Women's insight into life at sea: Dyesebel Medalla Diaz
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 first interview is with Dyesebel Medalla Diaz, who is Third Engineer onboard Linda Kosan. Thanks to OSM Maritime for their help arranging the interviews.
Please tell us your name, age, where you come from and any other hobbies/interests
My name is Dyesebel Medalla Diaz. I'm 29 years old and my hobbies include reading books, learning, going on adventures, volunteering, etc.
What attracted you to a job at sea in the first instance?
What attracted me was an opportunity for a better life.
Growing up, we lacked financial stability because both my parents were teachers. I have witnessed the sacrifice and hard work every family member had to endure so that they were able to get by. We were trained to deal with responsibilities at an early age by working on our farm. My parents always did their best to provide for us, so when they inspired me to study at the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), I took it as a chance to give back. I am now gradually helping out with providing for my family and giving them a better life that they truly deserve.
Before you began your job, what was your impression of what life would be like onboard? Is it different from the reality?
In 2011 when I first started, I thought sailing would be difficult and challenging. And while it really is, I didn’t expect it to be this rewarding!
This unfamiliar journey with total strangers far away from home scared me, but it would have scared me more to let go of the chance to make a positive difference. Trials tested my limits, but I kept embracing and enduring every challenge. I kept myself busy with productive activities to get through, taking it one day at a time, and eventually I was able to manage myself and make seafaring as a way of life.
Seafaring, just like any other job, has difficult tasks at first, but they can be learnt over time, especially if you’re blessed with good mentors and a supportive team. A positive attitude can be practiced, knowledge can be learnt and skills can be cultivated and sharpened. Experience can be gained. Everything takes time and it's all part of the learning process.
About your job
Can you describe a typical day in your job?
Our mornings start with what we call a toolbox meeting, and there we go over the tasks of the day. After the meeting, we go over the engine routines, where engine parameters are checked, recorded and reported. Then fuel oil tanks and gas oil tanks are filled to appropriate levels. Water is then drained from air reservoirs and FO Tanks. Then all running machineries are monitored and maintained operational. Afterwards we do our planned jobs as required, like manoeuvring, planned maintenance, bunkering, provision, safety drills, inspections, desludging, troubleshooting, watchkeeping, etc. In between the tasks, feedback and communication are exchanged to cater the priorities that arise. Prior rest time, admin works are completed and planning for the next day is done.
What are your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenges are rough seas and succeeding in the maritime industry.
What motivates you the most?
My love for my family, co-seafarers and work fulfilment.
What do you do to relax onboard when you’re off-duty?
I listen to audio books, I watch entertainment, I bond with other people etc.
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 think that we, the women officers, serve as an inspiration and role models for the aspiring women seafarers.
What plans and ambitions do you have for your future career?
Someday I want to serve as Chief Engineer onboard the tanker vessel of Lauritzen Kosan, in order to be able to sustain human life through global transport of Liquified Petroleum Gasses.
Who do you usually talk to about your career development?
My senior officers and people who are interested in my career.
What do you think about the gender balance in seafaring – do you think more women will work at sea in the future?
The biggest population of seafarers are still men. However, more women have successfully excelled in the maritime profession, and continue to do so. This diverse working environment has also made a positive impact in the maritime community. I hope more women will work at sea in the future.
If you ever changed to working ashore, what would you miss most about working at sea?
I'd miss the fulfilment of onboard professional development. The satisfying feeling of completing every contract safely and the perks of being a seafarer.
Do you have any good pieces of advice to anyone considering a career at sea?
Yes. A career at sea is one of the best options there is to serve humanity through global transport. It helped me gain financial stability and sustain many other life goals that are important for my loved ones. I hope that when you have chosen this profession, you take your time to prepare, enjoy and professionally grow in every process of becoming a seafarer, be it good or bad. Make seafaring a way of life. That way, you'll be able to stay competent and committed.
The working years ahead will not always be smooth, but if you develop your mental ability and strengthen your heart when the seas get rough, the vessel starts rolling, work pressure is high and trade demands keep pressing, you'll be able to embrace, endure and surpass them.
Celebrate both defeats and triumphs. Defeat can teach you to grow and success can expand your growth to others. Even when problems and trials repeatedly get in the way, keep going. Keep learning, keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and turn those dreams into reality. Keep exploring your infinite potential and share it with others.