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By Ieuan Dolby Copyright 2002
All articles are used with written permission from Ieuan Dolby and are taken from Seamania
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What happens at sea? What do people that work at sea do all day? How do they survive and what are their jobs like, where do they go and how do they get there and why? So many questions, and not many answers to be found in the world at large.

Through the five Essays in this series I relay an insight through personal experience and observation, into some of the more pressing topics of the sea. By reading these Essays the unaware reader will gain a modern look into one of the largest and least talked about Industries the world over. By joining me in my excursion into the various aspects of a ‘life at sea', an exciting and deeply cultured lifestyle will show itself in an intricate and exciting manner.

The first, aptly titled The Merchant Navy gives a bit of history with emphasis lying on the British side of the business. What happened to the Industry over the years and where it lies today, where is the heart of the shipping business and which Countries are still Maritime Nations. Then we go to what is of greater Interest, to that of a life on a ship. A look at what people do all day and why they do it, who supports the Officers in their work and why. And to round this second Essay off I take the reader through different positions that exist in the different Departments and what each of these positions entails.

Some of these Essays are quite long so I include here a brief and lighter essay to unwind with. "The motion of the Ocean causes a lot of Commotion", and so very true it is. Weather and waves are something that no man can control and however much we wish that we could predict or estimate weather conditions they still remain uncontrollable and often dangerous to the floating coffins and those that sail in them. This piece is not about large waves smashing the bows of boats or crews abandoning sinking vessels in distress this is just a simple look at the weather, very briefly and broadly and without getting tied into knots.

Engineering? In a previous Essay of this series I took you through the individual responsibilities of the different ranks of Engineer. This is not a repeat of that and here I give to you a little look into some of the tasks that Engineers control and some of the duties that Engineers are responsible for. Using personal Engineering disasters that came my way (through no fault of my own) or Engineering events of note that I played a part in a feeling for the life and the duties involved will become apparent. These are not the days of oars and sails, these are the days of high powered engines driving massive metal blocks across large expanses of water and the Engineers are there to keep them going.

About the only aspect of a ‘life at sea' that becomes an acceptable and understandable image to those ashore is the long leave (holiday) that is associated with seafarers. And this last Essay is devoted to that. A look into the life of seafarers from the moment that they leave the ship and start that rewarding six weeks holiday back home, with their parents and later on their wives and family. I do though warn you that by reading this essay you may find that all is not so great! I take you through many of my personal experiences whilst on holiday, most of fun but many tell you a larger story. That: "the holiday" although long and deserving can often be a time for trouble and regret. Well, read it and see!

Five Essays to cover five topics that I associate with the life of a seafarer. I do strongly suggest that once finished with these and have gained some insight the life that you read five more essays. These are under the SINK or SWIM title and are generally more fun than these. In this next series of Essays I take you through another side of the life at sea. One that involves travelling, eating and drinking in foreign countries, often alone or with a group of drunken seafarers and often without recourse or knowledge of the place involved. The ship arrives in port and we all go ashore, no guide-book or handy tourist guide but with adventure and spirit all the way. I would actually recommend these Essays as an alternative tourist guide to out of the way towns and cities around the world as well as giving insight into the life. From Papua New Guinea to the Carrabean, from South Africa to Europe I follow a trail of good and bad foods, drinkable and headache causing liquors and wines and abusive and friendly peoples of all shapes and sizes. I take you through what I have found from the moment I step off the vessel in a strange land till the moment I return – educated, cultured and in shock.

Read on! Ieuan Dolby from Scotland joined the Merchant Navy at 17yrs old. Now living in Taiwan and after 18yrs of traveling on anything from a leaking rust bucket to the state of the art vessels he writes about places, people, and cultural diversity as seen and witnessed first hand. Still sailing the world he works part-time on his website of Seamania where various articles and stories can be had first hand and for all to read and enjoy.

(Seamania) © Copyright: Ieuan Dolby 2002/2003


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