My dream for young woman

I have a dream and this dream is different from the one which I am living. I am living my dream of becoming a Captain of a ship, each day on board I am learning and experiencing new things which is all adding to a new stage in my career. I live my dream rather than living to reach it.My dream which I have is to see other young woman reach their dreams and to their full potential. I aim to encourage young woman by leading by example in a challenging world today. To show young woman that they can achieve anything when they apply themselves to it. One thing is to believe in yourself and the other is to do something about it.

Like these children in the photo above, some of them have dreams to become doctors and dentists. Some also want to be teachers so that they can teach the other children in the islands of Fiji as well as helping them when they are in trouble. So even children in countries where education and resources are limited and future careers don’t seen possible from people outside their environment, these little children dream big and live their dreams out even from a young age. The teachers of the schools there at present are all ex-students who have been through the same challenges and hurdles to get where they are today.
So like these little children in the Fijian islands young girls and guys from any age, any race and country are able to take this step of faith, the step of faith in believing in themselves and reaching high in life.
There is so much discrimination out there in the world today against woman and especially young woman. My words of encouragement to you all is that if you want something go get it. There is nothing that can stop you from doing something that you want to do (within reason). Go for your dreams, put all your energy and time into it, its all worth it once you take that first step.
Set goals and step out to achieve them. That is how I have got to where I am today. I am now a Deck Officer on rail Ferries and Cargo ships overseas. If I didn’t believe in myself and believe that I could do what I do I wouldn’t be where I am today. You are your own worst enemy if you let yourself be, otherwise you can be your own best friend. Think positive, look straight and smile when you can. Trust me it will make a difference.

TRANSITION from school into the real world

Do you remember back when you were in your last year at high school? How you felt about change and transition out into the real world? What thoughts were going into your head, fears of making the big step, decisions having to be made as to what career path you should take? There is so much pressure put on young people now days to find a job that they want to do when they leave school and then they spend the first few years paying off a student loan while studying for a degree in something which they may never use in the future.It would be so much easier if everything we supposed to do was written up in an easy step by step manual. But the true is that life isn’t like that, what we do and how we are to do something can’t be found in a book. Could you imagine how boring life would be if we all followed the steps of a book that showed us how to live. The bible shows us the way to live a holy life in light of God but what book shows us what we are to do once we leave school? Nothing explains that.When I left school I walked straight into a cadetship on the sailing ship the Spirit of New Zealand. Just like my cadetship an apprenticeship in your chosen profession will set you up for life if you choose to follow it. The idea of these training schemes it to equip young adults and teenagers for life in the real world. All training is paid for while the individual is being paid a set wage. This is what I did when I left school and now I am living my dream out while being paid to do it at the same time. So my advice to young people out there today who are thinking about what they are going to do when they leave school is to have dreams and live to live them out. If you want to be an air traffic controller but your gender is holding you back – you go for it girl, if you are determined to achieve your dreams and reach happiness in your work do something that you love and that brings you satisfaction.Leave school with big dreams and plans and pursue a life of living them into being.

Advantages of working on cargo ships

What are the advantages of working as a Deck Officer on cargo ships rather than on cruise ships?Both types of ships have their advantages, for me personally I prefer cargo ships. You have a limited number of crew and depending on what company you work for and crew you live with on board it can actually be quite a nice environment to work in. A lot of people work and do a job because they have to, most people who work on a ship really like what they do, its a choice that each of us make, to leave our families at home and step on board a ship to sail away from at least 4 weeks to 6 months at a time. I mean why would you do that if you didn’t want to?So a ship a less than 20 crew that all get on and speak English is my choice of ship and chosen job. I found that on my last ship the Tasmanian Achiever, I can’t think of any other cargo ship that I have worked on where I have felt such a well knit family environment on board a ship. I mean there is no brick wall between departments like on the tankers and everyone enjoys interacting with each other, especially on a Sunday night when we all get given a well deserved day off.

On a cargo ship as well you are on set watches (12-4, 4-8, or 8-12) so you know exactly when you are working and what time you have off watch to rest. You are able to get your body into a routine of working and proper sleeping patterns and also able to set aside time to go ashore and have a good coffee. With less crew on board a ship there are more chances to get to know each other and grow up together in your job. The crew become like close friends on a family sort of level. My last ship has really shown that cargo ships and crew can be the best environment to work in at sea; compared to the tankers I’ve worked on in the past.Cruise ships – well they are another story. Personally they aren’t for me, over 2,500 people on board, not many English speaking first language crews, limited shore leave, not regular set watches and so many different uniforms to wear.
So thanks go to the crew on the Tasmanian Achiever for making my time on board really enjoyable :-)

