Women's insight into life at sea: Joan Savilla-Almazan
We would like to give some insight into what it is like to work at sea – from the perspective of women working as part of Lauritzen Kosan’s crew. Four women have kindly agreed to share their own experiences of life at sea.
Our second interview is with Joan Savilla-Almazan, who works as Second Officer onboard Kamilla Kosan.
Please tell us your name, age, where you come from and any other hobbies/interests
My name is Joan Savilla-Almazan, I’m 30 years old and I’m from the province of Camarines Sur, Philippines.
What attracted you to a job at sea in the first instance?
Honestly, at first, I had no idea that this kind of job existed. I just took the opportunity to study in a prestigious academy, which offered a scholarship, and then it just developed from there.
Before you began your job, what was your impression of what life would be like onboard? Is it different from the reality?
Yes, it's very different from reality. I didn’t really have any expectations, but I knew that it wouldn’t be easy.
About your job
Can you describe a typical day in your job?
A typical day in my job consists of eight hours’ worth of navigation at sea, plus some paperwork, etc. As Second Officer, I take care of the entire bridge, publications and navigational equipment. I also maintain the inventory of the medical equipment and the hospital. My main job is route planning for the ship. When at port, I assist the Chief Officer in cargo handling.
What are your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges are a crucial part of the job. Bad weather is one. I admit, women are not as physically strong as men, so another challenge is handling tasks that require physical strength, so I always need assistance when carrying out some jobs that require strength.
Another challenge is proving myself to everyone. It can sometimes feel like everyone is doubting your abilities, which is the hardest part, but it’s also the best part because I feel fulfilled whenever there are instances where I’m able to prove them wrong.
What motivates you the most?
I feel motivated whenever my seniors tell me that I did a great job and that I was able to meet their expectations of me. I also feel inspired whenever I become an inspiration to others.
What do you do to relax onboard when you’re off-duty?
Internet surfing and chatting with my loved ones. I also love singing karaoke and I bring novels and books onboard with me.
About working at sea
Some people will see you as a role model for other women considering a job at sea, what impact do you think your role might have for others?
I hope I have a good impact on those women, especially because I’ve been sailing for so long. If I can do it, they can do it too.
What plans and ambitions do you have for your future career?
To be honest, I just take things slow and take one step at a time. I want to learn everything that’s necessary to learn before climbing up. I prefer my knowledge and skills to take me there, not just courage.
Who do you usually talk to about your career development?
My seniors onboard the vessel, my husband and my family.
What do you think about the gender balance in seafaring – do you think more women will work at sea in the future?
I think so. Women nowadays are becoming more empowered.
In any craft, gender is never a hindrance, however, I know that not everyone is willing to give us that chance. But still, I believe that the future of having more women onboard is bright.
If you ever changed to working ashore, what would you miss most about working at sea?
I'd definitely miss my job, and more especially I’d miss navigation. Also, Saturday nights with the crew. There’s just this really unique bond between us whenever we're at sea.
Do you have any good pieces of advice to anyone considering a career at sea?
Just know your purpose onboard. There is no reason to be intimidated as long as you know your job and you do it well.