Jane makes waves in a man's world

Grizzly, weather-beaten faces from years of hard work braving the high seas are commonplace among sailors.It is tough, manual labour and undoubtedly considered a man's world.

Grizzly, weather-beaten faces from years of hard work braving the high seas are commonplace among sailors.

It is tough, manual labour and undoubtedly considered a man's world.

Fisherman's folklore tells of bad luck cast upon boats with a woman on board and that wives should never be taken to sea in a crab boat.

But now one person is set to change all that-as well as injecting a bit of modern-day glamour into the male bastion of working boats.

For Jane Temple is the first female ferryboat skipper in Norfolk.

Soon she will be shunning superstition and travelling on the tides in charge of her own boat - taking trippers to see the seals on the north Norfolk coast.

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Despite being involved in the family seal boat trip business for almost 15 years, it was only after a challenge from her husband Jimmy that she decided to take the captaincy test.

The 44-year-old from Morston, near Blakeney, said: "I've always worked crewing on the boat trips. But it never really occurred to me to take the test. I always had other things on my mind.

"Then last year my husband jokingly said I could try and take the test because we needed skippers.

"It was then I was determined to do it. I always rise to a challenge. I simply can't back down."

A skipper's licence is granted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. In order to receive one, candidates must pass a series of gruelling tests set by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency including lifesaving, fire-fighting, and navigating in unfamiliar territory.

But Mrs Temple took it all in her stride. "Doing the sea survival course was particularly awesome. We had to repeatedly jump from this great height into water.

"At first when I looked at it, it was pretty scary but I knew I had to do it and once I got it out of the way it was almost fun."

The hardest part of all though was the final practical exam, where entrants take the examiner out to sea.

And when Mrs Temple's test date was moved forward after an unexpected cancellation it merely added to the nerves.

She said: "I had mentally

prepared myself for the date and

then suddenly I got a call saying they had moved it forward.

"I'm not sure whether it was better or worse. I didn't tell anyone where I was going. I didn't want the added pressure in case I failed."

And the test started in rather unusual circumstances. "You're not told when it starts and I was waiting by the boat.

"Then a call came over to help a vessel that had got stuck and I was stood there trying to work out if it was a test or not. I wasn't sure whether I should rush off and help them or whether that would get me into trouble with the examiner when he turned up. In the end instinct took over and I went to help.

"But the examiner was watching so I spent the whole time being terrified because I was trying to rescue this person as well as take my test. It was very nerve wracking."

However in spite of the dramatic conditions she passed first time and it was only later she realised she was the first female skipper in Norfolk.

"The whole family are really involved in the business so it's never been a men-only thing for us.

"My husband was incredibly proud of me though.

"I never thought about being the first female in this area to get their licence. I'm surprised other women haven't done it.

"I don't think I've done anything amazing or special, I just knew that I wanted and needed it so I went out and did it."

For more information about Temple's Seal Trips contact 01263 740791.