Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Sailor: Captain Bridget
I am so excited to share this interview with you today as part of my new series Women Making Waves: Female Captain Interviews. Captain Bridget is actually a friend of mine and a huge part of the reason I am who I am today. She was the very first female captain that I ever worked for. She taught me the importance of paying attention to detail and never accepting anything less than the best from yourself.
Bridget and I worked on a small six-passenger charter boat in St John, and as the mate, I really didn’t have much to do – she definitely could have run the entire operation on her own. What has stuck with me the most about Bridget is how much pride she took in every aspect of the guest’s experience – she even had a special way of chopping cucumbers served at lunchtime so that they looked like a caterpillar.
When I decided that I wanted to leave St John and work on a private yacht, Captain Bridget helped me make my very first CV for yachting, in fact her advice inspired my guide. When I quit working on the yacht, and decided to move to Hawaii, she saw my status on facebook and gave me some advice about the job and apartment hunt in Lahaina. Bridget is currently the captain of a badass gun boat – she continues to raise the bar, always challenging herself and becoming more impressive by the day. Here it is, my interview with Bridget:
1. Where are you from?
I was born and grew up in San Diego, CA.
2. When and where did you first learn to sail?
I am fortunate enough to come from a sailing family. Both my Grandpa and Dad were and are sailors. My Grandpa built two person dinghies called Snipes, and my Dad raced them very competitively. My mom is also very active at the yacht club I grew up at, acting as the second female commodore in its history. My parent sent me to summer sailing when I was eight. My first time out I was in a little dinghy called a sabot with an “older kid.” I ran right into the side of another boat and put a hole in it. I was hooked.
3. What events led you to seek a position working on a boat?
After moving on from learning to sail to racing, I naturally progressed to coaching and running programs for junior sailors. I have been working in the industry in some capacity or another since I was 15 years old. When I was 25 I ran off to Hawaii and worked on day charter boats, then to the Caribbean for some of the same. A few years ago I decided to segue into the professional yachting industry, where I still am today.
4. What is your current position, and work history?
Currently I am captain of a Gunboat 66.
5. Describe an average workday in the life of Bridget Shear.
Working on yachts is the antithesis of “average workday.” There is no way, like with a normal job, that you can deliberate what the future may hold. One day I am sailing about, the next running contractors, sorting the billing or cleaning toilets.
6. What’s the best part about working on a boat?
You get to see great parts of the world through the eyes of a sailor……
7. What are some of the struggles?
…………while you are working.
8. What’s the best job you’ve ever had on a boat?
Every job I had has taught me something. Even the worst position I left after a week taught me something about interpersonal skills and handling difficult situations. However, if the position you hold currently isn’t in some way the best you have ever had it may be time to start looking for one that is.
9. What are some of your hobbies outside of work, and how (if in any way) has your job helped you to develop these interests?
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with outside interests. One thing about the travelling lifestyle is you have tried many things once or twice in places you have been. I’ve skydived in Hawaii, rock climbed in Maine, hiked all over the place and sampled food at every opportunity. One thing that has stuck lately is kiting. The gear is compact and we can bring it on the boat, and the destinations we end up in lend themselves to the sport.
10. What’s the best advice you could give to people interested in getting a job in this field?
Place yourself in a “yachtie hub” and make contacts and network like crazy. The best way to get a job is through someone who knows someone. Be helpful and kind, you never know who you are talking to at the bar. If sailing is something you love, go for it.