looked at it at all. When training for Officer modules, like the Navigation and Radar course, anything you can do to study what is in the syllabus will make these courses easier and help you pass the exam.
Frisby says the sector had seen an increase in demand for captains, chief mates and officers even before the coronavirus pandemic struck. He cites the fact there is a 30% employment shortfall across the maritime industry as a whole. And while the Officer Chief Mate and Master courses have to be completed in the classroom, Frisby says diligent crew can read up on the HELM O and HELM M syllabus.
For more junior crew, there are options that can be undertaken remotely. “If you have been working as deck crew with an STCW qualification, then we would suggest you start studying for your Yacht Master Theory. You are going to need this qualification to commence your career pathway.
“If you have already completed your RYA yacht master or IYT master of Yacht Limited qualification, then a good course to complete would be the Ocean Theory course. This provides you with essential, underpinning knowledge to progress on to the Officer Courses and is also a pre-requisite to become a Chief Mate or Master.”
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