Tag Archive: merchant navy



I’ve been using the term “College is not an environment I thrive in” quite a bit recently.

It’s true, even though all we are doing is talking about the job, OK in some deep detail, but still, it’s ALL job. It’s not an environment I like or feel comfortable in, I’ve struggled through every day of academic life I ever found myself placed in.

I’m still surprised I have a Class 2 Certificate of Competency, with full Chief Exemptions. I am not the worlds most intelligent guy. I struggle with 95% of the things I do. It physically hurts for me to write for more than 25 minutes. I have the ability to recall injection pressures of fuel injectors I set up 10 years, but ask me to draw the circuit diagram of an AVR I practised half an hour ago? Then its a whole new kettle of fish.

However in all honesty, I am in the happiest place work-wise, I have been for years. I’m at the rank I’ve wanted for just over 12 years now, I’m working on engines people don’t believe the size of, which I strangely like. The size of the job still impresses me, the fact I physically climb into engines for a living.  

Image

(AJ in a cylinder of main engine from Maersk Chennai)

 

As much as I do want my Chiefs Ticket, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me if I didn’t get it. Being Chief involves mainly paperwork, getting dangerously stressed, and not that much dirty hands. I enjoy being hands on, I enjoy being the go to man onboard for issues, I enjoy being a bit of a dick downstairs and being in charge. I am a Second Engineer and there is no getting away from that, I’m just not sure if being a Chief is for me at present.

 

I think being a Second with A Chief Engineer ticket is good, and really how it should be, however, if I fail to achieve it this time I’m not going to be that gutted. It’s not like failing my 2nds, I’m already a 2nd, I’m already where I want to be.

 

To be honest also, since going 2nd a lot of stuff has ironed it self out mentally for me. I am in a better place in my head, still having wobbles, but this a) just one of those things, b) is also partly due to being at college I suspect. Which brings us back to why it’s an environment I don’t thrive in.

 

I’m better when I’m doing, rather than when I’m being told. I’m quite an animated person at work, I swear, take the piss, liable to throw something, usually a shifter when I’m annoyed, tell people in no uncertain terms when I’m right and they are wrong. I am comfortable with how I work and how things work onboard. I am confident in my work, and confident in making sure other’s work, and woe betide the engineer who regularly falls below my slackest efforts.

 

On board, I’m “The Man”. I’m the engine room character, I’m the source of tales of nights ashore and drinking onboard. I can relied upon to belittle someone humorously, find suitable jobs for suitably abled people. I have control over a close knit bunch of lads, I enjoy it and relish it. I almost look forward to it every day. 

 

But back at college, I’m back to being a nobody. Back to trying to make my voice heard amongst many others. Back to being just another face that ultimately doesn’t really matter. I suddenly have mental blocks on how to describe kit from the ship I’ve just come off of. I suddenly find myself unable to recall even basic knowledge that I know in myself I intuitively know.

 

It’s a bind to say the least, and it depresses me. Greatly. I’m good at my job, I’m not going to lie. It sounds arrogant, but I am, and I believe you need a certain amount of arrogance in this job to have the confidence in your actions, as an engineer, to know that what you are going to do is the right actions.

 

And college does not encourage that. I feel like a fish out of water there. I try my best, I think I’m doing enough work, without overwhelming myself, which is very easy to do.

 

I’d like my Chiefs, really I would, but its not the end of the world, thats for sure.

 

AJ

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A Little Clarification


I think a little clarification is required as to what “The Merchant Navy” is.

A lot of people seem to think I am in some way part of the Armed Forces.

I’m not. I’m a civilian. I am in no way a Member Of Her Majesties Armed Forces.

Just because it has the word “Navy” in, it does not mean I am part of the Grey Funnel Brigade.

People think because I’m Merchant Navy I’m a Matelot, & I have an exhaustive knowledge of all RN ships from the Falklands forwards. It’s like saying, “You work for Ford Transit Vans? oh right, so you know the history of Alfa Romeo & Mario who worked briefly for them 25 years ago on a production line” 2 completely different things.

