Few women set sail under the Red Duster. Even fewer spend 10 years getting their master's certificate. But 31-year-old Captain Wendy Maughan did just that.
Now a landlubber working for Berkeley Handling Group, Captain Maughan has not entirely lost her love of the sea, running stevedore handling on the new Sealink Stena Southampton to Cherbourg service. With six gangs of dockers to run in a busy summer programme, her life is more hectic today than in the years as a P and O cadet in the Far East.
Although she tired of life at sea 10,000 miles from home, and enrolled instead on a business studies course, her qualifications allowed her what must rank as some of the most unusual holiday jobs. "One summer I worked as a ferry mate on the Red Funnel service and then another summer, with my pilot's exemption, I was able to captain a hydrofoil," Maughan explains.
The lure of the sea is strong - even in a profession where, by her own rough calculations, men outnumber women by 2,000 to one - "and that's only at the junior end". Asked whether she would like to captain a cross-channel ferry, Captain Maughan instantly replies: "Of course I would like to, but those jobs are few and far between."