Day in the life of a Deck Officer on a RoRo Cargo Ship

It may seem like a fairly busy and long drawn out day but to be honest its all up to how you manage it. Good time management planning and record keeping is the key to preventing fatigue. The following is a typical work schedule for a 3rd Officer on board the Tasmanian Achiever on Bass Strait.
0550- ½ hour wake up call for mooring stations,
0615- Deck Officer on the fo’c’sle for the forward mooring station,
0730- Breakfast,
0800-Cargo Watch down in the cargo control room and on deck, discharge,
1000- Cargo Watch normally commencing loading cargo,
1200- End of watch, lunch time now with the engineers,
1230- Go ashore for a good coffee with the engineers,
1300- Rest time on board or safety checks,
1530- Bridge equipment gear pre-departure tests,
1630- Deck Officer on the fo’c’sle for the forward mooring station,
1700- Rest time,
1800- Meal relief for the Chief Officer on the Bridge,
1830- Dinner with engineers,
1900- Rest time,
2000- Bridge navigation watch for 4 hours,
2400- End of watch, bed time.
The best part about this daily schedule is that you are always busy doing something. There is really no time to get bored or lonely on this ship. You do get time to relax and watch movies every now and then and when you do you cherish those quite times a lot more.
Does any of this inspire or encourage you to take that step for a change in career?


BRM - Bridge Resource Management, CLC - Close Loop Communication

“Full Ahead on both!” “Aye Aye Captain”“Rudder hard to Port, lets make our way out of here now the war is over” Communication is a huge factor when it comes to bridge resource management. One of the high causes of accidents and incidents at sea is by poor communication if any between bridge crew members and other ships in the area. You would think that something so easy as talking would actually be a weak point for the most people. If you don’t communicate with others then no one is really going to know what is going on and how to prepare for an emergency if something goes wrong. Captain gives an order, helmsman repeats it back to the Captain and then the captain acknowledges that the repeat was correct by saying ‘Yes.’Now days CLC is in a format of order, repeat, acknowledge "Steer 320", "320", "Yes"Each day and prior to departure from the wharf it should start off with a briefing of the passage plan for what’s happening. After any occurrence, incident and training session a debrief should also be carried out touching on the point of what was done and how things could be improved on for next time. Communication is the key of any good management!

Now an Australian :-)

Gidday Mate! You would think that I would now be classed as an Australian; I mean I have an Australian ticket, and Australian Medical certificate, radio licence, an Australian Bank account, and work for an Australia company (temp.) and spend parts of each yeah in working in different ports in Australia. I mean I have also started to talk a bit like an Aussie. I call jandals - thongs now, twink - white out, vacuum cleaners - hoovers, and sausages – snags. Started to learn the rules of Aussie rules - and by that I don’t mean at there maritime rules and regulations I mean the football sport. I started to watch tennis like the Aussies and play cricket while on board. Geez even celebrated Australia Day last Monday with the crew on the ship. And I guess you could say that I must not be a true kiwi chick because I have not seen once were warriors, King Kong and The Lord of the rings series even since they were all made in New Zealand.

Taking the Helm

Just one look at this picture and some would say "She's not right to go to sea!" yeah I still do actually get that from some people in person. They take one look at me and compare me to an image of a seafarer which the world has created. In the worlds eyes you have to be a guy, be big and strong and masculine to work on a ship. Even on a cruise ship you are expected to look physically able to fight fires, launch life boats and work on the ship. That's ridiculous if you ask me. I may not look that big or that string but by the way which I work and the strength which I have compared to my size I have out done a lot of the guys who work in the deck side. Some people call an ant because I can lift things twice my body weight, which is basically the size of one of the guys on board.

Some may say that I am too girly to work on a ship - why because I am not afraid to admit that I am a woman and it is who I am. Where as others would say that I am going to lose my feminine side working on a ship full of guys. Either way both sides are wrong. I am happy with who I am and what I do. I am a woman working in a man's world - so to speak, and I have my feminine side. I am not afraid to get dirty and drag chain lashings on deck, neither am I afraid to go down and do tank inspection in 40 degree temperatures. It's my job and my passion and I live it. There is a right time and place for everything in this world. I am not exactly going to paint my nails while working on a cargo ship the right time to do that is when I am at home on land. And then when it comes to dress codes there is a dress code for every ship and I also have to abide by that. I am not going to prance around on deck or in the mess room in small string tops and a skirt no tat would just be asking to the guys to look at me. I mean there is nothing that I can do on board to stop the guys from looking when I walk by. It’s in their nature. But I am not going to flaunt myself in front of them. If it gets to the stage where I have to approach them and put them in their place then I will and i do, that always makes them feel nervous anytime they look at me after that. Which in a way is funny but I wouldn’t want people to feel uneasy around me. So what I am trying to say is that no one in this world doesn’t look good for a job which they are passionate about. Everyone deserves the right to step forward and be who they want to be and live in a way which makes them happy.

