Becoming an engineer on a yacht may seem complicated on paper, but it does not have to be. Being an engineer on a yacht can open brand-new doors to wonderful experiences you would not otherwise experience in a regular engineering job. That, combined with delicious salary margins, can make pursuing a marine engineering career irresistible. This article will explain how to become an Engineer Officer of the Watch (EOOW) on a yacht via the Experienced Seafarer Route in South Africa.

The Engineer Officer of the Watch on a Yacht in South Africa

In our recent article, we briefly talked about the new Small Vessel Engineers system, with an introduction to Marine Information Notice (MIN) 642. In this article, we will talk about one of the two routes to becoming an Engineer Officer of the Watch on a yacht or other ships. This is the first milestone to becoming a chief engineer.

The mentioned routes are as follows.

  • The Experienced Seafarer Route. Here, you build your eligibility to become a marine engineer by building up your experience with onboard service time in the engine room and other relevant services.
  • The Alternative Route. Here, you possess a diploma or degree to be eligible to become a marine engineer.

This article will focus on the Experienced Seafarer Route in South Africa.

The Experienced Seafarer Route for Yacht EOOW in South Africa

For simplification, we will divide this route into three phases: the pre-TRB (Training Record Book) phase, the post-TRB phase, and the MCA NOE. The Experienced Seafarer route is self-explanatory and simple. You build up relevant experience and acquire certificates as you go. This allows you to skip joining a full academic course to become an engineer. Let us take a look.

When it comes to EOOW licenses, there are two distinct types. The first one is the Engineer Officer of the Watch for yachts less than 3000 GT and has a propulsion power of less than 9000 kW. The second one is unlimited, mainly allowing you to work on vessels of any size and engines of unlimited power.

This article will mainly focus on the limited EOOW license for yachts via the Experienced Seafarer Route only.

a. Pre-Training Record Book (TRB)

Before you can obtain the Training Record Book, you have to fulfil certain requirements to show that you are, indeed, an experienced seafarer. Now, there are two ways to go about this. Either you go for the Yacht Restricted CoC or the Small Vessel CoC. Ideally, you would want to go for the latter, as it provides more flexibility to your career options.

To begin, you must start your journey with the ENG1 medical certificate, basic STCW modules, and the RYA Powerboat Level 2 Course. The five basic STCW modules are as follows.

  • Personal Survival Techniques (A-VI/1-1)
  • Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention (A-VI/1-2)
  • Elementary First Aid (A-VI/1-3)
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibility (A-VI/1-4)
  • Proficiency in Security Awareness (A-VI/6-1)

Once you have covered the basics, take the Approved Engine Course 1 and 2. Upon successful completion, you are eligible for engineering-related sea service. This includes 24 months of onboard time spent in the engine room, including 6 months of seagoing service on vessels (motor or steam) with an engine power of at least 200 kW. If you wish to work on yachts, you will likely choose the motor route.

Once your experience is verified and signed off by the chief engineer of the vessel(s), you are eligible for the next step.

b. Post-Training Record Book (TRB)

Once your experience is verified, the MCA-approved training centre will issue a Training Record Book (TRB) and will allow entry into MCA-approved SV module courses.

Once you are accepted for the course, you must undertake a further 11 months of onboard yacht service on vessels of minimum 350 kW propulsion power. This must include 6 months of seagoing service (days spent in the engine room).

During this time, you will also have to complete your Training Record Book (TRB).

Once you are done with the sea service, you will have to attend Workshop Skill Training, which is followed by an additional 2 weeks of seagoing service on yachts of minimum 350 kW engine power or 2 weeks of additional Workshop Skills Training.

After this, you may send your documents proving your eligibility to your MCA-approved training centre or directly to the MCA. You will receive your Notice of Eligibility within a certain period if everything is in order.

c. MCA issues Notice of Eligibility (NOE)

The Notice of Eligibility is valid for 5 years from the day of issue, and valid for 3 more years once you pass the MCA Oral exams. Once you have the NOE, you will have to complete certain MCA-approved modules. They are as follows.

  • Small Vessel Marine Diesel Engineering
  • Small Vessel Auxiliary Equipment Part 1
  • Small Vessel Operational Procedures, Basic Hotel Services, and Ship Construction

Each of these modules will have its written examinations.

Apart from these, you will also need the applicable Ancillary and Safety Course Certificates (Section 6, MSN 1904).

Once you complete these, you are eligible for the MCA Oral Examination for Second Engineering Officers on Small Vessels less than 9000 kW, less than 3000 GT, unlimited area, III/2.

Upon passing your examination, the MCA will issue the SV EOOW for yachts less than 9000 kW, and less than 3000 GT CoC.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it. You are now an Engineer Officer of the Watch for Yachts with less than 9000 kW power and less than 3000 GT. Becoming an Engineer Officer of the Watch is certainly a tedious task in South Africa. It takes learning, determination, and resilience to go through rigorous training. And this is just the first step.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is directly taken from the MCA Notice MIN 642. This article is not endorsed by MCA or any other relevant legal authority. Please note that we are not responsible for the actions inspired by the information presented in this article. We insist you conduct thorough research prior to taking any action.

But, if you are looking for assistance regarding STCW, ENG1 medical certification, or RYA Powerboat Level 2 license, feel free to connect with us today. Sail and Power SA is an RYA-accredited training centre in South Africa. We will do our best to help.