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My youngest has run away to sea! A short interview with Jacqui Locke, a Merchant Navy Mum


  • My youngest has run away to sea! A short interview with Jacqui Lockie, a Merchant Navy Mum

    My youngest has run away to sea! A short interview with Jacqui Lockie, a Merchant Navy Mum

    Jacqui Locke lives in Southport, Merseyside with her husband. They have two daughters and run their own business repairing domestic appliances, well the hubby does the repairing, Jacqui does the phone and books. They have both spent a good part of the last 10 years working on their house, changing it back from a flat and 5 bedsits into the Victorian detached house it once was, which means Jacqui has became rather adept at answering the phone to book appointments whilst balancing on top of the scaffolding to sand down ceilings! They both spend their leisure time tramping down canals and looking for a narrow boat to buy. After spending a number of family holidays hiring them, they have decided that they want one of their own. According to Jacqui "Canals are also a great source of pubs with real ales to sample and quiet countryside to enjoy, whilst getting plenty of exercise using the locks and swing bridges, so what?s not to like!" Their eldest daughter is a cheesemonger (not many of them kicking about) and the youngest has run away to sea (at least it's not the circus, oh wait.....).

    Right, so sit down, quiet at the back and pay attention you ugly lot! Over to Jacqui....

    What was your first reaction when your Son/Daughter first said they wanted to join the Merchant Navy?

    My real first reaction was ?that?s not fair, I want to do that!? It wasn?t something that she had always wanted to do but it seemed to tick all the boxes for her. They had to think about careers early on whilst in 6th Form and she decided that she wanted something that would be academically challenging but was not your usual university degree. Some thing that is practical and hands on but not engineering. She has always loved the water and boats of all sizes and has always been very independent and, to be honest, is a bit of a tom boy so after doing a lot of research we all could see that the Merchant Navy would be her ideal job.

    What sort of research did you and your daughter do into the industry?

    We did lots. As we had over 18 months before the A levels were out of the way there was plenty of time. We started off by going to the Liverpool John Moores University open day in January to try and get an idea of what was involved. Shortly afterwards we learnt that there was also going to be an open day at Fleetwood and as both are not too far away we decided to go to both. She originally thought of going into the cruise ship industry, so she emailed all the cruise ships companies calling in at Liverpool and explained how she was hoping to become a deck cadet and asked if she could visit the vessel. Sadly, only one said yes and that was Crystal Cruises and they were excellent. They really went out of their way for her as she was able to spend a few hours on the bridge and then had the rest of the day to roam around the ship and enjoy lunch.

    She also had a week on a Tall Ship over the summer (she had done lots of sail training since she was 14) and I also booked her a 2 night, bargain basement, cruise from Liverpool to Cobh and then back to Plymouth to give her a taster of what sailing was like. This had the effect to put her off cruise ships completely so we had a very good start on which companies to apply to!

    By now she had definitely decided the Merchant Navy was the way to go and set about applying for several companies. She tried out for the RFA and sat a test in the local RN office. The open days had come around again, so we set off for Fleetwood in a smart dress with lots of cover letter's and CV's in hand. These she handed out to several companies she was interested in. A week later, Trinity House rang for a long chat and then invited her to come down to London for an interview in a weeks time. So we threw her onto a train, at silly o clock, to get into London for 9 am so that she would have plenty of time to get there. It was a good job that she left so early as the tube was cancelled, so with being a natural navigator found a ?you are here? sign and walked on over to Trinity House. When she arrived at Trinity House, she was relating the story of her journey to a nice lady in the lift at the offices, who had also been delayed with the tube. It turned out that the nice lady was actually one of the interview team for Trinity House! She ended up coming home with a firm offer of a place as a FD Deck Cadet with Trinity House at Warsash, just what she wanted, so decided not to follow up the RFA.

    We went on a family holiday to Devon in the summer and on the way back we diverted to visit the Warsash during their open day so she could get an idea of what to expect when she went in the September. She also went on a ?Careers at Sea? Ship Visit, these can be found on the Careers at Sea website under ?Where to get more Experience?. She did this after she had got her offer, as she had missed out on a visit the year before. I think it must have been during the summer holidays, she also went to Southampton University for a week?s course to give students a taste of marine engineering. It was mostly about designing turbines, which was very interesting but not what she was looking for, I think she was hoping it was more ship orientated. We've also found out that her favourite TV show now is Mighty Ships, which we've also found to be helpful too.