Woman v's Modern day technology

Days go by with endless stories of fellow crew members memories of when they were at sea. Their loved ones and lost ones, the ones that got away and the grumpy old Captains who they have sailed with. I could write a book on merchant seafarers from as far back as 1900 from all the stories I have been told. When the guys share their stories about “when I was at sea we didn’t have all these modern day technologies that we have these days, men were men and woman were the topic of all conversation!” That’s when I say “Sorry Mate since I’ve been at sea men are still just only men and woman happen to be so much more now!” Sure things have changed, we now have access to high class modern technologies and technical systems, but the biggest difference from back then to now is that it’s all in the past and there is nothing that you can do to go back there. Now days we have the opportunity to take that next step in technology, placing faith in electronics and technical equipment is something you have to learn to do on a ship, even though there is still the slightest chance that it may fail on you. If you are confident in your competence and use wisdom to guide you in decision making then technical equipment is used as a back up to your actions. Some would disagree with me on this. But think of it this way; if you have a blackout on a ship, most times you will lose a lot of equipment and some will be powered by a back-up system. Whereas what are the likely chances of you yourself having a black out while on watch? Pretty slim aye. So that’s why it is an advantage having at least one woman on board every ship. It invites a new way of thinking, fresh ideas, logically workings, and a new atmosphere where is something isn't going right they are not afraid to speak up and say something.

Working Down Under - Just a leap across the ditch

Tasmanian Achiever. In January 2007 I first joined this ship as a trainee Deck Officer the purpose was to gain experience working on a RoRo cargo ship in different waters other than New Zealand. Two years down the track in January 2009 I received a phone call from Toll Shipping in Australia. The next thing I know I am on a plane to Melbourne the next day to work one roster for another officer who was on medical leave. I joined the Tasmanian Achiever this time as a 3rd Officer and to be honest not much had changed on board over the last two years, I mean even most of the crew were still the same. The only real big difference was the bridge gear but I had used that on my last two ships. I sat my AMSA oral exam for my certificate of recognition to work on an Australian registered ship in Australian waters.
The ship runs was between Melbourne and Burnie in Tasmania. We load the ship during the day and sail in the late afternoon to reach the next port in the early hours of the morning. The ship transports containers, trucks and trailer units, cars, tanks and up to 12 passengers. She also carried livestock trucks carrying cattle and sheep. I liked loading them on the weather deck because I had to go and check the condition of the livestock before we let it be loaded onto the ship. I grew up on a farm which had quite a lot of sheep and cows so it kind of felt like I was back home for a while.

Sunday nights the ship lays up in Burnie for the night so this was our favourite day on board, our day of rest after discharging the Melbourne cargo. Some crew would go ashore to church in the morning and the rest would go for shore leave. After lunch a group of crew would go ashore for a good decent coffee from Bango’s cafe. This was followed up by fishing with the deck guys in the afternoons off the end of the wharf in the hot sun. The evening was a time to relax and socialise with the crew over a nice cooked BBQ by an engineer on the back deck in the sunset. The finale of the evening was the movie night in the Chief engineer’s cabin which included fresh plunger coffee.

New years on board the Aratere

December 2008 I joined the Aratere again for my 3rd New Years on board working the night shift. It was so great to be back on board the ships which I started my career on. One thing I became aware of when I got on board was that you don’t really realise how much something means to you until you have gone away for a while then returned. I realised this with the Aratere. After being away from her for so long, working on other ships and sailing around different places of the world, I actually miss working on Cook Strait in New Zealand on the Rail Ferries. It’s the people that make a job worth enjoying and it’s the crew on the Rail ferries and the company which I particular like working with and for. I feel blessed to have such a great job with them and a reputation with the company that will stick for many years to come.Piloting the ship in through Tory Channel in the dark night with the moon setting over the leads to the entrance is just one of the spectacular sights of the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound.Loading 23 Trucks on the top deck in a 22 truck space at 2am in the morning, planning the stowage and separations of trucks carrying dangerous goods – the late arrival trucks that you pray will fit on board and meet the IMDG Code requirements. All has always gone well and will continue to go well on the Aratere.

I have always worked with a great bunch of guys in the deck department; most have been from the islands in the south pacific and a pleasure to work with. You get the odd one or two that are always difficult to communicate with but like my dad say you are going to get that with any job.Working for the Inter Islander Ferries in New Zealand is a great way for a woman or young girl to start her career at sea. The company and crew on board the ships will look after you during your time with them, as well as they will through challenges at you to grow you into a strong confident young Officer.

So you want to be a Princess aye?

