20th April 2020


Boatfolk stories: Hugh Kelsall

Boatfolk Hero

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am the Assistant Manager at Penarth Marina. Before I joined the marina team, I had been working within the hospitality industry, where I started washing dishes at the age of fourteen. I’ve had several roles in the catering industry which helped me to complete my HND in hotel management. Since then, I’ve had various management positions within the industry. I was also lucky enough to spend a year travelling in Australia and six months working a ski season in Val-d'Isère, before settling down and focusing on my career.

All my hobbies are based around the water and I particularly enjoy sailing, wakeboarding, surfing, and swimming. I started sailing toppers when I was in school and have carried on sailing ever since. I have been on a few sailing holidays abroad, lots of cruiser sailing and some racing as well. I’ve been an active crew member for the RNLI for 15 years, and since moving to Cardiff I am a fully qualified helm at Penarth station. 

When and why did you choose to work at our marina?

I Joined the crew at Penarth Marina in August 2014, I wanted to branch out of the hotel industry and then a job in the marina became available. Quay Marinas looked like a great company to get involved in and so I started my career at the marina.

Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I am really proud of my son, Lucas, who is 20 months old and loves looking at the boats in the marina or visiting the lifeboat station.

What is a typical workday like?

No day is ever the same! You can try to plan each day, but it’s always likely to change, the diversity makes the role so much more interesting - whether it’s a day in the office doing admin tasks, carrying out site maintenance or getting wet and dirty in the boatyard!

What do you like most about your job?

This is a hard question as I really like everything about working in the marina and being able to experience all the other marina sites within the group – being close to the water is definitely a highlight! Generally, working within a team of genuine and fun people who all share similar interests and working towards the same goal is really refreshing.

What’s been your fondest memory as an employee of ours?

I feel lucky that I can say I look forward to going to work each day, in a sociable environment and have lots of fun with the team and customers alike.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?  

I love spending time with the family, my wife, son and rescue dog, Rio. We all love being outdoors and you can often find us out walking, cycling, sailing or on the beach.

What is the one thing that makes you feel the most alive?

Being out on the water, whether it’s sailing, surfing, SUP or wakeboarding. You can’t beat the sea!

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be happy, enjoy life and don’t get stuck in an environment you’re not happy with, time goes so quickly.

Would you recommend getting afloat to a friend or family member and why?

Yes, get out and experience the feeling of freedom, sailing and relaxing in an amazing environment

Boating can be deemed an expensive hobby/sport, what would your tips be for someone who is looking to get afloat?

Don’t go too big or fancy too quick. You do not need a big and fast boat to enjoy being afloat. Then learn basic maintenance skills to do as much of the boat maintenance yourself.

Related stories

Visitor booking Berthing quote