Now We Know How Sinead Navigates Robinson Services Through The Stormy Seas of The Support Services Sector

At Robinson Services  we employ people from many diverse backgrounds and their hobbies can be just as diverse. So when we sat down with Sinead Sharpe, Human Resources Director for a coffee and chat we found out about Sinead’s role as Navigator with the RNLI Lifeboat Crew operating out of Red Bay in Cushendall. Here’s what we found out and to be honest we were seriously impressed !
When did I join?
I joined the Redbay Lifeboat Crew just over 2 years ago.  My husband has been a member of the crew for about ten years and it was something I was always interested in doing – the time just seemed right.
Why did I join?
I like a challenge, especially if it involves learning new things.  I was impressed with the commitment and selflessness that other crew members seemed to have and it appeared to be a very different and worthwhile thing to do in my spare time.  It was a good opportunity to get to know new people, make new friends and give something back to the local community.  It’s also physically demanding at times, so it’s a good way to maintain a decent fitness level.
What is my current role?
At the moment, the station has two different types of search and rescue boat – I have roles, or training plans, as we call them, on both boats.  Our Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) is smaller and holds a crew of 4.  Our All-weather Lifeboat (ALB) holds crew of 6.  I have just completed my ILB crew assessments and completed an ALB Navigator assessment, or passout, at the start of 2019.
What does a Navigator do?
There are 3 ships’ officers roles on the ALB – the Coxwain; the Mechanic and the Navigator.  The Navigator has to make sure that the boat is travelling safely from launch; in other words, you need to plan ahead to avoid any hazards; you need to know what the weather and tide are doing and, considering all of these and more, you need to confirm the directions that the boat needs to take to get to its destination safely.  You are also responsible for planning and communicating search patterns and regularly estimating and recording where the boat is using both computer equipment and nautical paper charts.  Charts become hugely important if the equipment fails!  You need to know the boat’s position at all times – not as easy as it sounds when you’re in rough weather, in the middle of the sea or in thick fog with no visible landmarks.  Simply writing on a chart becomes the hardest thing when you’re strapped tight into your seat and the boat is slamming through waves.
What do you find most difficult?
The training takes a lot of commitment and a lot of my spare time is spent on the boat, or studying for my next assessment.  At a personal level, any missing person search is incredibly tough.  Especially when you’re responsible for calculating the search area.  You can’t afford to make any mistakes.
How has your volunteer role helped you in your leadership role with Robinson Services?
Volunteering has taught me a lot!  I’m much better at dealing with pressure situations; I can quickly assess information and make decisions on the spot with a lot more confidence.  I’ve learned to trust and rely on others to do their roles.  Communication is always key.  And I appreciate the importance of team work at a whole different level; especially the need to have a shared, focussed goal.  It brings out the best in everyone around you, not to mention in yourself as a leader.