Yes I have a uniform that is extremely similar to the RN one. Yes I go to stupidly dangerous ports & seas, yes I work in what are technically classed war zones & yes I work away for months at a time.

But make no mistake.

I am NOT Royal Navy. It even states in my Profile. I’m Merchant Navy.

We are Container ships, oil tankers, bulk cargo, car carriers, ferries, Cruise ships, ocean liners, drill ships, FSPOs, PSVs, Tugs, AHTS, drill barges, MPVs, Barges, heavy lift, dredgers, the list goes on and on

& also fishing boats

& super yachts (apparently)

You will notice there that none of those ships, as a rule, are armed.

So next time you see “Merchant Navy” don’t automatically think “Royal Navy” as we aren’t.

At all.

Ta

AJ

Get Them Whilst You Can


So, following a brief exchange of tweets the other morning, the old age question came up about how to make life at sea more attractive to young people.

I’m not talking about the Royal Navy, as I’m sure most young people are aware of the Grey Funnel Line.

I’m talking about my type of going to sea, the Merchant Navy. The type that many of you wouldn’t have heard about if it wasn’t for me forcing it down your throats every other sentence, about what I do.

If it was me I wouldn’t get 80 year old ex seafarers who have been retired for for the last 20 years talking to them about how great life at sea is, & how you spend your life with your back teeth awash, a girl in every port & a week in every port, as it’s lies nowadays.

Don’t tell them you’ll get to see the world, as if you end up on a deep sea ship you’d more than likely end up seeing various container ports from around the world. Or if you are on a tanker, odds are a lump of concrete miles out to sea & load oil from there.

Concentrate on what in reality they, as cadets will get, ONCE THEY ARE QUALIFIED.

You’ll get a tax free income if you work deep sea or overseas, you’ll have at least a 4 months on 2 months off leave ratio, more commonly a 3:2 ratio, increasing to possible 1:1 as a senior officer (or damn near it).

If you work in the offshore industry don’t bank on getting a tax free income.

You will meet fantastic characters, you’ll see some amazing sites (maybe not Panama ashore at night *shudders*).

You will turn into a geek of the job, you’ll be swinging the lamp, & pulling pistons when home.

You’ll change nearly everything about you, from how you speak & walk, to how you organise your room & life.

You’ll grow up, you’ll learn a trade, you’ll do something with your life, you’ll do something others have no idea about, you’ll do something different & almost magic.

You will occasionally get a chance to be lost & drunk in a ridiculously foreign country, which, quite honestly is fantastic.

Most importantly

You’ll be a seafarer.

You’ll be one of us.

And may God help you.

AJ

Homesick


Someone recently Googled “Merchant Navy Cadet First Trip Homesick”.

Not sure my blog was really much help on that subject so I shall try to adjust this balance now.

Feeling homesick is perfectly normal – especially on a 1st trip. Even more so if you are only young. It’s perfectly possible to be a cadet, on your own, on a ship with no one else who speaks English, aged 16.

You won’t be alone in feeling homesick, most people have at some point been homesick, especially at the start, where you are out of your depth, you are in a (usually quite literally) foreign environment.

To be honest if you are only 16/17/18 & this is the first time you’ve been away from home, & you didn’t at least miss it a little bit I’d be concerned.

The best advise I can give you is this though. Don’t disappear into yourself when you are feeling homesick, not when you are a cadet anyway. You still don’t really know how to deal with it. Most of us old sea dogs have ways with dealing with it if we still suffer from it, but we’ve built up our techniques. Go out on the ship, be social, the last thing that will get you out of feeling shitty is locking yourself in your cabin staring at 4 bulkheads of mottled beige.

Have a quick scoot round the accommodation – see whose doors are open, see if the 3rd or 4th engineer fancies a chat, or if you feel like lowering your IQ a few points try & spark up a conversation with one of the mates (joke, I’ve been told there are some intelligent ones out there), but I’d try to speak to the Junior officers, we don’t bite…hard, & generally are willing to chat shit, it’s not like we have an important date to go on.

On cruise ships get yourself down the bar, you don’t have to get blasted, but theres always someone willing to get a few rounds in with you I’m sure. Ships are social places on the whole, despite more & more of them becoming dry, we do all generally like a good banter session. Even if it takes your mind off it for a bit, it’s better than nothing.

