Setting Sail for Success: How Sail Training opens doors to new career opportunities
We often hear the phrase, "If you apply yourself, you can achieve great things." Yet, for some of us, the journey to discovering our full potential is anything but straightforward. My own story is a testament to the transformative power of unexpected opportunities.
As a student, I left school with a handful of GCSEs. I was the student teachers believed had potential if I applied myself. However, life took me on a different path, and I found myself working various jobs in the service industry, primarily in restaurants and catering. My future seemed set in this world of hospitality until a chance conversation turned my life in a different direction.
Someone suggested that I consider enrolling in college to study outdoor leisure. This advice led me to take a bold step, applying for a Higher National Diploma (HND) program at 26. Little did I know that this decision would lead me on an incredible journey. That journey included a life-changing opportunity – a Sail Training trip. What happened next altered the trajectory of my life in unimaginable ways.
Sail Training has the incredible ability to unveil career paths and opportunities that may have remained hidden from view. Just as it transformed my own life, it holds the potential to propel young people onto a path they once considered beyond their wildest dreams. One shining example of this transformative power can be found in the results of our 2017 ASPIRE360 Round Britain Challenge, a statistic that fills us with immense pride: an astounding 60% of the participants from that event have since ventured into Marine Careers!
For those who don’t know, Sail Training, at its core, is a unique educational and personal development experience that combines the art of sailing with a profound focus on character growth and skill acquisition. It brings together individuals from diverse backgrounds and provides them with the opportunity to learn the ropes of sailing on traditional or modern vessels while fostering teamwork, leadership, and personal growth. The primary objectives of Sail Training include developing soft skills, building self-confidence, and inspiring a lifelong passion for the sea. As you delve into Sail Training, you'll discover it's all about unlocking your full potential.
Sail Training is a voyage of discovery in every sense of the word. Beyond the nautical skills it imparts, it has a remarkable way of broadening horizons and opening participants' eyes to a world of new and exciting possibilities. As participants take on various roles aboard the vessel, they often discover untapped talents and abilities. Whether navigating, hoisting sails, managing meal preparation or baking bread, Sail Training encourages individuals to explore their potential and develop new skills.
The remarkable thing about Sail Training is that the journey itself becomes a catalyst for unexpected career aspirations. It's not merely a means to an end; it's an experience that opens participants' eyes to a world of opportunities they might never have envisioned or even knew existed.
It introduces participants to skilled and experienced sailors, many of whom have embarked on remarkable maritime careers. The interaction with these role models can inspire participants to follow in their footsteps, whether as professional sailors, engineers, riggers, sailmakers, or any of the hundreds of other potential career paths.
One of Morvargh’s key objectives is: “To advance the education and training of young people in Sail Training, Seamanship, and Navigation”. By far, the best method of this is through our volunteers.
Volunteering in maritime organisations offers a hands-on experience that is both fulfilling and instrumental in launching a career in the marine industry.
Volunteering allows individuals to gain practical, on-the-job experience in various aspects of maritime operations, including tasks like boat maintenance, marine engineering, navigation, and safety procedures. The hands-on nature of the work provides an opportunity to develop essential skills highly relevant to maritime careers.
At the heart of our volunteer community, there's a remarkable story that fills us with immense pride. One of our dedicated volunteers embarked on a voyage with us at age 14, ultimately joining as a volunteer, giving her time and passion back to others. This has led her to become the Chief Instructor of Fowey Gallants Sailing Club in 2024! Exemplifying the power of volunteering and her journey is a testament to the transformative impact of Sail Training.
These maritime career paths, each with its qualifications and opportunities, highlight the diverse options available to those who have experienced Sail Training. Whether you are drawn to ship maintenance, skippering vessels, or gaining practical experience through apprenticeships, Sail Training serves as a springboard to embark on a fulfilling maritime career in various roles. These listed below are only the tip of the iceberg!
Starting your own business
When Alice was nine years old, her parents bought a 22ft sailing boat; although not quite Sail Training, the parallels are 100% same.
It was squashed, wet, exhilarating, and my sister hated it. My mum and my brother got seasick, which left me and Dad. I bloomin’ loved it! The adventure, the energy of the sea and the weather, the physical challenges involved. Sailing had got into my blood, and it was there to stay. Alice Crews
Alice completed A-levels, and then, she knew there was only one route for her. A BSc in Ocean Science with Navigation at the University of Plymouth. She decided to work ashore and became a Yacht Broker (a person who sells boats) with the largest brokerage network in Europe. After working in Chandlers, she managed another chart distribution company before stretching out independently. She now owns her own business, Crews Navigation, in Plymouth, which we happily use for all our Charts and Books!
