From ‘Spirit Of St. Maarten’
Trinidadian-born Malina Goolcharan came to the island of St. Maarten when she was seven years old. She has always been an active person, and loves the outdoors – especially doing anything where she could be on or near the ocean. What sparked Malina’s interest in the maritime industry was her love for the sea, and being able to work on the ocean is a childhood dream come true for her.
Seven years ago, when Malina was requested to fill in for her sister on a boat, this was the opportunity she needed to get acquainted with this industry. Recognizing her strong work ethic in spite of her limited knowledge about the industry, the manager offered her a job and provided her with the required training and certification.
Since then, Malina has never looked back! She has been working at the Spirit Of St. Maarten (SOSM) for the past two years. Her current role is the Captain of the 114-foot Spirit Of St. Maarten Luxury Vessel, which is a one-of-a-kind on the island. This is a unique opportunity for Malina to showcase her skills, and learn and grow in the field. She elaborates saying “I love the fact that SOSM is a very unique boat and a bit more challenging to manoeuvre than other charter vessels on St. Maarten as I love a good challenge. I enjoy learning more about the engines and its electrical system. But most of all, I love working on the ocean because it’s fun and exciting, and every day is different, even though the daily routine is the same.”
The maritime industry is a male-dominated industry, with women representing only 1.2% of the global seafarer workforce as per the BIMCO/ICS [The Baltic and International Maritime Council/International Chamber of Shipping – ed.] 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report.
Malina elaborates: “Being a female in the maritime industry isn’t without its challenges. People underestimate you before you have a chance to prove yourself. It’s hard to be taken seriously, especially when conflicting opinions arise; everyone naturally views you as the underdog and everyone wants to ‘teach’ you something. It is important to be confident in the knowledge you’ve acquired and to keep refreshing your knowledge to avoid dogmatic tendencies.”
What has helped and inspired her in this industry is seeing other women excel locally. “I was inspired to work towards becoming a captain after seeing Samantha Merry driving a catamaran. This was the first time I had seen a female captain and I was so excited. I started observing everything that piqued my curiosity, and then I’d go home and do more research and independent studies, and then practice my newly-learned skills the next day.”
As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, it is important to not only celebrate women for what they contribute to the world, but support them to continue to surpass what has been done before.
Malina continues, “We need to work towards breaking down the stigma of what society believes a woman is and isn’t capable of. Gender has nothing to do with a person’s capabilities. We need to support women to engage in more male-dominated industries. My advice to women, who may not have seen this as a career opportunity, is to not be afraid to do physically hard jobs. It’s only hard in the beginning; after a while, the experience and knowledge you’ve accumulated will carry you to more exciting challenges, and in time, you will blossom into your full potential. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned throughout my career is to not listen to anyone’s doubts about what they believe you are capable of!”