In general, my experience and my stories on this blog are positive and one might think that a career at sea is the best choice to make. Although I still like my work a lot, days aren’t always positive with the sun shining and the birds singing.
In a recent issue of the telegraph, the newspaper from the union, a member expresses his feelings about work at sea. I am afraid I have to agree to some degree with his view as stated below:
I would like to put forward a view in reply to the question asked by shipping companies as to why we don’t recommend families or friends to go to sea. The old saying ‘things aren’t what they used to be’ is so true. The fun and sense of humour has been kicked out of the industry – we are not allowed to enjoy ourselves any more!
The world used to be a great place to see, but time in ports is now at a minimum and the job at sea is now just a job, not a career. There is nothing special any more. Many sail with multinational crews and with the language barriers the routine is watch, eat, bed, then back on watch – and this routine can go on for weeks or months.
People are not prepared to put up with this any more. As regards pay, there are many comparable shore-side jobs that pay more for a lot less hassle, stress and potential danger.
On a slightly different note, I wonder how many other readers are tired of reading the same circle of headlines – ‘Ministers shocked’, ‘fatigue problems’, ‘piracy fears’, ‘pay set to rise’ and then the ministers are shocked again. The industry is in trouble – and when you consider the importance of merchant fleet that world commerce must rely upon, I dread to think what the future has in store.
We are drowning in a sea of legislation and paperwork, and the industry holds nothing to attract youngsters to venture on ships.
In a later issue, another member writes about his experience on a container ship concerning fatigue and extreme long working hours.
There is nothing wrong with promoting a career in the Merchant Navy, but potential seafarers should be told the truth of the current state of the shipping industry. If they are only told about the money, the holidays and the chance to stand on the bow of a ship and scream ‘I’m the king of the world’, then they are being sold a lie.
I wrote a lot of posts on this blog which may have given a different impression, so consider this as an update with reality. To be honest, you have to be more and more creative to see the joy in sailing. I still find a lot of enjoyable moments during work and of course I mostly write about these moments. But I know that these moments will not keep me at sea forever…