The ocean will welcome two Hout Bay teens after they aced the test to get their skipper’s licences.
Oliver Hartgers, 16, and Moegamat Sharief Price, 17, both passed the exam, which legally permits them to operate a vessel less than nine meters in length up to 15 nautical miles out to sea.
Oliver, a Grade 10 Westerford High School pupil, says when Covid hit, he suddenly found he had loads of spare time on his hands, which led to him joining a clean-up campaign at the Hout Bay Harbour
“I no longer had to travel to school and back. I used to cycle down to the harbour every day, and, together with some friends, we used to play on and in the water. We heard about the harbour clean-ups and started volunteering to help clear rubbish out of the water.”
It was at this time that he was introduced to a small, 30-horsepower boat, coincidentally named “Ollie”.
“We often spent hours scooping up rubbish and getting to know people in the harbour. We really started enjoying being there. I knew then that the moment that I would turn 16, I would try to get my skipper’s licence,” says Oliver, who has trained as a lifeguard for the past four years.
“I’m keen to work for the NSRI one day and getting my skipper’s may be useful for that,” he says
Both he and Moegamat Sharief spent hours during the evenings and weekends studying the theory for the skipper’s licence, and last weekend, they passed both the lengthy theory exam and the practical on the boat.
Candidates need to be at least 16, do an eye test and get a doctor’s certificate declaring them fit to go out to sea. They must also log 25 hours of sea time and complete a course approved by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The exam covers sections on first aid, navigation and chart work, and during the practical, candidates must demonstrate control of the vessel, assist with a man-over-board situation and dock a boat.
Moegamat Sharief, who is busy with his last year at the Salesian Institute for Youth Projects, says the licence makes him excited for his future.
“It took long hours of prep, dedication and determination to pull this off, and we had the right people to lead the way for us.”
He has now set his sights on working for a local yacht company and skippering a yacht at sea one day.
“I want to encourage all the youth out there to follow your dreams and work very hard to achieve them. Never give up and always do things smiling.”
James Wreyton, a local fisherman who mentored and coached the boys through the exam process, described them as “absolute champs”.
“They are definitely destined for big things, and they are ready to take on the ocean.
“They were taught everything on that little Ollie, but they just went and wrote such a big test, passing it with flying colours.”
Oliver hopes to land himself some small jobs and holiday work on boats and continue with the harbour clean-ups.
“I would like to raise awareness for this initiative and get more youth involved. We also welcome sponsorship for petrol and maintenance for the boat so that volunteers can continue this necessary work.”
His mother, Martine Hartgers, adds: “We’re grateful that he enjoys being outside, enjoys meeting people and is inspired to do something positive for the environment.”