When you look up at the tens of thousands of feet of sails flying from the tall masts of Windstar Cruises’ sailing yachts, think of the 2nd officer in charge, the Officer of Sails.
On Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf, the glorious sails unfurl at the push of buttons on million-dollar computers – no pulling of ropes required. Their presence requires precision and expertise.
The Officer of Sails reports to the Chief Officer and is in charge of the maintenance of the sails. Their duties also include daily work orders, navigation and planning, maintaining the firefighting equipment and continuing training crew.
A typical shift is noon to 4 p.m. and midnight to 4 a.m. The 2nd Officer might test the smoke and heat detectors, inspect the fire hoses, check out the navigational equipment, and then take a meal break before running a training session.
The Officer has rotating responsibility on the ship’s Bridge, its command center, as Officer on Watch and also runs mooring and anchor operations for the fore or aft of the yacht, as needed.
It’s a big, exciting and rewarding job! Qualifications include completion of basic training at a maritime academy, as well as additional credentials to be in charge of a navigational watch and extensive safety and security training.
Among those who hold the job at Windstar is Magdalena, who hails from Poland and is seeing the world on the 4-masted, 148-guest Wind Star, which is Windstar’s original ship; it winters in the Caribbean, summers in Europe.
While today only 2% of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers are women, according to the International Maritime Organization, the number of women on cruise ships has been increasing – an estimated 5.4% of cruise ship officers are women.
The cruise industry recognizes the important role women play in the marine environment, and Windstar is no exception. We have been actively recruiting women graduates of maritime academies for officer roles.
Windstar has made maritime history for its role in promoting women officers. In January 2016, Captain Belinda Bennett took the helm of the ship, Wind Star, becoming Windstar’s first woman captain and the first black woman captain in the commercial cruise industry.
Last year, Captain Bennett received the UK’s Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service, a highly prestigious honor, in recognition of her role in the maritime industry. Captain Bennett, who hails from the small island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, was presented a medal by Princess Anne, in a ceremony at Trinity House in London.
A career at sea, particularly in cruise, is something more and more women are choosing. Like Magdalena and Captain Bennett, women sailors will find a welcoming home at Windstar.