2015 hasn’t really gotten off to a great start for the shipping industry. Unfortunately we’ve had a number of incidences that have been quite horrifying leading to the loss of life, with often unexplained circumstances, which kind of brings about the question… Why do seamen do what we do?
The obvious answer and the one you’d immediately get gruffly barked at you if you ever asked, is money. On the surface of things this is undoubtedly true but there is a little more to it than that, at least to me anyway. Travel? I think for most of us the idea of sailing around the world and getting paid to see the sights would be pretty alluring. Of course all sailors love to travel but quite often we find ourselves on the same trade routes, in the same countries and even seeing the same people. Travelling really isn’t what it once was; even in my short 8 years at sea I have witnessed a dramatic change in availability of shore leave and a huge lifestyle change at sea. So why do we still do it and why do those who leave the sea to work ashore come back?
Well of course I can only speak for myself, but for me it can be put quite simply into one word, beauty. For the hardened sea dogs amongst this readership you might hear a few utter the word ‘poppycock’ but stay with me… it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing you can’t beat a good old-fashioned sunrise or sunset. As humans I think it is almost in our very nature to stop and watch such a humbling event… now imagine being able to watch that every single day on the 4-8 watch! I can promise it never gets boring, of course you might miss the odd one or two but mostly I find we would all agree it’s the perfect time for a cuppa.
Of course beauty is a relative term and everyone has their own ideas on what is beautiful, but for me what I really find beautiful is the wildlife, the sheer abundance of it, nothing brings a smile to my face quicker than seeing a deep blue ocean ahead of me that is quite clearly teaming with life. Whether that be dolphins, turtles, fish, manta rays, albatross diving for squid, night time bioluminescence lighting up the sea with bright flashes or a warm creamy glow, watching huge majestic whales blowing and breeching, letting the world glimpse them for a short time before vanishing into nothingness.
For others it might be just as simple as admiring a clear night sky, watching meteors fall, space stations and satellites race across the back drop of stars or watching the breathtaking Aurora Borealis / australis. But no matter what your definition of beauty is, one thing that is certain and that is you WILL find it at sea. There really is nothing quite like what we do and despite the dangers, the storms, the negatively changing lifestyle, the awful news reports of our colleagues falling victim to the dangers we place ourselves in daily, we still do what we do because essentially we love it. We love the romance, we love the challenges, we love that every single day will be different and most of all we love and appreciate the beauty of working at sea.