Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, USA. My parents worked in the Port of Long Beach/ Los Angeles, so I grew up going to work with them at the port or on ships.
How old are you?
When did your interest for the sea start?
I've always been a water child, growing up next to the beach. Some of my earliest memories are beach days with my dad and my Uncle Mark. My mom and dad met while they were both working for different companies in the Ports of Long Beach/ Los Angeles.
I remember going to my mom's office and watching the giant gantry cranes move containers on and off the ships. When I got a little older I would attend vessels with my father who worked as an agent, then a cargo stowage planner and finally retired as a Port Captain. It's been in my blood since I was born!
When did you decide to pursue a career at sea?
When I was exploring options for university I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I found California Maritime Academy-one of seven maritime academies in the States- and decided to give it a go. Dad convinced me if I was going to go to Cal Maritime, I should major in Marine Transportation or Engineering so I could earn a US Coast Guard Third Mate or Third Engineer license.
I figured I'd give it a go for a semester, and now 11 years later I'm still sailing.
Where did you start and where are you now, title?
Professionally, I started out as an Unlimited Third Mate aboard articulates tubs and barges, then moved to crude oil tankers. I then sailed as Second Mate for eight years on research vessels where I earned my Unlimited Chief Mate's license. I'm currently working as a mate on an offshore supply vessel, and will be upgrading to Unlimited Master Mariner as soon as I have my seatime-about three more months.
What's the best thing about your job?
I love love love the shiphandling. It is the most dynamic, challenging and rewarding part of my job on vessels. Traveling to foreign ports is pretty special too. The time off is pretty amazing too, 6 months of work for a full years pay(and the pay is great as well!)
What are your responsibilities on board?
On OSVs you're responsible for any of the maneuvering, loading/discharging of cargo(deck cargo, liquid mud, fuel, water, bulk dry cargoes), maintaining a safe watch, Dynamic Positioning watches and safety/lifesaving/fire equipment. You're sort of responsible for everything aboard while on watch.
What is the best and what is the worst thing about being a seafarer?
The best things are: the shiphandling, the schedule, the pay, and the challenge.
The worst things: isolation from friends and family. Not being able to be home for certain events: holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc. That's the hardest part.
Do you have any advice for women in the seafarer industry?
Know your worth. We are often talked over, told we are too nice/not nice enough, too approachable/not approachable enough, not dressed appropriately, to soft/not soft. You're never going to win everyone's approval, but as long as you know who you are and that you bring a valuable perspective that deserves to be seen and heard, you will honor yourself.
Also, don't be scared of asking questions if you don't know the answer. We don't learn from what we know. We learn from our mistakes.
You can follow Max and her journey on Instagram under the name : max_herself