#humansofyachting – Lisa Blackshaw
The second officer talks about her support for women in the superyachting industry and why Costa Rica is next on her bucket list.
“Even when I was doing my degree in nautical science, I wondered how I would use it – I didn’t see myself working on cargo ships which I’d done my training on. The first job I got was on a survey vessel and while I was on it I saw an amazing superyacht and thought, ‘That is the sort of yacht that I want to be on!’ The stewardess on the survey vessel gave me some advice on how to make it happen and so I booked a flight to Antibes. Within ten days of being there, I had secured a job. It was like being welcomed into a whole world I knew nothing about.
I started as a deckhand and did that for a few months but I knew early on that I wanted to work my way up. I’m second officer now and have been on this boat for seven years. The core part of my job now is navigation, but there are lots of different aspects. At the moment, for example, I’ve been preparing for our annual surveys and doing maintenance, which is very different to when we have guests on board and the yacht essentially transforms into a hotel.
I don’t think there’s an owner out there who cares so much about his boat as ours does. You get a feel for that. It makes for a happy environment. There are 70 crew rotating so the dynamics are constantly changing. This year has been very different for us because of Covid; if you go into the crew mess at the moment, we’ve got a giant Connect 4 and baking competitions and all sorts of games going on because we’re all safeguarding on board and have ended up socialising together a lot more.
There are so many things to love about my work. The travel, the food on board, exploring, meeting new people – but I think the best thing of all is the view from the bridge. I basically have a moving office. Coming up to work and being in a different location most days and having that amazing view is pretty special.
When She of the Sea contacted me, I didn’t realise how much I had to say about a lot of the things they are trying to change in our industry. The founder Jenny Matthews asked me if I would go and do a maritime roadshow for girls so I went to Edinburgh to plant the seed in young minds. I only stumbled across the industry by chance so I think it’s important to let girls know that there’s an option out there that they might not even know about. She of the Sea are also working on a mentoring platform at the moment which I really want to be involved in. They are propelling the maritime industry into the future and, in ten years time, we’ll have so much to thank them for.
I’ve got more and more environmentally-aware over the last few years and now my Instagram is @lisa_for_greener_future – it’s just about sharing things that I’ve learnt that can help us reduce our impact. It’s not a huge thing but just running the account has made me feel accountable – I want a greener future. I get some people asking why I work in this industry if I love the environment but that is why I work in it! I don’t see it the other way around; I love the sea and there are lots of initiatives out there that really blow me away. I am that annoying person on board bugging everyone not to use single-use plastics.
I am close with the lead housekeeper and she’ll often ask advice on making sure that no luxury is sacrificed when buying sustainable products. It’s possible to have both. I think clients want it too, which is a huge plus; I’ve even noticed that there are search categories now for eco-conscious charter yachts.
I think the best superyacht experience I’ve had so far is going swimming with whale sharks in Mexico on my day off. I was the last person to jump in but as soon as I got next to this enormous fish, I was laughing underwater, I couldn’t control myself. We swam with them for an hour. It was freezing but I just didn’t care.
My bucket list is still very long. I really want to go back to Costa Rica. I went on a yoga retreat but I want to go back and explore. They are doing so much ecotourism over there. The last time I went, there were monkeys on the beach – none of the usual restaurants or hotels – you felt that you were properly in the wild. I’ve also got a lot of skiing destinations on my list – and then, of course, the Galapagos Islands would be amazing.”