Students get taste of real world at Marine Institute skills competition

How fast can you tie a knot? Students at Marine Institute in St. John's tested that and other skills in its annual Nautical Skills Competition on Saturday.

'We always have to have contingency plans in case something goes wrong,' says Dylan May

A member of the Master Mariners of Canada evaluates students in a control room at the Marine Institute during its annual Nautical Skills Competition on Saturday in St. John's. (CBC/Ryan Cooke)

Students at Marine Institute in St. John's had the chance to put their studies to the test on Saturday, as the school hosted its annual Nautical Skills Competition.

Randomly selected teams of students squared off in a variety of events, judged and aided by members of the Master Mariners of Canada, an organization representing Canadian shipmasters and senior deck officers.

They went through real-life scenarios in the school's simulators, overcoming obstacles thrown at them along the way.

"We've definitely learned a lot," said student Katie Barker.

"We've come upon a lot of challenges and I think we've overcome them. We're definitely going to take that into the real world."

Students working hard in Saturday's skills competition at Marine Institute in St. John's. (CBC/Ryan Cooke)

Preparing for the future

Among other things, the competition saw them simulate working through problems in the offshore sector, timed knot-tying exercises and the simulated docking of a ship in Port aux Basques.

The winning team at the end of the day took home a $1,000 cash prize.

"It's taking what we've learned in the classroom and really applying it to the real world," said Barker's teammate, Dylan May.

"Especially with the offshore industry, especially off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador."

At the start of each phase, teams would give a two minute safety demonstration in any format they chose — from a brochure to a song or poem.

Teams had to account for any problem that could come up, May said, in the event it popped up during their simulation.

Students work through a rigging exercise at the Nautical Skills Competition on Saturday at the Marine Institute in St. John's. (CBC/Ryan Cooke)

"We always have to have contingency plans in case something goes wrong."

"We have to know how we are getting out of this safely and effectively," said May. 

Each team consisted of students from years one through four, and one high school student with an interest in the nautical science program at Marine Institute.