Growing up inland of South Africa, I didn’t know anything about the yachting industry, till I came across an article in a magazine. So, one of my triplet brothers and I put our savings together to give yachting a shot. That’s how the adventure of yachting started for me in 1999.
The starting point was Antibes, France. The first challenge was learning new English vocabulary and speaking a second language (English) properly, apart from looking for that first opportunity of employment.
In my first year (1999 at the age of 22) I only found daywork opportunities but gained experience working on yachts.
In my second year (2000) I got my first opportunity as a crewmember on a busy charter yacht in the position as Steward with guest onboard and Deckhand when no guests were on. I stayed with the vessel for 5 years, took my opportunities to gain knowledge and attend courses and left 2005 for my first position as a Captain.
During the last 20 years in yachting I have had the opportunity to work 10 years for a family over a 15-year period. Skippered yachts for ex-charter clients. Had return charter clients annually and following me to different vessels. At the same time, I managed to learn a 3rd language fairly well (French) and, took the chances of being based close to home, raising my two wonderful children.
Throughout my career I managed numerous refits and surveys (only working on commercial yachts), some alone and some with a management company involved. Once I had to jump in at the deep facing a five years survey on a twenty year old vessel, after just a one-day handover and no planning or booking of a yard. Those are the challenges on which one grows, aren’t they?
I have seen crew, that started with me in their first season, climbing the career ladder themselves and always took pride in supporting them, leading by example and sharing my knowledge wherever and whenever needed. And I wouldn’t support just the obvious career paths, but rather the best fit for my individuals working alongside me. So, I saw an initial chef becoming Captain, a stewardess becoming Chief Engineer but also deckhands becoming Captains and am proud to say, that a fair amount of them still would love to work with me. I love the cultural diversity which one creates in a mixed crew and the pleasures and challenges of those.