I could almost write a book about this word alone; ‘Princess.’ Who would have thought that just one little word like this could mean so much to a woman?Before I joined my first product tanker as 3rd Mate I was having a conversation with my Nana in her back garden about what it means to be a woman. One of the words that stuck with me from there on was the word ‘Princess’. I joined my first tanker in January 2008 where I was greeted by the crew and addressed as princess by one particular mate. I couldn’t believe it. After having that talk with my grandma about being a princess, here I was now being called one on a ship, and a tanker of all ships.I want to encourage all woman out there who work at sea, whether it be in the deck, engine or catering department, that we are all Princess’s. Even when we are covered from head to toe in mud and smelly sea water after doing tank inspections in double bottom water ballast tanks. Beneath the dirt is a princess who is strong, confident and beautiful. We don’t need to change who we are to mould into an image of a seafarer, no, we can be ourselves, be the princess who we were born to be.

Multi-talented Passions

I serve on a small medical missionary ship once a year when the time fits in with my work and studies. The voyages are normally New Zealand and up in the Fiji Islands. I work as a volunteer 2nd Officer on board the M.V. Pacific Link which means that I am in charge of the navigational charts and publications on board. When the ship sails I keep a navigational watch with a deck hand teaching him navigation and the rules of the road at sea. When the ship is alongside the wharf and involved in medical and missions work I assist in which ever department needs some more hands. Whether it is in the dentistry, medical or optometry department or in the schools working with the children. That’s my favourite part. Even it is just serving glasses of water to the locals who are waiting to see the dentist on board. It is nice to just sit down with them on deck and laugh and laugh, with the children its great to draw pictures and colour in and read books with them.My ultimate dream job would be as Captain of a Medical Missionary Ship voyaging around the world serving the countries which require medical and health services. We’ll see when that dream comes to be.

Respect starts with "U"

I have learnt a lot about the male species over the last few years at sea. In the industry which I work in I am amongst people who have been at sea their entire livesIf you want to gain respect of the other crew on board it first must start with you showing them respect. Respect is one of my highest values in life and when it comes to working on a ship it has to work both ways for a comfortable working environment to be established.I have learnt and I’m still learning how to approach another crew member (males) when it comes to instructing them on a task or operational procedure concerning safety training. There is a certain way in which you are to speak to a guy especially when it comes from a woman in charge. A woman needs to speak in a tone of voice that doesn’t make her sound too feminine but at the same time shouldn’t change who she is to fit in with the rest of the guys. Having a strong, confident voice and being certain in what she is saying is a big point in this. Speak in a way which doesn’t come across as intimidating to the guys or that you are trying to show them up that you know better than them. There is always going to be that little bit of conflict within some of the guys having to take an order from a woman. Once that respect and trust is established by the woman being confident, strong and sure of herself and her ability then the atmosphere opens up to be a more comforting environment.

I guess you could say that you have to be thick skinned working on a ship. You have to learn to not take anything to heart, don’t hold grudges against another crew member because that all makes life very difficult on board for yourself and others working around you.
For me every day is a learning day on board. Whether it be learning more in my studies, ship board operations or different ways to interact and learn about other people on board. I guess an advantage which I have is that I am studying for a Diploma in Psychology via distant learning. It has helped me to understand different types of people and that way in which an environment influences the way people act and interact.

“Be Strong, Confident and Positive” – Happiness.

Transition between Cargo ships and Passenger ships

Apart from the obvious there are so many differences between cargo ships and passenger ships. People are the difference which stands out the most. Not only the number of people on board but more-so the type.Cargo ships tend to generally attract people who are self-motivated and driven, like to work independently and don’t mind spending most days working alone.Passenger ships on the other hand attract people who are patient and who like working as a team, present themselves well, and who are polite and considerate.Cargo Ships generally have up to 18 crew members and can carry up to 12 passengers to come under SOLAS regulations for a cargo ship.Passenger ships on the other hand usually have at least 200 crew members on board and anywhere from 13-3000+ passengers. To go from a cargo ship to a passenger ship as a deck officer can be a big shock to the system with respect to the number of people who are now around you, but it’s also like a step up in class and presentation. Most deck officers make a transition that way rather than from passenger ships to cargo ships, because after having star service, cabin stewards, gourmet food, dry cleaned uniform daily, it harder to make the transition down to working in overalls on a deck of a ship, washing your own dishes and changing your own bed linen. Some would say that working on cargo ships is a hard life and is defiantly not for them. Personally I love working on a cargo ship where you can look after yourself and have a large cabin like a double bedroom and office at home.Cargo ships have a bridge team consisting of a Captain, Chief Officer, 2nd and 3rd Officer, an AB or IR as a QM/lookout. On Passenger ships the average bridge team consists of 2 x Captains, 1 x Chief Officer, 1 x 1st Officer, 3 x 2nd Officers, 2 x 3rd Officers, 2 x 4th Officers, 2 x Deck Officer Trainees, 1 x QM, 2 x lookouts and a Pilot in pilotage waters. That’s a lot of people.

So for me personally as much as I love people and interaction, cargo ships are the way for me to go at this stage.