Some will argue life at sea was easier back before regulations were established by the IMO, US Coast Guard and ABS. But was it really? Many of the ships were Australian Flags. That meant long tours of duty and no marriage. You’ll find seafarers prefer American flagships, today; they’re unionized, and the cover is better. “Instead of doing only the noon report, you are now doing three reports every day.”
Nine Houses of Refuge were built along the Florida coast; between Miami and Jacksonville; every 25 miles. Every Refuge House was commissioned by the United States Life-Saving Service. They had a keeper whose only job was walk the beaches, keep it provided clothing, of food, and to maintain the house. The men must stay for two or a week. Some got back on boats heading north. Today only one house remains in Martin County on Gilbert’s Bar.
This season the IMO’s theme for International Seafarer Day is well-being. Since this is a topic that was huge I thought I’d stay the program. And, enlist the support of a few seafarers. Tour duties last anywhere from 75 days a boat. Before their faces even warm, Third Mate Mike is on the bridge for his morning watch. Captain Tod is busy getting out before breakfast. When the mate needs it done third Mate Mike attends to his safety inspections or maintenance. After lunch another mate is relieved by him and stands watch till dinner. His 12-hour day and another sunset’s end. He would be in the cargo control room monitoring the cargo 25, instead of standing watch, if the boat is docked. Also making rounds on deck and assessing the lines. Is the boat.
Cold and hot meals are provided three times a day. Breakfast is your typical fare. Lunch and dinner offers many different meat fish and a salad bar. You will need to let the Captain know when you board the boat, like I do, if anyone has a food allergy. According to Civilian Mariner Wendy, I’d starve on the navy’s ship. Their food is chiefly deep-fried foods with overcooked veggies and a salad bar. Not nutritious. They supply Navy and NATO ships with fuel, parts, food and sodas.
Must be inspection day today. Tensions are high. Everyone’s stressed. Not certain why. An inspection is a fantastic thing. It gets reported fixed, if they find something wrong on the ship. Right? Well, not correct. Usually from firsthand experience years when they crewed. Surely what you had been told to do or things are done. All the time is changing, and everybody is expected to adapt. Resources are not always made available.
Woohoo! After countless sunsets of reds, wildlife nuisance removal service, pink and gray, land is finally in sight. Where its team members get to go onshore for a mental health 19, the boat is going into port. The question – is it filled with safety checkpoints or can you walk off the ship and be in the middle of everything? Take a break or some men like to get away. Before heading out 17, the ones that come in on a flagship generally head. Poor Wendy, that’s when she gets the busiest. She arranges travel for any of her crew members which are leaving the ship for holiday. They don’t get to leave the vessel until their replacement will get onboard. Mike and Captain Tod do not always go ashore. They have this philosophy work. I don’t always agree. It’s a good idea to get off the ship for a change of scenery. Maybe today, a crew members will join the boat. That would be an excellent help. The crew is asked to do more, like in corporate. According to Mike, the distinction is that the office building isn’t likely to run into something.
You will know security is a concern that is mega, if you’ve read any of my stuff. Crowley Maritime puts it high on their list as well. Every meeting starts with a cultural and security moment including behavior and wellness. They realize to be a top performing company they must support their employees work health and life balance. Their trainings vary depending on the ship. Its operations. The seafarers and shore-
side personnel. Each oil ship has signals throughout the boat. “We don’t need to be responsive,” says David DeCamp, Sr Communicator, Strategist for Crowley Maritime. “We are thinking prevention and avoiding incidents as far as possible.” Once you’re on the boat remember, it’s one hand for the ship and one hand for you. Keep your balance and keep safe.
The crew appears happy back riding the waves. Sunsets and sunrises later end of tour duty is approaching. I begin to wonder what signs to watch for that folks are ready to get the boat off. Oye! After all, my stints on boats are crew and shorter. I asked around.
“When the guys get quiet,” says Mike. “If you are standing watch together and for four hours they don’t say one word when normally you’d be having a fantastic conversation. You then’ll see them begin fouling things up a lot. Some guys will just burst, or they’ll do something – either conscientiously or subconscientiously – where it’s jeopardizing their job.”
Wendy says you’ll hear of somebody who starts giving away things. Saying goodbye seems despondent. These are signs of suicide, ” she says. Amongst the younger team members.
Hit the gym do some kind of exercise or onboard the boat, when it comes time to destress. Talk to your peers and find some alone time. Contact with your family is important. Especially if you’re married. It helps ease their stress. If email is not easily available, write those emails anyways, then once in port send out them all at once. The receiver will be awaiting them. “Remember it’s important to look after yourself,” says Captain Tod. “Not only mentally but physically. Sometimes you eat that pastry at 3:00 am or drink that coffee that is thick.
It’s important to enjoy your time off. Someone else is doing your job on the boat for the next 75 days or however your tour of duty is. Recharge. Get ready to get back out there for those long hitches.