NMIT graduate showcases Marlborough by sea

NMIT graduate showcases Marlborough by sea

Matty Pigou is a qualified skipper working for Marlborough Tour Company. He weaves his interest in local history with his passion for the ocean to create memorable experiences for tourists.

A pros and cons list drawn up in 2013 was the catalyst for Matty enrolling in the Certificate in Superyacht Crewing at NMIT.

The history buff spent his childhood holidays at Okiwi Bay where his family had a bach. Swimming, boating and exploring the Marlborough Sounds were pastimes deeply embedded in his psyche and family history.

Yet for some reason Matty became a builder. He admits that while he enjoyed it, building just didn’t scratch the itch. “I knew I wanted to get out and get into tourism and be in that industry. It just took me a while to realise what I wanted to do.”

He sat with pen and paper, worked out his strengths and weaknesses and began his search online for the right course to study. It didn’t take long for him to decide on the 12 week Certificate in Superyacht Crewing. “It all came together when I looked online and saw that superyacht course. That really just stuck out to me and it was the best thing I ever did. It pretty much created this whole career path for me.”

Matty is now a qualified skipper for Marlborough Tour Company driving their largest boat, the Odyssea, on the company’s most popular tour package ‘The Seafood Odyssey’.

Before each cruise, Matty performs engine checks, carries out boat maintenance, and helps the crew with general deckhand duties. Then, with passengers onboard, Matty steers the boat along channels and into inlets showcasing the natural beauty of the area while the crew serve platters of local seafood.

As skipper, Matty provides a full commentary of the Sounds, complete with local history, for attentive travellers eager to learn more about the Marlborough region. He loves meeting people from all over the world, finding out where they’re from, what they do, and as he says “showing off our backyard”.

Matty’s career path with Marlborough Tour Company began modestly. For the first season he cleaned vehicles, crewing only on occasion. He gradually increased his experience of crewing and obtained his P Endorsement License so he could drive cars and vans and take wine tours. By the third season Matty had obtained his Class 2 to drive vehicles and vans up to 18 tonnes. Throughout this time, Matty logged down his sea time in preparation for completing the Maritime Operations - Skipper Restricted Limits (SRL) certificate with NMIT.

The journey from builder’s labourer to qualified skipper was excellent preparation for the 25 year old. While he experienced financial challenges, Matty had a goal he wanted to achieve, and as he says, his study years were so enjoyable that every sacrifice was worth it.

Superyacht crew members require a broad set of skills. Students on the certificate programme learn everything from how to tie different knots to fire fighting to radar work. There is also a strong hospitality component that Matty has been able to weave into his current role. “It gave me confidence. I knew how to do all the basic things.”

The SRL commercial skippers ticket helped Matty develop the engineering side of his role. It also schooled him in maritime law and legislation, but his favourite part of the training was chartwork.

“Figuring out how to get from A to B and the best way to get there is a lot of fun, especially if you’re an attention to detail person.”

While he appreciates the role GPS technology plays in modern day seafaring, Matty is consciously building his innate knowledge of the Sounds, like the seafarers of the good old days.

“They knew areas just by looking at the land and performing deep-sea soundings. I really like that side of it. You need to rely on radar on foggy days, but it’s nice to incorporate both technology and human skill and intuition.”

To anyone keen to get a superyachting qualification or New Zealand skippers licence Matty says: “The best thing about NMIT is the short courses. The programmes are broken down into manageable courses. Some are three months, some longer. And there are so many components that are useful from fire fighting to bartending. It offers you so many skills and you’re bound to find something you’re interested in moving forward. If you love being out on the water and around people it’s the perfect combination. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone.”

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