At the Maritime School opening were (from left) Office Manager Christy Steyn, newly-graduated Captains Timothy Short-Lee and Juan-Pablo Piscione, and Maritime School owner Garth Steyn. (Robert Luckock photo)
COLE BAY–Maritime School of the West Indies (MSWI) held an opening party at its new premises at 85 Well Road 26A (opposite Electec Service Center), Cole Bay, on Friday afternoon, with many well-known personalities from the marine sector in attendance.
The school was formerly located at Auberge de Mer, adjacent to Marina Port La Royale in Marigot, where it had been owned and operated by Veerle Rolus since 2004 before the sale to Garth Steyn, Managing Director of SF Sailing NV in Dutch St. Maarten and founder of the Kidz at Sea Foundation, on February 29.
MSWI will continue to offer worldwide-recognised certification courses thanks to the affiliation with International Yacht Training (IYT), US Sailing and other partners. Following a signed agreement last week, MSWI will also handle the maritime course that was formerly held at National Institute of the Performing Arts (NIPA).
Popular internationally recognised courses among mega-yacht crews include Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), and Yacht Master levels (personal training, offshore training and ocean training) while local operators can take advantage of the Dutch-side commercial Boat Master licence and other courses. Sea survival training is conducted at the Carib Swim Team Pool.
“I see the school as a way forward to helping local people on the island, and another avenue to advertise for more business from the mega-yacht industry and educating people moving forward,” Steyn told the gathering, before thanking those who have supported and contributed to both the school and Kidz at Sea Foundation.
The school’s sale to Steyn is seen as a logical move, given his involvement with teaching St. Maarten youth sailing and teaching marine trades such as boat-building through Kidz at Sea Foundation’s work. Rolus described him as the “perfect candidate” to take MSWI forward. Indeed, the school is off to a good start at its new location with courses and upcoming ones fully subscribed.
Located a month ago, the premises have a reception area at the entrance leading to a large classroom at the rear. Three adjacent rooms at the side are used for the fire training course, a configuration that fits perfectly for simulating a fire rescue.
The party coincided with the announcement of two new graduates who obtained their Captain’s licences (24-metre international certificate of competence in sailing). They are Mega Yacht Services owner Timothy Short-Lee and Tri Sport owner Juan-Pablo Piscione.
“I had the time to do this course, as half of my business (tourists) is not here anymore,” said Piscione, a life-long sailor. “Now I can finally rent a boat in St. Maarten.”
Maritime School of the West Indies under new ownership
In a joint press release issued over the weekend, Maritime School of the West Indies (MSWI), International Yacht Training (IYT) and SF Sailing NV announced that the Maritime School is now under the new ownership of Garth Steyn, managing director of SF Sailing NV in Sint Maarten.
The Maritime School was started and managed by Veerle Rolus in January 2004 until today. The school is affiliated with IYT (with world headquarters in Canada) and many of the IYT world-wide recognized courses are taught at the school. MSWI has built an extraordinarily good reputation all over the world in the yachting world and beyond.
Said Veerle Rolus: “It’s time to handover the school to younger people, and someone like Garth who is constantly involved in teaching youngsters sailing, he is the perfect candidate to continue our relationship with IYT and the hundreds of mega yachts, local boats and charter vessels which we have provided certificates with over the years.
“In addition, with his sailing school he will attract young people to follow official courses and hopefully see more youngsters making a choice to enter the yachting world. We have been blessed with wonderful teachers during my time at the school and I am very happy that several will continue with Garth. We’ve always had a great relationship with IYT also and I’m sure that MSWI under new ownership and management will not disappoint anyone.”
Remarked Mark Fry from IYT: “Maritime School of the West Indies has been an IYT-approved training facility for almost 20 years. Thousands of Superyacht crew have been successfully trained to Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) and moved on to successful careers in the Superyacht industry.
“We welcome the introduction of Garth Steyn to take over the operations of MSWI and look forward to a continuing successful relationship. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Veerle and Jan for their 20 years of hard work and wish them all the very best with their future endeavours.”
Garth Steyn: “The opportunity arose and we have been moving forward since Hurricane Irma with helping educate the local youth in collaboration with the Kidz at Sea Foundation. This way we will be able to work with the yachting and shipping crews and hopefully be able to mix the classes so that the local population will also have more exposure to that industry. We thank Jan and Veerle for all the hard work that they have put in over the years in establishing this school and we will work hard to uphold its good reputation.”