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Cadets Take To The Ocean

Cadets Take To The Ocean
FMA cadets learn firsthand to sail a vessel. From left(front), Thahir, Monisha, Lusi T, Lucy C, (back row), Tieri, FMA’s Mahesa Abeynayake.
June 14
11:00 2017

Many moons ago I wrote a cryptic message in an article about baby turtles.

Newborn turtles I penned, found the sea the instance they hatch.

The enigmatic tale parallels these precious amniotes to the Cadets at Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA).

Given about one percent chance of survival by Mother Nature, the vulnerable tiny tots, unaware of the dangers of the ocean, furiously flapping their tiny limbs crawlto their new home.

It is envisaged that FMA cadets have a lot more chance of survival in the world of shipping than the turtles in the sea.

To prepare them for the arduous journey ahead, FMA conducts programmes that are more than just academic work.

Learning to sail is a part of the cadet curriculum along with basic training with the Fiji Navy.

Sailing and being accustomed to the sea adds value to a well-rounded maritime education programme.

The experience gained is invaluable to prepare someone to stay afloat when they eventually find themselves swimming in the world of shipping.

With the aid of Fiji Yachting Association, spearheaded by the enthusiastic yachtsmen Neville Coop, assisted by the very experienced instructor Isikeli, the cadets get firsthand experience in rigging a sailing boat and maneuvering the craft so that they gain confidence and ease of being at sea.

The course syllabus is based on Yachting Australia Start Sailing 1 course, commencing last week at the National Sailing Centre beginning with sailing theory, hazard identification, and safety.

At the end of the course, the participants are assessed and awarded a certificate of competency.

The cadets can then take sailing a hobby and take part in competitions.

From rigging a Laser class dinghy to learning parts of the yacht, the young sailor makes himself or herself familiar with sailing jargon such as main sail, sheet, leeward, windward, tacking, and gybing.

It will not be long before they learn why the boom is named such. One whack on the head will certainly give them a “boom.”

They also had their first sailing experience on the 7m trailer sailor, the Merlin 4.

In this second year of the course, the cadets also have a hand in handling the fiber boat.

The support vessel, operated by FMA instructor, Osea Bola, gives the cadets the opportunity to control it from starting the outboard to maneuvering.

Commands of “port” and “starboard” will also be their first at receiving and giving helm orders.

Fijian children are no strangers to water. They take to it like the baby turtles with the ability of natural sailors.

From the eyes of the Academy staff members who watch young Fijians enjoying the sea, it is one of the great joys of the profession.

Not many maritime providers offer training of this nature in the world.  Fijian seafarers are blessed with the sea surrounding them.

FMA has seized the day to impart the practicalities of being the sea.

On the wish list is to see FMA seafarers with their training vessel. A ship manned by FMA students and staff and commercially operated is a dream for the future.

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