I entered the halls of the school, and the place was buzzing with excitement. Students of all ages gathered in groups, meeting each other as old shipmates, or for the first time, sharing notes on what courses for training or certificates they are learning about. Some are looking forward to training in firefighting or lifesaving equipment for their Marine Emergency Duties courses, while others have committed to taking the block credit courses towards their mate’s or master’s certificates. The former are excited to play with the firefighting, and the others are a little afraid of the commitment of being challenged in academics because they haven’t been to school for a while and think they’ve forgotten everything from their school days. They nervously laugh at their paralyzing fear of books and “going to school again”!
Another group is well into their studies, and they have a different look, stance, and attitude about them. They’ve succeeded in a few subjects already, they passed General Ship knowledge, they aced Chartwork and Pilotage, have their Marine First Aid and now they’re tackling Ship Stability and Construction. They have pride in themselves for accomplishing what they thought impossible only a short while ago. You peek into their classroom and the board is full of seemingly gibberish and you wonder what on earth kind of sense does that all make?
It seems one never sees the students that are training on the simulators for their Simulated Electronic Navigation courses. They work so hard that they hardly step out for lunch and sometimes work well past the normal workday.
Common information exchanged between students is about teachers; how are they? Do they teach well? What’s their reputation? Little do they know that the teachers are the best in the industry and are consummate mariners with a lifetime of experience in all aspects of seamanship. They are very interested in paying forward to the industry that they have loved and made a living in.
Yes, I would say, for any mariner attending this marine trades school will experience that will remain with them, and affect their future on board ships in the most positive way. They will make friends that will last a lifetime and they will open the doors towards advancement in their careers as masters or mates of tugs, cargo ships, ferries and more.
George has spent his entire life working on the water and enjoys every aspect of seafaring on every type of vessel, in our BC coastal waters as well as internationally.
He owned and operated two fishing vessels, ran tugs and sailed deep sea, retiring as master. He then served the maritime industry as a public servant, working for Transport Canada Marine Safety as an inspector and examiner. George now enjoys teaching and guiding younger seafarers toward their future careers and being part of the dedicated professionalism of the Western Maritime Institute.