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Style of Wight interview with Jock Rafferty

18 July 2016
Popular Isle of Wight magazine Style of Wight interviewed Shepards Wharf Marina Manager Jock Rafferty for their July/August 2016 issue: 

Jock Rafferty has lived an islander’s life since 1997 after he sold his successful steeplejack business in Edinburgh. Whilst director at Steeplejack Services, he was awarded ‘Scottish Business of the Year’ by The Prince’s Trust, and he also reached the semi-final of a Scottish businessman of the year TV programme. 

Then he decided to do something completely different and chose sailing, got his Yachtmaster Ocean “tickets” at UKSA in Cowes, flew out the next day to start work in Croatia as a yacht captain – and has never looked back since! 

Jock has worked for Cowes Harbour Commission since 2013 when he took over as manager for Shepards Wharf Marina and the moorings team, and now spends his time looking after hundreds of boats, a constant whirl of visitors, a new events centre, and frequent rallies and regattas.

Jock’s also responsible for the river’s patrol officers, whose job it is to help leisure users and visitors to Cowes and keep the harbour and estuary a safe place for all. Jock says, “We aim to assist and educate rather than enforcing rules, so that Cowes is always a friendly place to come to.”

Past experience includes sailing over 100,000 miles as a professional yachtsman, and managing marinas and charter companies on islands including Corfu, Antigua, and Tortola - where his youngest son was born.

“I love the island feeling and this job is perfect for me. I’ve managed people from many countries and different cultures and I’ve come up with my own style of management, mixing the informality of the Caribbean with the more formal UK structure. It works well at the marina here, there’s a good buzz about the place and customers pick up on that. People like you to go that extra mile for them – and I think we’re achieving that.”

Jock’s passion for the water means he also has his own classic yacht, built in 1957 locally at Lallows boatyard, and still sails for pleasure with his 5-year-old-son. “He was born in the Caribbean to island life and can already sail the boat.”

Jock knows he’s definitely a glass is half-full guy. “My best sailing experience was crossing the Atlantic in my own 40 ft yacht. I bought it in Corfu and spent the next two years preparing it for the journey to Antigua. I’ve been lucky with the diverse experiences I’ve had; it’s made me able to fit in and mix with anyone, which is a big strength in this industry.”

Style is…?
... a frame of mind. If you’re feeling good about things; that gives you style and everything else follows on automatically.

Money equals success?
No. I’ve met people with no money who are very successful, and those with more money than you can imagine who weren’t happy. I’m not materialistic and don’t think success can be measured by money.

What does Island living mean to you?
I love island living, it’s little bit more laid back, which suits me. I think I’ll always live on an island. I like this one, my son is happy here and life is good right now!

Icons or inspirations?
Sir Richard Branson. I’ve known him for several years and stayed on Necker a couple of times. He’s got a calm aura and is very humble, treating everyone the same. He listens to new ideas; you get your say and can make a real difference. I try and incorporate those values here too. I’m interested in different ways of thinking - outside the box. Ideas can be good or bad, but I’ve always got a new one!

Typical customer?
There’s massive diversity, ranging from local fishermen, competitive yachtsmen, families out for a cruise, to the city gent.

Blunders? And what have you learned?
When steeplejacking, I was tasked with felling a chimney the “Fred Dibnah” way; unfortunately, it fell in the wrong direction, but luckily it was an empty site!

Top tips?
Treat people properly and have a positive attitude towards things, then the rest will fall into place.

Facing the future
Work wise, I’m glad to be part of an organisation that is forward looking like Cowes Harbour Commission, and we’re continually working to promote Cowes and encourage more visitors and events to come to our port. Personally, I’m just looking forward to more days on the water with my son, and once he’s old enough, sailing him back to where he was born.

Photo: Jock Rafferty at Shepards Wharf Marina. © Style of Wight

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