I’ve had some great conversations lately with ETOs looking to join the Yachting industry from various backgrounds, many of them have transferable skills which would be highly sought after on superyachts. I asked experienced ETO Jameel ‘Jimmy’ Rahaman to share his story about how he got started, and to provide some pointers to those considering making the move.
Name: Jameel Rahaman a.k.a. Jimmy
Qualification: CCNA, MCSE, MCSA, A+, N+, Security+, Studies in Information Sciences
When and how did you realise you wanted to become an ETO?
- After my studies in British Columbia, Canada, I returned shoreside to Trinidad & Tobago working for the largest conglomerate in the Caribbean known as the Neal and Massy group of companies. The experience gleaned from my years there cannot be overstated, but there was always a sense of fulfilment missing, an urge to explore, to push boundaries and carve before me an exciting life vs the monotony that tends to become you behind a desk. I would boldly say that the ‘Dream’ to which many believe a fallacy is what ultimately drove my decision making and eventual success in a somewhat unforgiving industry. Be the master of your fate.
How did you decide which route to go down in order to gain experience?
- This was no easy task. I began as a volunteer aboard the S/V Roseway run by the World Ocean School. Here we taught children the art of sailing around the island of St. Croix [USVI]; despite this being an unpaid position we were happy as a crew, but I knew that this would be a short-lived position having set my sights further afield. After spending six-months aboard the Roseway I returned to the shores of St. Maarten to look for day-work and begin working my way into the yachting community. I often offered help free of charge in the way of PC/Laptop repair, troubleshooting the servers of crew agencies, marina offices – Even something as simple as helping a Captain get the hang of his new phone. One hand doesn’t clap - you keep that in mind and you are well on your way to a promising start, everyone loves a smiling face with an outstretched helping hand.
How did you first hear about yachts and what made you decide this was the path for you?
- I spent much of my childhood, sailing small vessels such as Lasers and 420’s. I was a member of the 1st Presentation Sea Scouts for seven years. We often rowed old-school clinker-built pirogues on the King’s Wharf in Trinidad; racing, swimming and diving by the wrecks being the most frequent activities. Having this extensive exposure to boating kindled in me the desire to pursue more of the same, one may argue, deeper concentrations of such as it were.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when getting started in the industry?
- This would surely be that of finding a way to stand out among the plethora of yachties already fighting tooth and nail to secure their own spot aboard the next vessel hiring. You should always be willing [within reason of course] and remember to keep yourself in that state of perpetual learning. Very few of my family members were supportive of my endeavour into yachting and some would go as far to jest at my expense, I have learned that it is within the walls that hope to bind you. Finally - Humility, this is more important than most realise and is required even more so in conflict. Be the good lad.
How did you get your first yachting job?
- Day-work. I was up at ‘Smilers’ crew-house in SXM at the break of dawn (well ok, maybe 07:15) I was there with CV’s in hand and showing I was eager to offer help to anyone who even seemed remotely interested to be honest. In this industry, like many others the key is to stay hungry!
What’s your best yachting memory and why?
- My fondest memory would have to be that of my first great storm. Leaving Gibraltar, headed for Cape Verde. We were forced to leave the safety of GIB as the port authority would not tolerate us riding the storm out in the channel and we were unable to remain alongside on account of our fenders popping like balloons with our fairing taking the brunt of the damage against the quay. Unfortunately that storm rode us down to Cape Verde. For three days we suffered 9 metre waves and 80 knots of wind with gusts up to 120! The bridge wings have been breached and the sea water was covering our ankles. The Captain is not batting an eyelid but holding his own. We were heeling so badly I felt as though I had to constantly adjust my body to lean port or starboard just to stay oriented to some degree. Then to make matters worse, blackout! Deadship in the middle of the ocean and waves are having their way with us. At this stage our heeling angle is simply ridiculous for our vessel and some were bracing for that moment we would actually capsize. We had only restored power briefly before we suffered another blackout which as it would turn out be seven in total! Now, why is this my favourite memory? The way we came together as a crew behind our Captain, acting as one to overcome this storm under these frightful conditions was nothing short of astonishing. I shall always feel well grounded in any situation and I mean ANY situation as a result of the events that took place during that 72 hour period. It’s worth adding that once we made it to Cape Verde we all sat at the local pub that evening in silence, having our first pint across from one another. It felt, in a word... triumphant!
What do you like most about your job?
- I love constantly being challenged, better still, the act of overcoming them day after day. It is truly a satisfying feeling to bring calm to someone or a group of people who may otherwise feel flustered or panicked and you simply being good at your job makes all right in the world once more for a brief a moment.
Any huge disasters whilst on-board? If so, did you manage to pull it back?
- The most daunting task I had been faced with was the essential refit of the AVIT system on an 80m in 36 hours from scratch, before sailing to take a charter for a fortnight. I am pretty sure I pulled every trick in the book and then some to get this done.
What bit of kit couldn’t you live without?
- My grab bag. That’s an article all on its own but here’s a brief overview; BAHCO ratchet set, a good power tool with shaft extensions – don’t forget to keep extra batteries for it in the side pockets, 3M velcro, wire terminals [variety of sizes but smaller than not], drop-cloth and last but not least your multimeter!
What’s the best thing about working on a Superyacht?
- The friendships that you forge.
- The exposure to environments and situations that keep you on your toes forcing you to sharpen your mind to stay in the game.
- Experiencing the culture richness of yachting itself whether it be from your crew or the places you visit.
Where is the best place you have visited?
- I have to say that Argentina and Greece are my favourites. I have been from the Galapagos to the Maldives to Thailand and yet there is an uncanny charm to both Argentina and Greece that you only discover at length. To truly get my meaning you will need to let these places envelop you. Done right, you’ll emerge smiling with the morning sun, bursting at the seams with stories for your mates back home.
What advice would you give someone starting out as an ETO in the industry?
- Stay hungry!
- Every day is a school day!
- Be kind to your crew.
- Pay it forward.
If you'd like more information on ETO's and the roles we've got on at the moment please don't hesitate to contact Sam@quaycrew.com and register with us HERE
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