Travelling on board cargo vessels as a seafarer’s wife is a wonderful and challenging way of life. It requires a lot of strength, courage and commitment from woman’s side (apart from company approval), and it implies many changes and adjustments. She has to give up her safe, peaceful and comfortable life ashore in order to embrace a completely different environment.
Life On-board As a Seafarer’s Wife
She has to adjust herself to a new and sometimes hectic schedule in order to create the sense of normality her seafarer husband needs during his work and she has to be flexible. This kind of life is not an easy one as it comes with lots of sacrifices. But it is more than rewarding for both partners if they manage to make the best of their time together. It can be a life of joy and happiness – with the usual ups and downs – but only if the woman is willing to support her husband in any way she can. And not to become a burden, not to complain too much about the bad weather she might encounter or about the lack of entertainment on board and other small problems that may come along the way. All these ‘difficulties’ must be overcome by those women who choose to join their husbands during their voyages at sea – for a few months or for many years – and the benefits from such a life can exceed anyone’s expectations.
I am one of the lucky wives who chose this kind of life and I am very happy with the decision I took. I made my part of sacrifices as well. I gave up my job and the comfort of my beautiful house ashore. I distanced myself from parents and friends and I had to adapt myself to new conditions – different climates, different time zones, different food and different cultures.
I first joined my husband on the vessel 12 years ago. At that time, I didn’t have any idea about the life I was about to experience and the only reason for going to sea was to be with him. I was very excited about the perspective of seeing him after three months apart and I was looking forward to visiting new places. After a few weeks on the vessel, I started to realize the great chance that I was offered. And I came to understand that travelling on board cargo vessels is not only about moving from one place to another and visiting new territories. But it is more about enjoying the everyday life at sea, admiring the beauties of nature and the happy encounter with new and interesting people belonging to different cultures.
I still remember how shy I was when I first joined the vessel. How difficult it was for me to memorize the names and ranks of everybody on board, to learn the proper arrangement of decks and public areas. I also remember how happy I was the first time I went up on the bridge and enjoyed the panoramic view. The first sunset and sunrise, the amazing Milky Way,the stars and constellations in the South Hemisphere and all other interesting phenomena, like rainbows or heavy rain. I also remember how excited I was when we first got the chance of stepping ashore and having a walk in Barcelona – the first port where we went out together. And how we celebrated our first Christmas on board and how rewarding it was for me to cook traditional meals for the crew.
Now, after many voyages at sea I can say that I have seen a big part of the world (still more to come) on both sides of the Equator, East and West of the First Meridian. I touched land belonging to all the continents except Antarctica, I sailed across 3 oceans and many other smaller seas, rivers and lakes.I experienced amazing crystal clear waters, but also harsh winds and angry seas, very high temperatures, but freezing ones as well. I transited both of the world’s greatest canals – Suez and Panama – and I also crossed the Changing Date Line when one day is gained or lost, depending on the heading of the ship.
Apart from discovering interesting territories – some very famous and popular among tourists, other quite unknown and remote. Travelling at sea offered me the great opportunity of admiring the nature at its best, during long passages across the Oceans or smaller seas. After so many years, I still feel immense joy when watching the dolphins jumping around the vessel’s bulb. Or beautiful flying fish floating on air while being followed by underwater hunters.
If the birds are close by, then the show is complete as hunters and hunted fight for their survival and all I can do is watch and (sometimes) take parts. Taking photos of the sunsets and sunrises is still one of my favorite activities on board and the more clouds are involved in the process, the happier I am. I prefer sunsets as I find them more attractive and colorful and I love those which take place in front of the vessel or in the vicinity of land, no matter how small that piece of land is.
Although I do not have a fixed working schedule like the rest of the crew, time passes very fast for me and I never have time to get bored in spite of what most people might think. If the entering and departure maneuvers take place during day time, I always find myself a good spot from where to watch everything. Mostly on the bridge, wings or forward station – and, if time allows it, I always like to take advantage of the time spent alongside and have a walk in the vicinity of the port. After all these activities, if the day is not yet finished, I still have time for reading, writing, going to the gym. I love playing ping pong, basketball, chess, darts, or backgammon,crocheting, swimming, fishing, watching movies or baking a cake for the entire crew.
There is a wide display of leisure activities available on board and I love those which involve all the crew – like fishing at anchorage and singing karaoke during barbecue parties.
Another important part of my voyages is about the people I meet along the way . People belonging to different countries, races and religions – who make up my ‘very special family’. No matter what their rank is – crew, officers or other passengers – regardless of their country of origin, age or social status, they all enrich my in some way. They teach me interesting things and give me the sense of belonging to a wonderful family. I am grateful to all of them for allowing me to be a part of their family while on board. And for always keeping in touch with me after signing off. Some of them became very good friends of mine and I hope life will bring us back together at some point.
12 years ago, when I first stepped on board the vessel, I only watched my voyage as an adventure holiday. Things are completely different now. As I started to spend more time on board than ashore, I came to realize that travelling at sea is my life and I couldn’t imagine myself giving up this wonderful way of living at least for a few years more.
I still have a lot of places to visit, many more people to meet, thousands of sunsets to photograph and hundreds of cakes to bake.