On Course: Charting a yachting career not a linear task

Nov 20, 2017 by Clive McCartney

On Course: by Clive McCartney

The dog-eared copy of the Oxford English Dictionary that sits on my bookshelf defines career as a “course through life, especially in a profession.” This implies that those of us in the middle of our career (that’s me, which is why I have a dog-eared copy and a bookshelf rather than a shiny web-enabled machine) can look back and see the waypoints that have brought us to our current position. For those at the beginning of their career, there is a need to do some passage planning for this course through the profession of yachting.

Who has a career in yachting? We can certainly say that those senior captains and engineers we see on the big yachts have a career, but what of the chefs, the pursers, the interior staff, the deck teams? What about the shipyard staff, contractors and service providers, marina staff, surveyors, chandlers, provisioners, craftsman and technicians, the payroll processors, delivery truck drivers. “It takes a village” was a phrase from an African proverb, more recently purloined by Hillary Clinton, referring to the active role played by the entire community in raising a healthy child. That expression can also be used for the many career professionals who work so hard to keep the yachts on the water, providing safe and beautiful environments for our clients while at the same time maintaining their businesses, putting food on the table and contributing to the economy of their local area.

Each of these careers has a progression of its own, including education, training, experience, and then more education, more training and more experience. There are twists and turns in any career, periods when things move fast, and other periods when they move ahead more slowly. More often than not, the passage planning for these courses of a career will require modification – taking a year off to care for a sick mother, or to raise a child; or an economic change that affects the job where you are gaining career experience.

A career is not a straight line. Yes, it is likely that the talented deckhand who works hard will become a bosun, will become a mate and then ultimately a captain, moving up in tonnage as he gains more experience. What happens when the captain comes ashore – is his previous education, training and experience wasted? No, he will likely move into a new career that builds on what he has gained from that previous education, training and experience. How many of us know of former crew now sitting at the helms of businesses in the area, providing that much-needed support to the industry.

How do we plot the course of our career? A few brief thoughts:

  • Take an interest in your own education and training. Don’t take a job that doesn’t provide for professional development. Find out what qualifications you need for the next level in your career, and don’t necessarily rush into getting the qualification just because you can – plan the education alongside the training and experience.
  • Find a mentor; be a mentor – a biblical principle demonstrated by Moses and Joshua, Paul and Timothy.
  • Don’t fret about the slow times or stress about the fast changes; these are all part of your career growth. Make a plan for the next step.
  • When a major course change happens, do a quick self-check of how your previous education, training and experience is helping you. Make sure that you are looking for the next opportunity for development.

Clive McCartney is vice president of maritime operations and business development at Bluewater Management & Crew Training USA in Fort Lauderdale. Comments are welcome below..