Captain, Angler, & Ocean Fanatic – Shaina Cox

“What are you, a girl?!”

I hear my feisty kiwi boss yell over my shoulder as I am elbows deep in a boat engine well, trying to remove a seized bolt to replace the starter.
I accepted the challenge and, with all my might, successfully loosened the bolt to finish the job.Shaina Cox At that time, I was the dockmaster over a fleet of rental boats while I was working towards my captain’s license. They loved to give me the tedious, tight-spaced jobs and called me “little fingers” since my hands could fit into the tiny spaces so common on boats. My New Zealand boss, Lance, was my favorite boss and boat mentor. He was smart, hardworking, tough, and never treated me differently because of my gender. I just had to learn quickly and do the job.

It was this experience that sparked my passion for boating. I realized then that I wanted a career in the boating field.

I continued doing dock work, maintenance, and mechanics for 4 years. I earned legitimate sea time and knowledge for my captain’s license. I began crossing the channel from Long Beach to Catalina Island and I fell in love with the aquatic life and fishing. At first, I would fish with store-bought frozen squid and hand-me-down rods with Walmart spinning reels. It was sufficient for a little basic bass fishing, but then I moved to Catalina Island and began learning much more about fishing from my boyfriend, who has been fishing and living on the island his entire life.

We spent our time offshore fishing, deep dropping, and I began to catch much bigger fish than just saltwater bass. I was hooked! I started using my ocean/boating knowledge to go out on solo fishing trips. I was very proud to come home with dinner that I located, hooked and gaffed on my own.
Because of my obvious love of fishing and having received my 100-ton captain’s license, I got a job offer to work on an offshore sportfishing boat called the “Chief”. I was the night driver and I would work the deck in the mornings.

ladies fishing

It was tough yet rewarding and I absolutely loved it.

It was a whole new kind of fishing for me. It was fast-paced, long days, and lots of testosterone. Get in where you fit in, is what they told me. The captain and crew were tough, yet patient with me. I didn’t receive any favoritism and I really had to step up and show what I could do on deck. You definitely have to have thick skin and a good sense of humor (and lots of energy drinks). I began getting more job offers such as working on the “Options” sportfishing boat out of Long Beach and taking a sportfishing boat through the Panama Canal, fishing along the way and catching new species.

Not all my jobs have been as receptive to a female captain/fisherman. I have been looked over for many job openings due to my gender. I have had a lot of comments made to me by lonely fishermen. I have been pitied by others, saying they threw me a bone because I was a woman, without knowing my skill set.

But at the end of the day, I know my worth and my skills and I am constantly striving to become a better fisherman and continue to gain more knowledge. I have been very fortunate with past bosses, captains and crew. I appreciate all the patience and wisdom I have been extended.

I feel very blessed when I look out on the horizon at a beautiful sunset, steaming home with our catch. There is no other feeling like it in the world.