I am just not understanding, How?

Have you ever tried to understand something that just isn’t making sense? Most of us have experienced this at least once in our life. Whether it is an English exam in high school or working out how plants grow upwards and ships float on water, we all have the ‘how’ question in the back of our minds. How does this happen? How does it do that? We like to find out everything we can in life, like how things work, but to be honest we will never in our lifetime find out about everything. Some things we created not to be worked out. Like the TV commercial about the little girl that asks her father where babies come from, children don’t learn about this until they are in the high school years in health classes. There is a time and place where things are to be known. No point in trying to work it all out now. You can only absorb as much as the sponge will let you. Any excess and it will just leak back out. Don't spend nights laying on your bed looking out the window trying to work out how the stars stay up in the sky and don't fall down to earth. He created everything for a reason some of which we will never know.
So pace yourself! Keep being observant and learning as much as you can but don’t forget to take time out to let it all sink in. Your brain doesn't have the capacity space to store the entire knowledge of the world and creation. If you want to know anything just open up the book. :-)

Chasing the wind

Sometimes my life feels like I am chasing the wind. Which direction am I to go in now? Am I supposed to turn now or continue on? Strong gusts come at times when I least expect them then they are usually followed by long periods of lulls. Storms come and they are usually ok when you are in the eye of the storm as this gives you a short period of time to re-gain the strength to get through the other side. But when squalls of thunder come they usually bring with them lightning which came seem quite frightening. You get tossed about to and fro, don't know if you will make it or this may be the end, you then think will it ever stop?
There are many times in our lives where we may feel like we are chasing the wind. Everything we do and every direction we turn in is like we just keep chasing our tales, just meaningless. What ever direction you are going in if you have faith in where you are heading and trust yourself to follow you gut instinct then no matter how strong the winds get you will get through to the calm spots. If ever you are in a situation and can’t see a way out think about someone who is chasing the wind. Chasing the wind is meaningless but if you have faith in where you are heading you will get there in the end.


Have you ever noticed how a child learns to walk or attempts to use a spoon themselves for the first time? Or maybe even just sat in the park and watched the children as they play on the playground and in the sand pit. I know this probably sounds a bit wrong but if you do this with people who have children there then it is ok. It is quite fascinating watching children as they observe how others do various things and then attempt to try them for themselves.
Just like little children growing up, adults spend their entire lives doing the same. Whether it be learning and doing or watching and imitating, we all spend our lives copying and imitating how to do things from the ones around us. You may think feel intimidated having someone watch you and then copy what you do. Don’t feel that way at all. Instead feel blessed that what you are doing is inspiring others around you. Do what you do well because you never know who might we watching and learning from you.

Loneliness is just a state of mind

Question: How do you cope being away from family?
I recently just caught up with a Mate from 4 years ago where the topic of one conversation was based on loneliness. Do seafarers get lonely? How do you keep yourself sane without becoming depressed? What helps to pass time on ship? And can you cope with being away from loved ones? So many questions and many answers would normally be given. In my case recently over the last 3 months I am able to answer these questions without thinking to myself, where am I going in life? Why am I working at sea and taking myself away from the people who I love, it just doesn’t make sense. When you have a passion about something and work hard to get there nothing else around you really matters. The whole world could sink beneath the ocean and it wouldn’t be noticed by those who have a passion for their work.
Loneliness is just a state of mind that comes when you have no hope. Hope gives you something to look forward to and focus on. It is very easy to become lonely on a ship when you start to stick to yourself and avoid any social interaction. There are three keys to avoiding loneliness on a ship. 1.) Be sure of yourself. You have to like who you are as a person before you take a job on a deep sea ship. Because there will come a time when you are the only one you have a conversation with, if you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see then you have lost your first best friend. 2.) Have hope. You need something to look forward to which give you the desire and motivation to achieve greater things. And last of all 3.) Smile and be happy. All of these sound simple but in some cases it is easier said than done.