But believe me, you won’t be the first person to feel homesick on a ship, & you won’t be the last. Certainly don’t quit because you are homesick, homesickness passes, once you have your ticket and if you are still getting homesick, you can find a job that is shorter trips, or closer to home. There’s options, but don’t give up because you miss home. I mean after all – you were planning of moving away from home at one point I presume?

Also one last thing, when you are at college, don’t go home every weekend, or every opportunity, the faster you get used to not being home the easier it is at sea, & also with a lot of ships these days you will have free access to email, or at least cheap access, also phone calls are a lot cheaper as well (When I was 1st at sea it was £5/minute), so you won’t be out of contact for long & it won’t cost the earth.

Hope it helps

Stay Safe

AJ


So then.

I have started my new job with my new company.

I’ll be honest it was a bit of a leap of faith for me, It’s been 7 nearly 8 years since I last worked on anything similar to these sort of ships, & even then it was as a cadet. These ships run differently from what I’ve really ever been used to in the past.

I don’t get nervous anymore joining a new ship like I used to, I used to though, I wasn’t good with meeting a bunch of strangers who had already been in their own little clique for quite sometime.

Now though, after cruiseships & being a transient within my last company I have got over this.

So joining this new ship wasn’t a “social nightmare” that it used to be.

The first impression of the ship was….well the actual physical size of ships doesn’t amaze me much these days, but it’s the individual things on the ship, the size of those things that amaze me.

Within 6 hours of being on the ship I had crawled round the Main Engine crankcase, which I was able to stand upright in the sump my head not even level with the centre of the main shaft & changed a fuel injector that was the size of my lower leg, but weighed twice as much.

Everything about the main engine on here is BIG. & I mean BIG. 8 Cylinder 96 cm Bore Monstrosity of an internal combustion 2 stroke engine.

The engineroom it self is massive as well, there are 4 generators spread over three rooms, these are my main responsibility & we have quite a bit of work coming up on these, some 1500, 3000 & 24000 hr overhauls on them, luckily the 24k one is such big enough that a team from shoreside is coming inboard to assist.

The heat is intense – its been a while since I experienced the working blast furnace of an engineroom in the the tropics, & also I’m now very aware of how unfit I am. Running round a large multi deck engineroom, in humid hot conditions sure makes me appreciate just how unhealthy I’ve been for the last 7/8 years.

So you never know besides being a good thing career wise, this should be good for me physically as well.

I have really enjoyed the 1st couple of days, & feel that I am being a proper engineer again. I am a “little” nervous about the upcoming overhauls but I do have an experienced Engineer Cadet with me who seems to be quite good to assist who has done some of the work before, so that should help me along the way!

The 2nd engineer is keen to help me learn the system well & the computer program’s that will help me in becoming a 2nd Engineer with the New Company. So that’s jolly useful. No one yet has also said “Why the hell did you join this company?” which is usually one of the first things people say when I join a new company. So this already has made life a bit easier.

Now the next challenge is to not break anything. But unless you’ve broken it how can you fix it?

But overall I am enjoying the new job & all the challenges it’s present to date, I am really excited about being the Chief Crankcase diver when we pull a piston out of the main engine in a week or so time. This will be the 1st time that I will have been responsible for doing this.

The weathers been great, the anti-piracy measures are in place, & we are heading to India! We shall be there tomorrow. I hope to find a half an hour at some point for a bronze every now & then. However my cabin is a nice cooling break from the pit so we shall see!

Anyway

Cheers & Ta

AJ/SW


After watching 3 films this afternoon/evening, I have to wonder occasionally if I have “socially” wasted my life to date. I mean it’s only now really, where I would say I am making proper friends.

The 3 films I watched were Human Traffic, The Inbetweeners & Kevin And Perry Go Large.

I’ve never been on a “Lads on Tour” holiday, I’ve never really had a group of friends that close where I would consider going on holiday with them. (I do have a few now but not loads), I’m aware that Human Traffic isn’t exactly a holiday film, but it’s the message it carries.

