Being a hands-on yacht Engineer today implies being a jack-of-all-trades. For Engineer Erwan Giet, that stretches to even being a certified plane pilot. Erwan’s passion lies in mastering all yacht systems and he very much enjoys shipyard periods, which have provided him a great deal of valuable experience.
We’ve had a chat with him to see what his thoughts are on what it means to be a superyacht Engineer, what are the main challenges they face today and what he expects in the future.
1. What aspect of engineering are you particularly passionate about?
A little of everything I think. For me a part of Engineer's essential qualities are curiosity and the desire to learn. Each new yacht requires to dive deeply in order to master all systems. What I like most is optimization and adjustment of equipment. Whatever the yacht, it is always possible to do better.
2. What would be your ideal yacht to work on? Size, build, engines, owner etc.
The ideal yacht: can be between 50m and 60m, new why not, or even 20 years old, (I like surveys) with a very good team of 2 Engineers in full rotation. The time and energy it takes to get to know and maintain a yacht of this size alone and working full-time can lead to fatigue...
The engines: CAT’s is a good choice for me, simple reliable, with spare parts easy to source everywhere.
The owner: someone who loves his boat and who wants to discover new spots!
3. What is something that you’ve noticed junior engineers get surprised by when entering the industry and coming on board the first time?
On the yacht of less than 50m I remember yesterday as it was today, the huge amount of requests made to the Chief Engineer, particularly by the crew. On some yachts as well we often call you on radio very frequently, and very often for small things. Another thing is also the necessity of mastering all the systems of the yacht from hydraulics to the IT.
4. What would you say is the best way for a junior Engineer to progress through the ranks?
Courses are a necessity for the ticket, but nothing replaces experience. It must be diverse and varied. Longevity is important for the CV, but it is also necessary to work on other yachts to be confronted by a variety of different problems, which will ultimately make you a very competent Chief Engineer.
5. CAT vs. MAN vs. MTU engines?
CAT and MAN for medium speed. CAT's are very well represented, which means you can put your hands in very easily. I just know MAN engine on 6 cylinders Generators, and my opinion is that it's close to CAT.
MTU engines are great for high speed application, and you are more dependent to electronics and ashore MTU approved companies could be a resume for me.
6. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Internet… it can be very tricky! Very often people come to you and ask: "Why don't we have internet when I have 4 bars on my icon?". It can be hard to understand when you then try to explain to them that having 4G will depend on the location or switching to the VSAT system. Sometimes even the very expensive brand new system can also fail!
7. What is something the crew can do (or not do) to help the smooth running of the boat?
I think just using good common sense. I also always prefer that, if you have any doubts using something: «ask!». There are no stupid questions.
Also, the best thing for us is when the crew take care of things they use as if they were their own.
8. What are the main challenges yacht Engineers face today?
Today the yachts ask for very sharp Engineers, while the workload is very high. Most positions these days are full-time, which often leads to fatigue for Engineers.
9. What are your recommendations for websites or other resources to keep up with the newest in engineering?
I would say «manuals». They are an incredible source of information and too many Engineers skip this part. Internet is a good place to retrieve all this documentation in digital, which is perfect when you have to feed your database on the Planned Maintenance System.
10. Your thoughts on new power and propulsion technologies?
Another big challenge on new build for engineers. The upcoming new tech require more electrical and electronical skills, which will probably come with new training and certificates. As the yachting industry is allowing for the development of innovative new tech, so the yacht Engineers will be at the front rows of this innovation.
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