Name: Matthew Hickey
Position: Chief Engineer
Yacht: M/Y Moskito
Years in Current Position: 1
Years in Industry: 14
Previous Vessels: range from 35M to 75M
If I weren’t working on a yacht, I’d like to say I’d be playing for Liverpool Football Club but probably I’d still be an electrician! I’d definitely be working and traveling abroad.
I was on a night out in a bar in France one time and I was introduced to an electrician who was out there rewiring a yacht. We got chatting and he offered me work on another rewire job during a refit. I then got offered a trainee engineer’s role in the Caribbean and the rest is history.
That hardest part of the job is being away from my wife and kids. Also, the administration side of being a chief engineer, as I much prefer being on the tools.
The worst mechanical failure was when the CO2 Fire Suppression System was accidentally activated. This starved the main engines and generators of oxygen, causing us to drift around without power or propulsion. Luckily, no one was in the engine room at the time!
One particular issue facing engineers today is that on the smaller boats with the more advanced technology, you’re expected to be a Jack of all trades. On larger boats, it’s keeping up to date and complying with new environmental regulations.
A great way to get into the industry is getting a commercial cadetship. If not, then as a dockwalker, turn up early and be keen. You can learn a surprising amount from your AEC 1 & 2.
A clean and tidy engine room goes a long way if you want to impress. Prioritize your jobs and keep the skipper happy with those jobs that are bothering him!
Yachting has taught me that I am more capable than I realized. I’m also more diplomatic and take other people’s feelings into account. This is so important when you live and work in such close quarters with people of different cultures and backgrounds.
On a personal level, my greatest achievement has been maintaining a happy marriage and family life despite being away from home so much. On a purely work level, it would be achieving my various engineering qualifications despite being non-academic and dyslexic.
The best part of the job is the places it’s taken me and lifelong friends I’ve made. The constant learning of how different systems work is really rewarding.
This article originally ran in the December 2021 issue of Dockwalk.