Vocational Pathways Spotlight: Building a Career on the Water

“I like being on the water because it’s different scenery every day,” said Luke James, who is gaining career experience with work on the Coromandel Mussel Barge. “Seeing the sun come up and go down over the water—that’s the best part.” 

At Thames High School, Luke is connecting his love for life on the sea with a rigorous and personalized academic program focused on earning his Boat Mater qualification, a significant step on the pathway to becoming a skipper. 

To become a Boat Master, Luke needs to log 100 hours working on the water and master a body of knowledge focused on safety, navigation, boat-handling and the rules of the road at sea. The most difficult part is navigation, he said, but his maths course provides a background that supports this practical skill. “Navigation is a lot of numbers,” he said. Science class, meanwhile, provides background knowledge about how mussels grow and thrive. 

He’s using the skills he’s acquired this year to seek out a job on a charter boat this summer, and is applying to the New Zealand Navy. 

“It’s a lot of work but it’s still fun,” he said. “No matter what, I want to be involved in being on the water.”