I mean yes working on cruise ships was basically a lads on tour for 5-6 years, but it’s different when you are working, I mean yes I drank and fornicated by way round the world on the ship, and you had a group of lads all the same rough age who main interest and social past time when off watch was drinking and fornicating. But it was all done to schedule and between set times. No matter what I did the night before, I always had to be up for work the next day, or more often or not the same day, in a few hours. It wasn’t like a holiday. Even now when I’m on leave I generally wake up for the 1st time at 0715-0730 for the first 2-3 weeks. Even after a night out.

I’ve now also reached the age (at least my body feels like it) where a few pints of real ale having a laugh in the pub because you can hear everyone more or less is more appealing than going and spending over a fiver for a piss poor measure of rum and coke, listening to someone drunkenly yell and spittle into my ear, then feel socially uncomfortable as everyone else boxes off and I scramble for a taxi trying to avoid the drunken tosser looking for a fight with the large quiet person getting into a taxi relatively sober compared to the rest. I’m beyond that.

Its been a good while since I went “clubbing” (a good 24 months I would think). I’m beyond it. Totally. I think. I dunno, it’s a hard one to call at times. Penzance doesn’t exactly blossom with excellent nights out.

But I wondered whilst I was watching these films, why, why have I ended up like this? I mean yes quite obviously I put work 1st, anyone whose met me would say I unequivocally put work first, but this is because I’ve nothing else to put before it. But why didn’t I when I was younger make an effort to go on holidays and stuff?

I first went to sea when I was 17, I had my 18th, (Off South America) 19th, (In Pacific Somewhere) 20th, (Mediterranean) 21st, (Mediterranean) 22nd, (Caribbean) 23rd, (Transatlantic) 24th, (Caribbean) 25th , (Caribbean) and 27th (Aberdeen Docks) Birthdays all on board a ship at work. My 28th will probably be on-board as well.

So I’ve never really had an excuse to organise a big blow out holiday as I’ve always been at work. My 26th was at home, I presume, it wasn’t on a ship.

So occasionally when I watch films like this I feel this void, I feel this emptiness that I don’t have these stories of Ibiza or Malaga or one of those places ending in “a” which seem to be the places to be and say you’ve been.

Don’t get me wrong I have had more nights out and parties and heavy sessions than most people have in a life time, but they were all to a set schedule and routine. On cruise ships, if you not getting drunk in the Wardroom, then you get dunk in the crew bar (considered a night out) or a crew party (BIG night out) but it was always the same people, drinks, routines, nothing special, nothing that films are made of, well unless you count “Behind closed doors” Documentary a film. Hell if C4 decided to do a documentary on my times on cruise ships it would only be do able late at night, with a warning before hand. But I digress.

Yes I suppose I have sacrificed a social life for my job, my career. I replaced my social life, for a way of life. Yes I do regret it slightly, but then I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’ve always, maybe selfishly, put the job first, I’ve had to, haven’t I? If you haven’t anything outside of work really, why not launch yourself fully and passionately into work? It doesn’t hurt anyone.

I wish I’d had the chance to do lads on tour. I wish I’d had the close knit bunch of lads.

But these days I’m getting those friendships, OK so they aren’t “lads on tours” relationships, (mainly because I am friends with girls as well), but they are friendship I hope that make me see the benefits of coming home. Friends I get to spend good times with, not necessarily just hard drinking nights with, because, if I’m honest, that’s what my old friends are really. But I’m making new friendships, making friendships with people who I actually don’t feel like I need to prove myself to them. People I feel genuinely close to, and always pleased to see, and I have a sneaky feeling may miss me occasionally.

So, lads on tour, maybe it’s not be all it’s cracked up to after all, but friends for the journey mean so much more.

Ta

Antijanner/SW

It’s Not Easy Being Green


Let me tell you about sea-sickness.

Not everyone gets it.

I used to, I used to get it bad. The first 4-5 days of a trip I’d be useless. But I grew out of it, then moved to ships where sea-sickness isn’t so much of a problem – cruise ships. Especially ocean Liners such as the QM2 – which I’ve gone through a force 11 on & it was hardly moving.

