Consultant in maritime history and creative lifestory
Young women, girls and the sea
Letting girls in slowly and on certain terms
When it was still imagined that the sea was no place for a female it was hard for young women to access small boats or gain sea experience. So the Sea Rangers and Girls Nautical Training Corps were - and still are - crucial in enabling young women to consider a career at sea.
I've interviewed some women from both the SR and the GNTC. And I'm proud to have helped former Sea Ranger and later WRNS officer Lesley van Vliet in writing her Sea Ranger memoir and with depositing her memorabilia in maritime museums.
18-year old Lesley with her two hats: Sea Ranger and Wrens, in 1964
'I have been asked "Why join the Sea Rangers and not the Girls' Nautical Training Corps? Well, to be honest, as a young girl I hadn't heard of the GNTC. Also as a school we were into the Guiding Movement. So if your school friends went into Brownies you went too, to stick with those you knew. Looking back I think the Sea Rangers were a more relaxed bunch. Not too much "spit and polish" and drill.'
As a girl Lesley created a blanket made of Royal Navy cap tallies (woven ribbons showing a ship's name). (She just rowed up and asked for one from whatever sailor was on duty. The Blanket is newly available as a resource that can go out, pro bono, to organisations.
When Covid restrictions lift you can arrange for your organisation to borrow it. Contact NMRN www.nmrn.org.uk/contact-us
- Read my take on Sea Rangers' history at bit.ly/SeaRangersBlog.
- Interested in fiction about girls at sea? Read the special 'Ladies Afloat' feature in The Scribbler: no 12, July 2019, which has a special feature on Ladies Afloat. £7 incl P&P. thescribblerreview.co.uk/pages/27_June19.html
Joining in building the story
- Please contact me if you are prepared to tell me about being in either of these organisations.
- One day someone will create an exhibition about SR and GNTC girls and women. Getting ready for that happy day I'm buying photos and memorabilia off eBay. Maybe you'd like to be part of that far-sighted move. Let me know so I can grease the wheels in the networking process. Contact me