Case studies

Finlay Wyeth Bell

“The fact that the Cadetship will support me all the way through until I am an Office of the Watch is amazing”

19-year-old Finlay Bell grew up in Gurnard, near Cowes, on the Isle of Wight.  Living by the sea gave him plenty of opportunity to embrace his love of watersports and this passion was also influenced by his grandad, a professional sailor who captained lots of different vessels. 

In year 10 at school, Finlay decided he wanted to pursue a further education course which would provide him with a structured pathway into a maritime career. He chose to enrol onto UKSA’s two-year Maritime Advanced Programme, the NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Physical Outdoor Pathway, and hoped to follow straight on into UKSA’s cadetship programme.

“I heard about the cadetship programme through family and friends, and some big names in the industry guided me towards UKSA also, which gave me confidence in their capability to teach me and assist in making my goal a career. The UKSA cadetship is a brilliant choice if you want a lifetime career in the industry.”

Finn goes on to explain :

“The course works around the candidates giving you options as to when you decide to take part in the next phase(s) and this makes it a lot easier to climb up the ranks as you can pretty much advance whenever works best for you, obviously once completing the needed sea time etc. So, the fact the cadetship will support me all the way through until I am an Officer of the Watch is amazing.”

Finn was fortunate enough to be accepted for UKSA funding for a big proportion of his course fees, his sponsors were The Olesinksi Cadetship Fund, The TK Foundation and The Seafarers Charity Fund.

“The funding has helped me out massively. An indescribable amount. I simply would not have been able to afford to take part in the course. I cannot thank my sponsors enough for all the funding they have provided me with. I am forever thankful and if fortunate enough, I will be paying it forward.”

The cadetship syllabus contains many different elements and students have to commit to a busy daily schedule.

“My typical day at UKSA would vary depending on what was on the timetable it could be anything from firefighting for the STCW qualification to sailing across to France to gain sea miles for the Yachtmaster qualification.” Finn explains.

“Describing a typical day is almost impossible as UKSA had obviously prioritised packing the maximum into the cadetship. I really appreciate this and think it doesn’t just minimise wasted time, it also prepares us for the busy lifestyle when working on super yachts.”

The Industry Guidance Team at UKSA really helped Finn work on his networking skills. “I feel my networking has improved massively and think in any industry this skill is good to have but definitely in yachting. Emailing captains and having interviews with them while at UKSA has been so helpful for me.”

Finn quickly realised that many of the qualifications he was working towards required a high level of theory-based knowledge.

“I have never been a fan of being stuck in a classroom, or having to spend time inside revising so this element of the course was challenging for me. But because it was something I cared about and wanted the knowledge for, it made achieving those goals extremely motivating, so inspired me to knuckle down and revise properly. I quickly learned how to take in information and apply it through theory“ he confirmed.

Gaining his RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualification was a great personal achievement for Finn.

“It was not an easy qualification to gain and has taken lots of hard work and long nights sailing and revising. I have learnt a heap of life skills and practical/theory skills that I will treasure throughout my career.  I can now actually skipper a boat!”

Finn graduates at the beginning of February and starts his first job as a deckhand just a week later.  His flights are booked and he’s heading off to Itay to work on board a 37m ketch rigged 1939 classic superyacht.

“I got the job through the industry guidance team at UKSA, the boat were looking for a deckhand and they put me forward for interview” he grins. “We’ve got two captains, two deckhands, two stews and one chef. There’s no engineer and it will be a full-on role, but I will learn a lot. Hopefully, I will do that for a year then come back to UKSA and do my phase three of the cadetship.”

He has some advice for those just starting their cadetship in March.  “Keep going and don’t get overwhelmed. Take it day by day and try not to overthink all the qualifications that have to be done throughout the five months.”

And as he departs UKSA to fly out to Italy, Finlay leaves us with these final words:

“My long-term aspiration is to work my way up the ranks in the yachting industry enjoying my time as I climb. I believe and aspire to be a superyacht captain. I think it will be an amazing job and with enough hard work I believe I will get there.”

Share your #SeaChangeStories

You can share your #SeaChangeStories across social media, please email us with your story and remember to send us your photos too.