Then after cruising for 5 – 6 years I moved company again & got into the Offshore oil & gas supply/support industry. This is where the weather is. Oil & gas doesn’t generally like being found in nice calm mill pools, it generally gets found in rough shitty horrible waters.

My first ship in this company, I joined in Sunderland wet dock, we sailed for Denmark. Straight into a storm. 20 foot swells, 60-70 knot winds, waves breaking on deck the works. I was biblically ill. Never ever felt so bad in my life. Honestly. For 4 days. It should have only taken us 1.5 days. Never has anyone been as ill as I was.

But as with most things you get used to it. Now these days I can go into a force 10 straight in the face, no need for the sturgeon 15. No need to sleep in the cement tunnel as its quiet and
Calmest there. I’ve grown accustomed to the seas ways.

But like anyone else, you do take the piss out of guys new to the industry, when they hit their first swell & the clammy greyness comes over them. When they stop mid sentence to sprint to the nearest suitable hole to deposit their lunch. But it’s all good fun.

The sea was always rougher than it is at present. No one has experienced seas as rough as you had them. But that’s all part of the game.

This however is work weather & is a typical example of weather for November/December time between Aberdeen & the Cormorant/Brent oil Fields off the Shetlands.

Come join us sometime. It’s fun really

AJ


It’s approaching that time of year again. I’ve been thinking of something that I generally haven’t shared that much. I’ve told maybe 7 or 8 people the following story, and even then it was only the edited highlights. Not entirely sure if I’ve told my parents this amount of detail to be honest.
But anyway.

14th Of September 2006

5 years

5 years since probably the most traumatic incident I’ve been involved in has occurred.
Some of you (very few) I’ve told about it.

Sharing it to the general public I guess is the final part of it and will hopefully put it to rest a bit. It affects pretty much every minute of my working life, and when alone in the engine room or alone in general my mind generally goes to thinking about it.
This particular event has pretty much changed my life, I think about it pretty much every day. It’s one of those things that will never leave me. I partly blame myself for it. Partly don’t blame anyone for it. It’s taken all this time to get that far.
It happened on a ship (surprisingly enough), in an engine room.

The event was one of the reasons why I eventually left cruise ships, it did temperamentally make me consider quitting sea all together but I didn’t, I just changed company/ship type. It also made me a bit weird for a while but these things happen.
Without going into a full technical report (for your sanity as much as mine), there was an issue with an economiser circulation pump. I was on Midnight to 0400 watch, we had a zero flow alarm activated on the pump. Usually this was just cleared by blasting though the pressure gauge line. 20 bar of steam and water will clear most things. I tried it a couple of times, it wouldn’t clear, I couldn’t be bothered with arsing about with it, I had other things to get on with in the engine room. I called the 1st engineer and he isolated the pump and economiser and that was it. The pump was isolated (as far as we could tell), economiser deemed Out Of Action for the night and it was put on the top of the job list.

I finished at 0400, handed the information over and me and the rest of the watch naffed off sharpish as we had drills in the morning at 1000.
I awoke at 0930 and sauntered down to the engine firelocker for the drill. I could sense as soon as I got down to the main working alleyway something was wrong. Barely any engineering staff were about. Generally you’ll see a few of us rushing about constantly trying to hold the world together with a shoestring but there was no one about. I got to the fire lock and a few of us were there and then I heard. There’s been an accident downstairs, Francisco had been hurt, all the Medics were on scene. Me and my mate rushed downstairs, my mate on watch had his ear defenders on, I was in my boilersuit but just trainers and no hearing protection. (it’s strange what details you remember)
I ran down the 2 decks to the bottom plates where the economiser pumps were. And there he was.

Francisco was lying on the plates, surrounded by medics and crew. He had been covered/drenched by boiling/scalding hot water from the neck down. You could see this because like most of us he wore his front open because it gets so hot down there. His skin had peeled off from the neck down . His hands looked like someone had poured wallpaper paste over them. His boiler suit I remember vividly. Was bone dry. I remember thinking to myself that that was odd. I only realised later that it was probably because of the latent heat he was giving off that the water had probably evaporated anyway.
The reason why water was still in the pipe is a matter of physics and fluid mechanics under a vacuum. I’m not getting into it now.

