As the summer comes to a hot and sunny finale over here in California, I am so excited to tell everyone I know about the new website in town - WomenOffshore.org. The site went live last month, and showcases information on a multitude of topics, from industry news and featured seagoing women, to maintaining personal health and wellness while working offshore. Their mission statement reaches out to women in maritime sectors across the globe:
"Women Offshore is an online resource center supporting a diverse workforce on the water. Our mission is to report the latest news on gender diversity in the offshore and maritime industries, while shining a light on women in operations and providing resources to foster long-term careers."
Founder Ally Cedeno and her team reached out to Sea Sisters and wrote a feature on our community. You can read it here. We look forward to watching the community grow, and empowering the team at WomenOffshore with any support and resources the Sea Sisters Organization can offer.
There are a few more groups I've had the pleasure of discovering in recent years. One of these groups is Against The Tide, a project created by Liz Marami, a marine pilot based in the Kenya Ports Authority. Liz has featured women seafarers from around the globe by sharing their images and telling their stories in their own words. Follow their Instagram account for the latest!
Lastly, let me also point out a group that has been around for quite some time: WISTA, Women's International Shipping & Trading Association. Founded in 1974, WISTA provides networking opportunities for female executives in the maritime industry around the world. The international establishment is divided into National WISTA Associations by country; for information on your nearest chapter and to apply for membership, click here.
In our latest newsletter, we introduced a new contributor: Aurora, an Alaskan badass with a penchant for slaying salmon and turning wrenches. Aurora and I met in the strangest and most unique way - that is to say, we haven't even met yet; not in person.
I was working in my capacity as tugboat deck hand, and we were putting our hawser up to a tanker at the Richmond Long Wharf in San Francisco Bay last spring. The crew had just made our line fast on their bitt up on deck when a young woman ran to the rail and waved down at me excitedly, beaming broadly. I am always happy to see women on ships, and I happily waved and smiled back. I reached out to some women who I know were working on the same ship, or for the same company, at the time, and they told me that the electric young woman was Aurora. She had learned who I was through the Sea Sisters project, and recognized me on the tugboat below. She connected with me to give her contact information, and naturally at that point I couldn't resist asking her if she would contribute to Sea Sisters. She graciously agreed, and now I am honored to publish her story and share it with the world for the first time.
Aurora's saga is at once intricate and soul-piercing, as my favorite sea stories always are. In her own words:
"As a woman who has been terrified, almost every step of the way, it is really important to me to express that, because it was all so much less scary than I had made it out to be in my mind. The life that I am living now is beyond better than anything that I could have dreamt for myself. It was worth all of the anxiety and fear and loneliness. I hope that my story might encourage timid women like me to go for it anyway, even though it's terrifying. It's a story for the women who are afraid to admit that they'd like to turn a wrench, because they might be ridiculed or mocked. I wish I had heard a similar story when I was sixteen. That's when my secret interest in machinery began to develop."
There are so many young women who are not hearing enough encouraging messages such as this, and much like Aurora points out, I wish I had read these stories when I was sixteen as well.
So grab your favorite beverage, some popcorn - perhaps a hanky or two - and settle in, because I promise you won't want to stop reading.
Thank you, Aurora. And fair seas to all,