Stéphane Merabet grew up in a family of seafarers on the west coast of France. So it is no surprise that he soon wanted to continue the family tradition by measuring himself against the realities of the maritime world. A referent pilot with BOURBON for around ten years, today he is committed to the transfer of experience to new generations.
"I grew up in a family of seafarers in a seaside town. From an early age, I was able to got to sea on the family trawler or aboard the tug one of my brothers was boatswain on. After interrupting my studies in electro-mechanics to do my military service in the French Navy, I went back to sea on the sailing ship 'Le Ponant'. I then created my own bluewater skipper company before joining BOURBON in 2010 as a Surfer pilot and latter as referent trainer.
My role is to train future pilots, and I use my experience to prepare them for it. My mission consists of creating educational tools that meet the group's training standards, organizing training sessions for theoretical and practical learning, and assessing pilots before they are thrown in at the deep end. Update training sessions are sometimes necessary to recall the basics and to inform them of the most recent maritime regulations."
"Proud of the success of trainee pilots"
It is very satisfying to be in permanent contact with the crews to transfer your knowledge and to maintain an approach of continuous improvement... especially in relation with such a specific activity. Surfers have small crews. In most cases, there are only two persons aboard – a pilot and a seaman. So their contact with other seafarers is pretty limited. The opportunity to share experience, points of view and the "ways of doing things" guarantees the improvement of our standard of training and therefore our operational efficiency. The operational environment sometimes requires an instantaneous response that must nevertheless guarantee a very high level of safety. But this can be difficult to do if you don't understand the environment and your own limitations. So when trainee pilots master complicated maneuvers or carry out specific maintenance operations, a sense of pride is shared by both parties because the objective is achieved, it is a pleasant feeling that we seek to perpetuate.
A good trainer must reach out to others to share their experience and know-how. You can't be afraid of questioning yourself but, above all, it's important to remain impartial because complacency can have repercussions on operational safety – and safety is our absolute priority..."