I remember getting angry at the stretcher carriers who were just standing staring at him, getting in the way. Me, my mate, and some of the other Philippino crew realised what was needed to be done, we started getting one of the engineroom cranes ready. We shifted lumps of metal that it took 6 of us to move usually, that 2 of us were able to shove out the way.
I don’t remember what happened after this in the engineroom but he got taken out.
Next thing I remember was the drill still going ahead, something I found disgusting. I was out on the boat deck, we were in Palma, and we heard Francisco was being taken ashore. Apparently Palma has a very good burns centre nearby.
Francisco never survived. He died a week later. He was kept in an artificial coma for his own benefit. The company managed to fast track his wife a Visa for her to get to his side, which to be honest was pretty damn amazing in my opinion. The Drs in the hospital had said he was finally starting to improve as well. They had had to cut his tendons in his arms as they were retracting but it honestly looked like he might survive.

He didn’t.

We were told onboard. I was in the main workshop. I remember running off to the mineraliser room. And crying. I don’t cry often. But that day I cried. There was a service onboard the ship when he died. I was on the 2000-0000 watch during the service so I couldn’t make it. I was devastated that I couldn’t go. I never got my chance to say goodbye to him.

Francisco was one of the hardest working guys I’ve met. All “The Lads” on this ship were and still are amazing. I have always had a good relationship with them. We work alongside them, we work our bodies to breaking point at times to ensure the passengers had everything they wanted. The Lads were superstars. I had been play fighting with Francisco in the workshop a couple of days before the accident. He looked like Manny Pacquio.(sort of)

Everything that happened that day in September, would it have been different if I had been arsed to try a bit harder? I don’t know. Impossible to tell now.

A few things happened to me after that event.

I drank heavily for a few years (this has stopped)

Thought of it constantly for 2 years (And yes I do mean constantly, it consumed me)

I became the life and soul of the party (mainly because I didn’t want to be alone in my cabin)

I got diagnosed with minor PTSD by the ships Doc (it was all off the record and nothing on my medical record)

I cleaned myself up a bit, sorted my life out, left the company.

I left the ship and the accident behind me.

I still can’t escape the underlying sense of guilt I have and the broken video I have of seeing Francisco there, that plays in my mind.

The ship it happened on is still my favourite ship in the world. I don’t lie when I say I experienced every emotion possible on that ship. Pure elation to minding numbing depression.

I carried round the accident with me in my head like a sack of wet porridge, it weighed and fugged everything I did. It made me want to spend more time at sea and else time at home. As if somehow spending time at the scene of it would solve matters, Or at least being there would mean that I wouldn’t have to answer any questions about it. It didn’t help. But you live and learn I guess by these things.

I never walked over the spot where it happened in the engine room.

Francisco Ramirez. I still think of you every day mate. Don’t think I won’t stop any time soon either.

Love you pal, still miss you, still hurts, still thinking as ever of it and you. Keep smiling mate, I know you are.


So, 3 weeks into a 7 week stint, 4 to go.

I have had an epiphany over the last few weeks about contact and correspondence I have with the real world. Now bare with me as this blog is a bit higgledy piggledy

It was a strange old couple of weeks before I came away this time, I’m not going into detail over them, but I had prepped some stuff to take away with me to do some correspondence when I went away with someone. With one thing and other that didn’t happen but I still had the writing materials with me.

I had also been reading a few blogs and that (mainly this excellent blog http://themodstolemyboyfriend.wordpress.com )

Now I’m not going to put myself into quite the same bracket as the Guys and girls of HM Armed forces, but I do spend a considerable time away from home still (just over 50% of the year in my current company) at sea for at least a month at a time. I used to spend 8-10 months a year away up to 5 months at a time. And even though I spend this amount of time away from home, I’ve never in all honesty been a big one for keeping major contact at home, I’ve sent 4 postcards in the last 10 years, 3 of which were on holiday this March. B

When I first went to sea, I was 17 (18th Birthday during my first trip away from home, 3 months on a banana boat working the Pacific Circle then to Europe across the Atlantic), and I had to pay 50 US cents an email sent from the Captains email account – he was the only one with outside email access. The ships sat phone varied in price depending on what Time/day/month/religious celebration was going on, and it varied form £1.50 a minute up to £5 a minute, so as a cadet I certainly didn’t use that. I would phone in port if I could get hold of a phone card from the Seaman’s mission came on-board. And would use maybe a 1/4 of it on a phone call home. I never really got home sick on board the ship, I did when I was at college a bit but never really on the ship. I have a great time when I’m on ships and do genuinely enjoy it.

