There have been a number of surveys, studies and research papers published recently which all paint a picture of what life is like at sea. So, what are the things which matter most to seafarers today? Let’s explore the latest feedback from the sea, this time we look at the negatives.
During the recent Day of the Seafarer, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) started a debate on what it was like to have a good time at sea. They asked how a positive day onboard ship consist of? We have covered this in the “Good Side” article – but this time we delve into the problems.
It is great to talk about positivity within seafaring, and wonderful for organisations to take the opportunity to share good news stories, and to think about what benefits come from being a mariner today.
Sadly, it is not always good, there are problems and issues at sea– and they do need discussing. The responses to an IMO survey and across social media captured the great things about being a seafarer. Alas, other news from the sea is not so uplifting.
Life as seafarer is all too often far from perfect, and there are many things that can and should be improved. Fatigue, piracy, abandonment, criminalisation, mental health concerns, to name but a few. There are many problems which need to be understood and addressed.
Just before we go into the negatives – let’s take one more chance to see how great seafaring can still be when things go well. On good ships with great shipmates, working for companies who care and invest, there is much to be happy about. Here are the top reasons for loving being a seafarer:
1) Seafarers are proud of their skills and heritage
2) Seafarers enjoy the lifestyle and freedom of being at sea
3) Seafarers value getting shore leave and visiting other cultures
4) Seafarers do often receive good pay compared to their homelands
5) Seafarers are proud to send money home and look after their families
6) Seafarers do often get good food and get to enjoy eating it
7) Seafarers enjoy and value good quality training which improves their skills and careers
8) Seafarers are on a great career ladder which can lead to real success
9) Seafarers enjoy the camaraderie of their relationships onboard
10) Seafarers are often made to feel welcome when they visit places, particularly by charities such as the Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of the Sea, Sailors Society, and ISWAN
It is a shame, but the cheery best-case scenarios don’t always capture the reality of being a modern seafarer. It is important to hear the good, but that should never insulate us from the need to understand what can and does go wrong.
Seafarers deserve to be heard, respected and understood – and so when they speak about problems, then that should carry significant weight. For every seafarer that doesn’t experience highs, then at least the hard-fought experiences should deliver learning opportunities and chances to improve.
In the latest Seafarers Happiness Index from the Mission to Seafarers, crews from around the world, across different ranks and vessels types shared some of the things which make life at sea hard than it has to be. So, just what are the lessons which can be learned?
Worrying culture developing onboard which seemingly looks down on seafarers seeking to spend recreation time ashore.
You can see the full report at https://www.missiontoseafarers.org/seafarershappiness
What do you think? Is seafaring still a great career? What would you change to make it even better? Or do you think there has never been a worse time to be at sea? Share your thoughts with us, we’d love to hear from you.