A Day as a Sailor

Sunset, Sea, Sailing Boat, Boat, Water

Most of the ships were Australian Flags. Today you’ll discover seafarers prefer American flagships; the pay is better, and they are unionized. “There’s far more paperwork now,” says Third Mate Mike Loesch. “Instead of doing only the noon report, you are now doing three reports a day.”

They had a keeper whose only job was to keep the home, keep it provided of clothing, food, and walk the beaches after the storms. When they came across a shipwrecked sailor they gave him”refuge” in their home. The guys got to stay for a couple weeks. Some got back on boats heading north. A lookout tower was constructed and used to watch for enemy submarines in World War II. Over the years they’ve been controlled by the US Coast Guard and the Navy. Today only 1 house remains in Martin County on Gilbert’s Bar. In 1976 it was recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.

Since this is a massive topic I thought I’d stay the program. And, enlist the support of a couple seafarers. Captain Tod is busy getting the morning report out before breakfast. Third Mate Mike attends to his safety inspections or maintenance if the chief mate needs it done. After lunch he relieves another third mate and stands watch till dinner. The conclusion of the 12-hour day and another sunset. If the ship is docked, instead of standing lookout on the bridge he’d be in the cargo control room monitoring the cargo operations. Also making rounds on deck and assessing the lines. One thing you don’t need is the boat to slip away from the dock.

Hot and cold meals are provided three times a day. Breakfast is your standard fare. Lunch and dinner offers many different fish, meat and a salad bar. If anyone has a food allergy, like I do, you need to let the Captain know when you board the boat. In accordance with Civilian Mariner Wendy, I’d starve on the navy’s ship. Their food is chiefly noodle foods using a salad bar and overcooked veggies. I find this ironic because she is on a logistics ship. They supply other Navy and NATO ships with fuel, parts, food, Raccoon In Attic and sodas.

Must be inspection day today. Tensions are high. Everyone’s stressed. Not certain why. To me a review is a fantastic thing. If they find something wrong on the boat it gets reported, then fixed. Right? Well, not necessarily true. Usually from first-hand experience years earlier when they crewed. Certainly not how things are done today or what you were told to do. Regulations are changing all of the time, and everybody is expected to adapt. However, resources aren’t always made available.

Woohoo! After countless sunsets of reds, pink and gray, land is finally in sight. The ship is going into port where its crew members get to go onshore for a mental health break. The only question – is it full of safety checkpoints or can you walk right off the boat and be in the center of everything? Some men like to get away or take a break. The ones that come in on a Foreign flagship usually head to Walmart before heading out again. Poor Wendy, that’s when she gets the busiest. She arranges travel for some of her team members that are leaving the ship for holiday. They do not get to leave the vessel until their replacement gets onboard. Mike and Captain Tod don’t always go ashore . They have this philosophy work is work. I don’t always agree. Sometimes it’s good to get off the ship for a change of scenery. Even if only for a few hours. Maybe today, a few more crew members will join the ship. That would be a great help. Just like in corporate, the team is asked to do more with less people. According to Mike, the distinction is that the office building is not going to run into something.

If you’ve read any of my things, you will know security is a mega concern. Crowley Maritime sets it high on their list also. Every meeting starts with a security and cultural moment including wellness and behavior. They realize to be a top performing company they have to support their employees work life balance and wellness. Their trainings vary depending on the boat. Its operations. The seafarers and shore-

side personnel. Each oil ship has magnetic signs throughout the ship. “We don’t want to be responsive,” says David DeCamp, Sr Communicator, Strategist for Crowley Maritime. “We’re thinking prevention and preventing incidents as much as possible.” Just remember, once you’re on the boat, it’s 1 hand for the ship and one hand for you. Keep your balance and keep safe.

Back riding the waves, the team appears happy. Many sunrises and sunsets later end of tour obligation is fast approaching. I start to wonder what signs to watch for that folks are ready to get off the ship. Oye! How do they handle the stress? After all, my stints on recreational boats are much briefer and less crew. So, I asked about.

“When the guys get quiet,” says Mike. “If you’re standing watch with them and for four hours they do not say one word when normally you would be having a fantastic conversation. You then’ll see them start fouling things up a lot. Some guys will just explode, or else they’ll do something – either conscientiously or subconscientiously – where it’s endangering their job.”

Wendy says you’ll hear of somebody who starts giving things away. Saying goodbye to other people on the boat or just seems despondent. These are usually signs of suicide, she says. Notably, amongst the younger team members.

When it comes time to destress, hit the gym onboard the boat or do some kind of exercise. Talk to your peers and find some alone time. Regular contact with your family is also important. Particularly if you’re married. It helps ease their anxiety also. If email is not easily available, write those emails , then once in port ship them out all at once. Guaranteed the receiver will be awaiting them. “Remember it is important to look after yourself,” states Captain Tod. “Not just mentally but physically. Sometimes you have-to eat that pastry at 3:00am or drink that thick coffee. Working long hours adds additional stress to your body both physically and emotionally.”

Ultimately, it is important to enjoy your time off. Someone else is doing your work on the boat for the next 75 days or however long your tour of duty is. Get rested up. Recharge. Then get ready to get back out there for those long hitches.

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