But I never really wrote home, not postcards and certainly not letters. I’d send the occasional email home but that was it.

I should point out that I come from a happy, unbroken home. My parents are together, we all love each other, there’s no real problems at home that I’m running away from. It’s just one of those things, when I go to sea I am able to disassociate my mind from family, I mean I still love and care about them, but I turn the “missing them” part of my brain off. I have no idea how I do it, and it probably sounds cold and callous to an outsider, but if it was an easy thing to do I wouldn’t need to try to explain myself.

When I qualified and became a full blown Qualified “Competent” officer and got a job on cruise ships I would go weeks and weeks without emailing home, maybe a quick phone call in which ever port I felt like it or suddenly realised I hadn’t spoken to home in a while in but that was it.

I’ve worked worldwide and it would have been a great record for me to have kept with sending letters home in every port and country. I wish I had now. I wish I had that tangible connection with my worldwide workings. But this can’t be helped, what’s gone is gone, there is not a lot I can change about this.

I tell everyone I become involved with on one level or another that contact is great at sea, we have free internet access on our ships and the Sat C-band phone is cheap (which it is now, its cheaper than a pay as you go phone). I can in an emergency phone home on the old style satellite phone, which is expensive but is pretty much 100% coverage. Yet still even with all this, I find it hard to keep an ongoing stream of conversation and contact going. I don’t use the Sat phone, In 10 years I’ve spent about 1/2 hour on the sat phone in total I think. I email regularly enough sure, but it’s just not the same, and with the amount of emails that go bouncing around back and forth, I have one line conversations with my father via email, he types in red, I in purple, its like a really low tech chat room.

So this trip to my surprise I actually sat down and did something I’ve never really done before, I sat down and hand wrote on 4 separate pieces of paper, 4 different things to 4 different people. 2 were cards, 2 were letters (the mystical blueys as they are called in the MOD)

I wish I had done it earlier. I actually did enjoy it, if that makes sense. It wasn’t the drag on my mind I thought it would be. It wasn’t the pain in the arse I usually get with having to handwrite technical reports.

It is definitely something I could do more often, and I believe I’m correct in saying this, they mean a bit more than an email.

I wish I’d had the motivation to write home, or to write to various important people in my life I’ve had come and go over the last few years. I didn’t back then. I do now.

Maybe my minds not as fuzzed up as it used to be, or this is one of those things that they call maturing, but one way or another its something I’m going to try to embrace.

So if one of you could send me a good quality address book it would be appreciated

Ta

S
Antijanner

The Call


I just got the call

From tomorrow I will be on 24 hour notice call out to join the ship.

The bags that have been up in the loft for the last 2 months are down and packed.

I’ve already got a job list in my head about what needs to be done on board, I have mentally left already.

I know for a fact I am several shades of annoying right now, I’m am remarkably more cheerful than I have been for the last week. But I couldn’t care less, because besides the fact I don’t really have anything keeping me home, I love going to sea.

I am going back to sea, going back to do the one thing I know that I can do and have some form of control over.

I can feel my pulse has increased, and I’ve a bounce in my step, I’m going back to the slightly dirtier world where I belong.

I can’t adequately explain how much getting back out there means to me at the moment. I’ve been laid up sick for over 2 months, and this is the day I’ve been looking forward to for the last 8 weeks 5 days.

I’ve a 7 week trip this time (my choosing) but it’s to get me on a different shift. I will be thoroughly fed up and tired by the end of it, and still have secretly enjoyed it. Though I’d never tell any of the crew.

I’m going back to work, and I bloody love the feeling!