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THIS gathering of marine personnel folk is always an interesting event and all the more so this year because we heard from some amazing seafarers at both ends of the career spectrum. 

Two highly experienced captains told us their stories, one an early Somali kidnapping (Capt Colin Darch of the Svitzer Korsakov) and the other, Capt Ian McNaught, his career history from tankers to many years in command of cruise ships the QE2 and Queen Victoria. 

All much more interesting stuff than the usual conference diet and one for all you conference organisers out there to remember. Don’t get the same old faces on your panels every time – get some real people who work at the sharp end.

And, boy, didn’t the ISF do well. They got some cadets. Yes, real life cadets. The average age in the room plummeted as these two walked into the room and they, and their recently qualified deck officer colleague Fiona Rush, put many a seasoned speaker to shame with their delivery, their preparation and their confidence. 

If these three were representative of the standard then the future of the shipping industry is in safe hands. And, some more good news; we also heard from Graeme Thomson of Maersk Crewing that there are now 8 qualified applicants for every cadetship, a doubling of application numbers. The worrying thing was that Fiona is struggling to find a permanent position as are the majority of her classmates.

This being a manning conference and she being quite so exceptional it wasn’t long before some savvy crewing directors were swarming round her over canapés. We hope to report in a future issue of Changing Course Fiona’s success and if we’re lucky she might even agree to send us some updates as her career progresses.

And, if you’re interested in hiring some talented newly-qualified officers but struggling to find them, give us a call (+44 (0)1702 480142) and we’ll point you in the right direction.

And, just what is it that the 21st Century cadet says makes life at sea worthwhile? Surprise surprise – it’s still ‘seeing places’. We old codgers thought that went out with flared trousers as fast turnaround times and efficient cargo handling gear took shore leave off the agenda. 

And if you want to know what makes life at sea more comfortable, it’s not email, important though that is. It’s a good cook!

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