Dec 8, 2022
By Allegra Smith-Herriott
Introducing the next graduate in our marine career path series, April Scarlett. A former Ontario resident, April was enticed by the Pacific Ocean and everything it has to offer.
Entering the marine industry quite recently, April expanded her skills at Quadrant Marine Institute and now works and lives on the West Coast with her family. Here is her unique story and career path.
Name: April Scarlett
School: Quadrant Marine Institute
Program: Marine Service Technician Apprenticeship
Graduating Year: 2022
Current Workplace: Prorite Contracting Ltd
What is your background in the marine industry? Tell us a bit about how you got into the marine industry.
How I came about working in the marine industry was just pure luck. I’m originally from Ontario and moved here in 2010 after going to Ryerson University for my Bachelor of Social Work. I moved to the island to reassess the career path I was taking.
My sister was living here at the time, and she was the one that introduced me to boating. Before that the only watercraft I had been on really was canoes and kayaks when going to summer camp. She introduced me to the Pacific Ocean, and all the things it had to offer; crabbing, prawning, fishing, exploring. After spending the summer in Victoria, I realized Ontario was not the place for me.
I started working for a local landscape company as a foreman and I then became their Maintenance, and Softscapes Division Manager. We went from a 3-person company to a 20-person company in the 6 years I worked there.
In 2016 I had my son, Harvey, and made a decision to take a step back from managing to focus on family. When I was coming to the end of my maternity leave, I was looking for a new job that would allow me to work 8 hours and have my home time for my family. I put my resume out online, and in a few days, I was contacted by Delta Marine Service to come in for an interview for a detailing position. When I went for my interview, I was blown away at the operation Delta was, being a full yacht service center who specializes in Fleming Yachts. I worked in their detail division for a couple of years, which I really enjoyed. Then when a position opened up in their woodwork shop, I moved over there, and I felt like I had found my niche in the marine industry.
What made you choose your program?
After a year of detailing, my boss approached me about the MST program and wanted to know if I was interested. Being so new to the marine industry we both thought it would be a great way for me to gain some knowledge to assist me in improving the work I was doing in detailing. Detailing is so involved, and is really the only position that takes you into every nook and cranny of the Fleming Yachts we service. It’s the last task done after all other work is completed and could also be used as a quality control measure. The more I knew about the vessels the easier it was for me to point out issues that needed addressing before we delivered the boat back to their owner.
What was your path after graduation and what are you currently doing now?
During my second year of the MST apprenticeship, I transferred to the woodshop, and in my 3rd year I was also in my first year of Joinery at BCIT. Joinery in the marine industry is such a unique and challenging career, and for me it was really beneficial to have the knowledge from both programs. Due to a life changing event, I chose to redirect myself, at the time of graduation. Currently I’m the Operations Manager for Prorite Contracting Ltd, which is a tile and flooring company in Victoria. My hope is to gain experience to re-enter the marine industry at a later date focusing more on project and business management.
What kind of practical experience did you get through your program?
The first 2 years of my program our classes were split into 2 halves. One half we would be in class going through our chapters, learning the theory, and the second half would be hands on either down in the shop, or in the classroom putting what we just learnt to use. During our composite lessons we would learn about the different resins, cloths, fillers etc in class and then right after we would be down in the shop working on a project and getting to know the materials we just learnt about. It was like that for all the different aspects we learnt.
Due to the pandemic in my 3rd and 4th year our classes were held online through zoom, but every few weeks we would come in for a full day workshop. We always got practical hands-on experience whether it was during our regular class time or in our full day workshops.
One thing you learned or experienced in your program that you were unexpecting?
I was not expecting to love the marine industry so much. Coming into it not knowing port from starboard, I have learnt so much, and have fallen in love. Having zero boat experience growing up and being a landscaper for most of my working life I had no idea what I was walking into. The industry is so diverse, and I was lucky enough to have worked for a full yacht service center. I was able to gain a little bit of experience in all aspects of the industry, which made my love for it grow.
What was a highlight of your program?
I really enjoyed meeting my other fellow apprentices, and the networking aspect of being in the MST program. If I ever encountered something at work that I was unsure about, I had a whole list of industry professionals that I could ask for advice from or learn a new way of doing something. It’s such a tight knit community and I’m happy to be a part of it, and to go through the program with the talented individuals I did.
What is one piece of advice you could give someone entering the marine industry?
This industry is a lot of fun. It encompasses so much, so be prepared to be constantly learning. It’s a field that’s always changing and there’s a never-ending list of things to learn and experience. Never hesitate to ask questions, and no matter what your skill level is, there’s a spot for anyone in this industry.
What do you hope to accomplish in the marine industry?
I would really like to be able to transfer my management and organizational skills into the industry I love. Hopefully working with larger refits. There’s so much that goes into large refits and repairs, and it’s a delicate dance when it comes to scheduling to make sure the project runs smoothly so deadlines can be made. I’m hoping to learn a lot in my current position so that I can apply it to the marine industry when that time comes.
Are you a power boater, sailor, or both?
Being so new to the marine world, and the clientele we dealt with at Delta, ALL of my experience has been with powerboats.
Your fondest/funniest memory out on the water?
Watching Harvey experience things that I did not experience growing up has been the best! Seeing the joy and excitement he has being out on the water, exploring the different islands, fishing, and pulling up crab traps has been so rewarding!
Allegra Smith-Herriott is a recent (Sport Media) graduate (from Ryerson University) as well as an active sailor and power boater on Georgian Bay. She can be reached at email@example.com