Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Inspiring young sailors through charitable mentoring

Published on September 11, 2014 by   ·   No Comments

It started with a lunch in Mallorca.  A very long lunch between a couple of South African yacht captains.  While telling tall tales and swapping sea stories, Anthony Just and Phil Wade realised that they were both ‘Bothie Boys’ having started their yachting careers as sea cadets at General Botha Merchant Marine Training College in South Africa.  They unequivocally agreed that they owed their good lives and nautical careers to their disciplined education as teenagers.


As lunch wore on (I’m imaging a couple of digestifs at this point) the pair decided that they would like to share their good fortune and help others less privileged to get on the first rung of the yachting ladder and give aspiring young sailors a bit of a hand up.  And so Marine Inspirations was born – “A charitable mentoring program established to introduce the prospects of a yachting career to youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Marine Inspirations is totally non-profit.  The idea is to place aspiring South African sailors straight out of school into existing opportunities available aboard sea-going vessels and private yachts.  These opportunities will be made available by donors who will also help finance basic expenses and travel for the students, not only to the vessels, but also to attend events on the international maritime calendar.


Their dream of helping others is soon to be realised when the first two South African students arrive in Mallorca to begin the yachting adventure of a lifetime.  The two lucky lads, Bradley Felix and Mfundo Joseph, will be flying into Palma on 4 October to join the crew of 83-foot schooner ‘Aloha-J of Cariba’ whose owners have kindly made her available for the Marine Inspirations programme.  Once onboard, there will be two days of orientation before they set sail across to Ibiza to participate in the inaugural Ibiza Rendezvous Regatta.

Aloha-J of Cariba was launched in 1930, originally rigged as a very speedy and competitive gaff schooner.  However, in later years her mainsail gaff was removed and she was re-rigged as a Bermuda schooner carrying a Marconi-type rig, flying Mainsail, Main-staysail, Foresail, Roller-yankee, Fisherman, and Topsail.  This configuration makes her much more passage-friendly and she is easily sailed with a small crew.  It also makes her the perfect boat for two enthusiastic new sailors to, literally, learn the ropes.


Both boys are students at Lawhill Maritime Centre, which is “dedicated to promoting a rich and diverse grounding for young cadets during their advancement into the Maritime Industry”.  Students at Lawhill enrol for their last three years of high school, typically aged between 15 and 17.  Whilst completing their standard education at the local school, they additionally study Marine Economics and Nautical Science at Lawhill.  These specific maritime subjects not only count towards their school-leaving Matriculation Certificate, but also help to equip them for advanced education and employment possibilities in the marine industry.

There are a number of bursaries available for potential students from underprivileged backgrounds.  These are provided by General Botha Old Boys Association who started a very successful Bursary Fund in 2011 and currently sponsor seven students who are boarding and studying at the Lawhill Maritime Centre.


So, the lunchtime musings of a couple of South African skippers will certainly give Bradley Felix and Mfundo Joseph the adventure of a lifetime, let’s hope it leads to a better future for them and all the Lawhill boys that come after them.


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