Wilhelmsen insights

The Seafarer: One Man’s Tale of Gratitude, Belonging and Contentment

This personal account conveys the view of how an ordinary man withstands the challenges inside a huge floating metal container for months and despite the hardships, is still proud to call himself a seafarer.

Wilhelmsen insights |
Wilhelmsen Ship Management

The purpose of this story is not to gain respect from the world. We are not hungry for popularity because our experiences are priceless in which we can only relate.

Seafaring is an underrated profession, yet we are the backbone of the world trading industry. When the pandemic struck, a lot of businesses, jobs and livelihood were halted but world trade never cease, yet we persevered. 

But we also need to take a breather from time to time. And you might be wondering, what does a seafarer do to relax? 

People tend to make the most of their free time to unwind, reset, and refresh for tomorrow especially when they get stressed or bored at work. 

Here comes a seafarer, where most of the time we are surrounded by a vast body of water, so vast that even a radar can't find a single object for miles away. They say seafarers travel the world for free. Yes, indeed it is free, but it's not for leisure, we are only taking in glimpses of the places we pass by. For the most part we just breathe the air and then leave.

Prior to the pandemic, shore leave allows us to disembark and experience the destination first-hand. However, these opportunities are only good for a few hours, costly, and exhausting as work is immediately waiting upon our return. 

How do seafarers unwind besides waiting for shore leave? Simply, we embrace our profession with pride. We conditioned our minds the moment we put our signature on the contract. By the time we step on the gangway, we have activated the strongest version of ourselves.  

From left to right: A winter wonderland to the blazing heat of the tropics 

A breath-taking sunset and sunrise in the middle of the ocean is already a satisfaction. Stormy seas, howling winds, and a bumpy ride lulls us to sleep. We are astonished by the different climates that change so rapidly. Today we walk under the blazing heat of a tropical sun, and then the next few weeks we are walking on a deck filled with snow from a northern winter.

We feel blessed for the food and excited for a special Saturday dinner. Our chief cooks are serving good food for us to savor, but I do believe that the best food is the one you have chosen yourself.

We are contented to take some photos of Melbourne's port from the deck, only to tell our friends back home the amazing adventures we had.

From left to right: A glimpse of Australia from the upper deck. En route to the Australian port 

An “I love you too” reply in our messenger from our loved ones is already quality time. A photo received with their smiles is something we take with us to our dreams. For most of us, the sound of our relievers arriving on the gangway is simply priceless. Touching down at our hometown's airport and seeing our family wave excitedly at the arrival gate is what we call “life”.

Due to the pandemic, rules were implemented to the general public like lockdowns. They have taken a little dose of a seafarer’s life which is to be isolated. And this is the harsh reality, the sacrifices a seafarer must make in order to serve.

Arguably only the people who see the seafarer’s worth are their family, real friends, colleagues and everybody working in the maritime sector.

You can judge a policeman by merely watching news on your TV or if you witness them doing their job but a seafarer? In order to judge them, you need to board a ship, not as a passenger on a luxury ship, but as a seafarer.

Special thanks to 3rd Officer, Brian Zaballero for sharing his reflections with us.