First Mate

Sail Training and Seamanship are a part of the Gordonstoun curriculum and play an important role in the School’s aim to “prepare students for a full and active role as international citizens in a changing world”.


Sail Training Voyages take place on “Ocean Spirit of Moray” the School’s 80 foot Oyster Ketch normally based at Plockton on the west coast of Scotland. The vessel is principally used to deliver the School’s sail training programme to students in years 8, 10 and 12 on voyages of two, five or seven nights’ duration. In addition the vessel may sail with groups from the wider community for both sail training and recreational voyages. The programme normally includes an extended summer voyage including regular expedition voyages to Spitzbergen in the High Arctic, and international Tall Ships races. The vessel is refitted by the Sail Training Department staff during the non-sailing season.

Seamanship courses for year 9, 10 and 12 pupils are run at Hopeman on the Moray Firth in two 28’ dipping lug cutters during the autumn and spring terms.

Gordonstoun Sail Training Department are recruiting a Full Time First Mate for an immediate start. This is a great opportunity to become a full time member of the Gordonstoun staff with a salary scale from £18,500 p/a rising to £23,500 p/a depending on qualifications and experience. There is also a benefit package that includes subsidised accommodation, free meals, reduced school fees and a generous holiday allowance.


The First Mate is a full time member of the Sail Training Department and will be a highly motivated and professional individual. The Post holder will already have a proven track record in positions of responsibility on sail training vessels and have at least two seasons sailing in vessels over 20m. LOA as First Mate. Experience of instructing in smaller vessels, safety boat work and refit management and practical skills are also important for this post.


The post holder must have RYA Yachtmaster Offshore with Commercial Endorsement, MCA ENG1 Seafarers Medical Certificate, RYA Powerboat 2 and a valid First Aid certificate. RYA Cruising Instructor, Yachtmaster Ocean and safety boat qualifications are also desirable. Experience sailing Keelboats will be an advantage.


The post currently attracts a salary of £18,500 - £23,500 depending on experience. This is reviewed annually on 1st September.


The post holder is entitled to 6 weeks paid holiday per annum, usually taken during departmental holiday periods.

Compensatory Leave

The post holder is entitled to Compensatory Leave for time at sea on Ocean Spirit of Moray at a ratio of 3 days worked to 1 day Compensatory Leave.


The First Mate’s responsibilities are outlined below.

Line Manager

The First Mate’s Line Manger is the Sail Training Co-ordinator, although whilst working on board Ocean Spirit or other vessels the First Mate will be directly managed by the Master of that vessel.

Sailing on board Ocean Spirit

  • To act as the Skippers Executive Officer to help manage the day to day running of the vessel, and to deputise for the Skipper in his or her absence
  • Ensuring that the vessel’s safety and operational procedures as set out in the Vessel Management System are implemented and that Trainees are briefed in all aspects of safety.
  • To act as Officer of the Watch and to be in charge of the safe operation and navigation of the vessel in alternation with the skipper.
  • To take charge of sail handling and other deck work when required.
  • Instructing and supervising trainees in all aspects of the voyage including deck work, watch keeping, seamanship and domestic duties. 
  • To build a positive working relationship with Trainees in order to help achieve the objectives of the voyage.
  • To instruct Trainees in elements of the RYA Cruising Scheme when required.
  • To supervise Trainees whilst ashore when required
  • To contribute to the appraisal of trainees including a formal end of voyage debrief
  • Assisting with the supervision of crew transfers by launch/tender when Ocean Spirit is based at the Plockton Mooring.
  • To supervise Trainees whilst travelling to/from Gordonstoun and the vessel 
  • To be responsible for the daily, weekly, monthly maintenance routines on board the vessel and to keep written records of work carried out.
  • To be responsible for the victualing and other storing of the vessel
  • To assist with any repairs necessary on a day to day basis and to oversee and carry out planned maintenance during breaks in the sailing programme.
  • Sailing staff may occasionally be assigned other duties during non-sailing periods in the vessel’s season.

Winter refit of Ocean Spirit

  • To assist with the laying up, maintenance, refitting and re-commissioning of Ocean Spirit.
  • To supervise the above work (and staff) in the Skipper’s absence 
  • Liaising with boatyard staff and contractors
  • Keeping maintenance records 
  • Driving School vehicles as required by the refit programme (if appropriately qualified). 
  • Assisting with the delivery of vessels to and from winter refit bases.

 Hopeman Seamanship

  • To assist with the instruction of the Seamanship curriculum at Hopeman.
  • To provide safety cover and/or instruction for Seamanship, sailing in one of the Schools Dipping Lug Cutters and/or safety vessels as required.
  • To drive pupils between the School campus and Hopeman in a School minibus (if appropriately qualified).
  • To assist with the launching, recovery and maintenance of the cutters and safety vessels. 
  • To write brief reports on the pupils under the post holder’s instruction on completion of their Seamanship courses.


  • To attend departmental meetings
  • To attend relevant staff inset sessions

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Click for Application Form

These notes are for general information only and the appointment will be subject to signature of formal conditions of employment.  Candidates wishing to be considered for this post should complete the school’s Operational Staff application form (available in either Word or PDF format) and submit a letter of application outlining why they feel they are suitable candidates for this post and email to

The closing date for applications is 0900 on Friday 8th march 2019.

Interviews dates to be confirmed.

If you have any further queries, please email or call 0044 (0)1343 837831.

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