San Diego or Bust! - A Marine Systems Student’s Story

San Diego or Bust! - A Marine Systems Student’s Story
Russ Megowan, Marine Systems '20

When I finished my IYRS Marine Systems program in February 2020, I had my dream job lined up. It wasn’t handed to me by any means. But IYRS set me up with the means and the know-how to go for it.

Flash Forward to March 2020:

For me, I initially wanted a yacht charter company job in the San Diego, California area. To get it, I researched dozens of companies around the country and sent them to my IYRS job coordinator, Mollie Williams. After a summer stint at Narragansett Sailing Charters in Rhode Island, I became convinced that I wanted to become a yacht charter mechanic. Between frequent boat inspections and a high paced repair schedule to keep a dozen sailboats ready for charter, I felt like I found my dream job.

Against all of my personal fears and doubts, I got my job at Harbor Sailboats, a well renowned charter and sailing academy. I had a solid job out of school and even a boat to live on! Everything was set. But then Coronavirus happened, and within 3 weeks, the dream seemed dead as the US economy shut down...

Overcoming the Current Pandemic

In the heat of getting laid off, I asked a fellow mechanic where I might find other employment. He recommended I check out Explorer Marine Services. I reached out to office manager Stacy Thomas a couple times before things shut down and got them my resume. Just as I was about to show up on March 20th to try and get an in person interview, no one was answering the phone and California’s statewide shutdown order went into effect. Despite all of the obstacles, I reached out as things began to open up in late June and service manager Julio Morelos recommended I be taken on as an assistant mechanic to owner, Tait Oberg.

Expectation Vs. Reality

As much as I had learned through the IYRS Marine Systems program, it could not comprehensively prepare me for the crucible that is on-demand yacht maintenance. On my first day, I spent the entire day with one of my mentors, Mario. Our task was dismantling and removing a washer/dryer combo on a 50 ft. motor yacht because they were built into the master cabin of the yacht; it was not physically possible to carry them through the boat’s hallways, so we had to cut them down, piece, by piece. I never imagined it would take an entire day to move a washing machine and dryer from point A to point B!

As time went on, I learned how to deal with motor oil, coolant, and diesel fuel waste, as well. While some jobs were quite dirty and nowhere near as glamorous as the boats I was working on, the payoff was glorious. You may find yourself spending all day taking a yacht you just fixed out on sea trials or helping the captain frame photo shoots for a yacht broker so the owner can acquire a bigger boat.

It’s amazing where a bit of dielectric grease, critical thinking, and the right tools can take you in the yachting industry.