This was my 2nd time as a _th engineer but I still got butterflies.
I thanked God for this opportunity to improve myself and to do it with this company.
It took blood and a lot of sweat.
Blood because it broke my heart leaving my comfort zone and trying out the life I’ve been led to.
Well, aside from the money (the money is good); you’ll get cuts and bruises from working onboard.
I had it before and surely will have more scars this time.
It is true that it gets even harder the second time when you already know what’s going to slap you in the face.
Sweat because I am working in the engine room. It is really hot. The kind of HOT that hell is supposed to feel like. Extreme hotness.
But still, I thank this company for helping people like me to be better.
I was given my flight details and joined my ship with other crew. We flew to Taiwan. When we got there, the ship was still unable to dock. So we stayed at a hotel. I must say, being a seafarer comes with a lot of fancy benefits. We stayed at the hotel for almost 2 nights. We were able to roam around Taiwan. Lucky enough to witness incredible sights that I know I was able to see only because of this job.
It was really fun. I posted photos on social media and my friends said that I am so lucky. I guess I am. But they only see the “good” side of being a seafarer. You will never imagine how stressful and demanding seafaring is. But still, I am thankful.
We boarded the ship and left for China. The ship will be going to dry dock. (Definition: Dry docking is a term used for repairs or when a ship is taken to the service yard. During dry docking, the whole ship is brought to a dry land so that the submerged portions of the hull can be cleaned or inspected.)
And that means a lot of stuff will be going on. Repairs and maintenance. It’s good to have good senior officers who manage their team well. The whole dry-dock time was a great learning experience.
We had a fair amount of fun and work load, haha!
And when we are free from work, we do some shopping, relax, try local cuisines, converse with the locals (with difficulty because they don’t speak English fluently) so, sign language to the rescue.
Days came by and all went smooth. We finished dry-dock and the ship was now ready to trade again.
Couple of months later, we received news that our good vessel will be converted to a tanker again. The company decided that onboard personnel will try to do some of the conversion.
We worked hard as a team to do what we can. And we worked harder even when it was raining on deck because we seriously need to finish our duties. It is said that when you work onboard, half of your body is buried already, like half-alive. The dangers onboard are pretty horrifying. Pirates, severe storms to think you’re in the middle of nowhere.
But we never compromise safety. Primary lesson that I learned when I was still a cadet
Few weeks later, we were able to finish conversion. And we became a tanker ship again. Good news! Salary is much higher than on a bulk carrier. But the danger increases as well because we are now carrying chemicals.
Orders came and we sailed for our destination.
We were to pass Somalia!
Ship personnel prepared safety measures when passing through high risk area. We got 3 armed escorts who would be like our last defense against a pirate attack.
We sailed and prayed that God would keep us safe.
We passed Bab-el-Mandeb (The Bab-el-Mandeb or Mandeb Strait is a strait located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.)without any incident and arrived at our destination safe and in time.
We anchored at Suez to wait for orders. The waiting part is kind of tricky. The charterers would give us last-minute directions which meant we can’t plan so much because we don’t know where we will go and when we will go.
Chief engineer finished his contract already and he requested for his reliever.
The office arranged for a reliever but because of our schedule, port and location, it was difficult to arrange for his reliever to come.
Days passed and he still was not relieved. He became anxious and I think, pissed.
I think he was close to losing his cool when he got news that his reliever is coming. All of a sudden his mood changed. He lightened up a bit. He smiled a lot and kind of back to being his pleasant self.
I know that the thought of going back home, being with friends and relatives, taking a vacation, clearly excites every seafarer. It’s like being a kid going to a candy store.
Our new chief engineer arrived and all was back to normal.
Work and whatnot.
I got excited when I saw that I have a reliever. I packed my bags and did my hand over notes.
We were just waiting for a convenient port so that the captain can arrange for a crew change. I got in touch with my crewing and asked for some news BUT they did not respond. It sucks. They we’re pretty fast and efficient when they’re about to send me to ship and now it’s the exact opposite.
No convenient port. No crew change.
I got depressed. I wasn’t working well like I used to be. Who would be? 6 months without a break. It took its toll on me. And the thought that I am still unable to be relieved just lingered in my head.
I embrace each day feeling so lax. Just like a robot doing what’s needed to be done. It’s like I’m on autopilot.
I used to love what I do. I love being an engineer. What happened?
Disappointments. Of not being home. Of myself. Of other stuff.
I keep in touch with my sister through social media. We have internet onboard, though it is slow, it’s still helpful. We had conversations of what was happening to me. She said maybe God is teaching me something. Yeah she was right. Patience and contentment.
From then on, I thank God for another learning experience. I know my crewing officer is doing her best to arrange for my reliever soon. I just have to be extra patient. It’s been a couple of days now, and I got my motivation back.
I wake up each day with a little bit of enthusiasm. For now, I just have to enjoy what I love, which is being an engineer. It’s all in the mind. And I hope one of these days I will wake up with good news at hand.
My flight details. And here it is. Finally.
PHOTO CREDIT: RV DOROMAL
(FEATURED PHOTO & 2ND PHOTO)
Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.