Staff spotlight: Georgina Ramm – Deputy Skipper
10 February 2023
Georgina Ramm joined our Marine Services team Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) as an apprentice back in 2019, and last year was taken on permanently as our ‘Deputy Skipper and Ships Science Officer’. She kindly sat down to chat with us about her journey to working on our research ship, ‘Plymouth Quest’.
Above: Georgina onboard Plymouth Quest
We asked her first to describe the inspiration behind pursuing this line of work.
“After finishing school, I had been researching courses in higher education, and I really wanted to do something different. I found a University course down here in Devon in ‘Yacht operations’ - it sounded really exciting, and unlike anything I had done before. At this point, I’d never even been sailing before, so this was a big unknown!”
“But I really enjoyed it. I grew up in Lincolnshire and we weren’t that close to the coast. So, being down here in Devon by the sea was amazing.”
“The course covered a lot of the theory side of things when it came to Yacht Operations, but I needed more experience in the practical side. And soon after completing my degree, I saw the advert for an apprenticeship with Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and it was perfect. It would help me develop that practical experience that I really needed to secure a career in this area of work.”
“So, living down in Devon became permanent! While all of my family and many friends still live up in Lincolnshire, I’ve really settled down here in Devon and have made plenty of friends. It is just amazing being by the coast. I don't think I could like live in-land again."
Above: Georgina collecting samples from the PML Explorer
We then asked Georgina what kinds of things she learned on the apprenticeship.
“A lot of the apprenticeship was based at Whitby Fishing School, we learned all sorts from workboat operations, ropework, anchoring and mooring, vessel stability, navigational watch keeping, and plenty more."
“And for the second year for my endpoint assessment, an examiner came on-board, and I had to take the boat out and then run through the protocol of a ‘man overboard’ at sea. After that, we had to answer an hour of questions about theory and legislation – it was pretty intense! But I passed with a distinction, and I actually won the ‘Workboat Apprenticeship Award’ as well!”
Above: Georgina’s award for ‘Apprentice of the Year’ from Whitby Fishing School
We then asked her to describe a typical day in her job.
“We’re always up pretty early, we start around 7am. And a typical day varies but usually would involve taking the boat out to required locations, taking samples, then bringing it back. And then of course, there is usually routine maintenance, too.”
“There is so much to learn from Andy [Andrew Perkin – Manager / Skipper] and Gary [Gary Stevens -Skipper / Mate], they have been really great to work with, as have been the engineers Andrew Pawley and Tristan Jaycock.”
Above: Georgina in the engine room of the Plymouth Quest
We asked Georgina how she felt about working with an all-male team.
“The team have been really good and so welcoming. I think sometimes you can feel singled out as a woman in this line of work, but the team here just let you get on with the job, everyone is equal, and that’s brilliant.”
“Sometimes the physical side of things can be hard because, physically men can be stronger, but I just give it my best go, and the team are always there to help out if I need it.”
And we asked her if she ever meets many other women in her line of work.
“When we go to the Fish Quay, it’s not often I’ll see other women! I read this statistic once - I’m not sure how accurate it is - but it said only 3% of women are employed in the maritime industry.”
We did some fact checking, with varying results depending on area and specialism, but a report from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) stated that in 2021, women made up 1.2% of the global seafarer workforce, and there is a positive trend in gender balance.
We then asked Georgina what advice she would give to woman or girl considering joining the maritime industry.
“Go for it. It certainly beats sitting at a desk! It’s great fun, and on days like today with this beautiful weather, you really can’t beat it.”
“I love that sea air, and when we’ve got the sun shining down on us and nice steady waters. On special days, we’ll see dolphins and pilot whales.”
“Plus, every day is different, it’s a great job and I’d really like to see more women join and enjoy it as much as I do.”
Find out more about careers at Plymouth Marine Laboratory here >>
Above: Some photos taken by Georgina highlighting some special experiences