Against The Tide

Ailen Acevedo, Argentina.

February 1, 2021

I started Maritime Academy in 2017, and I’ve been doing my cadetship since January 2020. I’m a deck cadet so I am on board to learn and put in practice what I learned at Maritime Academy. My mentor is the chief officer, I work with him and learn as much as possible.

I’m on board a chemical carrier, and my job basically entails charging and discharging operations, ship to ship operations, in mooring operations and operate the winch. Also, while sailing I have bridge watches with the chief officer. We have many duties on board, the chief officer is in charge of deck department, so I get to see how he manages it and distribute all the daily jobs on board. We are currently at dry dock so I get to learn and work a lot. As a cadet I try to learn from every crew member, everyone has something to teach you. What I enjoy the most about being on board is the beautiful sunsets and sunrises I get to see. I have the 4-8 watch so I get to see them from the bridge. I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair. Also the comfort of not having to travel to work as I only have to climb the stairs to get there.

Since I’m just starting my maritime career I haven’t faced many challenges, but the pandemic has affected my cadetship. I was supposed to go on board a cruise ships my last 6 months but instead I came to a chemical carrier. My goal is to work on board cruise ships, so doing my cadetship there was a really big first step, I was really disappointed when it got cancelled. Nevertheless, I won’t give up my dream, I will apply to work on cruise ships after I graduate.

Fortunately, I haven’t face any major challenge because of my gender. Indeed, I have achieved a rank at Maritime Academy that used to be gained mainly by men. Argentina is achieving gender equity in the maritime industry. There are still some men that don’t want women on board and I had to hear some awful comments about female officers, but I think that set of mind is going to be eradicated in the next few years.

I’ve only been on board Argentinean ships. Our union has gained several rights for female seafarers like maternity leave. Women seafarers can present a complaint if they are mistreated on board because of their gender. There are still cases in which women are not heard or they don’t present complaints because they fear of the consequences. I think the right to present a complaint and the maternity leave are very important and should be implemented in every country.

My advice to women starting in the seafaring industry is to not give up, learn as much as possible and to make connections. I think in this industry is very helpful to have the right connections.

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