Four Shields Ferry crew members set to take on the waters after sailing through their boat licence tests

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Four members of the Shields Ferry crew are celebrating after making the grade as boat skippers.

The four crew member passed the maritime equivalent of a driving test to get the all-important qualification after months of rigorous training and mentoring.

The fab four – James Wangadia, Joe Avary, John Lewis and Mathew Knott – sailed through the nerve shredding tests, becoming fully licenced to get behind the controls of the Shields Ferry in service on its daily Tyne crossings.

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 Known as the Boat Master’s Licence, it enables them to drive both of the ferries, which are owned and operated by Nexus – Pride of the Tyne and Spirit of the Tyne.

They were put through their paces by an examiner from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and were assessed on their knowledge and control of the vessel, maritime regulations, and the relevant safety procedures required to carry customers on an inland waterway.

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left to right: Mathew Knott, John Lewis, James Wangadia and Joe Avary.left to right: Mathew Knott, John Lewis, James Wangadia and Joe Avary.
left to right: Mathew Knott, John Lewis, James Wangadia and Joe Avary. | Nexus

Customer Services Operations Manager, Mandy Francis, said: “We are delighted to say that all four of our newest recruits have passed their boat master’s licence.

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“They’ve put a huge amount of work into the detailed training process and they can be rightly proud of their achievement.

“Months of preparation went into getting ready for the test, which can be a nerve wracking experience as it’s a bit like a driving test with an examiner from the MCA observing them at all times.

“All those many hours of practice and studying came to fruition. These tests are vital to ensure that they are qualified to drive the Shields Ferry and all of our crew has had to undergo the process.

“My thanks go to some of longer serving skippers who put so much time and effort into training up the recruits and got them ready to take the test.”

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One of the four new recruits to pass the test was Joe Avary, who join the Ferry crew less than a year ago. Joe, who is originally from America, was over the moon to have passed his test.

He said: “I’m delighted to say that we all came through the boat master’s test with flying colours. There was a lot of preparation, a lot of stress, and we had to take on a lot of knowledge to get through it.

“Getting this licence means that we are officially qualified to drive the Shields Ferry and it’s a great feeling.

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“The examiner tested us on all of the rules and regulations of the River Tyne as well international maritime regulations, safety, boat knowledge and seamanship.

“The best part for me was that this cohort of new crew members all went through this process together. That helped to build up a great deal of team spirit to be studying together.

“We’ve had brilliant mentoring every step of the way. In my case I’d been there less than 12 months, so to get me up to speed in such a short time is an amazing accomplishment.”

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