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.
PILOTING the ARATERE in through Tory Channel, about to approach a fog bank that lasts the entire way to Picton until we are berthed alongside. One minute you see the hills and sea then next you can’t even see the bow. And talk about a drop in temperature.It’s such a buzzing challenge to take command of a ship in Fog where you are unable to see anything ahead of you. You have to really put all your skills and experience to the test and use the best of your knowledge. All it takes is for one small error in assessing the next alteration of course or even a small craft unexpectedly approaching you and your ticket and career will go down the drain.I guess that why I like this career so much. It’s a challenge within itself, a hard area to get into requiring lots of time, study and effort. But once you have made the first move the worlds your oyster as some say.I thank God for the Wisdom and knowledge that He gives me when I’m in Command of a ship (even when co-piloting) just having God with me and his soft but strong voice guiding me in the decisions I make results in the safe handling of the ship and a lot of Praise goes back to Him.
NZMS - New Zealand Maritime SchoolBridge simulator. This new Bridge system that they have at the maritime School in Auckland enables students to get a feel of what it’s like to take command of a ship out at sea.The only thing that this simulator doesn't do is roll to give you a feel of the motion in rough seas, but that all comes with the job in the end. After spending the last few years at sea and at studying at the Maritime School in Auckland I can’t wait to get back out to sea with a ticket and actually do what I have been studying and training to do. Only 2 more months to go now.
VIWA ISLAND - Naibalebale Village
Thursday, July 19, 2007today was my day to go ashore. After Lunch I caught a ride ashore with the Fijians in their long reef boat.On arriving at the beach I was greeted by a swarm of children that came running from their classroom to meet me. My idea of going ashore was to help out with the medical team not children.But to my surprise I was struck back when they told me that there was no medical work left to do in this village today. I was in a way upset. So I pulled up a pew under a tree and started praying to God to lift me from the ditch that I was now in and place me back on the path that He has for me on this island.The next minute I looked up and saw two little eyes gazing at me from the distance. Then slowly a hand rose up next with fingers waving up and down. A little girl had recognized me from when I came to the island for the SevuSevu on the Monday and visited the children’s classroom spending time talking with them and taking photos.The little eyes and gorgeous smile captured my attention from a mile away. It instantly touched my heart and drew me in the direction of her pretty face. Three steps towards her, I was bombarded by kids. Some recognized me from when they came to the ship for their teeth check ups and extractions from the previous couple of days.
Their smiles were priceless.
I spent the rest of the afternoon with the children playing soccer on the field, encouraging the girls that they to can play sport and beat the guys. Drawing pictures with them in the classroom, singing songs, dancing, and playing games with the younger ones. The day ended with me helping sweep out the classrooms before they all went home.In New Zealand we have booms and mops but on Viwa Island they have branches and straw, and I tell you it works a charm. You just sweep all the dirt and dust out the door and that’s it.