My passion for the Merchant Navy began when I still was a child. I didn’t even know the sea, but I already knew I wanted to work on board ships. It was then that I decided to dedicate and study to pursue this wonderful career. Thanks to study, experiences and (not easy) decisions, today I am a deck officer and I work onboard merchant vessels.
This is a story of a Seawoman, perhaps not as beautiful as other seafarers, but beautiful enough to make me remain in love more and more with this blue world. The time I spent at the navy school was the years that I grew the most and made more friendship. These friends were essential to my studies and they continue to be part of my life today. After three years of studying, in 2012 I embarked for the first time, as deck cadet on product tanker and gas carrier. It was something eagerly awaited by all of us, but these two six-month period on board were not easy. Working hours and overtime every day for all this months, being concerned with learning as much as possible, being present in all events, and at the same time keeping personal life organized was our routine.
But again they were there to help me: the friends I made on board and with them I won this stage. My first contract as deck officer, new company, different ship (bulk carrier), I was the only woman on board. The changes were many, the fear of not being able to deal with everything came in mind sometimes but with the help of special people and been open to learning from everyone, I managed to overcome this challenge and soon I was already working on containers, general cargo and tankers again. I sailed in many vessels of different types, there were many changes, people from everywhere, different companies, new procedures and endless learning. But in all of them I had the most important: friends to support me, love for work and new things to know.
And in all difficulties this is what helps me to continue. Each experience, good and bad, helped to build what I am today. Many times I embarked as the only woman on board. Its common be woman seafarer in my country but we are still not in the majority and, for many foreign coworkers this is still very strange. Unfortunately, this causes disrespect in many situations. Hearing that we are not strong or smart enough, that we should be at home taking care of the family, listening to disrespectful words, having to prove all the time that we are able to do our job are still very common situations, unfortunately. But we won’t give up. Women are already on board (after a long time) and I believe we are moving towards equality. We have already studied and we strive to do our job and achieve the best results, but we also need everyone’s respect for this to be possible.
I’ve been sailing for almost 10 years and I’m not even close to getting tired of this profession. The work that demands distance from those we love, loss of important celebrations ashore and often loneliness and at the same time presents us with unique and incredible landscapes, great professional achievements, personal overcoming and friends for life, occupies a space of great importance in my life. I still hope to live a long time in this sea of good surprises and to be present on the day that we are all respected and valued as we deserve.
Author Of This Post:
This post is written by Bianca Es Barbosa who is a navigator by profession. She can be reached here.