Idske (22) works as a helmsman on a ship: ‘Work eight weeks’

Idske (22) works as a helmsman on a ship: ‘Work eight weeks’
Idske (22) works as a helmsman on a ship: ‘Work eight weeks’
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Eight weeks at sea

Idske works shifts that last no less than eight weeks. At sea it is her job to always be ready. She keeps watch, takes evasive action and does all kinds of maintenance jobs. “My work is very diverse, because I also keep track of the navigation and check whether we are sailing in the right direction. It’s eight weeks of hard work, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I get the opportunity to travel and I always have fun with colleagues.”

And even though Idske has to pay her full attention for eight weeks, she is richly rewarded for this at the end of the period. After eight weeks she has plenty of time to completely relax again. “I also have eight weeks off after a shift. That’s great, because I get paid and can do whatever I want. Eight weeks at sea may be tough, but in comparison I only work six months a year.”

Spare time

On the ship, helmsman Idske is busy, busy, busy with her daily work and there is not always time to recover. Yet she does not let that stop her from entering the ship again and again. “I sleep between four and six hours a night, because I can’t sleep in all my rest hours. Of course I also have to make time to shower and call family and friends.” Fortunately, there is WiFi on the ship, so she can easily text with loved ones. “But the connection isn’t very good, so scrolling on TikTok isn’t going to work.”

At sea, Idske looks forward to her own home and all the free time that awaits her. Then there is finally time to get a good night’s sleep, do fun things and see family. “I prefer to just sleep all day and all night, but then I go out and meet up with people I haven’t seen for a long time. The first weeks are often fully planned.”

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Especially male colleagues

The work that Idske does is especially popular among men. That takes some getting used to when she goes on board for the first time. “Then I realized that I had really ended up in a man’s world.” Yet her colleagues ensure that she enjoys her work as a helmsman even more. Every topic is open to discussion and the team has transformed the wheelhouse into a living room.

“You really live together and share everything. If someone has an argument with his wife or is having a difficult time with a sick family member, we discuss it. I think that is important, because if you take good care of each other, you take good care of the ship together.”

To travel

Along the way she really enjoys the beautiful places she sees. Idske has now visited America, Hawaii and Africa and now mainly travels through Europe. “Sometimes we get the opportunity to look around. I really like that, but unfortunately that is not always possible. If there is a lot of freight, work simply has to be done.”

In Europe she likes to arrive in small ports with the big ship. “The people in those villages are not used to seeing such large ships. We are really their attraction of the week and I find that very special.”


For now she is very happy with her job. Yet Idske does not yet know whether she wants to continue working such long shifts for the rest of her life, as a helmsman or in another position. Ultimately, she hopes to meet someone to start a family with. “I plan to perhaps look for another job, or spend shorter periods on the ship,” she looks ahead. “But I see all that, for now it’s completely fine.”

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: Idske works helmsman ship Work weeks


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