After the Psychometric tests had been completed, a nervous wait began. Not knowing the time scales involved added to the frustrations. Weeks or months, some applicants had reported an age before the sift – the selection board who assesses the application forms along with the Psychometric test marks and chooses who to recall for an interview.
As a place with the RFA was by no means guaranteed, with large numbers of applicants and very limited positions, I also had a few other pokers in the BBQ. I had secured funding from Poppy Scotland and SSAFA to renew my STCW certification down in Glasgow in March 2020, this certification would be a door mat to doors I had opened with Serco, who run several ferry lines in Scotland. I also had also submitted an application to ‘The Master, Wardens and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Trinity and of St. Clement in the Parish of Deptford Strond, in the County of Kent’. Bit of a mouthful I know, known also as Trinity House, they are the organisation who maintains lighthouses and buoyage around England, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands. After the RFA, this was my second choice for working at sea. Who doesn't like lighthouses!
With so many STCW courses lined up, and potential interviews down in Kent, my attention moved from the long RFA wait ahead and I started planning travel and accommodation. Getting anywhere from my small rock in Orkney takes preparation and planning, multiple ferries, flights, buses and train journeys.
I was happy to include an overnight train journey on the Caledonian Sleeper, between Inverness and London which has been a long term dream of mine.
But as with all best laid plans, as soon as my final detail of travel and accommodation was booked, the Covid virus sprang up and the nation plummeted into a lockdown, and travel and hospitality providers closed for the foreseeable future. Needless to say, my plans vanished faster then El Cheapo loo rolls from the local discount store.
You can read about the Covid effect on my application in my next blog post.