Second officer Cora Bonham talks perseverance and deep sea voyages
Second officer Cora Bonham grew up landlocked with no connection to the sea, but her tenacity and perseverance in seeking cadetship sponsors paid off; she is now helping deliver a new class of e-flexer ro pax ferries.
What is a typical day in your job?
I work for a ferry company providing transport for people across the Irish Sea. I am a deck and navigation officer. I load and unload vehicles and I oversee navigating the vessel safely from Cairnryan, Scotland to Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Why did you choose a career at sea?
I wanted to do something different with my life. I come from the countryside surrounded by farms. I wanted to broaden my horizons and travel the world while being paid for it.
I finished school at 17 years old and then went to university to become an officer at sea.
Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and challenges
I started my cadetship trying to find a company to sponsor me but most companies only seemed interested in people with a maritime background. I didn’t have any connections to the sea, but I applied to many companies anyway. Eventually I got a sponsorship with Northern Marine which helped me through my cadetship and found me a permanent job as an officer once I qualified. I was never extremely book-smart, so studying was always hard for me. I failed many exams but always pushed myself to bounce back and try again.
Recently I completed my first ever deep sea voyage. I was chosen by my company to be part of a newbuild delivery team to sail on the first of their brand-new e-flexer ro-pax vessels. The vessel was built in China and delivered to the UK at Christmas 2019. The 10,000-mile journey took me to China (on my first ever trip out of Europe) last November and returning home to the UK just in time for Christmas.
On a few occasions I have come across the ‘old school’ seafaring type, who still believe it’s a man world and women shouldn’t be at sea. I just rise above it and ignore these kinds of people. I am perfectly capable of doing any job a man can do.