Women in Marine - Lish Dawn
"Be professional, work hard, enjoy what you do and don't worry about it."
Propspeed's Rusty Morgan sat down with Lish Dawn, assistant yard manager at Spaulding Marine Center to find out about her background, the best part of her job, and her advice for other women in the marine industry.
Rusty: Hi, I'm Rusty from Propspeed and I'm sitting here with Lish Dawn at the Spaulding Marine Center in Sausalito, California. They do all sorts of work on fiberglass boats, wooden boats, ancient boats and brand new boats. This place is awesome, a big supporter of Propspeed. We wanted to talk with Lish today about what its like being a woman working in the marine industry. So, hi Lish. Tell me a little bit about your work background.
Lish: It ranges quite a bit from anything from deck handing to other places working on boats, and sculpting, also artist insulation, welder. And I did a decade of caregiving so yeah, quite varied.
Rusty: Sounds like you’re pretty well rounded in all sorts of things. Do you find that you have to do a variety of jobs here at the boatyard?
Lish: Absolutely, especially here over probably any other boatyard because we have so many programmes, so its not just a boatyard, it’s a non-profit community building center. I’m often doing things like teaching youth education or leading public arts classes or organizing chamber concerts or invoicing, estimates, everything to crane operating to boat mechanics. So yeah, it’s a lot of different stuff in one place.
Rusty: That’s awesome. And as the assistant yard manager you definitely wear a lot of hats around here, that’s pretty cool. So what brought you to Spaulding originally?
Lish: I had been working at OCSE on fleet services and had befriended an incredible sailing community, a group of sailors in the bay, and one of them worked here and is now the manager, yard manager, and kept saying ‘hey you should come and check this place out, it’s really special, you should come check this place out’ and finally I was looking and the opening happened.
Rusty: So besides sanding and prep work, what do you enjoy most about working at the boatyard?
Lish: The crane.
Rusty: Driving the crane?
Lish: It’s the crane. I love the crane.
Rusty: Tell me a little bit about the crane.
Lish: It’s a 1950s stiff-legged derrick crane. It’s an antique, they theorize there may be no other ones like it. There’s a similar sister one on the fair lawns but it might be the last of it’s kind, and we take a lot of pride in our crane. It’s a really enjoyable piece of machinery to work.
Rusty: That’s cool. Does it have a bit of a personality, being that old?
Lish: Oh absolutely. It’s quirky, takes a lot of finessing to make a boat move smoothly in and out of the water for sure. You don’t just walk up to it and make it do its thing, it takes finessing and learning for sure.
Rusty: That’s awesome. What advice would you give to other women who are interested, or maybe intimidated, about getting involved in an industry like this?
Lish: I had read an article when I was getting into welding that left an impression on me, because I was feeling intimidated myself. How was I going to go into this field that is male dominated and hold my own, and I was quite concerned about it when I first started actually. So I ended up across this article where this woman was explaining you just do a good job and let your work speak for itself. Show up, be professional, work hard and don’t worry about it. Just remain professional and love to do what you do, and it will work itself out. And there are, at least in the welding industry, forums where woman welders can speak to each other. I don’t know if a similar thing exists for women in the marine industry but there are a lot of women in the marine industry, maybe more so than is realized but I would just say just be professional, work hard, enjoy what you do and don’t worry about it.
Rusty: I think that’s good advice for anybody. Awesome, well thank you so much, Lish Dawn, assistant boatyard manager at Spaulding Marine Center here in Sausalito, California. Great to hear from you, hopefully we’ll be hearing from more women in the boating industry all around the country.
Lish: That’d be awesome.