William R. Bennett III, Editor
My commute into New York City is by fast ferry, which allows me the pleasure of watching all sorts of vessels arrive and depart New York Harbor: cruise ships, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, tugs, research vessels, and, of course, the occasional yacht. Watching a large cruise ship or container vessel passing underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a spectacular sight. And, of course, seeing any type of vessel pass near the Statute of Liberty is nostalgic. A picture is a must; one cannot have too many of those types of photos, in my opinion. My fellow passengers give me a sideways glance every time I get up to head out on deck to take a photo of a vessel passing by us. I take pictures because I love the maritime industry, but I was recently reminded how difficult life is working at sea.
This past Labor Day weekend, while enjoying time at the beach, a friend asked whether the crew aboard a tanker that had been anchored off Sandy Hook, NJ, for a few days were able to get off to visit New York City. I replied, “Generally, no.” The group I was with were shocked. After explaining why crew were not permitted off the vessel, I then explained that the average unlicensed crew member’s tour can be from 4 to 10 months long, with no weekends or holidays; possibly no choice of who to room with; no choice of what to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner; often unable to speak with a loved one at home for several days or weeks. Add to that the potential for inhospitable weather while at sea. We all agreed that put into perspective the debate about whether one should be in the office two or three days a week.
In closing, please consider supporting an organization that cares for seaman and their mental health.