Neil informs us about his career and his new business as owner of Cormorant Cruises, based in Cornwall.
What is your background?
I grew up within a family committed to the RNLI in a small town in Cornwall, when I was old enough I followed my family’s footsteps and became a volunteer myself. At the age of 26 I became the fulltime Coxswain of our local lifeboat having previously spent some time as the Skipper of a fishing trawler. After 30 years’ service in the RNLI I made a move into the Workboat sector as a Master to have a change and embrace a new sector within the maritime industry.
What services do you currently offer?
I am a freelance Workboat Master and Fishing vessel Skipper, I also have a small commercial workboat of my own in my hometown of Mousehole in Cornwall which I operate in Summer as a local tour vessel including sights and stories on local wildlife, geology and history for both residents and holiday makers.
What has been the main driver for you to join the Workboat Association?
I have many friends who are members of the WA and I am fully supportive of industry collaborating to join efforts together, especially when it comes to training and safety. As I haven’t owned my company/vessel for long I find it is extremely valuable to have the support of others with experience around me.
Can you name a few highlights from your career?
In 2007 the RNLI took me to Shanghai with two other Coxswains to train employees of the Chinese Government on operating, handling and maintaining high-speed rescue craft; as they redeveloped their own Marine Rescue service. I spent over a month there, learning lots myself about the local culture and a different perspective on small vessel operations, I met some really great people – it’s a time I will never forget.
What are the current projects/vessels you are working on?
Now my own vessel is laid-up for winter, when I return home she will be taken out of the water where she will stay until next season. Currently I am working in the Netherlands for Acta Marine on board a vessel working on the Fryslân Wind Farm construction project. I enjoy the flexibility of my work and the changes in scenery and work scopes.
Do you have any advice to other self-employed workboat Masters or single vessel owners?
My father always told me “Look after your boat, [whoever’s boat you are working on] and your boat will look after you”. Keep enthused about training on board, I have first-hand witnessed many times the outcomes of when emergency preparedness is not taken seriously; You have to expect the unexpected when working at sea.
How has your background in the RNLI affected your work today?
Working for the RNLI gave me a professional and serious understanding about the risks of working and enjoying recreation at sea. You cannot be complacent as conditions and situations vary everyday and they can also change with the ‘click of a switch’. Although my ties with the RNLI are no longer operationally active, I remain dutiful to the cause and hold the highest respect for all those volunteering their time and risking their lives in the effort to save others. I, to this day believe that all mariners could learn a great deal from the eyes of someone who has served in a Marine Rescue Service, of which the RNLI is one of the best.