Once upon a time, a young boy like me dreamed to become a seaman—a navigator and an officer of an international vessel that may have the chance to explore the vast oceans to see other countries.
To know what it was like in a foreign land, eat their food, learn their culture and mingle with their lifestyle. It sounded exiting, but, was it that easy?
After the seemingly long years of sweat, tears and brain-busting academics in a maritime school despite the destitution of my parents, here you are – a full-fledged seaman.
But what is the life of seamen away from his/her family? Is it a normal life? Do you find it viciously likable? Is it “Want” versus “necessity”?
Seamen are considered conservator of the social needs of his family.
The best moments in being a seaman and are something emotional and unforgettably awesome.
First of all, he gets to explore other countries for free.
He is able to compare the beauty, good things and lifestyle of people of different races living in the different corners of the world and our country where we were born and raised.
Above all, he is able to provide the financial needs of his family.
The melancholic experience of a seaman’s life on board a ship are: they must work according to their respective schedule and when required in an emergency; drills as legally ordered by his superior officer.
They have to work even if the vessel rolls, pitches and pounds due to bad weather condition to the point that the vessel rolls up to 35 to 40 degrees.
In this condition, sometimes a seaman feels seasick; vomits, feels dizzy and cannot stand comfortably or relax in an upright position.
At this time also, a seaman cries, prays and longs for the normal life on land where he came from, thence thinks of his loved ones and wishes that he is with them rather than wallowing with the perils of the sea.
That is the normal life of a seaman.
He cries when he feels lonely and misses his family, especially on birthdays, Christmas and children’s holidays when his presence is so important to a growing child.
He is obligated to associate with his fellow shipmates with different cultures. Obey all legal orders of his superior day or night, regardless of the weather. The one who makes him busy during his rest period. Force him to sleep even if he does not feel sleepy because in few hours more, he will be on duty again.
This is a very tiresome routine doing the same tasks from the time he embarks his vessel until he goes home for rest/vacation.
At night or when he lies on his bed alone, he wonders what his family is doing by such time. How much savings does he and wife have?
He feels worried when it is rainy season in the Philippines. The flood on the street and nearby streets where his family and children pass in going to school makes him uneasy. He worries about his house’s leaking roof, the unfixed water pipes which he left and perhaps the debt he owes his neighbor due to his long vacation.
A rich seaman, mostly officers who have a nice house and several Monteros or cars should not be envied.
I asked one active captain his age and how long has he been sailing. Summing up the years when he is with his family is only three years plus. And he is already about 60 years old. Shall we be envious in his material achievements or to families who eat three times a day through “thick and thin”?
He who has to sacrifice his normal life and be away from his family for the sake of the social needs and material wealth and for a few more years, like me, we will be gone.
My advice—if you have provided the necessities of your children, like education, let them venture to their remaining lives and it is indeed “life”.
Because he who was born “with a silver platter” and has not yet experienced hardships, trials or survival, he did not experience “life”.
To the wives and families of a seaman, love your husband as he is your hero, the provider for your children’s future, and the conservator of your good life.
And if by chance and situation your family can survive as a whole on land, you may ask him to stop from sailing.
Remember, you are only assured of one life to be together and you have the right to avail of this.
Smooth sailing, my brother seafarers!