Words by Nick Burnham
Conner was 17 years old, halfway through his A Levels and aiming for university, when he saw an advertisement for an apprentice position with Princess Motor Yacht Sales in Plymouth. “I’ve always been quite ‘hands-on” says Conner, “I’ve helped my step father with construction projects for years”. So when the opportunity presented itself, he grabbed it with both hands.
Conner started with Princess Motor Yacht Sales at Sutton Harbour on the Barbican, joining the PDI (pre delivery inspection) team that examines and tests every facet of brand new Princess yachts as they are delivered from the factory, ensuring that each function and every surface is in perfect order. “I worked with the PDI team for two years – it gave me a real understanding of every inch of a Princess yacht – how things work and the terminology, but it also helped me learn to work as a team – it brought me out of my shell and was a great introduction to the business”. Conner even spent some time working at the Princess Yachts factory in the pre build department, putting together small assemblies like bilge pump systems.
As well as working here, Conner also went to college one day a week. “I initially completed a Level Two in electronic engineering, then progressed to a Level Three qualification in electrical and mechanical engineering. I completed an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) in which I was assessed regularly at work. It really helped to develop my skillset as well as my knowledge of boats”.
After gaining his qualifications and following those instructive two years within the PDI team, Conner progressed to a full time role with the Retrofit team at Turnchapel, Plymouth.
“Retrofit is a whole different series of challenges. We’re taking completed boats and retrospectively fitting often complex equipment to tailor the boat to an owner’s needs. It might be fitting a water maker, installing full boat wifi or audio-visual upgrades. It’s a job that has really broadened my horizons – so far I’ve visited Mallorca, Switzerland, Italy and Germany”. Conner describes one particularly challenging retrofit installation. “We had a customer with a Princess F55 who wanted to be able to run 240-volt systems, including a Seakeeper stabiliser, overnight without the need for shore power or running a generator. We worked with Mastervolt, creating schematic drawings and wiring diagrams to build and deliver a tailor-made system that involved five 24-volt lithium-ion batteries linked to two Mastervolt Combi inverter/charger systems. It was a huge and challenging operation that involved fitting large amounts of bulky equipment into an already finished boat, but it was massively satisfying to pull off”.
Now 23 years old, Conner is a valued member of the engineering team at Princess Motor Yacht Sales, completely vindicating that decision six years ago of taking the apprenticeship route to his present career.
Based in Turnchapel, Plymouth, Princess Motor Yacht Sales Individual can service and retrofit your Princess yacht by upgrading onboard features or introducing new technology. They can also enhance life onboard by selecting the finest in watersports equipment for those adrenalin-filled trips. You can contact our Individual team to discuss the possibilities of personalising your yacht by calling +44 (0)1752 393311 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org