Bucket List

You’re probably thinking to yourself ‘did she just watch the Bucket List movie?’ Well you are 100% correct. So I thought about it for a while and the decided that it actually is a good idea to have a list of things that you would like to do before you die. These aren’t goals or personal achievements but more like things that you would like to experience and give a go at some stage. Here is my bucket list of 13 things that I would like to do, (13 being my favourite number) it took me three weeks to write because I wanted to make sure that I covered every area of my life.
1.) Sky diving. I want to jump out of a plane and survive.
2.) Have a champagne breakfast in a hot air balloon one morning.
3.) Go on a holiday with my Dad, Jody and Lissy to an island resort.
4.) Visit the pyramids of Egypt with my uncle Matthew.
5.) Go diving in Fiji and see what is on the sea floor.
6.) Take a cruise on a boat with my uncle Chris and cousin Rachel.
7.) Have a picnic at Cape Rienga lighthouse and watch the sun rise from the east, set in the west and see the meeting of the two seas.
8.) Be fluent in 5 languages. English, Japanese, Fijian, French and one other.
9.) Start up a trust or organisation which supports woman who go to sea. Leave behind a legacy to be followed.
10.) Have a family photo of all my family, the Stewarts on Long Bay beach.
11.) Cuddle a white tiger cub and take a photo with them.
12.) Visit Europe. – Rome, Paris, London, the Greek Islands and many more.
13.) And last of all to experience the feeling of what it is like to fall in love.

Take a break

People weren’t designed to run continuously 24/7. Batteries do eventually go flat, light bulbs blow, kettles boil and tyres go flat. Are we different from any of those? Five years ago I would have been the last person anyone would ever talk to about taking a break I am well known to continue working on through break times because I enjoy my job so much. Back when I was younger I thought I was a machine. I thought that if I worked night shifts on the ship then I could get 1 hour sleep before breakfast then start day work on deck. This was possible for a few months, believe it or not, before the Chief Officer found out.
In any job rest, relaxation and recovery become a part of your normal daily work routine. At sea working on a ship you have to make the time each day to rest, relax and recover. If you know your shifts then this makes it a lot easier by giving you a broad idea of when you will get time to rest. The last thing that you would ever want to happen is to become fatigued. Fatigue is not a nice feeling and it takes weeks to months to overcome, you can trust me on that one.
Be more like my favourite animal the tiger. They are fully active creatures always on the go, but they to know when to sleep and lay in the sun. So the next time someone gives you a tea break or invites you out for a coffee, say Yes! You will actually be doing your body a favour.

Importance of Friendships

Some people are bought into out lives for a reason. What reason? We may not always know. It is the ones that we lose that we wish we could re-kindle and start over rather than the long lasting ones we have. Some people come into out lives to correct us and put us straight some come for guidance or just for the feeling on comfort. Whatever friendships we are involved in we are to cherish the moments that we spend together. Who knows if each of you will still be standing together tomorrow, next week or in 10 years time. The old saying that goes: “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all!” is totally true. Just think about a close friend you have now, how would you feel if he/she didn’t arrive home after a trip away with family? How would you feel? What would you do? How would you cope? There are so many questions that go through our heads now about what if? And what may or may not happen? We need to stop think about all the what ifs? It’s nice to be prepared but tale more time to think about the present times you have with your friends. Take every opportunity that you get to spend time with them, hang out, go to dinners and share stories with. I have recently just caught up with a friend which I haven’t seen in 4 years. In that time a lot of changes happen in each our lives. But because this friendship was strong from the start (I mean we did live and work on the Spirit of New Zealand small sailing ship together for over a year) that no matter how many things had happened in our lives since we last saw each other it actually felt like yesterday was the last time we laughed together. Sure things had changed and we both have grown up, but our friendship was still there, still as crazy as ever and full of laughter. So now is a good time to ring up you old high school friends who you may not have seen in many years, but what is there to lose, a friendship that has already grown apart or will you re-gain a friend from your past? All it takes is a pick up of the phone. It’s as easy as that!

