Not an original title for a post, but the fact remains, it is 2016!

I trust that it has begun well for you and yours.

As I look back over the past year, it has been a tough one with many events having taken place in my personal life.

My old Navy Vessel! Lovely birthday cake!

My old Navy Vessel!
Lovely birthday cake!

Reaching the tender age of 60 in July was a milestone – celebrated with family and friends – and yes, the kids did send me up a few times – to be fair, they had plenty of ammunition to work from!

I’ll refrain from posting some of the other pictures taken that night!

The celebrations turned soon after to a more somber mood when I was informed in September that I had to have tests for suspected bowel and prostate cancer. How quickly ones perspective changes!

Thankfully, I got a cancellation and after the camera was placed in the relevant orifices I was told that, in fact, I was okay and that I had diverticulitis – something that over 50% of men of 60 or over have! It is not life threatening.

So the restoration of our home continues… but that is a whole other story.

These events have taken place in my personal life, but there have also been many ‘events’ in the lives of the many seafarers who visit Aberdeen.

With the downturn of the oil industry and the many redundancies ashore and afloat, I have had to counsel an ever increasing number of seafarers with problems. I cannot go into details for obvious reasons, but if I told you that in all of 2014 I did some 28 counselling sessions with 18 seafarers, then compare that with the figures for 2015 – a staggering 141 seafarers and over 300 counselling sessions, you will understand the depth of the cuts to seafaring jobs and how hard it has hit. Most of these live within a 75 radius of  Aberdeen – there are, I am sure, hundreds more who live further afield.

Sitting in the Seafarers Centre and chatting with these men and women is not a joyous time. Seeking to help them through these difficult times is humbling and we offer what support we can. Also, I have requests to find a job for a seafarer who has been made redundant – almost daily now! Sadly, jobs are few and far between.

Without disrespecting steel workers who lost their jobs, they got a wave of publicity and government money for retraining etc… and no doubt had a redundancy package as well. What do the redundant seafarers get? Nowt! No redundancy package, no government money, just put on the scrap heap!

My concern is for this highly trained skilled workforce in a year or two – most will have gone ashore and probably lost their ‘tickets’ and when the upturn comes who will man the vessels then? It will not be British seafarers!

When I started here almost 15 years ago I had a great time interacting with the mainly British crews on the vessels. Now I play a game… Find the Brit!

It is not because I have anything against non-British seafarers – I know many of them and they do a great job. However, try getting a Brit who isn’t a Captain, Chief Officer or Chief Engineer to work on a vessel out of Canada, Australia, Brazil, etc…

Surely we should be keeping British seafarers employed wherever possible – ops – not allowed to say that – I go back to my previous post! Our ‘PC’ world says so!

Let’s have some common sense and keep our British Merchant Navy alive!

Onto happier issues…

Some pictures from Christmas time and the delivery of the customary Christmas gifts from the Seafarers Centre.

Our band of Volunteers!

Our band of Volunteers on Christmas Day!

Christmas Gifts Around the Christmas Tree on a vessel

Christmas Gifts Around the Christmas Tree on a vessel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snacks for the volunteers!

Snacks for the volunteers!

The View out to sea on Christmas Day

The View out to sea on Christmas Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MV Jacqueline-C  getting her gifts!

MV Jacqueline-C getting her gifts!

My 'team' onboard...

My ‘team’ onboard…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully this will give you a glimpse of what was a happy day at the harbour.

My return to the office on Monday brought the usual mountain of paperwork and other things to pick up on after my leave. Four days later and the situation in the harbour isn’t great.

Admittedly the weather has not been good thus far, but we have had a mere 36 vessels arrive since the 1st of January!

Anyway, this is long enough… time to close for now…

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