Ben Lye - Pearling Boat Skipper

Ben Lye - Pearling Boat Skipper

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Darwin where I lived for 15 years, then relocated to Broome where I completed high school with a coxswain. I decided to give the pearling industry a crack and started off as a deckhand. Over the past 2 years I’ve been skippering a cleaning vessel, as well as conducting pearling tours. I’m an outdoor enthusiast with a preference towards fishing and camping in the Kimberley.

As a skipper what is your role in the Pearl Farming operation?
To manage a cleaning vessel and crew in a safe manner, and to record and report all pearling information within operations.

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And what about specifically at Harvest time?
Timing is key during harvest. It's an important role for the skipper to ensure all tasks run smoothly and with care during this time.

What is your favourite part about Harvest time?
Getting to see where all the hard work goes. After the long process it’s incredible to discover what Mother Nature can create.

How did you become a skipper and how long did it take?
From early years I had always wanted to become a skipper, growing up on boats I felt it was the right career for me. I somehow got my coxswains through school in year 12, which was just incredible. Then I went straight onto the pearling boats as a deckhand. After a week as a deckhand the training began to become a skipper.

What is the best part about your job?
Working on the water, I absolutely love it. One thing that stands out to me is the wildlife. During pearling operations the marine life you get to see is amazing. We see everything from humpback whales, manta rays, dolphins, sea snakes, turtles and sailfish… the list is never ending!

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What’s the toughest part of your job?
That’s a tough one to answer, it’s quite an amazing job. To really drill down potentially the conditions at times, severe weather, large tidal movements and mechanical issues. It can cause a few dramas along the way, but there is always a way to get things done.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen whilst out at the Pearl Farm?
A Lee Shell (we call it a bastard shell), which is a wild shell that normally gets weeded out but is similar to a Pinctada Maxima. It was inside an 8 pocket panel and it was enormous!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt about Pearls?
One of the most interesting thing I have learnt about pearls would have to be about the Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl. The process to produce one is incredible; the fine art that the technicians have developed amazes me. Although most amazing of all is the oyster itself. For a living organism to create such a beautiful piece of art blows my mind.

You can view our stunning collection of Australian South Sea Pearls here.

1 comment

Sep 25, 2017 • Posted by Veronica Curness

Absolutely fascinating. Love reading about & getting to know the Willie Creek gang.

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