Making new waves in engineering

Lucinda Krige, of Belmont Park, is the first South African woman to qualify as a chief engineer in the deep-sea trawling fishing industry.

Lucinda, 37, says she grew up with two brothers and mostly male cousins so it wasn’t difficult for her to make the transition from working with an all-women team as a hotel chambermaid to being the only female on a ship.

Her father saw the post for an engineering sea cadet in a local newspaper 11 years ago and suggested it as a job for her. Despite not knowing much about sea life, she gave it a try.

The single mother says she has made many sacrifices such as being away from her family for five to 45 days.

“On a freezer vessel we would sail for 45 days and on a fresh-fish vessel it would only be five days away from home, but in the beginning it was very hard because I hated being away from family and friends.”

Lucinda remembers battling to find her sea legs and being seasick in her first few days at sea.

“The men on the ship were very helpful. On my second day on the vessel, I fell flat because my legs were like jelly, but the men rushed to my aid. Now I am used to the motion of the ocean.”

It took Lucinda five years of theoretical training and work experience to secure a chief-engineer’s qualification.

Chief engineers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the main propulsion, marine systems and machinery on board a fishing vessel, including the main engines, auxiliary engines, refrigeration and steering systems, as well as the processing equipment in the on-board fish factory.

She has now opted for an off-shore job at a Saldanha Bay fish factory and is responsible for maritime and technical training for Sea Harvest employees, as well as the training of about 40 apprentices.

She encourages young people to follow a career in maritime engineering because it “encompasses such a broad spectrum of disciplines.”