In loving memory of high school friend James Skipper. (1986-2004)


I was just looking through my dictionary at work and when I came across the word COMPLACENY. It was defined as the “self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual danger or deficiencies”. Wow! You say. I hope that this never happens to me.
So how are we supposed to live without becoming complacent in our work place? Situational awareness and variation are the two main keys to this. We have to be alert and aware to what is going in our surroundings. This is where the three “A’s” come into account. Being awake, alert and aware of what’s happening. A high percentage of shipping accidents and accidents in the workplace occur because of complacency. People just become too familiar with their environment and start to lose their larger awareness of the situation. The second key which also flows on from key one is variation. By adding a bit of variety to your job and duties it keeps you actively interested and allows you to enjoy your job more. When someone says they need to ‘spice up their life’ take not of this and try it in your workplace.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to go about it? What if I fail? Who will be there to pick me back up? Am I to move to a new house right now or continue to stay in backpackers? Should I pursue an existing career path or explore a career change? When do I leave my job I am in now or should I wait around for a miracle to happen? When will this be? Do I fight for what I want or let it go and move on? I have an idea should I step out and pursue it or take a back seat? These are just some of the questions and decisions that most people face many times in their lives. In some situations, the decisions are made for us. In others, we have to agonise over the choices, some involving sacrifices which in turn may not seem possible. Decision-making is never easy especially if the choices we make have life-altering consequences. Choosing what to wear each day may appear to be a challenge on some days. But, it certainly can’t compare to say choosing to live a life as Christian or fit into the world’s view of a woman. Since I have had to face a few significant decisions in my life over the last few years, I have had to use more than just my own inner strength to come to a decision. I chose to follow the path of the one who is always there for me when I fall down. The one who picks me up and wipes my tears away, the one with the shoulder I lean on and the hands I hold most. I owe all my thanks to the most influential person in my life - My DAD!

“When I grow up I wanna be a Captain, I wanna be a star, I wanna grow taller…”

Lyrics of a song just edited a wee bit for me. These words “when I grow up” come up in some many conversations daily that it has got me thinking a lot about this. What does this actually stipulate? I mean little children say this all throughout primary school and then high school and college. Even adults are still saying this when they are in their late 20’s and 30’s. So many people these days want to be someone other than who they are right now. Some want to be taller and skinnier, some want to be beautiful so that they can meet Mr Right, fall in love and have children while some just want to be a different person to who they are now. Why do we all want to different? I don’t understand this. I mean we have all been uniquely created with hand crafted gifts and talents placed in each of us, none like any other in the world, our creator wasn’t sleeping when he thought of us. We all have our own inner and outer beauty that defines who we are as people. Who else has your nose or your eyes? What about your thumbs and fingerprints, are there any more like yours?

I must admit some days I look into the mirror and cry out to God for just a little bit more height and less weight. What good does that do though? I only feel let down when my height doesn’t come and my weight just sits there. It is when I learn to be happy with who I am that I am able to stop saying that “I wanna…?” I do say I wanna be a Captain one day but that is in a different context. That context is in a living your dream context. This photo is of me and my current Captain on the Arahura getting ready for a tank inspection during a lay-up time in Wellington. So now is the time step up another level and move aside from saying “when I grow up” because your whole life is about growing up, living and learning each day.

P.S. "I Love You!"

Have you ever though to yourself what would happen to you if you lost all your family one day? What about if your family lost you? How would they handle it, would they cope? So many questions have gone through my head day after day since I have started working at sea about loss of life. All the ships I have worked on have come under a convention called SOLAS. This stands for Safety Of Life At Sea. We as seafarers are trained to protect the life of people on board and the sea environment which we work on. I admit it though but you could be the world’s best seafarer and have never been in any disaster at sea and then one day run into an ice berg. It could be the Titanic disaster all over again. What would you be thinking when you are abandoning your ship into a lifeboat which is one fire? Me personally I would be letting my family know much I care for them so much and also this message. P.S. “I Love You!” Moments like these are common among seafarers today. Disasters do happen, lives do get lost and pain is real for the families who are left behind. Don’t you wish that you could say just one more time “I Love You” to your Dad or sisters? And hug your Granny or little cousin before you leave the dock? Now is the time to start doing all this because you never know when your time is going to be up. Write letters and emails to your families when you are at sea, include P.S “I Love You!” at the bottom of each letter. Ring, make phone calls and text messages as often as you like. Let your loved ones know that you are thinking of them, miss them dearly and love them more than ever. Send surprise gifts in the mail home to them and even do the ultimate surprise of all a couple of times a year. Show up on their door step unannounced early than they were expecting you. I did this on Christmas Eve on year in 2005. Be a breath of fresh air when you return home and share your love and passion for life with them.

