A chief mate on a container ship, Seattle native Christy Pekara has her eyes set on becoming the first female captain on her vessel.

Christy Pekara’s love for the water stemmed from her childhood. She grew up in the Cascade Foothills of Washington State, swimming competitively. Time spent racing in the water inspired Christy to one day study the world’s oceans as a marine biologist. When it came time to choose a college, Christy headed off to Texas A&M to study marine biology and earn a USCG Unlimited Third Mate’s License.

Since graduating fourteen years ago, Christy has utilized her marine biology degree on various projects, working seasonally for the US Fish and Wildlife Service & the National Park Service in South Padre Island, Texas; Rancho Neuvo, Mexico; and St. Croix. However, her primary career has been sailing as an officer on merchant ships.

Currently, Christy works as a chief mate on a 710-foot long container ship that transits from Tacoma, Washington, to Anchorage and Dutch Harbour, Alaska. As a chief officer on a container ship, Christy is responsible for all cargo operations, the ship’s stability, general maintenance, and the daily activities of the deck department crew.

“My primary job is ensuring the safety of the crew and the cargo.”

Chief Mate Pekara’s pride for her career is evident in how she describes her work, knowing that she is challenged daily.

“Everyday on the water is a learning experience; no where else are you ever working in an environment that is constantly changing all around you. Being challenged daily to solve new problems and adapt [to a multitude of situations] keeps you on your toes and is always exciting.”

Even though Pekara sails as Chief Mate, she holds her Master’s ticket and looks to be the first female captain on board her ship.

The ship was built in 1987 and has yet to have a female captain on it.  Therefore, I am hoping, here in the near future, that I can break that barrier.”

Chief Mate Pekara is not only an incredibly accomplished and ambitious mariner, she also carries an invaluable wealth of applicable knowledge as a scientist.  The combination of the two careers gives her the advantage to not only sail the seas, yet to do so with a deep understanding and respect for the fragile ecosystems that her ship traverses through.  As our global industries strive to become increasingly environmentally conscientious, they will also need the expertise of such multi-disciplinary experts such as Christy Pekara to truly thrive and for the benefit of all who live on this beautiful planet that we call home.

Women Offshore
About The Author: Women Offshore

The Women Offshore Foundation is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to propel women into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. Contact Women Offshore today: hello@womenoffshore.org.

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