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Whatever floats your boat: Yacht Operations

Whatever floats your boat: Yacht Operations

‘Knowing the ropes’ has entered popular parlance as a metaphor for acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to do a job. It comes directly from sailing, particularly the days of tall ships when a deck hand had to master the complex arrangement of ropes and pulleys on a particular vessel. Knowing which one did what was crucial to the ship and crew’s welfare and navigation.

These days large boats are generally less complicated in their ropework but much more complicated in other areas, like propulsion systems, advanced materials and modern navigation equipment. So ‘knowing the ropes’ now covers a lot more bases.

Some people have the sea in their blood. Those who do, and can find a way of making a living in marine pursuits, can live the dream. Whether it’s being a deck hand on a pleasure cruiser or a team captain on a racing yacht, they will never be far from the salty air and the crack of a sail or the throb of a marine engine.

But unless you’re into rowing an outrigger round an isolated Pacific island, marine is an industry just like any other. Jobs are available, and there are corresponding hurdles to jump over to get them. A good way to secure a career in the yachting industry is to take an industry-specific course, like South Devon College’s two-year foundation degree in Yacht Operations. That course combines recognised practical qualifications with academic study and prepares students for careers within the marine sector.

As an example of how hands-on South Devon College’s course is, the practical elements take place at South Devon Marine Academy with access to over 20 boats, including two 38-foot yachts (a Sigma and a Beneteau.)

On the qualifications side, within the course itself students have the opportunity to gain RYA (Royal Yachting Association) and MCA (Marine and Coastguard Agency) qualifications like Yachtmaster, Coastal Skipper, and VHF/DSC Operator’s Licence. Upon completion, this foundation degree leads on to fuller degrees like the BSc (Hons) Navigation & Maritime Science at Plymouth University.