Neil Nadkar on engine types, see the world, Nautilus professional and technical forum and training with Tenzing Norgay

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Neil Nadkar, a recently retired offshore engineer, has always had an adventurous spirit. As if being a trained Himalayan mountain guide in his native India wasn’t enough, he chose a career as a sailor in order to see the world.

What is your job title and what company do you work for?

Retired from the high seas after nearly 25 years with Shell/Nakilat.

What initially attracted you to a maritime career?

My father, who was an army officer, encouraged me to take the adventure, basic and advanced courses at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. But I was also looking forward to seeing other countries, and in the 60s and 70s the only way to do that was to have a career in the sea.

Do you have any personal or family ties to the sea or waterways?

Two of my maternal uncles were at sea, including a captain. Later, when I got married, my wife had three cousins, all masters at sea, including two on tankers, and an uncle who was a marine engineer and later a project manager for the construction of new ships.

What did you do in your career and/or studies before joining the maritime sector?

My family advised me that a career in the sea would involve long periods away from home and therefore not conducive to family life. So I graduated as a teacher and had a short stint in teaching, but found myself restless and dissatisfied, so I trained in marine engineering, which was a longer route because I was older, but I finally made it to sea.

Tell us about some of the highlights of your career

On the LNG carrier Al Kharaitiyat, an ME main engine unit had failed in the Mediterranean during the passage. I managed to replace the unit at sea with the full help of the engine room crew while running at low speed on one engine. Shell expressed its appreciation for the work carried out successfully and safely.

What have been some of your biggest career challenges?

I started my career with a large Indian shipping company, until I moved to Europe and worked for a coastal company. Work practices were different and I learned not only to adapt but also to gain autonomy. I returned to the high seas with Shell after a few years.

During my career I have worked on twin opposed Doxford, Bronz, MAK and other engines of this vintage that are rarely seen today, right through to Sulzer, MAN & BMW and the latest ME engines. It was a rewarding journey.

What are your plans for the future?

I have now spent almost 47 years at sea! I was very lucky to get a job and of my choice – I can now devote time to my very neglected hobbies. Possibly take a cruise from time to time to enjoy the sea, without the responsibilities!

Tell us about the volunteer positions you have held at Nautilus

I volunteered to join the Nautilus Professional and Technical Forum and have been a regular participant since February 2015. This is a great initiative by Nautilus as it allows members to share their experiences, discuss relevant issues that are currently on their minds and to propose solutions.

What do you like to do in your spare time ?

Mountaineering has always been my passion. I had the good fortune of being tutored by Tenzing Norgay in Darjeeling at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, and also climbing briefly with Sir Chris Bonnington in the Himalayas. My climbing days are long over but I keep up to date with mountaineering news.

What’s your favorite place you’ve visited during your career?

The only place that has a special place in my memory is Ile Royale (next to Devil’s Island), which a group of us, on a rare day off, visited off the coast of French Guyana. I don’t think many sailors get to see the former penal colony of the Iles du Salut, certainly not in 1989 when we went there, which inspired the book and then the movie, Papillion.

It was incredibly moving to see the appalling conditions in which the prisoners were held. You didn’t need much imagination to visualize the conditions of the prisoners with the decaying buildings, the dense vegetation and the heat.

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