Gracia Pillay is a 13-year-old Simon’s Town High School pupil with a passion for the sea, a vision of becoming a harbour pilot and a wish to travel the world by sea.
For Gracia, all things naval, maritime and nautical are part of her world, as her mother, Sea Cadet Corps officer, Sub Lieutenant Gaylene Pillay, serves as the
executive and administrative officer at TS Woltemade and her uncle,
Warrant Officer class 1, Nolan Herne, is a gunner in the South African Navy and serves at SAS Saldanha naval base.
At the Sea Cadets, Gracia was introduced to the maritime industry and its many jobs.
A career as a harbour pilot caught her attention and she researched what the job entailed.
“I found that the main duty of a harbour pilot is to transport the ships into and out of the harbour with the help of the tug boats.
“This is exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said.
Earlier this year, she enrolled
in Grade 8 at the Simon’s Town High School with the intention of joining the Lawhill Maritime
Centre from Grade 10 so could qualify to pursue a maritime career.
Lieutenant Commander Glenn von Zeil then surprised Gracia by arranging a visit with SA Navy Captain Marcus Rammutloa, who is a Cape Town harbour pilot, so she could experience the job first hand.
She also got to go on the tug Pinotage with tug master, Tsego Mpye, while it helped to escort a vessel in the harbour.
“I couldn’t contain my excitement even though I have been
on a tugboat many times before at the annual SA Navy festival, but this time it was different because now I was going to be a member of the ship’s company.
“If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life,” she said. “I cannot wait to start doing what I love.
“Now I am just counting the days to get through high school, then tertiary studies, and eventually reach the ocean.”