Tenacious Captain Barbara Campbell takes up the helm in Australia

by Rosie Colahan

Captain Barbara Campbell_image tallshipstock.com
Captain Barbara Campbell_image tallshipstock.com

Captain Barbara Campbell arrived in Australia this week for a two month tour of duty as Captain of the Tall Ship Tenacious. Owned and operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), Tenacious left UK in November 2015 and arrived in Australia in August 2016, to mark the establishment of the first global JST base outside the UK in Melbourne, Victoria. Tenacious’ presence here demonstrates the life changing work of the trust since its establishment in 1978 in addressing social isolation, gender equality and promoting the integration of the able bodied and those living with disability through provision of voyage opportunities on tall ships.

For Campbell, this is a return trip to Australia with her previous foray at the helm of JST’s other tall ship Lord Nelson (‘Nellie’) into Australian waters, as part of a two year voyage for the 2012-13 Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge, which included an appearance in October 2013 at the centennial celebrations of the Royal Australian Navy with the International Fleet Review in Sydney. Campbell recalls her sojourn as joining the ship in Adelaide and sailing to Melbourne to join other tall ships sailing to Hobart, and copping a ‘Bass Strait baptism’ with 60+ knot winds!

Forty years ago, it was a rarity to see female leaders in the maritime industry and Captain Barbara has made history rising through the ranks to obtain her Masters ticket. Campbell grew up in the south of England, sailing dinghies from age 11 years. The ‘call of the sea’ saw her join the British Merchant Navy in 1975 as a deck cadet with P&O Steam Navigation Company, one of P&O’s first 3 female cadets. Her 4 year Cadetship was spent on various cargo ships. Campbell went on to complete her Mate’s ticket and in 1986, an Unlimited Masters ticket and worked on P&O cruise ships for seven years, during which time she started volunteering with the JST. In 2002 she moved permanently to the JST, taking up the role of Master for both Tenacious and Lord Nelson.

Campbell describes her attraction to working for the JST.

‘The JST welcomes people of all abilities with a mix of all ages upward from 16years.

We have a lovely group of people who sail on board, with everyone actively focussed on working together in the running of the ship. The permanent crew are also very dedicated and work well together and it is very rewarding to be part of the team. As Captain, I also get to choose where the ship goes and we have some great sailing and get to enjoy some wonderful destinations. ‘

And how does Campbell manage the work-life balance?

My current roster involves two months, however I no longer work full time and am cutting back to 90 days a year. My husband, who I met at sea is now a retired ship’s engineer, and in the past we tried to align our work rosters to allow time together.

And Campbell’s advice to female sailors aspiring to a career in the maritime industry?

‘Taking on a Cadetship with a Merchant Navy company allows you to earn an income whilst undertaking your training and gaining good experience. Gaining an unlimited Masters ticket can take you anywhere in the world.

People skills are paramount to being successful in the job, physical strength is not so important.

I actively welcome female cadets onboard my voyages and encourage them to pursue their dreams.’

Thanks to Captain Barbara Campbell and other female trailblazers who have navigated a course through uncharted waters, proven their leadership, tenacity and skills both personal and professional, there are now an increasing number of opportunities for female sailors with a dream to work in the maritime industry to follow suit and be supported in reaching their goals. Campbell is an inspiration to many with her professional achievements and commitment to social inclusion.

Captain Campbell will be in Australia until 12 January 2017 as Master of Tenacious, leading a seven day round trip to explore Bass Strait from 1 Dec – 7 Dec and then a delivery from Melbourne departing 8 Dec to arrive in Sydney 14 Dec. There are a couple of spots still available if you are keen to join as voyage crew for an unforgettable experience.

Further information about all voyage opportunities are available on the JST website.

For further information on the mission of the Jubilee Sailing Trust Australia visit www.jst.org.au or call Peter Mitchell (Project Manager Australia) on 0410 468 470


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