I’m writing to you off the Inter Islander rail-ferry “ARATERE”. Yes, that’s right I am currently undergoing a deck officer cadetship to gain 2nd Mates ticket. I’ve been here for 6 ½ months now. Another 2 to go. Three weeks into my cadetship and I thought to myself ‘what have I got myself into, going to sea on a ship being the only female in the deck department’. That was on the “ARAHURA”. I thought to myself ‘God help me please, to live out my dream and to find my place in this industry if that’s what you have called me to do!’The next day I get a phone call from the office to ask me if I wanted to join the “ARATERE” and sail to Brisbane for a dry dock! Okay so I just left all my family, friends and relatives in Auckland to move to Wellington, and that wasn’t easy, now I’m being asked to leave my country! (Genesis 12:1-3). I jumped at the chance. Yep, my prayer was answered and I was off sailing to Brisbane the next day. The sail across took 4 days steaming and we were blessed with nice calm weather. But still no more women on board. The amazing thing though was that at least 8 of the crew were Christians and one of the mates used to work on one of the Mercy Ships like The Pacific link that I was on around Fiji. So immediately we all bonded together. Arriving outside the Brisbane River a pilot boarded us and we spent quite a few hours under pilotage at night, arriving at the dock at 22:30. We spent the rest of the night de-ballasting the ship so we could undergo tank inspections. Again, out of the 200 Australian workers and our 50 odd crew I was the only woman. Being a 19 year old in amongst all this I thought it was going to be a nightmare. In the end our 6 week docking ended up being an 8 week stay. One of the most remarkable experiences of my career so far. Talk about a bonus. The cadetship started out with celestial sights, bridge watches, deck loadings and now a drydock and in sunny hot Brisbane. I made the most of every opportunity, often working long tiresome hours in order to be in 2 places at once. Tank inspections: Anchor and cable calibrating: Ships antifouling paint systems: Survey with DNV Surveyors: Lifeboat load testing: Observing of the prop, rudder and shaft removal and insertion and the pouring of chock fast: Sea trial and engine testing: SMS and ISPS procedures: Ships structure and layouts: Ship handling under pilotage and tugs. And besides all of that I did get to enjoy having some fun in amongst all the learning. To drive a digger : A ride in a crane up to take photos of the ship : Ferry ride up the Brisbane River : Stay in a nice motel in Garden City : Found myself a church to go to for 2 months : Went to a concert and a conference : A camp up on the Sunshine Coast with the youth from the church : Made some amazing life-long friendships : BBQ’s and parties on board sailing back : Soaked up the sun and got heaps of phone cards to call home/New Zealand. On returning back to NZ I had no idea of what was next to come. But to this day I am still currently working on the “ARATERE” enjoying every minute of it. I have taken months off here and there to go to school and work on other ships, but the Aratere is still my ship. Working with the Bosun on deck, the Master and Mates on the bridge and learning a lot about dangerous goods. Still fit and well and ready for more.