    How did you feel about your son/daughter heading off to college?

    We were happy for her to go as we had seen the college and spoken to the staff and felt happy about it. After all she was only a phone call away.

    What worries did you have about them heading off to college?

    She was just 18 when we took her down to Warsash, a good 4 ? hour?s drive from home. The only worry we had was that she would find it hard to make friends, as she can be a bit quiet, but all the years of going sailing on her own (well not with anyone else she knew, not sailing single handed!) knowing exactly where she was going and what it was like helped a lot. She had a very positive attitude and of course everyone else felt the same way so she fitted in straight away. Her room at college was great too, with a fabulous view across the Solent, I would love a room with a view that that myself. So we were happy for her to go.

    How did you feel about your son/daughter heading off to sea for the first time?

    Excited for her, and a little jealous really. Her first ship was a super yacht, joining in St Maarten, so who wouldn?t be envious? I think it was a nice gentle start to her time at sea, the Officers were great and had lots of time for both cadets (she joined with another female from her intake so again a nice start). But it wasn?t like a ?real? ship, they had internet 24/7, (we Skyped her when she was half way across the Atlantic) and then they ended up along side for 6 weeks in Barcelona but it could have been worse.

    What worries did you have about them heading off to sea?

    I think the only worry we had was she wouldn?t like it after all. As I said it was an ?easy? ship to start on and being in Europe only a short flight away if anything dreadful happened. She had internet all the time so could keep in touch, but she was the ?if you don?t hear from me then everything is fine? type of person, so no news was good news. She is better trained now and gets in touch at least once a week, but even so when I see her number on my phone I automatically think ?oh no, what?s happened??, but maybe that?s just a mother thing.

    How do you deal with son/daughter being away for extended periods of time with little contact?

    As I said she is trained now to get in touch. The first ship had internet, some were in UK waters so texting and calling were easy (we are both on Giff Gaff so calls and texts between us are free) and the other ship, a cruise ship in the Med, meant she hopped off in port and found a Wifi spot so she could call me on Skype. So we do have contact, it?s not a problem.

    Do you worry about your daughter being in such a male dominated environment?

    From her early days at school she has always hung around with the boys so feels quite comfortable in male company. Was one of only two girls at her Sea Scout troop and sailed with mixed groups rather than choosing an all female crew. Saying that, she is really enjoying having a female cadet for company on her final ship. I don?t worry about her as I know she feels alright about it.

    The only time I did feel uncomfortable was when she was with a very large crew, on a small cruise ship. This is not her kind of environment, prefers small crews and ?working ships? such as ferries, so that was more the size of crew not the sex of them. I am a little worried that she has to work harder to prove she is as good as any man, and she feels that she has to do this too, but I think and hope that this attitude is slowly changing and male officers are getting more used to females being officers. One thing that does irritate her is the men not letting her be more hands on in some situations. She wants to get ?stuck in? to the more physical jobs but is more often told ?it?s alright you can stay on the bridge?. I hope this is more likely to be gentlemanly manners rather than ?you?re a girl so can?t do it?. The ships she has been put on have mostly been manned by British officers, maybe Trinity choose ?safer? ships for the female cadets, or it?s just been the luck of the draw, I know she wanted to try tankers and box boats, maybe gone deep sea too, but sadly it wasn?t to be.

    She is now on her final ship of her sea time, having been on a super yacht, a ro/pax ferry and a ro/ro ferry, 2 small cruise ships and a buoy tender. She has not exactly ?seen the world? but has had some interesting ships.

    Now she is nearly finished I have a new set of concerns but I suppose that?s for another time!
    Attached Files

    • hismum
      hismum commented
      Editing a comment
      Great read, thanks gm and Jacqui. From another Jacqui who is by the way only around 7ish miles away from you Jacqui in Skelmersdale

    • jacloc
      jacloc commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, hello there, Jacqui from Skelmersdale.
      All the Jacquis, and other spellings of the name, seem to be about the same age. I think we were victims of the popular name of the era, I blame Kennedy/ Onassis for landing me with such a complicated name to spell, (well it was at infant school), 'Jacqueline'! That's when I became a Jackie. Then, in high school, we had 3 Jackies in my class so we spelled them differently. I prefer just Jac though, short and sweet!

    • hismum
      hismum commented
      Editing a comment
      Jacqueline too Jackie too Jacqui, me too always wanted to be called Karen tho haha
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