Against The Tide

Katie Love, San Diego

May 2, 2017

Salty hair and I don’t care! My name is Katie Love and I have been on the water my entire life. It is no wonder I ended up in the maritime industry. I love the ocean, traveling, making money, and most importantly lots of time off to travel and play! I grew up in San Diego racing sailboats, surfing, and occupying myself with pretty much any activity that took place on the water. My mother was the one who introduced me to the ocean, probably the day after I was born. I spent my youth in beautiful Point Loma, and was fortunate to spend almost every day at the beach. Mom was an accomplished sailor in her day as well, sailing and racing a boat that women rarely raced at the time; still to this day I don’t think there are enough women racing sailboats. My mother was the one who introduced me to the ocean, probably the day after I was born. I spent my youth in beautiful Point Loma, and was fortunate to spend almost every day at the beach. Mom was an accomplished sailor in her day as well, sailing and racing a boat that women rarely raced at the time; still to this day I don’t think there are enough women racing sailboats…..

In Southern California they literally give five-year-olds a Sabot (an eight foot bathtub of a sailboat) and let them learn how to sail. I spent my childhood moving up through the ranks of sailboat racing, progressing through the different boat types raced by age group. I was fortunate to travel across the country and sail the Junior Women’s Single-handed National Championships when I was thirteen years old; there I met a fabulous group of girls that I ended up racing with at regattas around the country. At that point one of those girls and I decided to move into a type of double-handed boat that is raced in Olympic events. Together we got the opportunity to travel the country and internationally to race our boat in a very competitive arena.there I met a fabulous group of girls that I ended up racing with at regattas around the country. At that point one of those girls and I decided to move into a type of double-handed boat that is raced in Olympic events. Together we got the opportunity to travel the country and internationally to race our boat in a very competitive arena.

I took a different path in high school when I decided to start making boats my career. I worked on old America’s Cup sailboats, taking tourists out for “three hour tours” on the bay; I worked on a Pacemaker 70’, a private dinner charter boat that required me to wear a dress and heels as a deckhand. I worked at the yacht club teaching kids how to sail; I also taught adults how to sail at an adult sailing school.I was hired by many people to race on their boats. I also went fishing whenever I could. I had no idea there was a maritime college dedicated to something I had done my entire life, until my cousin told me about the California Maritime Academy – the college he was attending at the time.
It was amazing to find out that there was a college for people who love boats! I truly had no idea. It’s crazy to think that not many people know about schools like Cal Maritime. I realized shortly after I started at CMA that I wanted to go the “workboat” route. I did my cadet shipping with Foss in San Francisco Bay, and I knew then that was exactly where I wanted to end up. The tug life was my thing..

Oh man! There are a few terrible experiences. One in particular has to do with gender inequality. It is a really long story, but long story short, I had a very chauvinistic general manger at a company and he refused to move me up from AB to 2nd Mate, even though I was the most qualified at the time. He made me jump through hoops that no one else had to. He then put me in a situation where I had to compete with a guy for the position on the same boat. This guy I was competing with was not happy That a girl half his age could be applicable for the same job. He literally spit on me, and even kicked me while I was sitting on some steps. It was the most awful situation ever. Needless to say, he ended up getting fired, but it was apparent that this was not a company I wanted to work for.

Gender inequality is extremely prevalent in our industry. It is disgusting. It is sad. I have always had to prove myself twice as much for half of the return that my male counterparts have had. I recently have experienced this and have been extremely frustrated. Almost every boat I crew up on, I have to prove my strength, knowledge, and ability to gain the tiniest bit of trust. Even then, I am undermined. I work out and can lift most the guys I work with, yet they don’t think I can lift a pencil
The majority of them are overweight and can barely make it up the stairs, yet I can run a marathon. And I don’t have strength? Driving a boat and doing paperwork is not meant for guys and guys only. Hey! I can do that too. So why is there a barrier between guys and girls in our industry? Why is that because I am “plumbed” differently that I am not as good as you guys to do the job?”

After college I continued working on tugs with a short stint in the Gulf trying my hand at DP (Dynamic Positioning) systems, but quickly found myself back in the towing world. I moved up from AB to AB/Tanker-woman, then to 2nd Mate/Cargo Mate, Chief Mate, and now 2nd Captain. I am currently a 2nd Captain at Foss Maritime, and couldn’t be happier: these are my people. I now hold a 1600 ton Masters license/Unlimited 2nd Mate, Oceans I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve earned. It was quite an exciting day getting my Masters license in the mail! Like I said from the beginning: salty hair, don’t care! The ocean is where I belong and that is where you will always find me! I look forward to sharing my sea stories with you all.

(Katie Love, San Diego)

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