As much as 90% of world trade is transported by sea and many of today’s container ships are large enough to carry up to 19,000 containers! Cork is a busy port, and there is often as many as 10 ships of various types moving in and out of the Port every day, each carrying a crew of perhaps 5, 30 or even 50 people, from a mixture of nationalities and from a variety of different backgrounds.
There is no such thing as an average day for me, because Cork harbour sprawls over many miles, with nine main terminals each handling many different sorts of ships. Most days I visit five to six different ships, sprawled across many different parts of the port. Occasionally I’ll spend all day (and evening) visiting just one or two ships. It all depends on the spiritual and practical needs of the people I meet and the amount of time they have free. I believe it is vital that as many of the ships as possible are touch by God’s love through human hands.
Most of the sailors I meet are on board their ships for many months at a time. Few of them have Wi-Fi on board which means they have very little contact with friends and family. This really hit home to me recently when a captain I was speaking to said that because of nine-month contracts, 30 years at sea would mean him spending only five years back at home with his family.
It’s not an easy life being a seafarer and some of the crews I met are living in appalling conditions. On one occasion I boarded an LPG tanker with some presents and found 16 Filipino crew in a bad state. A stark message on the notice board read:
‘No provisions... food for today, but none for tomorrow... no soap etc. Please help!’
We were able to bring them more presents and groceries, for which the crew were overcome with gratitude.
Our work is invaluable and I find that seafarers really appreciate what we do as chaplains in the Seamen’s Christian Friend Society. They are deeply grateful for the times we pray with them and for the conversations and bible studies telling them about Jesus who loves them, no matter where they are in the world.
Crew members also appreciate the gifts of food and toiletries we take on board, especially the woolly hats, scarves, gloves and jumpers which they all love to get. All of these gifts wouldn’t be possible without the support of many individuals who donate them and who knit cosy items of clothing, all year round. Our work relies heavily on donations from individuals and churches, so it really is a partnership and we are ‘a link in the chain’.
If you are a seafarer and would like to contact me for friendship or a visit when your ship comes to Cork, then please contact me at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
God Bless and thank you for visiting this page