Dare to dream with a Slater Scholarship
Published: 09 May 2018
The Nautilus Slater Fund's professional development scholarships continue to change lives for the better. Andrew Linington heard from one seafarer who has made a massive step forward in his career thanks to the scheme…
James Box [pictured left] says he is now fulfilling a personal dream after gaining his professional qualifications earlier this year on the completion of studies supported by a Nautilus JW Slater Fund scholarship.
Following a programme of training at Warsash Maritime Academy, James was awarded his Master (Yachts) <3,000gt certificate in January and has since started a new job running a 42m sailing yacht being built in his home town of Falmouth, with plans to undertake a world cruise with the owners.
‘I can’t express my thanks for the scholarship enough,’ he says. ‘Without this support it would have taken a longer time to complete and made my chances of passing first time virtually impossible.’
James grew up in Southend-on-Sea and was on the water sailing from the age of six. He admits to not being very successful at school and he left home at the age of 16 to take an HND in yacht design and boatbuilding. After leaving college, he worked in a chandlery and then a yacht broking firm, while also serving as a crew member on the Falmouth lifeboat.
‘I actually applied to get into the Royal Navy as I was keen on submarines and diving, but unfortunately my maths wasn’t up to it and I failed the officers’ entrance exam,’ he recalls. ‘I first though about joining the superyacht industry in 2008, when a friend of mine worked on an old schooner and sailed between the Med and Caribbean taking part in the classic regattas. He loved it and suggested I gave it a go.
‘I managed to get a skipper’s job on a 72ft classic motor boat as I had my Yachtmaster, based in Antibes, South of France, and spent three years running along the French coast and to Palma. It got me interested in pursuing a career at sea in this industry.’
James managed to fund courses to secure his Master 200gt and OOW 3,000gt certificates, and went on to spend five years running a 38m schooner between the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
While studying for his chief mate’s ticket, James was told about the Slater Fund – a scheme set up by the Union in memory of former general secretary John Slater. The fund provides up to £20,000 support to help ratings, yacht crew and electro-technical officers to gain OOW certification.
‘I was currently unemployed as the vessel I was working on was being put up for sale and the crew got made redundant. So, I thought I would enquire to see if I could get help towards my Master’s modules,’ he explains.
He took a year out to study, supported by the Slater Fund. ‘It was tough going back to study,’ he admits. ‘I’m not one for sitting in a classroom studying business and law, as I find I learn practically, but I managed to pass each module first time, thankfully. The lecturers at Warsash were very thorough and made the learning easier.
‘The funding helped a long way to allowing me to complete the training and support myself while I was out of work,’ he adds. ‘Without that, this wouldn't have possible and I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.
‘I found the whole process from start to finish quite stressful and something I never want to repeat,’ James adds. ‘As I have got older I find it more and more difficult to retain the important information if not used on a regular basis. I required about three months study time to get myself ready for the oral examination, which involved at least eight to 10 hours a day.’
However, he says he wants to develop his career in the superyacht industry, moving up in size of vessel and possibly moving onto explorer yachts, and he strongly recommends others to follow in his footsteps.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for students to complete their training and go on to work in an industry they love,’ he adds. ‘Do it! Study hard, work hard and play hard. It’s a great industry, you meet a lot of other like-minded people and get to travel.’
The Slater Fund trustees awarded 104 scholarships last year: 40 to yacht crew, 12 to ETOs, 37 to deck ratings, three to engineer ratings, five to fishing vessel crew, and seven to workboat crew. 32 Slater Fund scholars successfully completed their studies during 2017.
To find out more, visit the website of the Marine Society, which administers the scheme for Nautilus: www.marine-society.org