Surrounded by Water

Everywhere I go I am surrounded by water. Whether it be at work (on a ship), at home at my dads (ponds and harbour) and now on my time off (the fountain in this picture). I just can’t escape it. It is in my blood now. Humans are made up over 90% water so I guess this is where I get my sea legs from. Water hydrates us on a hot summers day, fills us with the refreshment we need to keep our body at a constant cool temperature. We use water for our boats to float on, to wash our feet in, to water the garden and wash our cars down (that is if we’re not in Australia) There are some countries in the eastern art of the world which don’t have access to water facilities each day. Some people have to walk miles on end just to get to the creek to wash their clothes. Sometimes we take so much for granted. So every time you turn on the tap in your bathroom room to brush your teeth of turn on a half full washing machine, just take a moment to think of the people in Ghana East Africa who struggle to have enough water to live on.

“Water in our sink, is what we like to drink. Water beneath the boat, is what keeps us afloat”

Sweet Home Arahura, where the seas are so blue...

I am home at last! It is so good to be back working for InterIslander Line again after being away for so long. The Arahura Rail Ferry was the very first merchant ship that I worked on as a trainee deck officer for 3 weeks in August 2005 before I moved to the Aratere for the rest of my cadetship. I have recently just signed a 12 month fixed contract to work as a full time 3rd Officer on a week on week off roster for InterIslander Line. I will start off on the Arahura then move to the Kaitaki for familiarisation. When all the familiarisation is completed I will be available to work on all three ships where I am needed. As long as I am working for this company I am pretty flexible as to which ship I work on. The 12 month fixed contract is perfect for me. I will working regular hours, getting regular time off and pay and being able to live a close to normal lifestyle as I am able to know when I am working and when I am not. It’s pretty exciting having your whole year planned ahead of you. I am used to going from one ship to another and then back again without rest. That’s what happens when you make yourself available for three companies, they all tend to want you at the same time so time off becomes non-existent. I will now be able to plan my leave and studies around when I am working and not worry about if I am going to get called back to sea for a 6 week contract in my leave. February 2010 I head off to the NZ Maritime School to begin my studies for my Chief Mates Ticket. So this contract allows me sufficient seatime and work up till I head back to school. November 2010 I plan to sit my Chief Mates Oral exam. So for now it’s Wellington/Picton on the Ferries. Like Dorothy say's on the Wizard of Oz: “There is no place like home”

Who do you Trust on a ship?

I remember having a conversation with a Captain in his office one day about this particular question, Trust. Yes the big ‘T’ word. I have always had the approach of not trusting anyone as far as I can throw them, and even though I may have a good arm, the size of some of the crew on ships I wouldn’t have any hope in moving them. Trust was the topic of conversation on this particular day and to be totally honest my whole awareness of leadership and personal working relationships has changed to a new level. We discussed the purpose Trust and how a ship operates with and without it. But where there is Trust there is also Responsibility. You can’t have one without the other. Being a Master or Captain of ship you have to have full trust in your crew who are working for you because at the end of the day if anything happens it all falls back on you as the Master. An Officer of the Watch (OOW) is in charge of keeping a bridge navigational and safety watch on behalf of the Master to allow him/her to perform other tasks on board. No one is physically capable of carrying out all the shipboard duties on their own so that is why there are crew on board. Officers and Deck Crew all work together to maintain a safe and efficient running of the ship. There has to be some level of trust between crew members to eliminate the chances of tension developing, incidents and accidents happening and even serious ship related issues. So even if you don’t feel like you can trust anyone on board the ship think of the Master on your situation. If the Master trusts an Officer to perform his duties then this is evidence that you could possibly Trust them as well. Some people may have the knowledge but are they competent? Bottom line is don’t not trust anyone so far that you end up taking on more work load and responsibility than you can really manage. Teamwork and Trust is the framework to building a working relationship with your crew on board.
This photo above is of the Captain, Chief Officer and 1st Officer on the Volendam, working together to deploy a weather buoy for the met. service in New Zealand. Location of deployment was in the middle of the Tasman Ocean between the South Island of New Zealand and Tasmanian of Australia.

