-^-^-The Joys of working at sea-^-^-

What other job description comes with the opportunity to see the sun rise and set each day from your workplace window or cabin porthole? To have the chance to experience international travel to exotic places and remote destinations around the world is just one of the many bonuses of the job. You get to work with a multi-nationality crew. Reap the rewards of personal satisfaction and a good pay package. Have well earnt time off in chosen ports of call. Get paid to train and learn. - To become a Deck Officer, Master or Chief Engineer. What ever area you choose to work in the rewards and joys of your job out number any other job you could think of.You will be faced with the challenges of decision making for navigation in dense traffic situations, but these times of hard concentration are usually followed by peaceful days of single watch keeping on the bridge in the middle of the ocean. Surrounded by beautiful scenery around the coast of islands and countries, and the soothing sound of the sea and gentle sea breeze when your on passage. With a job at sea it comes with the possibility of advancement and promotion to a higher rank. With promotion comes a whole new level of responsibility. Being more involved with the crew training and passenger lifeboat and emergency training if on a cruise ship.Any job comes with paperwork mentioned in fine print at the bottom of the application form. If only those words were bigger then we would be able to have a better perspective on the amount of paperwork involved in a job at sea. Time management makes the paperwork side of things a breeze.Seafarers especially deck officers are in high demands now days due to the shortage over the last few years. Its a goal of the future to see more young people choose to take up a career at sea and travel and work their way to become captains of the future.Through the New Zealand Maritime School they offer a Deck Officer Cadetship training programme consisting of a few years of study and sea time on board a ship of your choice. On completion of this time successful students gain a 2nd Mates Foreign Going Ticket, a Certificate of Competence, and a Diploma in Nautical Science.The next stage is to step back on board the ship with a gold stripe on each shoulder in a rank of a 3rd Officer.It would be awesome to see more woman take on the challenge and experiences of working at sea to become Captains.

NZ Mates and Masters Graduation - 2008

Some of the woman of the night. From the left there is a young lady who used to be a catering attendant on a Rail ferry and is now married to the 2nd Mate. In the middle is a young woman who used to be hair dresser on a cruise ship and is now seeing the Chief Officer of her last ship? And that’s me on the end a 2nd/3rd Officer, now working on cruise ships. So as you can see from this photo woman work in all areas at sea. Not just in the cleaning side, but in passenger services and in the nautical deck department. This was a great night of celebration as the recent Mates and Masters received their awards at the presentation evening.

Look in the mirror and like what you see.

We all long to be loved and feel beautiful. Part of being a woman means that we come ready made with the gene of beauty.Working on a cargo ship and tanker of a crew of 18 and me, being the only woman on board I was in two mind-sets as to what beauty actually meant to me in my chosen profession in life. On one hand I could pamper myself daily before stepping out of my cabin. Then I take the risk of giving the guys on board the wrong impression. On the other hand I could not bother about presenting myself well each day and just go natural like the guys. And guess what? That’s what I did for 10 months. During this time I learnt a lot about myself and what it truly means to be a woman, especially working and living in the industry that I'm in. I am in this profession because that's where my heart is and I have a passion to live my dream out. What I did learn from this though was that by not looking after yourself and your beauty you slowly start to lose your self-respect. That didn't sound too appealing. So I sat down and thought to myself, if I am going to live a life as an inspiration and encouragement for future young woman who want to head into this industry then I’m going to have to start to take care of myself. By this I mean making a new mark. Presenting myself well so that I am comfortable with who I am and also in a way that I represent woman when I’m on the bridge or deck of a ship. With this then will come strength, courage, confidence and endurance. If you look in the mirror each morning and like what you see that is the best way that you can start off a day, being comfortable and happy with whom you are.Words of advice: "Don't dress to impress, or select to neglect!" Choose to make a stand for woman working and living in the Maritime industry. We are all of the same make-up - (genes of beauty).

Where is the sun in the Northern Hemisphere???

Earlier this year on a voyage to Singapore I crossed the equator on a ship for the first time in my life. Now tradition has it that for each person’s first equator crossing this deserves a christening - normally an unpleasant act is played on the person. Thankfully we crossed the equator at 0630 on my 4-8 bridge watch so nothing was done to me. I watched the GPS as we crossed the line from Latitude South to Latitude North. I was expecting the GPS to take a mind of its own and spin around in circles but it didn’t. The numbers just counted down then when it reached zero to 3 decimal places it started counting back up again, this time with the letter 'N' next to the latitude co-ordinates.I noticed that as we approached the equator the sun was rising and setting in more of an Easterly and Westerly direction than we see in New Zealand. Recalling my studies from 2nd Mates I remembered that: From between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer the Sun sets anywhere from a south-westerly direction to a north-westerly direction, and from the equator to the Tropic of Capricorn the sun rises anywhere from a north-easterly direction to a south-easterly direction, depending on the time of year. At the Equator (0° latitude), it sets due west at the equinox in March. So it was quite easy to know each day where the sun would rise and set by just observing the compass in at bearings of 090 in the morning or 270 in the evening. By observing sunrises and sunsets as we were 2 degrees either side of the equator, it was seen that when the sun reached a height of its diameter above the horizon, it seemed to fade away, so that made it very difficult to take an amplitude for obtaining a compass error, as we need the sun a semi-diameter above the horizon for the calculation.For everyone back home, the sun in the northern hemisphere is just the same as what you see back in New Zealand.

Personal Satisfaction

One thing that I have realised since being at sea is that "Receiving recognition for doing well in your job is not as important as personal satisfaction and achievement."
It’s hard enough for a guy to ask a woman to do a job on a ship let alone thanking them and telling them they did well.
In my case when I prevent cargo spillage on a tanker or load a Rail Ferry to maximum capacity in record time, you would expect even just a little bit of thanks or praise for my work.
Some people need to be given thanks and praise in order to keep strong and feel good about themselves in what they do. The career path that I have chosen doesn’t offer praise to employees. For a woman that is hard since all woman like to be told when they do something well. So I have learnt to strive on personal satisfaction in my work. Doing what I do well, giving it 110% and looking back and thinking that I couldn’t have done what I did any better. That’s the sense of achievement that gives me courage to stick with what I do.

"Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything!"

Holland America Line - Cruise Ships

A New Journey awaits. I’m joining a Holland America Line Cruise Ship as a Deck Officer in November 2008. It’ll be a change of lifestyle for me as I’m used to working with cargo, independently and with having a crew of 18 males on board. I am looking forward to working together with the bridge team and socialising with the crew when off watch. And I won’t be the sole woman on board. So that has to be a plus! Voyaging to where? New Zealand and Australia, the South Pacific voyages. To work for a month as a relief 3rd Officer. Maybe I’ll decide to take up a full time permanent job with them in the near future. I do know though that HAL has a 5 star rating of EXCELLENCE and practice safety at all times. So that’s a change from previous ships I’ve worked on. Bring on the professionalism, 8 pairs on uniform and polished shoes. I may even have to learn how to iron-oh no wait there are dry cleaners on board. When I return to New Zealand and have some time off in early 2009 I may be heading to some schools to give some motivational talks and speeches to the student leaders and careers advisors. This could be the first step in the door for more women to follow their dreams of working at sea. In the near future I hope to do some promotional marketing for woman working in the Maritime Industry. It’s another year away yet though. "A day in the life of a female Deck Officer on board a Ship." From Sailing ships to rail ferries, to Cargo ships and Product tankers now to cruise ships - I wonder what awaits me next.

How to stay in shape on a ship.

