Photo of cups of tea by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash “I’ll just make you a cup of tea,” she smiled. “No thanks, I don’t drink tea.” “Of course you drink tea,” she laughed. “I’ll make you a cuppa.” “Thanks, but I don’t drink tea.” I shifted, looking for somewhere to put the cup of tea that... Continue Reading →
Do you really know your friends?
People silhouetted against sunset. Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash “Can’t do pizza: visiting Bill at hospice b4 session.” I stared blankly at the message on my phone for several seconds before I typed a reply: “Why is Bill at hospice?” The reply took a few minutes. “Throat cancer. Cya at session.” I’d only been away... Continue Reading →
Cooking with Herbs — A Seafarer’s Perspective
Sack of potatoes, by Torstan Detlaff from Pexels “Hey, Johnny, what’s for dinner?” I peered into the galley window. John had a truly enormous lump of frozen mince wedged into the top of a cooking pot and was attempting to pour a sack of muddy potatoes around the sides. “Spuds and mince, good Irish meal,” he... Continue Reading →
The Ship’s Hardhat
I was the newbie on board. While ten years working on square-rigged sailing ships had taught me many things, it hadn’t taught me the finer points of working on a shorthanded coastal cargo ship. Despite that, as I dived out of the way of another lump of falling scrap steel as it crashed down from... Continue Reading →
No, dad, she’s definitely a girl…
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash The staring was starting to become awkward. I glanced down, checking that my clothing was in order: faded orange boilersuit, covered in grease and cargo, and a pair of scuffed steel-capped boots. I reached to my waist and confirmed that I’d remembered to leave my belt knife on board. I... Continue Reading →
Rule 3: Don’t blow up the ship
Photo by Jakub Skafiriak on Unsplash I stared at the third mate. “Is this a joke? Because it’s Christmas, you know, not April Fool’s Day.” He shrugged. We stared down at the night orders. The first part was reasonable enough: follow the cargo plan, pump ballast when necessary, don’t break the ship in half, don’t blow... Continue Reading →
One Australian, Twenty Chinese, and a Mooring Winch…
The captain stared down from the bridge and pulled out his radio. “Aft, bridge: what on earth is going on down there?” I was doing my best not to look at the one Australian and twenty Chinese men standing in the snow, urinating on the aft mooring winch. I pulled a glove off and fumbled... Continue Reading →
Stand Up for Someone
Photo by Sarah Noltner on Unsplash I gritted my teeth as the company training officer showed yet another “funny” video, this time about a woman who removed the lock-out from an electric breaker so that the could use her hairdryer, and the electrician was electrocuted. My company had sent this person on board to run a... Continue Reading →
Friendships, family ties, connections, they exist. Without contact, these connections eventually fade away.
The Merchant Navy FAQ
I’ve been in various sectors of the merchant navy since 1996. People often ask me about life at sea. Here's a collection of the answers.