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Finding the true Spirit of success

At the helm: Raymond Brangman started at Marine & Ports as a deckhand and is now working towards his captain’s licence

People told Raymond Brangman he’d never make it in life.

In 2006 he dropped out of high school and was convinced he’d spend the rest of his working years stocking shelves at a grocery store.

The Bermuda Sloop Foundation proved his salvation.

“I didn’t know what to do with my life,” the 28-year-old said. “I was all over the place. I always set myself down. People [told me I wasn’t] going to make it in life. I was quiet, shy, a really shy person.”

Despite the dire forecast, he remained interested in education. In a matter of months he’d signed up for classes at the Adult Education School.

The executive director, Donna Daniels, recommended he spend some time on the educational sailing sloop, Spirit of Bermuda.

Mr Brangman “knew nothing about boating” but decided to give it a whirl. By 2007 he was hooked.

“I went for a week around the island and then got more involved,” he said. “I went from being a student to working full-time with Spirit, for four-and-a-half years. [Prior to that] I had no boating experience, I learnt everything through Spirit. I learnt all my skills, all about sailing and navigation and the sloop got me into the Northeast Maritime Institute where I did my [Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping course] and got my captain’s licence.”

The experience wasn’t without pitfalls however. Mr Brangman agonised over the deaths of two people he met through Spirit, Adam Goodwin and Vershon Simmons.

“Both were in bike accidents, both were good friends off the Spirit of Bermuda,” he said. “Their deaths really impacted me, but in a positive way. I was stressing over their passing but then realised they would have wanted me to sail, to teach. It’s what Adam showed me how to do on Spirit. He was my first boatswain’s mate and watch leader.

“In 2009 I started working at Marine & Ports as a deckhand and I’m now working towards my local captain’s licence. If it weren’t for Spirit I probably would’ve just been working at a grocery store, stocking shelves. It also opened by eyes to a different opportunity. I wanted to become a pilot but after 9/11 I sort of changed my mind and then got into boating instead. I am thinking of going to flight school now. I’m flying to Palm Beach next year for a month-long course and then will work out my flight hours. I want to fly private jets.”

He’s had a positive reaction so far.

“Some of my friends, my family tell me, ‘Keep on going. Don’t let anybody stop you from doing what you dream of doing’,” he said. “They’ve told me they’re proud of me and glad for me and that if I need any help to just let them know.”

•Join the Bermuda Sloop Foundation and Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art at 5pm at BUEI on Friday. The charities will auction off approximately 60 sloops as part of a fundraiser, Art 4 Sale. Proceeds will go towards the organisations’ educational programmes. Event runs until 9pm.