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Interview with Jackie Parry

We caught up with Jackie Parry, navigation advocate, sitting at a small desk in a building site caravan working frantically on marine navigation, in rural NSW.

Jackie, with her business partner Shelley Wright (founder of Women Who Sail Australia), via SisterShip Magazine are about to commence Coastal Navigation courses for anyone interested in safe passage making. The first course starts at the end of October at Lake Macquarie and is for women only. However, plans are afoot for more courses to a wider audience. Why have they undertaken such a huge project? Let’s find out.

Firstly, how on earth do you work in such a small space?

If there’s no choice you get on with it – the house will be finished before Christmas, I’m just not sure which Christmas.

So, why are you running these courses?

With my experience and background, I know how imperative good navigation skills are. Complete reliance on electronic charts is dangerous and foolhardy. End of discussion. Reefs are hidden when electronic charts are not viewed at the right scale. Errors occur in charts and GPSs contain inherent errors. Paper charts are regularly updated by professionals (not just anyone!), and details of any errors on charts that utilise old surveys are listed with ways of correcting these errors. Do you know where to find that information on your electronic charts, where is it? Buried under Settings?

What about the Zone of Confidence (ZOC)? Where is that diagram on your electronic charts? That diagram and table of categories details errors of +/- 500m. Sometimes more! That includes depth anomalies and possibly unchartered features hazardous to surface navigation. So, if you don’t know how to update and correct your electronic charts, or if you forget to zoom in and out of every screen on electronic charts, or do not locate, read and make allowance for ZOC, you are playing reef-lottery. I am at a loss as to why people think that is a good idea.



Tell us about the courses.

Our first course is for women only to create a comfortable environment for those who find this part of boating daunting. We’ll hold more all-women courses and, of course, a mix of male/female.

There is a lot to cover in two days. But I’ve structured the course to include plenty of practical exercises. If time becomes short, the Questions and Answers booklet can be completed at home, if someone needs help, I’d be delighted to offer on-going support. The navigation manual is written with step-by-step processes, so it will be an excellent resource and reference guide for long-term use after the course. 

Day one: Where on Earth are we? The Degree, Latitude and Longitude, Interpreting Charts and Publications, Plotting, Speed-Distance-Time, Measuring Distance, Bearings.

Day two: Plotting with Bearings/Distance/Radar Ranges, Compass to True, True to Compass, Variation, Deviation, Relative Bearings, Position Fixing, DR, Set and Drift.

If we have time we hope to discuss Passage Planning as well. That subject will naturally come up during the course anyway and SisterShip Magazine will be publishing several articles on this subject.

The key difference with our courses is that we bring a wealth of experience to help translate chart navigation in to real life. For example, Where On Earth Are We? It’s obviously an important question, but just as important is: And What Does That Mean? As in, okay, we’re here, but with those currents, tides, nearby wrecks, with the onset of bad weather, what does my location actually mean to me? That information is imperative to understand. Also, the brief tips woven through the course will be of great benefit.

What led you to this career path?

It started with a lust for travel. Travel, mixed with teaching, stirred up with passion and a good dash of a fondness of helping and supporting others. I’ve consolidated my twenty-plus years international boating experience to open new doors and exciting ventures. 

Was this your goal or has this path developed organically?

A bit of both. I knew I’d eventually find where I should be and I have. It’s been a challenge to get here and I’ve earned it all by hard work. But it has been worth it. I love my job. 

What qualifications do you have?

Cert Master 5, Cert Master 4, MED3, Commercial Skipper/Professional Mariner, Marine Rescue Skipper, TAFE Maritime Teacher and Instructor of Professional Level Courses for several years. Cert 4 Trainer, Recreational Sailor (ocean sailing, inland waterways, sailboats and motorboats), Author of Practical Maritime Book/Pilot Books/Articles, Speaker at Nautical Events. 

Can you give us an insight to your typical day as a writer of navigation manuals, co-editor of a magazine, and book publisher?

Hectic, most days start at 4 am. Often I work into the night. Weekends don’t exist. I love it though. I also have four beautiful horses to tend to, paddocks to maintain, a house to build (well, I try to help Noel!) and my books to manage. 

What inspires you?

Women on the water. Through publishing SisterShip Magazine and becoming a book-publisher (with Shelley) championing women on the water, I chat to women all over the world of different ages, backgrounds, and experience. They all carry different fears, hopes, and courage. They are all extraordinary women, mostly unheard of – each one inspires me. 

What keeps you amused in your free time?

My five hairy boys, that is, four horses and my husband. 

If, a year from now, we had another chat, what would you like to be telling us you achieved?

Having a hand in reducing maritime incidents.

If you had a superpower what would it be?

Making more time.

What’s been your greatest achievement and/or biggest challenge?

Sailing around the world one-and-a-half times, publishing five books, publishing SisterShip magazine, controlling four half-tonne beasts and convincing them I am the herd leader, living how I want to live and where I want to live. Successfully teaching commercial maritime tickets (Deckies/Coxswains/Master 5). As a woman, I’ve been tested from the start (by students, other Skippers, crew, and colleagues alike, but I proved my value and had the help of a great boss).

What’s your favourite quote?

‘Be an encourager, there are far too many critics in the world already.’ 

Find out more about Jackie:







SisterShip Magazine




SisterShip Press




Women Who Sail Australia




















Sistership Press Pty Ltd










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