On Feb. 9, students enrolled in the Bahamas Maritime Cadet Corps (BMCC) accompanied Glender Knowles, BMCC coordinator, for a field trip aboard the Duke of Topsail and Albury’s Ferry.
Knowles explained that the cadets were taking what they had learned from their theory session in the class about parts of the ship and the rules of the sea and applying it to the practical side of their course.
At Albury’s Ferry, they travelled to Hope Town to learn how to enter the harbour properly, how to determine whether the vessel is on the starboard or port side of another approaching vessel, and to look at navigation markers in terms of setting up a range to enter the harbour promptly as well as markings such as red or green buoys to indicate port or starboard on entering the harbour.
“So a lot of what we’ll be doing today is looking at how vessels come together, how they’re supposed to pass port to port, and how they’re supposed to meet and overtake,” Knowles said. “So we’re just applying some of the lessons that they learned in the classroom today out on the sea.”
It was encouraging to see the large numbers of females represented in the group even though the maritime industry sounds like a field dominated by males. Overall, there are 300 students in the program within New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“In Abaco, we do have females in the classroom. As a matter of fact, one of our females is now at the College of The Bahamas studying engineering. We have another at the end of this month sailing at sea for six months – she’s out of Fox Town – Patiqua Thurston. Her first port of call will be Argentina.”
Knowles added that the program is only about three years old in the classroom setting, and is expanding quickly. The BMCC Program is offered on Tuesdays at Abaco Central High School, and on Thursdays at S.C. Bootle High School to students in Grades 10 through12. This year, they were fortunate to have Campbell’s Shipping introduce a maritime program for Grades 7 to 8 students for the first time.
“The private and government sectors are looking at the fact that there is a need to introduce the program earlier to high school students because it gives them a better competitive edge.”
Additionally, Knowles was excited to see that the maritime program is moving beyond the classroom in The Bahamas with students being sent into Canada and New York. Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed to incorporate the State University of New York (SUNY) and Holland College into C.O.B.’s program. Students can begin their studies at C.O.B. then in the third or fourth year transfer to SUNY or Holland College and then graduate in The Bahamas.
“So many things are happening that are for the advantages of students now because we are a maritime country, and we need to get these students involved in career opportunities that are just out of the box whether they want to go on sea or on land. We’re looking for maritime lawyers and naval architects – so it’s not just on the sea; it’s also on the land.”
Also on the trip was Ms. Kimberly Butterfield, faculty advisor and teacher at S.C. Bootle High School. She expressed that it has been an interesting experience and her first time being involved in a maritime program. Growing up on the island, though, she did catch some glimpses of the industry with her grandfather running a yacht club.
“It’s good to see students involved in a career path while they are still in school. From what I understand, the maritime industry is growing, and they need people especially here in The Bahamas. As you can see The Bahamas is surrounded by water, so there’s no excuse not to have these professionals readily available,” Butterfield shared. “I usually travel home by boat to the Regattas every year, and I never really understood why they blow the horn when they leaving the port or coming into port. I’ve learned that the horns do have a meaning. It’s been a very interesting program, and I think that it should stay around for a long time.