Not just for boys is a campaign I had never heard of until recently, but one that I am very keen on following now and is part of the reason I started this blog, being a girl offshore, being a girl and part of the RNLI I think are something a bit different, especially when only 3.4% of the offshore world are females. #NOTJUSTFORBOYS is ran by the government to create choice by supporting and inspiring women to make decisions that are right for them. Eventhough in the UK and many other countries women are seen as equal to men sometimes there is still a slight degradiation by employers to employ women and I for one do not think its correct. I wouldn’t say I am a feminst but I think that it helps to be knowledgable of these aspects, and do your bit towards them, in the next week or so whilst I am at home and doing uni work I hope to further look into this scheme and learn more and see what I can do to help 🙂
So the RAF called us and asked if we could help with an operation exercise they wanted to do on Tuesday evening using the Sea King. The Sea King is a helicopter used for search and rescue operations. The operation required us to meet them off of Lowestoft at around 2000hrs, four of us had never been winched up onto the aircraft out of the crew that were present, so we had the opportunity to do so. Things were a little bit different as we had to disarm our lifejackets, basically remove the cannister that blows the jacket up on entry to the water and put a dudd one on and if in the event were were to fall into the water we had to manually inflate ourselves. Once we meet the SeaKing which is a pretty amazing aircraft the first two of the crew were winched onto the aircraft, unfortunately once it was dark they decided it wasn’t safe to winch up in darkness from the deck of the lifeboat, so the 2 guys who went up were returned to us and me and another guy were told we couldn’t go up, we were gutted.Things changed quickly and it required me to get changed into an ILB wetsuit, and being tasked to enter the sea and act as a casulty, I was briefed to struggle with the winchman as the helicopter located me and then sent the winchman down..I can not describe what it feels like to have a giant aircraft hovering over you creating a massive draft and seawater in your eyes! even with a visor on the helmet. I was told to struggle with the winchman as in real life cases sometimes the person you want to save, doesnt actually want to be saved, so once he reached me I put up a struggle then he told me I could stop as he knew his guy would have briefed me to struggle and he put the strops around my upper body and one over my legs to sit at the back of my knees, I was then winched up with him to the aircraft door, they are not permitted for insurance reasons to let people onboard in the dark so I had a quick look then was sent back down into the water where I was told to swim back to the lifeboat, which is difficult in freezing cold water, a wetsuit too big, and strong current and wind, the guys onboard chucked me a towline then recovered me from the water.
To say I was buzzing afterwards is an understatement, it was easily one of the best things I have ever done in my life 🙂
Luckily this was filmed on a go pro so I will try and upload the footage 🙂
The best outcome for me was one I have been dealing with a long time that I keep quiet, sometimes when I walk from my cabin to the container we use as our office on the old vessel we chartered I used to look at the sea and think ‘could there be a scarier place than in that’ and eventhough I still wouldn’t want to end up in there, I am no longer as petrified as what I was.
Monday night required a medical for the RNLI to become a crew member this was just a general medical for history, blood pressure, bmi and to see if you are colour blind or not. Which was passed with flying colours (literally!). Also we went through lifejacket inspection which was pretty awesome to do, stripping down the lifejacket making sure everything was how it should be 🙂
Sunday was the first day in a while on the ALB for me (all weather lifeboat) and a sea day, we have alternating sea days each week. Sundays activity was a medicvac (not a real one) which saw us and the ILB (inshore lifeboat) tasked to a yacht off of Lowestoft. We were more of standby vessel preparing for towing if needed whilst the first aiders of the ILB secured the casulty in the stretcher and moved him to safety onto our boat.
Choppy ish seas but always good fun, minus losing my sunglasses off my face!
I recently joined the RNLI Lifeboat to be a crew member, this was something I wanted to do whilst being at home and I am absolutely loving it! I have only just got my pager for when we get a shout and am due for my medical this coming week, I am learning so much which will I am sure help me in the future to be a better seafarer.
I am also proud to be a girl there as well, I am one of two and its nice to have a bit of fellow girl power 🙂 At the minute its really good to just spend some time down there learning all aspects of potenially saving people/s lifes, and I cannot wait for the pager to bleep for the first time. 🙂
You would think I get sick of boats, but when you are used to surveying at 4 knots suddenly doing 25-40 knots on the ILB (inshore lifeboat) and from 17-25 knots on a ALB (all weather lifeboat) is pretty awesome, especially if you have a passion for speed!
I am sure I will have more to add on this once the adventures kick off 🙂
When I first told my Grandad (who is ex Navy) that I was going to work offshore on the vessels..he said ‘are girls even allowed onboard?’ to which I answered with a swift yes and it was no longer the 1950’s anymore. This is not the only comment I have had, working on a previous project I met a contractor who was doing cathodic protection onboard..one day as I crossed him on the deck he said to me ‘there seem to be a lot of women onboard, (think there was 4 of us at the time, which is quite a girl rich survey team) what do you do in there (container where geos and processors sit) admin?’ I kindly set him straight and told him that in fact we are the ones who process the data and QC it whilst the engineers and surveyors just collect it, to which he still went quiet and carried on with his cigarette.
There isn’t too much of a problem being a girl and being offshore, if you have to cabin share with a male fellow worker they ask if thats cool with you..you are on opposite shifts anyway. Some women seem to have more of a problem with this, but I guess it can come down to the individuals culture and views. For me being English I think we are arent so bothered with this.
I have only met one problem whilst in this offshore industry, and that was being accepted for a job by the client this was for a sister company but then the client rep onboard saying no due to the fact I was a female. I was told he was infact Saudi Arabian and they have stricter laws/values on women being onboard.
Sometimes the upper body strength a guy has would be good, as it would allow you to be a little better on back deck..but to be honest you can always muddle through.
Working offshore and being female you are pretty used to the shocked expression on the face of the person you are speaking to (some are not so shocked) and then the curiosity that follows, with the usual set of questions ‘how do you find it’ ‘what do you exactly do’ ‘is there not loads of men’.
I pretty much answer this questions with the same set of answers everytime.
I have been working offshore now for almost 2 years of having enough of sitting behind a desk in an office and I absolutely love it 🙂 Challenges are presented but not because I am a girl, but general missing home and friends and family, missing good food but the advantages for sure outweigh the disadvantages which is why I do the job I do 🙂