One of the promising maritime career paths that Sail Training can lead to is marine engineering. Sail Training participants often gain a hands-on understanding of ship maintenance and repair during their voyages. This experience equips them with knowledge of ship systems and mechanics, which can serve as a strong foundation for a career in marine engineering. These professionals are responsible for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of vessels. Their expertise includes maintaining the ship's engines, electrical systems, and mechanical components. A background in Sail Training can provide a practical edge in this field and lead to opportunities in shipyards, cruise lines, and maritime maintenance companies.
Becoming a Paid Skipper
For those who fall in love with sailing during their Sail Training experience, the path to becoming a paid skipper or a professional captain might be the realisation of a lifelong dream. Sail Training imparts the essential sailing skills, seamanship, and navigation knowledge for this role. To pursue a career as a sailing captain, individuals must typically complete additional training and gain experience through certifications such as the RYA Day Skipper and RYA Yachtmaster. Becoming a paid skipper offers the opportunity to lead sailing expeditions, charters, or even work on private yachts, combining a passion for sailing with a rewarding career.
If you have Sail Training experience and intend to continue a career working in UK Sail Training, Trinity House, a major maritime charity, can help. They are engaged in the welfare of mariners, education and training, promoting safety at sea, and their role as a Deep Sea Pilotage Authority. Trinity House generously supports ASTO (Association of Sail Training Organisations) member organisations by providing substantial funding for bursaries to their Sail Training staff and volunteers who wish to become qualified mates and skippers. More information can be found here: https://uksailtraining.org/training/trinity-house/
Apprenticeships offer a unique entry point into the maritime industry. Sail Training often fosters a strong foundation in teamwork, leadership, and the core principles of seamanship. This makes participants prime candidates for maritime apprenticeships, encompassing a wide range of roles, from deckhand and sailmaker to marine technician. Apprenticeships provide hands-on training, mentorship, and the opportunity to earn while learning. They are a practical way to deepen understanding of the maritime field, leading to skilled and specialised roles within the industry.
Plymouth based SeaRegs Training offers several maritime apprenticeships to give individuals the skills and qualifications needed for a career in the maritime sector. Apprentices work for and are paid by an employer who registers for the scheme, SeaRegs may be able to assist in finding an employer. The training lasts between 18 months and two years, during which time an apprentice will spend 80% of their time working for their employer and 20% undergoing week-long blocks of structured training with SeaRegs, both afloat and ashore. You can get more information here: https://searegs.co.uk/apprenticeships/
Cornwall Marine Academy has gained an excellent track record of delivering industry-led programmes, including career advice, taster sessions, employability skills, work placements at Marine businesses’ premises, industry-recognised vocational qualifications, 1:1 mentoring and group work and training embedded into the school curriculum. You can get more information here: https://cornwallmarineacademy.co.uk/learners
We are fortunate to call Fowey Harbour our home, and it always amazes us how many diverse careers there are locally. Although a relatively small group of just over 30 staff, the range of qualifications and experience between them is sizeable and diverse. There are a range of duties undertaken in the Harbour, and no day is ever the same on the water!
In Fowey, they support commercial shipping by providing tugs and pilot boats and their crews to bring ships, including cruise ships, into Fowey, but they also work in Plymouth and Falmouth and have teams of engineers and shipwrights to maintain their vessels. The marine leisure sector is supported by staff who maintain the moorings and facilities, launch and recover boats, and the Harbour Patrol and staff in the Harbour Office who interact with customers and ensure safety afloat.
Some of their tug skippers and engineers have gained maritime qualifications from their time at sea, either in the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy, but there are also routes into the commercial part of the sector via Marine Apprenticeships. On the opposite end of the scale, some of the team have started with little or no maritime experience and have gained their skills and experience through training courses and working on the job.
Sail Training can be the inspiration for a career in the diverse maritime industry. In fact, Fowey’s Harbour Master and Marine Pilot, Captain Paul Thomas, started his maritime career spending his summer holidays on a sail training vessel in the Solent. He later joined the Royal Navy and made his way up the ranks, culminating in commanding the naval frigate HMS Sutherland!
It's incredible how one introduction can change the course of our lives. My own journey into Sail Training was set in motion by a single invitation from a friend who saw potential in me that I hadn't yet realised. They encouraged me to embark on a life-changing voyage, and it was an invitation that I accepted with both excitement and uncertainty. Little did I know that this one opportunity would serve as the catalyst for a remarkable transformation. That voyage opened doors I didn't know existed, unveiled talents I had yet to discover, and set me on a trajectory I could have never foreseen. It's a testament to the power of encouragement and mentorship in Sail Training – one person's invitation can lead to a lifetime of unforeseen possibilities.
The careers outlined here are just a tiny glimpse of the endless possibilities that await those who embark on this journey. So, if you've ever considered stepping onto the deck of a sailing vessel (why not check out our sailing trips) or volunteering in a maritime organisation, I encourage you to seize the opportunity. Take that first step, set sail, and explore the countless maritime careers and passions that might be waiting for you just over the horizon.
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain