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Charles Heckroodt Print E-mail
Written by Crew Life Staff   
Sunday, 01 February 2009 00:00
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How did you get started yachting?
I grew up sailing in False Bay South Africa. Frequently sailed the west coast of South Africa and often sailed from Waalvisbaai, Namibia to Cape Town in my 23’ boat. Sailed up the east coast to Mozambique a number of times as well.  Lets just say one day I’ll be sure to buy a slightly bigger sail boat!

I got started in the yachting industry about five years ago. When deciding on a career path it only made sense to stick with what I love.  I joined a 40foot catamaran in Cape Town and sailed the 7000 miles to Miami, Florida where I started my search.

What’s your current position?
I am currently employed as First Mate on the motor yacht Loretta Anne. I have spent a little over three of my five years with this vessel. They happened to be my first employers in the industry.

Tell us a little about the boat.
Loretta Anne is a 126’ Alloy yacht from New Zealand. We have a tight crew of six consisting of Two South Africans, Two Kiwis and Two Aussies. Getting along with your crew is one of if not the most important thing for crewmembers in the industry. A happy crew leads to a better mind set at work and in turn you pay more attention to detail and do a better job. Also, when crewmembers look out for each other the vessel and crew safety steps up a level.

Do you have a typical day?
Expect the unexpected!  We do have routine days, daily duties, monthly duties but very rarely does everything go exactly as planned. On our vessel we are fortunate enough to have a good number of weekends off. Without guests, this leaves us with a pre-planned five day work week. One of those days would start like this: Wake up have coffee, check the dock lines and fenders, clear emails and wake up, check work list and dedicate duties to the exterior crew, do one or a dozen jobs and look forward to lunch. To take the edge off we launch some water balloons at our mates on the boats next door, then eat lunch and prepare for their retaliation.  The afternoon proceeds with work lists which could consist of almost anything, as five o’clock nears I check with contractors, crew members, and captain for anything concerning them,  secure the deck and the vessel and make a new work list for following day or at least add to it.

What’s your favorite Port of Call?
My favorite port of call would be Caye Chapel, Belize. It is a tiny private island located off the Belizean barrier reef. We visit this island for about one month a year and take full advantage of its exclusivity, golf course and great location not to mention the fishing.

What makes your life rosey?
As long as I’m having fun and everyone around me is happy I’m good!  I love fishing, wakeboarding, and general water play! Throw any of those into my day and its all smiles.

Does anything make your life hell?
I wouldn’t say there’s anything that really makes my life a living hell. Although, when out in the pub with fellow yachties the last thing I want to hear about is how bad peoples’ jobs are all night long or how much of a rock star they are. There’s a time and a place for everything, and if you’re such a rock star you shouldn’t have to tell me I should already know!

Any great moments or regrets you want to share?
Great moments, hmmm…. catching a nine foot blue marlin in our 18 foot Nouvarania tender. That must take the cake!

Any advice for the newbies?
Get the required visas! Get as many courses under your belt as you are able, get clean cut - dress the part and then look for the job. Arrive in town and then try to do everything. Be ready to go from the get go.

Parting words of wisdom?
Just remember “When in Rome…”

Photos courtesy of Charles Heckroodt