Online Exhibitions & Stories

Lisa Jenkins

Rewriting Women into Maritime History
Chief Engineer

Lisa Jenkins

Location: London, UK

A Mind For Machinery

Lisa Jenkins never imagined that marine engineering would be her career path when she was 17 years old. Little did she know that a captivating TV show called The Love Boat, depicting a luxurious life of travel on the Pacific Princess, would ignite a spark of inspiration.

Living in rainy Scotland, Lisa yearned for a different lifestyle, and her desire to explore exotic destinations led her to ask her father for advice. To her surprise, her father suggested joining the Merchant Navy, a path not offered by the school system. While Lisa had initially secured a place at the Glasgow School of Art, the prospect of being confined within the walls of academia in a perpetually drizzly city left her heart yearning for more. Fate intervened when her keen-eyed mother stumbled upon an advertisement in the local paper, announcing Cunard's 150th anniversary and their search for cadets on their cruise ships. Lisa took a leap of faith, applied, and was accepted.

Lisa’s cadetship with Cunard shaped her into a seasoned mariner and kept her captivated for 12 remarkable years. But the allure of superyachts beckoned to her, their opulence and grace captivating her imagination. When the opportunity presented itself, she leapt at the opportunity to sail on smaller and nimbler crafts. A convert to the superyacht life, Lisa enjoyed the mix of travel, camaraderie, and engineering marvels these vessels presented. The lifestyle of a superyacht crew member, free from the relentless crossings and embarkation days of a cruise ship, offered a more varied existence.

Intrigued by the engineering aspect of superyachts, Lisa's prowess as a troubleshooter and problem predictor shone. She relished the responsibility of the Chief Engineer, overseeing the entire engineering team, often consisting of no more than five members. In contrast, cruise ships would have around 20 engineers, some specialising in a particular area.



There were days when the universe conspired against her, and every piece of equipment seemed to rebel in unison. Those were the moments when doubt tried to cast its shadow. Yet, Lisa rose above the chaos, rallying her team and kindling a fire of determination. Their hands mended what was broken. It was in those moments of triumph, when the gears whirred back to life and the vessel sailed forward, that Lisa felt satisfaction with the knowledge that she was an integral cog in the intricate machinery of a superyacht's success.

Lisa Jenkins's journey from a young dreamer inspired by a TV show to a seasoned Chief Engineer on superyachts is a testament to her determination and ability to adapt to new challenges. Her story exemplifies the rewards and complexities of a career that blends adventure, engineering expertise, and the pursuit of personal passions.


Back to exhibition home page


Written by Carly Fields

© Emilie Sandy Photography, 2023