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Admiration: Captain Barbara Campell

Leaving Bermuda on Tenacious. Barbara often stands on top of the deck house to get a clear view ahead!

Leaving Bermuda on Tenacious. Barbara often stands on top of the deck house to get a clear view ahead!

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”.

In a storm, Atlantic Ocean.

In a storm, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

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.

In conference with the first mate, Atlantic Ocean.

In conference with the first mate, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

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.

As Neptune, King of the Ocean Waves, with consort and assorted members of 'his' court, for the Crossing the Line [Equator] ceremony, Lord Nelson, Indian Ocean.

As Neptune, King of the Ocean Waves, with consort and assorted members of ‘his’ court, for the Crossing the Line [Equator] ceremony, Lord Nelson, Indian Ocean.

Dancing a reel with the voyage crew, Atlantic Ocean.

Dancing a reel with the voyage crew, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

Judging a kite flying competition, Atlantic Ocean.

Judging a kite flying competition, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

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.

Leading a church service, Atlantic Ocean.

Leading a church service, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

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9 thoughts on “Admiration: Captain Barbara Campell

  1. I can see why you admire Captain Barbara! And what fun it must be to sail with her. I hope that she is on your voyage to Fiji in June. Wish we were going to be back in Fiji this year…magical. We are sailing from Sydney to Singapore…my first time in the Indian Ocean – hope I have as much fun as you did when sailing there..I think I need a Neptune costume.

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