Having mentored fellow crewmembers throughout the years and loving teaching and imparting her knowledge, former crewmember Sandra Jordaan saw a gap in the market for purser courses and snapped up the domain name (theyachtpurser.com) in 2017. But it remained unused while she figured out how to best serve the yachting community. Her last position on board was rotational purser on M/Y Cloudbreak, which she left in June 2018.
She has an undergraduate commerce honors degree, but when she was looking into courses to become a purser, there weren’t many options. She opted for the Superyacht Management Diploma from Maritime Training Academy because she felt it would provide her with an exit strategy and upskill her for the purser role, which it did to a certain extent. From coaching aspiring pursers over the years who had completed a purser course, Jordaan found that many still couldn’t do the necessary practical tasks, including payroll.
Since 2018, Jordaan had been writing the course that would become The Ultimate Yacht Purser Course and became encouraged to launch it when Isobel Odendaal, who runs the stewardess program at SuperYachting South Africa, was blown away by her material. The first round of students started the eight-module course on October 2, 2019.
“One of the most significant barriers to yachts hiring someone who is a first-time purser is the fact that it is an entirely new role with very different tasks,” Jordaan says. “The purser is responsible for documents that can have serious legal implications if completed incorrectly, such as the crew list.”
The course provides aspiring pursers with theoretical knowledge and practical skills to help them excel in their first role. The assignments mimic everyday duties and tasks that are part of a purser’s responsibilities, which can all be completed from wherever you’re located. Between reading the material, watching videos, and doing the assignments, the course takes about 120 hours to complete.
All the course materials are online on an e-learning platform, and each student can go at their own pace depending on their schedule. With the private WhatsApp and Facebook groups, the students have a supportive community, and it’s Jordaan’s hope that “when they eventually are hired as pursers that they have a highly skilled pool from which to choose their rotational partners as well.”
“Assignments only need to be completed within six months, allowing even the busiest crew the time to finish the course and obtain a certificate,” Jordaan says.
To accompany the modules, there are eight weekly group calls of around 90 minutes each (that are recorded and uploaded so it’s not an issue if they can’t be attended live) and two study sessions at the end with a discussion of common mistakes in the assignments and how to correct them. The course covers the role of the purser, yacht regulations, crew management, port clearances, charter operations, destination management, budgeting and accounting, and software for pursers.
“Before students are hired into their first role, they have already had the time to make mistakes, ask questions, get support, and increase their confidence in performing their job to a high level,” she says. “It is as if they have already had one rotation on board.”
The second course will begin on January 15 and is already fully booked. However, there are two additional dates available for 2020 (February 26 and April 1) with more planned. To learn more about the course and enrollment, visit: www.theyachtpurser.com.