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Colin Schwegman, owner and instructor of Professional Yachtmaster Training (PYT) in Durban, South Africa, has opened a U.S. location, PYT USA. The first course, celestial navigation, was held in mid May with one student.
“A couple students had to drop out for work, so there’s one poor guy in there,” Schwegman said. “He’s getting a lot of direction, but his attention can’t waiver for a minute.”
PYT has been affiliated with International Yachtmaster Training Worldwide since it opened in 2000. When Ft. Lauderdale’s International Crew Training switched from the IYT curriculum to RYA last fall, that left IYT without a presence in Ft. Lauderdale.
“We have a family business,” Schwegman said. “It was very important to our credibility to say we have a partner school in Ft. Lauderdale.”
He said he plans PYT USA to grow as demand grows, and he will fly to Ft. Lauderdale to teach the courses this summer. Eventually, PYT will have other instructors, but for now, it’s a good excuse to visit his grandchildren. Both his sons, Mark and Gareth, are yacht captains, and Mark makes his home in Ft. Lauderdale.
Bosun Jens Henkel, the lone celestial navigation student, did his first courses at Schwegman’s school in Durban, and chose to continue with PYT in the U.S.
“He has a more personal teaching style,” said Henkel, who was taking the celestial navigation course for his own knowledge. “It’s more for what it is, sailing instead of superyachts. I was happy when I heard they were coming here.”
Schwegman had a career as a school teacher and principal in South Africa before starting PYT around his dining room table. His school now has a staff of 30 and offers courses year round on everything from STCW to master unlimited.
The Ft. Lauderdale location will focus on courses up to 200 tons. They will be held in a conference room that Lauderdale Marine Center.
“Instead of a dining room table, we’re starting here around a conference room table.”
For more information, visit www.pytusa.com.