Most would say it’s really easy to control your weight at sea by only eating two meals a day and viewing ship work as quite physical. Well it’s actually the opposite. The food on the ship is so good that you don’t want to skip a meal. Not to mention on a cargo ship if you don’t show up for a meal the steward comes to find you. For exercise then when on watch there is a place to do pull ups outside, squats and leg lifts inside and pacing from wing to wing in the mean time. When off watch I do Pilates daily in my cabin. This is a good way to relax and de-stress after a hard day at work. :) Pilates is a good way to develop strength and flexibility while listening to music in my cabin. It sound weird but the best upper body exercise that I have found is doing hand stands against a wall then press ups in that position. That way you are using your own body weight to work out. Then there leaves cardio. Every chance I get to go ashore I go for a run, mainly aim for the hills and run to the top and back. It’s good to get a breather and change of scenery to. In this photo you can see that it will take a while to get ashore from the ship. I long tanker jetty that takes 9-10 minutes to walk the length of. (Botany Bay - Australia)

By one person speaking someone elses life changed...

I have recently just been on a 10 day youth development voyage as 2nd Mate on the Spirit of New Zealand. 40 teenagers aged between 15-19 years old. Youth from all over the country including exchange students from Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Italy and Chile came on board for a life changing experience. Three girls in particular really stood out from the other 37 teens on board. These three girls have life long dreams and goals ahead of them which they hope to live out one day. When they stepped onto the Spirit of New Zealand for the first time they knew no one. Despite being exchange students and having English as their second language they didn’t let that hold them back from putting in 100% in the voyage and getting back 110%. One girl had such a bubbly personality that made everyone smile every time she talked to them. She had dreams to travel the sea and work on a boat. But behind the scenes she had pressure from her family to join the Royal Navy. She likes to please people and always puts others before herself. Towards the end of the voyage she came up to me and shared that she was really scared about leaving the Spirit because she would then be heading into the navy. I could see her spark fading as she talked with me. She asked if there is any other way she could live out her dreams at sea and still please people. I shared with her my story of how I first went to sea and developed a career out of it. I gave her a letter with gave her 122 other options for pursuing a career at sea, one which she will enjoy, her parents may accept and the different roles which woman serve in on a ship or boat... She cried as she read it. A follow up chat with her the next day reignited her spark and she was on fire again and her smile reappeared :-) The young girl left the Spirit of NZ buzzing to tell her parent of her life changing experiences she had on board and also about her career options for when she leaves school. She is planning on joining a cruise ship to work in hospitality industry. She is so excited about her new found dream. She will then get to travel, work, have a social life, and enjoy each day as she lives out her dream of working on the water. Who ever new that by one person speaking it could make such a difference in someone else’s life.

Living your dream out. Not working to reach your dream.

Follow your dreams, persevere, stick with it, and let nothing take your dream away from you. You who follow the ways of others may find it hard to see the end goal in times of challenge. But she who believes in herself and lets nothing and no one push her around at sea, she will be the one to reach her reward in the end. That’s the dedication which will get more woman seafarers into Captain Roles. Sounds all good, but is far from being easy... With working in a male dominated industry RESPECT is something that has to work both ways in order for a safe comfortable working environment is to be created. And this isn’t always possible. No matter how hard you try. The best option for woman then is to protect themselves, put heir own needs and wellbeing before their job. If you work on a Tanker and think to yourself every night before bed; "Why am I doing this? Why am I working on a tanker, isolating myself from the world when I have so much to offer? "If you are a social person and love talking to people, socialising and have a bubbly personality, then why would you want to work on a ship where there are only 17 guys, it doesn’t make sense if you ask me. Wouldn’t it make more sense to work on a Cruise ship or Passenger Ferry where there are 1000’s of people on board, of both genders...?What ever your dreams maybe at sea. Whether it be to become a Captain, work in the bar and hotel services or in the deck department then I urge and encourage your towards reaching your goal. Stay focused and give it all you have, 110% at all times. It’s not about spending your whole life trying to reach goals that look so distant, it’s about living your dream out your entire life until you reach your destination. Your whole life is a dream of planning and living, so do all you can do to enjoy every tack you end up travelling on.