Yacht skipper Lungi Mchunu, started her career in a bank, but became the first African woman to sail to the North Pole. She is also a yachtmaster graduate of Nautilus strategic yacht partner and training charity UKSA, and has worked in yachting, cruise and racing
What is a typical day in your job?
There is so much to a typical day on this job. I plan the entire passage to the proposed destination, possibly over a number of days, navigate the vessel, know how to operate and maintain all the equipment on board and take care of the safety of the vessel and the crew. I manage the vessel in all respects and adhere to local regulations and maritime laws.
Why did you choose a career at sea?
I was a banker, so had no family connections to the sea – in fact I was always afraid of open seas. But I dared myself to try and I overcame my fear. I fell in love with sailing and haven't looked back since.
Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and challenges
In 2018, I was the first African woman to sail to the Arctic, a feat which later led to being named as number four on the list of Top South Africans.
The expedition was organised by German NGO World Arctic Fund, which focuses on protecting the Arctic by supporting the work of researchers. A year later in 2019, I completed my Yachtmaster license at UKSA.
A key character-building moment was when my mum had a stroke while I was doing my Yachtmaster training in the UK. This taught me that there will be emergencies in this career, and you won't be able to be there. Mental toughness is key because regardless [of your personal circumstances], you still must get the boat to its destination.
I have noticed while looking for work for the 2020 season that preference is male sailors. I don't get stuck in those moments, however, because chances are, people will show their true colours and I would have to leave.
Don't wait for others to validate your existence. Take up the space and own it Lungi Mchunu, yacht skipper