I really am not good at administration! No excuses, I am simply just not good at it!! Anyway, here is an update of a small fraction of what has been going on these past two weeks…
I was in the local press after I visited Ruthrieston West Church where a number of ladies presented me with over 200 woolly hats! As always, the press did their best to get the facts wrong! I have not been giving out hats to Fishermen for 15 years! :o)
I also have had numerous meetings… one with a couple who’s wedding I will have the joy of conducting in August!
I do also get some requests to do the “unusual’ for a seafarer…
I was called on Sunday evening with a message about some seafarers who were unhappy about something – the message had come via a lorry driver who had made a delivery that morning. I did consider calling my contact in the ITF for clarification, but thought it best to visit the vessel and chat with the crew first. Biggest problem for me is that she was berthed in Peterhead.
First thing Monday, I visited the vessel (and several others whilst in Peterhead!) to meet the captain, the Camp Boss, both Norwegian, and the Filipino crew. It soon became clear that the problem was a simple one – the UK Taxman had caught up with them! They were now being told that they would have to pay UK tax!! As you can imagine, this upset them!
So on my return from Peterhead I spent 2 hours calling HMRC and trying to get to the bottom of how this works! Pity the poor Filipino trying to do that!! Sadly, it looks like they will have to pay tax up front and then claim it back. It’s complicated and if anyone has any expertise in this area, please do get in touch with me!!
We take for granted our ability to pop into a shop for the essentials of life. Imagine you are at sea – even for a couple of weeks (although Filipino seafarers are often away for up to 9 months!) and have to plan ahead not knowing where or when you will be in port never mind if there will be a shop nearby that is open (leave is restricted by duties onboard which always comes first!) or stocks what you want to buy!
So when you get a message from a seafarer, you do your best to oblige them! Darius, an old friend of many years contacted me via FaceBook to ask if I could get him some E45 – you cannot get it in the Philippines! So I was happy to get this – I searched on-line first for the best price – Boots was £7.09, but I was able to find that Superdrug had two tubs for £9 – a bargain – so my colleague Derek bought this for him and as you can see from his big smile, he was happy to get them. “We are only in port a short time and as cook, I don’t get time to go ashore, you have helped me so much by getting this for me.” Teamwork!!
In a previous post I mentioned that I had been nominated for the ISWAN’s Dr Dierk Lindemann Personality of the Year Award. No surprise that I didn’t win, but my colleague Rev Stephen Millar did – congratulations to a worthy winner! See pictures below:
The saga continues with the Malaviya Seven here in Aberdeen (and the Malaviya Twenty in Great Yarmouth). A new month begins and new stores – hopefully… I have been humbled by the number of offers to supply them with food that I have received from individuals, foodbank and companies!
I am not surprised at how professional the crew have remained throughout their ordeal. Over the years I have seen them at work and their skill-set is high. It would be sad to lose them from the North Sea operations.
The non-payment of wages has put tremendous strain on the crew, but for their families back home as well. The ITF are endeavouring to recoup these wages and I am sure, with their vast network and long experience of such matters, they will be successful in doing so.
Meanwhile the practical day-to-day support continues. The crew make use of the Seafarers Centre as often as possible.
On one visit I noticed the third engineer had blue overalls whilst the rest of the crew all had bright orange ones! On further enquiry, I discovered that when he got the job he was told to provide his own and when he asked what colour, he was told it didn’t matter. See pictures below…
It was also encouraging to see that three lads went to Mass one Sunday, thanks to the AoS Chaplain. Others however, preferred to watch the football on our large screen TV!!
Whilst the daily visits continue and ongoing support is offered, we await the outcome of negotiations held at meetings in India to finance the crews’ back pay.
We have had our annual fire extinguisher test and fire risk assessment completed, Chubb Security service and later in the month we will have out P.A.T. testing done! So much goes on behind the scenes, but nothing like what the vessels have to endure when visiting the port!
It was good to have the Seawell back in Aberdeen after a couple of years working away and an extensive dry docking! She has a 100 day contract so we should see them a bit more frequently over the summer!!
As ever, there is a life outside ‘work’ and I have my relaxation sorted – doing DIY at home! The front garden has been worked on (as you will see in the pictures below… The decorative stone chips which were laid last October were constantly being lifted by kids and used as ammunition to throw at each other or worse, so much so that our streets were riddled with red stones! So the decision was made to plant a small hedge to prevent them from getting at the stones.
This required digging the soil and removing 36 bags of stones and roots… then filling the gap with topsoil and compost!
It took me two-and-a-half days hard labour!! The plants came and were planted. I did have a half-days help from Neil my son, but all 56 shrubs are now planted.
The other task was to strip the wallpaper of our daughter’s bedroom. A much easier task that only took a day.
So that is an update on events around Aberdeen Seafarers Centre. It’s a busy place and we have excellent facilities – if you ever visit the Port do make sure that you come along and visit – we would love to give you a warm welcome!
With every good wish.