Since I am a relatively new Cadet, I mostly work with the deck crew, washing, painting and whatever general maintenance work comes up. Something will always need fixing. A well maintained ship is like a never ending car project. Besides the deck work, I do gangway or cargo operation watch when in Port and also keep an anchor watch when at anchor, manually steer the ship through the Kiel Canal of other areas where manual steering is required, occasional paper work, route planning and provision shopping
I’ve loved this life from day to day, our schedules are determined by weather, port working hours and decisions far from our reach. And (other seafarers might disagree here) it’s beautiful to be rocked to sleep by a slowly rolling ship.
I wanted to become a seafarer since I was little. When I was a kid I was told that this would not be possible, as the man working in such professions are rough persons and would never take orders from a woman but rather abuse or even kill them. It took me a few years to realise that this was merely a dark fear of my mother rather than reality. Being on Board as a woman rather gives you a bunch of very interesting deckhands with crude humor, which can be annoying from time to time, but it’s nothing that can’t be battled – and laughed together about – with a mean joke out of my mouth.
One thing I’d advocate for female seafarers is acceptance for our choices: Everybody seems to just think that woman only sail for a short time to then switch to a shore based maritime job because “We get pregnant anyways” And while seafaring is not a family mother’s profession, family is not every woman’s dream.
My advice would be don’t let people scare you out of your choices. If this is what you want, do it, try it, it might be better than you imagined. And if it is not, quitting won’t kill you. You’d be surprised by how many men find out that they can’t do it.