A surfer pilot for BOURBON, Yves Brice Ntoumtoum enjoys his profession which, even if the pace is sometimes difficult, is very diverse: it requires rigor and a certain taste for mechanics, not to mention a good sense of human relations. We talked to him...
Nothing predestined Yves Brice Ntoumtoum to become a Surfer pilot. Born and raised in Gabon, Yves Brice trained for the construction sector – a sector in which it is unfortunately difficult to find work in his native country. He contacted BOURBON in 2011 when he heard that the company was recruiting. He immediately began an interim job as a mechanic, but very quickly made his dream come true and became a seaman. He was offered a 2-month training course in a BOURBON training center in Morocco, after which he was promoted to junior pilot. He began by working alongside a confirmed pilot before taking the helm with full responsibility 6 months later.
I have to be available for the client and maintain good relations with them and know how to welcome my passengers.
ALTERNATING PERIODS AT SEA AND REST PERIODS ON SHORE
His mission as a Surfer pilot: to ensure the transfer of persons and goods between the logistics base and the offshore platform of an oil company, or between platforms at sea. It is a profession that goes far beyond a simple “water taxi”, he says. The pace of a pilot’s job is intense. Yves Brice works 12 hours a day. Around twenty pilots operate on the base and relay each other round the clock. Each pilot works for 28 days and is then given 28 days of “recuperation”, which enables them to spend quality time with their families.
SURFER PILOT: EXPERIENCE... AND VERSATILITY
The work may seem repetitive from the outside, but you cannot trust appearances: contingencies are commonplace. Weather conditions are sometimes unpredictable and night operations can be delicate: “It takes a lot of skill and precision, which you acquire over the years with experience and maturity. I am totally at ease today. I get a lot of satisfaction out of being a Surfer pilot, says Yves Brice Ntoumtoum. I also appreciate the diversity of the profession: “The pilot is responsible for his vessel. I have to take care of the Surfer I have been entrusted, ensure maintenance by carrying out small repairs, be capable of doing an oil change, etc. Whenever I get a little time, I look after the boat: it’s my work tool and I take care of it! But I also have to be available for the client and maintain good relations with them and know how to welcome my passengers. A Surfer pilot has to be both professional and good-humored!”
Even if the pilot must do everything to satisfy the client, his priority remains the safety of the people and equipment. “Surfer pilots serve their clients. But when they ask for something impossible or dangerous, you have to know how to educate them and explain why it can’t be done.”
Safety always comes first: a Surfer pilot has total authority to refuse to carry out an operation that he considers dangerous.