"Your reputation precedes you"

It is such a nice feeling joining a ship and being greeted by a Captain who says:
“Oh it’s so good to see you back, your reputation precedes you…” I had no idea what he meant until I asked him later on that day.
New Zealand is such a small country and the shipping industry is even smaller. I have worked on just about all the ships operating on the New Zealand coast. Inter Islander Line – Aratere, Arahura, Kaitaki. Silver Fern Shipping – Torea, Kakariki. Golden Bay Cement. Pacifica Line – Spirit of Resolution. Holland America Line – Volendam. Marine Reach – Pacific Link. Spirit of Adventure Trust – Spirit of New Zealand. And I have been on board the following ships for a day. Pacifica – Spirit of Competition. Holcim Cement Ships – Melbourne Carrier 2, Westport and quite a few offshore vessels. Some would say to me don’t you get board with working only in New Zealand and to be totally honest why would you want to work anywhere else when there is a beautiful country like New Zealand here to work in. The coastal scenery is just amazing, the wildlife and sea life in the south island and the weather. I mean this is like a job in Heaven. The best part about it is that everyone knows me. If they don’t know me face to face they know of me. So that is a bonus for being a kiwi that ‘Your reputation proceeds you’ wherever you go. Every worker in the ports around the coast either know you or of you, all the pilots in the NZ shipping industry have heard of you, the Maritime School speaks highly of you and so on. So why would you want to leave all this behind to go and work on a ship deep sea where you don’t see anyone for days on end and then show up in a foreign port with workers and pilots with English as their 3rd language?
What you say and what you do will always pave a pathway forward in your life. It is proven that sound travels faster than man that is why the word gets around faster than you think. So what you do now effects what happens in the future. To end this, it is a nice feeling when you walk onto a ship for the first time and your reputation has already gone before you and paved a smooth way for your entry.

Risking your life

As an officer on board a ship you are trained in the operation s of all the fire fighting equipment and life saving appliances on board. In an emergency situation it is you who is responsible to use the equipment to best aid the situation. On a passenger ferry in a real emergency it is the officers who are in charge of the LSA operation. For an Abandon ship emergency an officer is to do all that they can to ensure all passengers are accounted for and evacuated into lifeboats. This may mean that the fire party have to conduct search and rescue patterns in passenger areas and cabins to account for anyone who may be missing. Working on a passenger ferry, passengers are put first. You may lose your life saving people in a fire on board your ship but at least you will be know as the one who risked their life to save others. Passengers place their faith in ships crew before they board. They have to be sure that they are going to step on board a ship where there is crew who know what to do in an emergency and will save them if need be. People still have the picture and memory of the Titanic disaster in the back of their minds. That is always going to be an issue and something that we don’t have control over. What we do have control over is the present. We are able to reassure passengers that they are in good hands with fully qualified competent crew.

She Captains - By Joan Druett

Joan Druett wrote an amazing book called "She Captains."
A piece of her writing is pasted below: If a "Hen Frigate" is any ship carrying a captain's wife, then a "she captain" is a bold woman distinguished for courageous enterprise in the history of the sea. There were women who cross-dressed to get into the forecastle and take part in battle, and women who pretended to be men so they could make lots of money (so they naively thought) in the whaling business. And then there were the female admirals, the lady shipbuilders, and the women explorers. And, of course, there were pirates. This book which Joan wrote she immensely enjoyed researching and writing it, it is a lighthearted buzz through female participation in the seafaring world over the past few decades.

Importance of Family

Being old and working at sea is a lot different to if you were young. For me I am young. My heart and passion are all about working at sea but at the end of the day I still need my family around me for love and support. You really find out the true meaning of family when you go to sea. Think about this for a minute: "You are on ship in a far off ocean with no land around to be seen in 100's of miles. The only human life you encounter is the other 17 people on board your ship. Writing in a journal and letters home to family and friends is a great way to express yourself, taking photos and collating them holds together memorable moments and experiences and counting down the days till you get home to be with your loved ones. Time away makes time at home have much more meaning. You tend to learn to cherish every little moment more, those little precious moments with family will be the basis of your pleasant memories to recall back on when you are at sea.

So my words of encouragement to all young people either considering working at sea or who are currently on board a ship is: "Reflection is good for keeping you at peace while at sea, but be sure to make the most of every opportunity when on land to spend time with your family." Take lots of photos, give lots of hugs, share heaps of meals together, plan lots of family and friends reunions and cherish every moment as if it were your last!

Where have i been?

I have created a one page blog for the journal of my life at sea over the last 8 years. It was to long to write as one post for my blog page so i have created a link to this, it is: