Bradley Felix’s and Ronaldo Strauss’ thoughts on the trip – highlights and memorable moments
One of the most valuable aspects of the trip was the opportunity to travel to another country and what struck me about the places we visited was how different they were to South Africa.
In Germany, we only spent time in Frankfurt airport and while many experienced travellers may see little difference in international airports, I noticed so many. I was particularly amazed at seeing a train come right into the airport. I was also impressed by how everything seemed to work effortlessly, how people respected the rules of society etc. I was also struck by the approachability of airport officials and how friendly and accommodating they were. I also realised, from our interactions with Tony the Engineer, that you didn’t need to speak English to be funny and that, even when there are language differences, that one can always find a way to bridge the language gap.
My top 3 highlights were: 1) my first time on an aeroplane. It was amazing and luckily I managed to fly six times; 2) getting hands-on seamanship experience and navigating a vessel from Ibiza to Palma; 3) when we had a braai while racing!
I was struck by how neat and disciplined the people were in Europe and by the personal interest people showed in us. I was impressed by the level of energy and optimism of those with whom we came into contact – and the energy levels didn’t seem to go down! I also never expected to feel so welcomed and at home in a foreign country and was overwhelmed by how determined people were to not only give Bradley and I an amazing opportunity but how willing they were to share their knowledge.
I also appreciated the positive manner in which the different aspects of sailing were explained to us, and the constructive manner in which we were corrected when we were doing something wrong. It was a real learning experience, because we didn’t only learn ‘how’ but ‘why’. It was also clear how important it is to be multi-skilled and I appreciated how everyone involved in the Marine Inspirations initiative made an effort to ensure that our trip was not only educational, but also a lot of fun.
The trip was far more fun than I expected. We did more sailing than I expected and I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did.
My most memorable moment was having the braai on board while we were racing!
Real learning experiences
One of the stand out learning experiences for me was the role the Captain and how it’s more than being in command of the vessel, but also about thinking for the crew. I also learnt the importance of listening and trusting your instincts and ‘doing it now’ rather than later.
My most memorable moment was when Captain Just was discussing the man overboard procedure and when he was explaining how the lifeboat should be used, he suddenly tosses it overboard. I was left shocked for a moment, but immediately did what we had learnt from Captain Schlemmer. It was fun, thrilling and very exciting.
Another real learning was that ‘hard work pays off’. I saw how hard the owners and crew of the superyachts work and how they got to reap the rewards.
The most challenging part of the trip was feeling seasick while sailing. Also, how physically demanding it was to do the sails manually.
One of the real learning experiences for me was the man overboard drill/exercise. It was the highlight of the trip. It was the first time I had done it practically and although it seems such a long process when you learn about it in class, it was a very different experience doing it at sea.
I also learnt, from my conversations, about change, the importance of different experiences and developing different skills and how one opportunity can lead to another opportunity as well as the importance of showing appreciation and gratitude to those who help you progress in your career. And, of course, to be kind and to always have ‘oomph’.
The most challenging part of the trip was getting used to the ropes and the different sails one had to rig – and finding my balance while we were sailing (and getting used to the pitching and rolling!)
Bradley: Slipping and falling overboard because I am afraid of sharks. I was also afraid of losing my luggage at the airport.
Ronaldo: I was afraid of falling overboard.
Views on yachting
The trip gave me a new perspective on yachting – I saw a completely other side to yachting and that was how much it was about people and a sense of family, and not only boats. Also how important it is to have the right personality in the yachting business as clients want 150% from you and the demands can be high, so you need to be patient and diplomatic, willing to work hard and thrive on adrenaline. I also learnt how important it was to do a job well and what the impact is if you don’t. Everyone has a vital role to play on-board and you need to do your best otherwise you will let the whole team down.
The yachting industry is also one that requires a lot of patience and dedication and you must be prepared to see nothing but water for days, weeks, months. And, “One hand for yourself and one for the ship.”
Views on the future
The trip definitely made me see the maritime industry in a broader light – that it wasn’t only about cargo and big cargo ships but also about people .. when it comes to yachting its very much about the the people, the lifestyle and the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world.
Before the trip I was very set on pursuing my career in the commercial industry – on large ships – but the superyacht industry is definitely of interest. My plan is to get a second mates ticket in engineering on big ships and then work in the superyacht industry because I simply fell in love with the work environment.
This trip has sparked my interest in yachting as a career and it would be a serious contender because there are so many aspects of it which I found appealing .. the luxury, the workmanship, the team work, the trust between crew members, the energy, the attitude etc. I found it to be a very positive environment and one which has reconfirmed my interest in pursuing a maritime career.
What I will tell my children about the trip one day?
There are many beautiful places over the horizon.
That discipline and respect will get you a long way in life.
I am so grateful to have been afforded this opportunity and being exposed to the superyacht industry. I saw and experienced so much – new people, places, food – and I fell head over heels with the whole experience. I would not think twice about going back – the Balearic Islands have not seen the last of me.
PS: Bradley and Ronaldo also commented on the interest their peers had shown in the trip, particularly the girls who wanted to hear about the country and the trip and wanted to see photos!