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Inside the World of Yachting: Exclusive Interview with the Founder of Girls on Deck!

Megan Venter- Founder of Girls on Deck

"Hi Megs, firstly thanks for agreeing to share your yachting story with me. We’ve been in contact for some years now. Can you tell the reader a little bit about yourself and how you started in Yachting?"

"I have always been a sporty person and an adrenaline junkie. Always trying to find the next big adventure, country to visit next, playing football, finding the best wave to surf, or grabbing my skateboard. After achieving two degrees, I decided I did not want to end my desire for adventures."

"My mom used to charter her yacht as a captain in the Indian Ocean, and I was her day worker for about three months, I loved it. I learned how to sail, maintenance, product knowledge, and engineering aspects. I fell in love with it, wanted to follow in her footsteps, and immediately booked all my courses."

A Girl in front of a Yacht
Meghan Venter- Founder of Girls on Deck

"Two Degrees is quite the achievement in itself, Well done. It amazes me to hear how everyone's story of beginning in yachting can be so different but fundamentally it's because we’ve all fallen in love with the ocean and adventure. Please tell me a bit about why you started Girls on Deck and your mission/ objective."

"In 2020, I worked for a Sheikh for just over a year in Abu Dhabi. It was a crazy experience. I noticed I was the only female Deckhand in the entire fleet of over 500 crew members."

"However, six months into the year I was sexually harassed by my Bosun at the time, and the Captain & Chief Stew covered it up because of who the owner was and the heavy laws in the UAE. This led me to create Girls on Deck in October. I learned that I was not the only girl in the industry who was dealing with that kind of trauma." "My mission was to create a safe platform for only girls on deck and help ensure that this stops. My objective is to motivate other girls that they can be deckhands

regardless of sex, race, religion, etc."

"My Goodness Meg, that must have been quite the ordeal, it’s very inspiring to other young females coming into the industry that you took strength from a bad experience to build a safe platform for ladies in yachting. When you look back at your Yachting career so far, do you feel progression was obtainable and supported by your peers?"

"My progression was most certainly not supported by my male peers. For example, the vessel I was on this year had two rotational Chief Officers. One of them refused me to drive the tenders; any kind of maintenance, handling of water toys, heavy lifting, etc.—there wouldn’t be one day where he did not mansplain to me. He ironically got fired a few months later; therefore, I do believe in karma."

"All crew members should have respect for each other, regardless of their rank! The other chief Officer let me work independently, drive tenders, gave me the freedom to do all the maintenance I wanted, and even helped me finish my training Record Book. It has honestly been a rough ride trying to progress as a female in this industry. It is hard to find a male peer who fully supports us and wants to see us achieve."

Girl Carrying a dock line
Docking in Miami

"Thank you for sharing that experience with me, I’m sure many of our junior deck crew readers can relate to that. You are right it is incredibly hard to find supportive peers that don’t put us down because of our gender. It took me a long time to find a team that is full of supportive peers both in yachting progression and blog writing."

"Do you consider yachting your career or something you’re doing in the short term? If so a career, what’s your goal, or do you have one?"

"I want to be like my mom; I want to be a captain one day. However, I would want

to be the captain of my own 84 Sunreef motor yacht and do surf charters in the Pacific Ocean. I see myself staying in this industry as long as I can. My short-term goal right now is to develop my crew agency, ‘Girls on Deck’."

"I can certainly see ‘Girls on Deck’ taking off as a crew agency, and I look forward to seeing that as it grows. YES, this industry needs more female captains,  I look forward to doing a follow-up interview with Captian Venter in the future. So, what is your next Qualification/ticket to achieve?"

"I plan to complete all my modules of the OOW 3000 in Malta."

"Fantastic, that is a big ticket to obtain. We both work on Deck; do you feel there is a strong stigmatism around females in the Deck department?"

"Oh yeah, 100%!!! Sometimes men think that we are not strong enough to handle something on deck, which just leads to me proving them wrong. For example, when I was a Deckie, the Bosun did not allow me to use the teak machine. However, when I was in a bosun role, a Deckie told me he was not comfortable handling the teak machine, and vice versa. As a female, I was not criticising him for it."

"That's the best way I find to combat the stigmatising by proving them wrong. How do you deal with it?"

"I have a weird tradition I follow. Every morning I grab my coffee and go sit on the Bow or Sundeck, play a few games of Call of Duty and watch the sunrise. This honestly prepares me for the day."

"When I do encounter negativity from someone on deck, I immediately put my AirPods in and play my favourite playlists. If it was a really tough day, I would meditate on the sundeck watching the sunset. As they say, “Inhale the good sh*t, exhale the bullsh*t.”"

"That’s a very good way of dealing with stress, I like your meditation techniques. I used to have a very similar morning ritual but sadly I got out of the habit when I changed boats, now I journal in the evenings instead. If you were to meet a greenie female deckhand tomorrow, what is your one piece of advice?"

"Don’t let anyone intimidate you; keep in mind that your confidence is fuelled by believing in yourself instead of gaining validation from others."

"I couldn’t agree more, self-confidence is half of the battle, something I am still working on every day myself, part of the reason I started writing the blog. Do you find that working full-time enables you to have a successful personal life off the

yacht? (Work-life balance is a huge issue within the yachting industry, something I’ve always struggled with myself)."

"I am happy to know other people struggle with this. Unfortunately, I have not had the success of being able to balance a personal life within the industry. I started dating a lovely Italian Bosun from La Spezia, where my shipyard was based. We managed to see each other for the first few months while I was sailing the Med, but by the time it was September, we had broken up because it was impossible to make the relationship work with our busy schedules. It was also impossible to find a

couple's gig as we are both on deck and in the same position."

"A lot of crew struggle with this, and my blog post ‘Navigating love across Oceans ’ discusses my own experiences with this. It's certainly not easy. Can you summarise for me why you enjoy working on yachts?"

"Well, as you know, I’m an adrenaline junkie. I enjoy working on yachts because I get to drive the fastest water toys in glassy waters. I only take a position based on the tenders the yacht has. I'm obsessed with driving tenders, but only the big and fast ones!"

"The faster the better, I certainly understand that, I’m a bit of a speed demon at heart myself.  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me and continuing to support Shaped by the Sea. I look forward to following up with you in the future."

Thanks for reading the latest edition of shapedbythesea's Interview series of Inside the World of Yachting. Follow Megan and her Adventures on her Instagram @girlsondeck .

As always keep smiling, laughing and loving the Sea. Xo


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