Navigating the seven seas


29 March 2018 | People

Since 1 March 2018, Tuwilika “Tully” Amukwa (40) is one of a few Namibian women with a Deck Officer Class 2 ticket in her possession.

Tully hails from Etale in the Ohangwena region and completed her grade 12 at Gabriel Taapopi Secondary School in 1997. She commenced with Maritime Training at NAMFI in Walvis Bay and obtained her Class 6 ticket in 2002 and Class 5 ticket in 2006.

Tully started working at Nova­Nam/Pescanova Lüderitz in 2003 as a Watch Keeper – officer of the watch under supervision of an experienced officer.

She was promoted to Second Mate in 2006 after obtaining a Class 5 ticket and was subsequently promoted to Chief Mate until 2011.

She sailed as a Navigation Officer on the fishing vessels Keetmans, Omuhuka, Goelette and Khomas at Pescanova.

Tully furthered her maritime studies in 2012 and graduated at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa in 2013.

She completed her S1 – S4 modules in 2013 and graduated with a National Diploma in Maritime in April 2015 as per South African Maritime and Safety Authority (SAMSA) requirements.

“After graduation it was very difficult to do my sea time due to financial constraints and I stayed home for over a year while applying for financial assistance without any success.

“I submitted a financial assistance request letter to Namsov Fishing in 2015 and was called in for an interview.”

Tully eventually received a call informing her that she passed the ­interview and that the company would sponsor her practical sea time period.

She began her sea time (practical) career in 2015 with the South African Maritime Training Authority (SAMTRA) on board SA Agulhus with which she sailed for four months and with the help of NAMSOV before doing the oral examinations.

The contract on SA Agulhus was for four months. She returned home and unfortunately could not go back to the SA Agulhus due to it changing from catering for Cadet 6 training, to pilot training.

“Namosov tried to assist me with getting access to another company to complete my cadetship and eventually secured a contract with Greenroad in Durban for me to finish my training.”

Tully then joined a tanker vessel via Unicorn in Durban and the tanker Oliphant in Mauritius en route to India. This was followed by a stint on a vessel in Guinea, Conakry, with sailing journeys to different European countries.

“Training was definitely not as easy as it looks on paper.

“You have to know and be very sure why you are doing it and it is a lot of hard work. Watch sessions consist of 8-hour shifts as during Bridge Watch – four hours at a time, day and night and two hours on deck (ten hours a day).

This was all done in a male dominated world where everyone expects you to fail. I had to prove myself in this world and finally did it!”

After completing her sea time she returned home and began preparing for her oral examination to complete the requirements for the ticket. She passed this exam and received her qualification as an Unlimited Navigational Officer.

“Looking back at this journey, I can only say it was not easy especially because at the same time I had to care for and look after my younger brothers and sisters.

“However, I did this because family is very important to me and it is my duty. I am also married, with a young daughter of my own.

“It was difficult enough to leave all these responsibilities and care for loved ones on land for months at a time to join a vessel at sea.”

Tully says her husband Matti has been there for her and supported her all the way so that she could make her dream come true and further her Maritime career.

“Not many married men would do that. Anybody who wants to achieve what seems to be impossible or difficult, should not allow life to be an obstacle on their way. Take a decision and stick to it.”

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