Q&A with Third Engineer Tim Hughes

26 September 2022 By Claire Griffiths

Claire Griffiths is Dockwalk’s contributing editor in the Mediterranean. She fled to the sunny south of France from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Claire has a background in journalism for national and regional UK press and a career in political and corporate PR prior to that. Claire’s hobbies include eating, sleeping and dancing at inopportune times. She tries to avoid sheer drops and Olympic bobsled runs. Email Claire at

Name: Tim Hughes
Position: Third Engineer
Yacht: M/Y Lady Marina
LOA: 64M/210'
Builder: Feadship
Years in current position: 1
Years in industry: 7
Previous vessels: S/Y Silandra V, S/Y Asia
Nationality: South African

If I weren’t working on board, I’d be working in an engineering/machinery shop or as a millwright; something to do with my hands.

I got started in yachting through watersports. I lived on the Vaal River my whole life, so I knew about yachts and when I came here in 2015, I started with daywork. I am now studying my SV Engineer — two more modules to go.

The most challenging part of my job is probably crew management. Working on a boat is not that easy when you have 17 nationalities, 17 personalities, long hours, and a confined space!

My worst mechanical failure was an engine room fire in 2017 on a catamaran between the Maldives and Sri Lanka. We had a blow out of the turbo and the engine bay of the 60-foot cat caught on fire. We managed to extinguish the fire and luckily the hose on the cooling water burst, which helped extinguish the fire. Luckily, we only had about 160 miles to Sri Lanka and we made it on one engine.

The biggest issue facing engineers today is lack of course offerings. The industry is very MCA oriented and as a South African, it is not that easy to travel wherever you want. All the courses have to be MCA recognized, which basically means in England (which means a visa and an extra cost). It’s expensive to become a second engineer — so far, I am looking at €8,000 to €10,000 in costs.

My advice to those looking to get started is research the industry. Don’t just look at the Instagram of the owners. Understand what you are getting yourself into because it is a hard job. If you’re going to do it, stick it out, start from the bottom. ... Financially, set yourself goals and don’t become stuck in “party mode.”

If you want to impress on the job, respect your seniors and respect all cultures and crew. They’re going to be your family. Be yourself.

I’ve learned that I am able to work stringent hours, what I am capable of, and what I put myself through, especially on the sailing yachts. I’ve done 15/16 crossings and I’ve learned the power of my mind and accepted me for who I am.

My most significant achievement is buying my house.

The best part of my job is being with my crew downstairs. I’ve really built some great friendships, and [love] getting to see some cool places with them and learning from experienced people.

Follow him on Instagram @Timbo8901.

This article originally ran in the March 2022 issue of Dockwalk.


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