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Pilot obtains open licence

THE milestone in Sandile Gebashe’s career was definitely obtaining his open licence as a marine pilot last year.

This sought-after qualification enabled him to dock the biggest vessel visiting the Port of Ngqura, the MSC Elisa (142 000 gross tonnage, 366m length), on the day that he obtained this licence. He has become the Port of Ngqura’s third open licence holder, with this scarce skill.

The port’s ultimate goal is to have five open licensed pilots.

“This is a huge pride in my development. The job of a ship’s navigator is not just any kind of job – it is an art. I believe that I match this art perfectly with my sharp eye and good ear to analyse a situation, make quick decisions, judge distances and pay attention to detail,” Gebashe said.

He explained that the maritime career is a very challenging career, as the sea is a dangerous environment to work in.

“You need the right people for this job because a lot is at stake such as safety of life and efficient and safe navigation, as well as the safety of the environment. Learning never stops as the maritime industry is continuously improving.”

His responsibilities include shifting vessels within the port, safely navigating vessels in and out of the port and assisting the harbour master with controlling the movement of vessels within port limits and anchorages.

“The first day that I joined a ship was also my first job, my first aeroplane flight and my first visit to Cape Town. This was also the day that I nearly lost my life on board the ship! Challenges on a day-to-day basis include proper communication, poor planning and strong winds.”

Gebashe’s highlight was when realising he had made the right decision to further his studies after passing the second semester at university – not forgetting that days passed without food on his table. Another highlight was obtaining his Deck Officer Certificate of Competency and safely handling an incident in January 2013. Gebashe obtained a Diploma in Travel and Tourism, a National Technical Certificate in Mechanical and Marine Engineering and he is currently finalising the last module of a Diploma in Maritime Studies with the Durban University of Technology.

He started his seagoing career in 2002 with Unicorn Shipping. He gained further experience in various positions in TNPA (Ports of East London, PE and Cape Town), Safmarine and Maersk Line before joining the Port of Ngqura as Tugmaster in 2012. He also spent time in the Netherlands on training.

He added, “I strongly believe that I can achieve my dreams. I am a quality-obsessed and results-driven person. I seek knowledge and wisdom, I read books and do research on matters that interest me. I am a father of three beautiful children and love spending time with them. After all, when you do the job that you love, you will never work a day in your life.”

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