This week’s Photo Challenge is to “depict something or someone you admire”. I’d like to introduce you to Captain Barbara Campbell, for whom I have immense admiration.
I first met Barbara about 20 years ago, and have since sailed with her on a number of voyages on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ships Lord Nelson and Tenacious. Among the JST’s thousands of voyage crew, she is known affectionately as simply “Captain Barbara”.
Barbara began her maritime career as a deck cadet with P&O in the 1970s, a time when a life at sea was not generally considered a career option for women. She worked her way up to deck officer and then in 1986 obtained her Master’s Ticket — the first woman in Scotland to do so. While working on ferries and cruise ships, Barbara also “moon lighted” on tall ships, doing odd voyages on Lord Nelson, for example, from 1992. She became captain of Lord Nelson in 1999.
Being a ship’s captain is not all about giving commands: Barbara does more than her fair share of rope pulling and mast climbing. She often makes me feel guilty! I remember one morning on Lord Nelson in the Indian Ocean, my watch was setting a sail before breakfast — with more duty than enthusiasm, it must be admitted. A little white blur shot out of the deckhouse and clapped onto the line with us. Yup, Captain Barbara. As you may imagine, our efforts suddenly intensified!
On long voyages such as ocean passages, there’s time for lighter activities, too. Each JST ship carries up to 40 paying “voyage crew”, and Barbara joins the fun.
Barbara Campbell is a true trailblazer and role model for women in what had been very much a man’s job. Physically petite, she has tremendous presence and authority: when you see her with first mates towering beside her, there’s no doubt who’s in charge! I’ll be sailing on Tenacious around Fiji for two weeks in June, and I hope Captain Barbara is onboard.