“I don’t know how to tell you this… [your brother] passed away this morning.” I had to read the message several times before I processed it. Then my legs stopped holding me up.
It could be worse. I have somewhere safe to stay, I have enough food. Objectively, I’m doing well — it could be worse.
“I hate this,” he said. “I know most of them are just fishing boats, but because I know at least a few of them are pirates, I have to treat them all as if they’re going to attack us. And I can’t stay away from all of them or we’ll never get home.”
How to motivate someone to prove you wrong Photo of a professional man looking at paperwork, from LifeofPix The examiner stared at his papers, silently rearranging them, avoiding my eyes. I forced a slow, deep breath, determined not to let him see how tense I was. The clock behind me ticked, meting out the seconds. A... Continue Reading →
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash The best thing about seasickness is that it leads to one of the best feelings in the world: that moment when, several days into a voyage, I wake up and realise that I feel hungry. I get up to find something to eat, then realise with a sense of joy... Continue Reading →
At maritime college, they teach us what to do in emergencies, how to prepare for flooding, fire, man-over-board. Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash They don’t teach us how to deal with the aftermath. It’s possible to put on a facade of calm, to exude confidence, but no-one ever teaches us how to deal with the... Continue Reading →
They sold my ship in February. It was Friday, in mid-Pacific. The captain read us the email just before dinner. Most of the crew were somewhere between upset and angry, but I just felt relieved, as if I’d been freed from a prison I hadn’t realised I was in. The company offered me a transfer... Continue Reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →