Earlier this year, Seahub Yacht Management Software awarded its second Seahub Engineering Grant for 2023 to Jaco Esterhuizen. The company had over 70 nominations from aspiring crew to full-time engineers looking to upskill. The $3,000 grant was open to yacht engineers for training, and the winner gains access to Seahub’s database of 3,000-plus OEM manuals and technical datasheets.
Esterhuizen’s nomination “stood out from the moment we saw it. At the time, he was working predominantly on deck. His chief engineer had taken the time to reach out and tell us of how [Esterhuizen] was spending his weekends learning about the engineering processes on board. He showed a commitment to learning as much as he could from his chief and those around him as a way of learning the engineering ropes,” says Sam Wheaton, commercial director and co-founder of Seahub.
Designed to provide support to an engineer who has an ambition to advance their career, the grant also awards the recipient with mentorship from Seahub and give the engineer another opinion for situations on board.
Starting his career as a civil engineering laborer in Christchurch, New Zealand, Esterhuizen went on to complete a plumbing apprenticeship and made the shift into yachting two years ago. While he joined as a deckhand, he knew from the beginning that he wanted to be in the engine room. Walking into the 62-meter motor yacht’s engine room was intimidating at first, but Chief Engineer Michael Doyle taught him about the systems on board and nominated him for the grant.
“When I heard about Seahub’s grant, I thought it was a great initiative from them. When I got nominated, I didn’t think in a million years that I would actually win it,” Esterhuizen says. “But Sam then emailed me with the news, and I was definitely speechless.”
Wheaton arranged for Esterhuizen to do his AEC1 and AEC2 at Maritime Professional Training (MPT) in Fort Lauderdale. “Before the course, my knowledge about the systems on board was very limited,” he says. “The courses allowed me to feel a lot more confident about the various systems and really simplified everything.”
The next step for Esterhuizen is to get in sea time for him to complete his Small Vessel Engineering ticket. “This grant definitely fast-tracked my engineering career,” he shares. “I will forever be thankful to Seahub and hope to work more with them in the future.”
Wheaton shares that the grant is extremely rewarding for Seahub and reading the stories of crew going above and beyond is uplifting and reinforces their belief that yachting is the most incredible industry one can work in.
“The grant has given us a small window into the future of the next generation of engineers coming through,” Wheaton says. “These are coming from different backgrounds, trades, and experiences, which is going to make the future pool of engineers highly skilled and extremely capable.”