Sea life
Former cadet Craig Young is now Skipper on a Sea Cadets yacht
Sea life
A skipper and former cadet on having a career at sea
A\SLt (SCC) Craig Young RNR
By Contributor profile

A\SLt (SCC) Craig Young RNR

Craig is the Skipper on TS City Liveryman, one of the yachts in the Sea Cadets fleet, which takes cadets on exciting offshore adventures.

A\SLt (SCC) Craig Young RNR

If you’re starting to think about your future career, you might be considering a job at sea, or even working for Sea Cadets.

Craig Young joined Blackpool Unit when he was 13 and then became a volunteer at 18. Now he’s a Sea Cadets employee, working as Skipper on one of our yachts, TS City Liveryman, where he teaches cadets to sail on board the same yacht that he learned on. He talked to us about the importance of going to sea, and how Sea Cadets helped him to navigate a course to his dream job.

I remember my first ever offshore voyage, on TS Royalist – I discovered an adventurous side to myself that I didn't know I had. The atmosphere on board convinced me to try new things, from climbing the mast and stowing sails to trying the cook's mulligatawny soup! This 'give it a go' attitude I found on board has come in handy many times since, both offshore and on land.

“If you want a career at sea, the very basics need to be learned before you can succeed. Sea Cadets taught me all that and more”

An offshore voyage gives you the chance to put into practice so many of the things you learn in your unit. Chartwork and seamanship, cooking meals and carrying out checks on the engines, planning the route, deciding when sails need to be taken down – and all of this while sailing between exciting new ports, and learning to live with one another in close quarters. After a week’s sailing, a group of young people can look like a professional crew.

Cadets enjoying a sail on board TS City Liveryman

Ground work

I have very fond memories of my time as a Sea Cadet. I was very lucky that Blackpool was such an active unit, and I had some fantastic friends there. Every weekend we'd be doing something – sailing, hiking, field craft, rock climbing, charity bag packs or even just maintenance on the boats. There was a really positive vibe – everyone supported and encouraged each other, and on the rare weekends we weren't at the unit doing cadet stuff, we all met up and went out together anyway. That atmosphere wasn't unique to my old unit, either: as I visit units around the country on TS City Liveryman, I see it all the time.

“The pride, discipline, team spirit and sense of responsibility that come with being part of a uniformed youth organisation have helped me many times”

For anyone who wants a career at sea, the very basics need to be learned before you can succeed – how to sail; how to tie a bowline; what different navigation lights mean; what the green bit is on a chart. Sea Cadets taught me all that and a lot more. And there's a lot more to it though than just salty seadog skills: Sea Cadets' links with the Royal Navy is very important to me, and the pride, discipline, team spirit and sense of responsibility that come with being part of a uniformed youth organisation have helped me many times.

Craig at work on board TS City Liveryman

Living the dream

Not only did Sea Cadets help me find the perfect job, but my experience also secured me a place as a volunteer with the Jubilee Sailing Trust in South America. I spent 10 amazing weeks on board Lord Nelson as part of the Sail the World program. Getting to see the logistics and skills needed to operate a tall ship so far from home in a very hot climate, with all the challenges of different languages and cultures, was a great insight to me. It is hard work on a ship like that, but the opportunity to visit some beautiful islands and see some incredible wildlife as we sailed along made it so worth it. 

Craig took this photo from Lord Nelson's main masthead

Sea Cadets gives you so many opportunities and possibilities. I have sailed lots of different boats for different organisations since, but Sea Cadets gave me that first break, and I love being back here and seeing a whole new bunch of cadets getting the same chance to learn lots, go on some cracking adventures and, most important of all, having fun!

It wasn’t until I was about eighteen that I started to think about turning my boating experience into a full time job, and even then it took me a while longer to get the sea time and qualifications I needed. I sometimes wish I knew more about the Merchant Navy and the different careers you can have at sea when I was still at school.

The job on TS City Liveryman came at just the right time – when I was looking to step up to my first skippering job – and it was far too good an opportunity to miss, skippering the yacht I got my RYA Competent Crew award on a few years ago! Sea Cadets is where I learned to sail. The knowledge I gained and the high standards they teach you definitely helped me get where I am today.

In the Scottish Islands on a two week adventure trip in 2014

Do you want a career at sea like Craig? As well as the experience you gain at Sea Cadets, find out what apprenticeships and work experience opportunities are available on our careers page