Who's Navigating: Discovering the world

01 Feb 2013 The Navigator

In this series, The Navigator speaks to current navigational personnel about their motivations, careers to date and thoughts for the future. Under the spotlight this issue is merchant navy cadet and Second Officer, Samantha Mason, who is currently enjoying a year travelling round the world.

Name: Samantha Mason
Current position: Second Officer
Training: Merchant Navy Cadet Scheme, Trinity House

What interested you in a seafaring career?
Before discovering the merchant navy cadet scheme I was a scuba dive instructor and have always loved the sea. At first, I was drawn to a life at sea by my admiration for officers I saw on a ship; then when I discovered the opportunities available to me through training, and the future possibilities regarding pay and the ‘time on, time off’ ratio, it seemed a perfect fit.

What career path has led to your current position?
After my initial training with Trinity House, they offered me my first job as Second Officer. Although it was not deep sea, I feel the experience I gained on single watch keeping, involving coastal sailing, plenty of collision avoidance and constantly changing passage planning, was greatly beneficial to my growth as a new officer.

Where do you see your career going from here?
I am excited about the opportunities in the maritime world. I would like to experience different ship types and, over time, follow the natural progression and climb the ranks to Chief and Master. If I ever feel the need to leave the sea, I would consider studying maritime law. Having goals is important, but so is flexibility to adjust to opportunities when they arise. I intend to go with the flow, work hard and see where my career takes me.

Is there anything that could be done to further improve collision avoidance?
I think that, with various nationalities sailing ships worldwide, it is important that every officer is strictly reading from the same rules and regulations so there is absolutely no confusion on what action should be taken. This may be what is currently intended on paper, but is actually something that seems to differ in understanding when onboard ship. All officer training should be aligned to one high level of performance by an ‘international’ school, following one curriculum and way of examination. This would ensure every person at sea has had the same level of training and formal assessment. It would also eliminate short cuts, cheating and breeding of bad habits in individual training establishments.

What are the greatest rewards for your life at sea?
Time off allows me to do what I want in my personal life; for example, my current job has allowed me to travel the world for a year. The job itself is impressive and living on a ship is an experience few are privileged enough to enjoy. Of course, the stunning views and chance to see new places is the cherry on top.

Tell us a bit about your time travelling? Has it changed how you feel about life onboard ship?
I am currently travelling round the world for a year. I began in Argentina, explored Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, then travelled round New Zealand. I experienced my first cyclone in Fiji, and now I’m about to visit Australia. Yet to come is Thailand, Cambodia, Loas and Vietnam, then Nepal and India. I’m living the dream. Although I’m travelling on a budget, I’m determined not to let amazing experiences pass me by.

If anything, travelling has made me appreciate my job even more, because it allows me to live the way I wish and do all the things I want. I love being at sea. I miss being on the water, navigating on the bridge, being part of a team and general ship life. Every ship brings a brand new adventure and I am looking forward to beginning the next one, once my travels are complete.

What do you think are the greatest challenges for future navigators?
At sea, the greatest challenge for anyone is the long periods away from home and loved ones. More specific to the job as a navigator is gaining and maintaining full understanding of the ever-evolving onboard technological equipment, while keeping the traditional navigation methods alive through regular practice.