Some will argue life sailing was easier back before regulations were established because of the IMO, US Coast Guard and ABS. But could it have been really? Most of the ships were Foreign Flags. That meant long tours of duty without union. Today there are seafarers prefer American flagships; the pay is much better, and they are unionized. “There’s much more paperwork today,” says Third Mate Mike Loesch. “Instead of performing just the noon report, you’re now doing three reports each day.”
In 1875, nine Houses of Refuge were built on the Florida coast; between Miami and Jacksonville; every 25 miles. Each Refuge House was commissioned with the United States Life-Saving Service. They had a keeper whose only job ended up being to maintain the house, maintain it supplied of food, clothing, and walk the beaches as soon as the storms. When they stumbled on a shipwrecked sailor they gave him “refuge” in their house. The men got a chance to stay to get a week or two. Some returned on ships heading north. A lookout tower was built and accustomed to watch for enemy submarines in World War II. Over the years and may operated through the US Coast Guard plus the Navy. Today one house remains in Martin County on Gilbert’s Bar. In 1976 it turned out listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
This year the IMO’s theme for International Seafarer Day is well-being. Since this is a massive topic I thought I’d stay the course. And, enlist aid from a few seafarers. Tour duties last anywhere from 75 days to 6 months fully briefed a ship. Before the sun even warms their faces, Third Mate Mike is around the bridge for his morning watch. Captain Tod is busy finding the morning report out before breakfast. After breakfast, Captain Tod continues his day giving an answer to emails, handling personnel issues, payroll, orders, etc. Third Mate Mike attends to his safety inspections or maintenance in the event the chief mate needs it done. After lunch he relieves another third mate and stands watch till dinner. The end of his 12-hour day and another sunset. If the ship is docked, as opposed to standing watch within the bridge yet be in the cargo control room monitoring the cargo operations. Also making rounds on deck and checking the lines. One thing its not necessary is the ship to slip out from the dock.
Hot and cold foods are provided three times per day. Breakfast will be your standard fare. Lunch and dinner gives a variety of fish, meat along with a salad bar. If anyone carries a food allergy, like I do, you should let the Captain know whenever you board the ship. According to Civilian Mariner Wendy, I would starve for the navy’s ship. Their meals are mostly deep-fried foods using a salad bar and overcooked veggies. Not exactly nutritious. I find this ironic since she’s on the logistics ship. They provide other Navy and NATO ships with fuel, parts, food and sodas.
Must be inspection day today. Tensions are high. Everyone’s stressed. Not sure why. To me an inspection is a great thing. If they find something wrong about the ship it gets reported, then fixed. Right? Well, not really true. Each inspector has his or her interpretation of how things should be carried out. Usually from first-hand experience years earlier whenever they crewed. Surely not how everything’s done today or that which you were told to complete. Regulations are changing continuously, and everyone is anticipated to adapt. However, resources aren’t always presented.
Woohoo! After countless sunsets of reds, pink and gray, land is finally coming soon. The ship is heading into port where its crew members arrive at go onshore to get a mental health break. The only question – can it be full of security checkpoints or could you walk next to the ship and have the middle of everything? Some guys want to get away or relax. The ones that come in over a Foreign flagship usually go to Walmart before moving out again. Poor Wendy, then she gets the busiest. She arranges travel for just about any of her crew members which can be leaving the ship for vacation. They don’t be able to leave the vessel until their replacement gets onboard. Mike and Captain Tod don’t always go ashore either. They have this philosophy effort is work. I don’t always agree. Sometimes it’s great to get away from the ship for just a change of scenery. Even if only for the couple hours. Maybe today, several more crew members will join the ship. That would be a great help. Just like in corporate, the crew is asked to perform more with less people. According to Mike, the visible difference is that the workplace isn’t going to come across something.
If you’ve read some of my stuff, you know safety is a mega concern. Crowley Maritime puts it at the top of their list likewise. Every meeting starts using a safety and cultural moment including wellness and behavior. They realize becoming a high performing company they need to support their employees work life balance and health. Their trainings vary depending about the ship. Its operations. The seafarers and shore-
side personnel. Each petroleum ship has magnetic signs through the entire ship. “We don’t wish to be reactive,” says David DeCamp, Sr Communicator, Strategist for Crowley Maritime. “We’re thinking prevention and avoiding incidents if you can ,.” Just remember, whenever you’re for the ship, it’s one hand to the ship the other hand to suit your needs. Keep your balance and also be safe.
Back riding the waves, the crew appears happy. Many sunrises and sunsets later end of tour duty is coming soon. I set out to wonder what signs to loose time waiting for that folks are ready to acquire off the ship. Oye! How do they handle the load? After all, my stints on recreational boats less complicated shorter and much less crew. So, I asked around.
“When the inventors get quiet,” says Mike. “If you’re standing watch using them and for four hours it doesn’t say one word when normally choosing having a good conversation. After that you will notice them start fouling things up a whole lot. Some guys will just explode, or they’ll want to do something – either conscientiously or subconscientiously – where it’s jeopardizing their job.”
Wendy says you’ll learn about someone who starts giving things away. Saying goodbye to others about the ship or maybe seems despondent. These are usually indications of suicide, she says. Especially, between the younger crew members.
When it will come time to destress, hit the gym onboard the ship or do a little form of exercise. Talk with your peers and look for some alone time. Regular exposure to your family is equally important. Especially if you’re married. It helps ease their stress likewise. If email just isn’t readily available, write those emails anyways, then once in port distribute them all at once. Guaranteed the receiver will likely be looking forward to them. “Remember it is critical to take care of yourself,” says Captain Tod. “Not just mentally but physically. Sometimes you have-to eat that pastry at 3:00am or drink that thick coffee. Working extended hours adds extra stress on your body both physically and mentally.”