Meet Brigitte Hagen-Peter from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Brigitte is a graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and a concentration in International Maritime Business.  Brigitte is certified as a Dynamic Positioning Operator and has worked on the water for over a decade. She also holds a USCG Chief Mate License for working on vessels of unlimited tonnage.

Brigitte’s story is unique: not only is she an accomplished mariner, but she is also an entrepreneur as co-CEO of Aweigh-Fitness.  Women Offshore first introduced our readership to Aweigh-Fitness, a few weeks ago, in a prior blog post.

We wanted to learn more about what Brigitte’s career.  Below, she answers our questions and shares some of her most memorable experiences:

Brigitte, what inspired you to work on the water?

“I grew up south of Port Everglades, Florida.  I used to take my brothers to the beach across the waterway and go wake boarding and tubing on calm days.  I would cruise past these huge ships and thought, ‘That would be so cool, to drive that!’  And, BOOM!  My mission to drive big ships was born!”

Please share a memorable experience you’ve had at sea.

“I have so many memorable moments of working offshore.  From beautiful sunrises off the coast of Maputo, Mozambique, to seeing the Southern Cross, on a clear summer night.  My most memorable would have to be while I worked on a ship assist tug boat in the port of Miami.  I was assisting the Captain with navigating up and down the inlet and alongside a ship and docks.  One day, he decides he wants me to dock the tug in one of the tightest spots in the port. He pulled out a lawn chair (swear to goodness, he had a lawn chair just hanging around for instances like this!) and placed it on the bridge wing, under my window.  The most nerve-racking moment of my life!  Taking this conventional tug and placing it port side, in a spot that was the perfect length of our tug boat, but in between other tugs, tied three abreast!  I DID IT!!  He had the confidence in me when I did not have it.  Needless to say, that teaching moment was a pretty big ego boost!”

What motivates you to continue working on the water if it’s a long-term career for you?

I do not think I could ever leave working on the water, whether it be shipping- or maritime-related!  The challenge and the camaraderie are unmatched, compared to any other industry.”

What challenges have you faced in your career?

“Numerous challenges have crossed my career path.  However, I believe these moments have helped build my character and strengthened me to be the mariner that I am today.”

What do you think can be done in your industry to encourage more women to pursue similar careers?

“I believe we need to make the industry not so ‘macho’ and to show women the benefits of working offshore.”

Thank you so much for sharing your career with us, Brigitte!  We look forward to seeing more future posts from you in our Health and Wellness section!