Nautilus Champion Dawn Franklyn is an STCW-qualified deck officer who has recently been working as a harbour operator and as a wellbeing mentor for young people onboard large sail vessels. She has now taken a break to focus on her studies in maritime environmental management.
Do you have any personal or family connections to the sea or inland waterways?
I have plenty of sea connections! My father was a chief petty officer in the Royal Navy and came from the Shrubsall family of barge builders in the Medway. His parents ran the chandlers in historic Blue Town serving the port of Sheerness. My mother was a Royal Navy radio officer, my brother was also in the RN, and my sister worked on cruise liners.
What did you do in your career before joining the maritime sector?
I worked in and ran an upholstery business with a workshop and retail outlet for 15 years. I also volunteered supporting homeless/displaced young people.
What does your current job involve?
I am currently studying with Lloyd's Maritime Academy and am very interested in how environmental management will affect the industry and shape the future for shipping. I'm also doing freelance relief crew work following full time work at Sheerness Docks as coxswain.
Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and career challenges
The main career highlight to date must be my academic achievement, OOW Deck Unlimited CoC, with the full support and encouragement of the welfare officer at the Marine Society.
A big challenge is trying to turn the tide on old work cultures that continue to affect mental health and wellbeing throughout the maritime industry. There are a lot of well-meaning words out there but we need to see policies put into action.
How long have you been a member of Nautilus, and why is the Union important to you?
I have been a member of Nautilus since 2016, after being advised to join while working on an MOD crew training vessel.
I have attended union conferences and forums in London and Rotterdam on various occasions, contributing to motions and speaking on mental health and women's issues.
The support a union can provide is very important to me. My brother suffered a severe mental breakdown and has been medicated for 40 years ‘post-Navy’. I have also lost two dear seafaring friends to suicide and stood by two bodies whilst at sea before intervention by coastal services.
Drug and alcohol ‘self-medication’ should be a thing of the past, but without support, individuals are still sailing dangerously close to the wind. I would encourage everyone to join the Union because it means there's someone to help if they feel overwhelmed or powerless – it is another tool in the box if a crisis arises.
What is your favourite place you have visited during your career?
My exchange with an Indian seafaring family was the most extraordinary thing I have done. My exchange student learnt engineless sailing around the Thames Estuary after five years deepsea, and I went to India to learn more about the culture and religion, joining a Hindu pilgrimage to Uttar Pradesh. It wasn't like my usual favourite holiday, which is skiing, but I learnt so much.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love playing Scrabble. It makes me laugh when l think of a really good word with loads of points, and it’s on a triple! I also love walking my daughter's dog on our local beach.
What's your favourite podcast?
Joe Rogan is my favourite podcaster – such a variety and wealth of interest.
What is your favourite film?
My favourite film is ‘As Good As It Gets’ with Jack Nicholson... You've just got to watch it if you haven’t already. So many truths, but always hope.