As a third officer, there are three situations to start my day for the whole contract. Bridgewatch, Cargo Watch or Standby (for pilot, arrival/departure). If the vessel is Underway, Bridge watch is from 0800H till 1200H then maintenance work (FFA and other work designated) 1300H till 1500H and bridgewatch again from 2000H till Midnight. If the vessel is alongside, my Cargo watch starts from 0600 till 1200, then again 1800 till midnight. Since our route is almost port to port, sometimes I will be called for standby for 0600 or 1800, it could be pilot, arrival or departure. During arrival/departure senior deck officers are on the bridge and I am in the forward station supervising the mooring operation.
What I love most about my job is the work itself. The maneuvering, the mooring, anchoring. The Cargo watch. The Navigation. I enjoy my accomplishment through simple things I do onboard. I enjoy securing the vessel alongside, taking care of my FFA, and preparing the vessel’s port papers before arriving at the port.
I have faced a lot of gender based challenges but I will share basic ones. When I chose this profession, I came prepared, and it happens in every vessel. Not all officers are like this but some of them underestimate my capability, and how I overcome it is by working harder to prove that I am aware of the heaviness of the responsibility I am carrying. When it comes to physical strength I have nothing to do with that honestly but in exchange I am the one supervising and giving some of my ideas on how to make the team work like mooring, there are a lot of times I am handling the ropes too, doing some hand in hand work
One thing I’d advocate for women is Equity. To stop the stigma that women are not strong enough to handle the waves.
My advice to other female seafarers is keep hustling ladies. Prepare yourself, physically, emotionally and mentally. It is tiring and hard, not all men can survive the sea, yet that’s what makes us – seafarers keep going. This is not about gender, It’s about will. Don’t worry, we are here, slowly changing the tides
Kyle Marie Eslabra, Philippines/ Iloilo City