Case studies

Lisa James

Superyacht Deckhand

A love of the ocean to a career in the superyacht industry

If you enjoy the water, adventure and want to travel the world, UKSA’s Superyacht Crew Training course is an ideal starting point for a quick entry to a career on the water. You will receive tuition from instructors who have worked in the industry and the course will provide all the training you need to apply for your first job as a deckhand or crew member. The modular courses at UKSA throughout the year mean you can return later to get additional qualifications to further your career.

With a huge love of the ocean, a dad who was an RNLI lifeboat helmsman for 20 years, and a background in Surf Life Saving at a national level, it’s hardly surprising Lisa James set off on a mission to have a career working in maritime.

I decided to come to UKSA rather than take up my Uni place

Lisa, who is 22 and was studying Paramedic Science in London before coming to UKSA, tells the story of her amazing progression from full-time RNLI Beach Lifeguard on the coast of Ceredigion, Wales, to Deck/Stew. She now works on-board a 34m sailing superyacht based in the South of France: “After studying I was offered a University place but decided to come to UKSA instead. I had zero sailing experience before coming to UKSA so was thrilled to leave with basic knowledge and skills to enter the industry. I couldn’t be happier in my role thanks to UKSA getting me to where I am today.

“I had zero sailing experience before coming to UKSA so was thrilled to leave with basic knowledge and skills to enter the industry.”

I loved to travel and the yachting industry was always at the back of my mind

 I had always had the yachting industry at the back of my mind whilst working seasonally and travelling during the winter months. I researched different relevant courses and UKSA was the one that stood out most to me. I returned from my travels in Indonesia in time to start the course as I wanted to have a career ladder to climb and eventually complete my Officer of the Watch modules.

A helping hand from the Noel Lister Foundation

I was fortunate enough to get 80% of my course funded by the Noel Lister memorial fund as my dad had been an RNLI volunteer. The bursary is a great way to help complete your courses and get into the industry if you haven’t got private funds.

I joined the course in February and qualified and transferred to my first role in France fairly quickly. In a month, I learnt so much about things I wouldn’t have known before such as product knowledge, knots and most of all, sailing. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and would recommend it to anyone who is looking at going down the deck route of the industry. The teachers are from the yachting industry and are very skilled with a wealth of knowledge and they make learning fun. My favourite part of the course was, without doubt, the competent crew bit. The sailing was great and I learnt a lot of different seamanship skills.

My top tips for anyone wanting to do a crew training course at UKSA

Top tip for students: Consider which role in the industry you’d like and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, especially the girls that want to get on deck in the industry. Enjoy every moment you’re given, make new friends, network and work hard. It’s all worth it in the end. And, I highly recommend students get a good pair of thermals before starting the course; the Solent training ground takes no prisoners!”

More information on the Superyacht Crew Training course Lisa completed:

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