Get on board with us

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
Controlling the Movements of a Cargo Ship as a Helmswoman


Controlling the Movements of a Cargo Ship as a Helmswoman

The maritime industry is synonymous with opportunities.

Catheryne, who usually works as a sailor, has witnessed it on numerous occasions; one of which led her to become a Helmswoman on a cargo ship navigating the Great Lakes for a month.

Discover her daily life and her inspiring story.

I often ask myself why I entered the merchant navy. The passion for the sea, I discovered it a few years ago on a sailboat, so it has nothing to do with the huge cargo ship I’m on now.

However, I understood over time that the essence of navigating was more powerful than the shell that allowed me. So when I got the opportunity to apply as a Helmswoman on a CSL cargo ship, I jumped on it.

You should know that I originally worked as a Deckhand, a position that allowed me to come back home every night. It was comforting, but I was missing some adventure. One of the benefits of the maritime world is that you can sail from one opportunity to another, as you need. Because in this industry, nothing is monotonous.

So here I am, on a cargo ship for 3 weeks already. It’s 10:00 a.m., I have to get up. Here, we work in shifts, mine being from noon to 4:00 p.m., then from midnight to 4:00 a.m. I feel well rested, especially since I sleep better after my night shift.

I stretch and head to the ship’s dining room for lunch. It’s already 11:45 a.m., I go up to the wheelhouse to start my shift. Before he leaves, the Helmsman on duty briefs me on where we are according to the trajectory, adding useful details. It’s now his turn to rest.

Every shift is different and depends on traffic, the time of day and the waters we’re on. This time around, I have the chance to navigate calm waters, where it’s wide enough and don’t cross many ships. In these conditions, the crew on duty is less in demand. I must follow instructions from the Officer in charge and keep an eye on the autopilot which takes over when I’m not at the wheel. It also allows me to take part in the cleaning of the wheelhouse, a task we share between Helmsmen.

Last night was different. When the routes are narrower and you pass ships, you need to be focused at all times. It was my case. With my eyes locked on the horizon, I steered the ship without leaving the wheel to make sure that we’re following our course. Mission accomplished! It helped me sleep afterwards because it takes a lot of energy.

Life on the ship is quiet. For those wondering, most of the crew spend their time reading, watching movies or TV series. And yes, we have wifi! The mood varies a lot from a ship to another, but like everywhere else, smaller teams form stronger bonds at sea.

When I look into the distance, at the wheel, I feel in my place. When you navigate with your heart and listen to your ship, whether a sailboat or cargo ship, it answers you. If you can understand your ship, feel its movements, its reactions to the elements, there’s a feeling of respect that sets in. Mutual respect.

So I let myself be guided to our destination, which we’ll reach in a week. It will feel good, for some time, until my craving for adventure comes back… and it always does!

Cooking Away from the Mainland

Next article

Cooking Away from the Mainland

Read article
Cooking Away from the Mainland