Celebrating Women in Boatbuilding
Belinda Joslin's childhood was painted with hues of nautical wonder. Her father's seafaring spirit infused her world with the rhythm of the waves. From the young age, Belinda was captivated by the allure of boats and immersed in the sailing community, owning her first boat at the age of 10. From that moment, her passion for sailing blossomed, and she became consumed by it. Nothing else could compare to the thrill and joy she experienced on the water.
Wooden boats, lovingly crafted by her father's hands, dominated her childhood memories. A garage-made sanctuary of sawdust and dreams, where her father, an old-fashioned engineer, moulded wonders from timber and passion. Belinda and her two sisters eagerly lent a hand, tidying up and assisting their father. At 14, her father built her a boat, which she would later use to win the nationals. At 18, Belinda continued her journey in sailing, participating in the national circuit and achieving the title of youth national champion, solidifying her dedication to the sport. Sailing had become an integral part of her life, and she considered herself fortunate to have experienced such an upbringing.
In 2019, Belinda started working at Spirit Yachts, a boatyard that became her haven and where she discovered her purpose. There, surrounded by craftsmen, she felt a sense of belonging, her memories of childhood intertwining with the present. An encounter at the yard with a German female boatbuilder ignited a spark within Belinda, an awakening to the scarcity of women within her industry. The yearning for more women in boatbuilding resonated deeply within her, and she longed to forge bonds and create a space where women's voices could rise, where stories could be shared.
With encouragement from her mentor, Belinda launched an Instagram group, Women in Boatbuilding. What started as a humble endeavour to connect and find friends soon blossomed into a vibrant platform. Her experiences became a symphony of inspiration, and she shared the tales of remarkable women who had found their calling amid the sawdust and saltwater. The growth was organic, the community thriving on the strength of women supporting women.
Belinda's dedication did not go unnoticed and invitations to speak on panels and share her wisdom soon followed. Inspired by the positive response, Belinda felt emboldened to speak up more forcefully about gender diversity in the industry.
Through Women in Boatbuilding, Belinda has embarked on a voyage to nurture the dreams of the next generation. With her fellow directors, she has crafted a mentoring program, pairing women starting their careers with seasoned professionals who would guide them through the maze of boatbuilding. Their workshops have become sanctuaries of learning, where women reclaim their power with chisels and sandpaper, liberated from the shackles of judgment. Theirs is a sisterhood of resilience, an alliance that nurtures growth as it seeks to transform the narrative of boatbuilding.
In the wake of her achievements, Belinda found herself seated at the table of the National Shipbuilding Office's Shipbuilding Enterprise for Growth Shadow Board. Amidst a sea of conventional thinkers, she stands tall, her voice championing diversity and inclusion.
Belinda Joslin, a force of nature, sails against the tides of tradition. She is transforming the boatbuilding world with her unwavering determination and belief in the power of women.
Written by Carly Fields
© Emilie Sandy Photography, 2023