Gosh, where have the past few weeks gone? It has been a great few weeks since we had a week in a self catering cottage in Blairgowrie – a time to relax and no phone calls!
Anyway, much has been happening and so here is an update on events over the past few weeks.
Ship visits continue – and my 5 volunteer ship visitors are doing a splendid job of getting around the harbour. I have my usual banter onboard, but it is getting increasingly difficult to raise a laugh – even with my poor jokes!
Moral onboard is pretty low on the oil related vessels. No surprise really when so many vessels have been laid up and seafarers are being made redundant! On one vessel I heard that the Portuguese crew were told, “Take a 40% pay cut or walk!” As I have said before – when things recover, and they will, how likely are the companies who impose such cuts to reinstate the crew back to 2014 pay rates? Not likely is the simple answer. It is a bit like the price of petrol or our gas and electricity bills – prices go up to reflect increased prices in a matter of days, but they don’t go down as quickly – often taking months to drop – if at all!
Who suffers? The man doing the job in hazardous conditions and ultimately those made redundant will be lost to the industry. Who then will be around to crew the vessels?
Over the past few months I have seen a 175% increase in seafarers coming to see me because of the downturn. It is not good out there!
If you would like an opportunity to voice your opinion, then the BBC are doing a story on how the low oil prices is affecting seafarers – if you are in Aberdeen or can do a phone interview, do get in touch with me. I’m not interested in what company you work(ed) for, they too are suffering, rather it is what you feel is going wrong and how best it can be ‘fixed!”
Onto happier matters. As an experiment, we opened the Seafarers Centre one Thursday from 1030 – 2200 and we saw 41 visitors! It would be good to do this each day. Any volunteers to man the Centre between say 1200 and 1500?
I have had quite a lot of speaking engagements from Aboyne to Peterhead and Aberdeen and Garioch. I was speaking at Dyce Rotary and had a good evening with around 20 men – and one woman! –>
These are opportunities to highlight the many needs of seafarers and the support that we offer them. I am available to speak to your group, but do give me at least 6 months notice. I am already taking bookings for 2017…
It has been great to have the Bibby Topaz in for over a week… It is normally a 12 or 24 hour turnaround but they were demobilising and then mobilising for a new job… I was able to have many conversations with several of the crew and of course my good friend the Camp Boss, Efren who is a committed Christian. I also spent a fair amount of time with the galley staff – no, not at lunch time! In fact, the chef was upset that I had not eaten onboard and so on Friday he sent some of the leftover steak that hadn’t been eaten along with some sushi for me. Sadly, I never got to eat it as I was not on duty at the centre that night and so the volunteers were well blessed that evening! The chap second from the left is next to be going home – happy that he will be with family over Christmas… the others will be onboard! No doubt Santa Chaplain will visit nearer to Christmas with a few gifts for them…
Talking of Christmas, those who live locally and can get a copy of the Press & Journal will find in Saturday’s edition some pictures of Santa Chaplain wearing some woolly hats and some of the 3,000 Christmas parcels that we will give out this year! Hopefully it will be good PR and they get the story right!!
Well enough for now – I have a vessel Christening tomorrow – the NOR Solan. It isn’t in port yet… arriving at 0600 – allegedly! Hope the weather is good!
Take care and safe sailing!