Chanel Marais

I am beyond honoured to have been nominated in this category.

Coming from a background of being a Chief Stewardess, I have hired many newbie yacht crew with no experience, as I saw an opportunity to develop them from the foundation level up. However, it was amongst these many newbie hires that I identified fundamental gaps in their knowledge and skills set that I believed should be taught during their introductory courses prior to commencing yachting.

I found that many lacked the basic knowledge or vision on the REALITY of yachting (long hours, crew politics, difficult situations with guests…) , the things few speak about because they want to convince people to invest in their courses. I also identified that they had no idea what they needed to do post their courses, and sounded like many just winged it; with many grey hairs and stress lines in tow. Their basic maritime jargon and terminologies lacked, as well as their understanding of where they fit into the hierarchy and how the departments are interlinked and should support one another.

I have always been extremely passionate about teaching, training and sharing my ever growing knowledge and skill to better those of others. I remember spending hours seeking out potential mentors in the yachting and hospitality industry to help guide me in how i can make this dream a reality, and approach it with a difference.

In 2020, I left the yachting industry for good, and decided to start Virtual Yacht Asisstant, I did not have a clear image of what it was I wanted to create but I knew I needed to have access to green yacht crew to provide them the assistance I know they needed. It took me 1.5 years, many meetings, collaborations with other academies, course designs and building to come to where I am now. I had to put my dream on hold for almost a year, as life decided to challenge me in more ways that one, but my dream didn’t die; I just picked up from where I left off and continued to march on.

As the days go by, I find more ways to better the quality of READINESS for green crew, which only gives me so much more hope that I can make a fundamental and positive impact through my interactions with these young newbies.

What do I mean by READINESS?

The guidance from the moment they hear about the yachting industry until they have climbed onboard. This includes guiding them to select courses that will add value to their CV and their future vessels, plus incorporating their budget limitations.
Helping them to understand where to dockwalk, how to stand out dockwalking, creating a Unique Selling Point (USP) and how to be authentic in their approach with everyone they meet.
I help them choose the correct country to go to, help them prepare their Professional Yacht CV’s either through guidance and templates or creating a professional Yacht CV for them.
I help them apply for Visa’s successfully, either before finding work or for the vessel they have been hired on.
I provide them a “5 day plan” which they cycle through weekly in order to have structure to their days, and provide routes and maps for them to acquaint themselves during their dockwalking in foreign countries.

I provide assistance in reading through their MCA contracts and guiding them on which vessel will be the best to select if they have been hired on more than one vessel ; in order to take advantage of the opportunities the vessel offers for further growth and support. I am their parents sound board, someone they can come to to feel at ease about setting their children off to sail around the world.

I also know that many students don’t have the necessary budgets to allow them to go oversees after having invested a-lot of money into course, so I help them identify opportunities in South Africa they can capitalise on in order to gain more experience and earn money to get their visa’s and look for work.

My mentorship routes grows daily and I am excited about the positive change I can make to everyone who crosses my path.