Yes, the bread and butter of chaplaincy is what I thrive on. Over the past two weeks I have had some terrific conversations on various vessels and in the Seafarers Centre with seafarers from many different countries. In and of themselves they may not change the world, but they will have had an impact on a seafarer and most certainly me! Routine visits to hospital and retired seafarers continue. Koos’ cat has settled into his new home and is now the king of his castle!!
I am now into my 17th year as port Chaplain in Aberdeen (how time flies!) and I still get uplifted by the many ‘ordinary’ encounters with seafarers. Yes, there is a Seafarers Centre to run, that in a sense, is my ‘work,’ but my ministry is with and for the many hundreds of thousands of seafarers who have visited the port over the years. It is something I hope to do for many a year to come – if I keep good health and the donations keep coming in!
I was invited to two Sea Cadet units for their special evenings. They were very good events and whilst my day to day role as Port Chaplain is concerned primarily with active seafarers, I do a lot with retired seafarers as well. I am also keen to help those intending to go to sea. I am no longer chaplain at the Nautical College in Glasgow, therefore the Sea Cadet Units, TS Scylla and TS Bon Accord afford me a place to encourage these young folks in their journey. Mind you, I don’t normally attend their gatherings one week after another!
TS Bon Accord had their biannual inspection and this was a great evening seeing the cadets excel in their evolutions and especially the semaphore! Those who were there will know why I mentioned it!
The Following week, the refurbished TS SCYLLA service was indeed quite a spectacle… I especially enjoyed meeting the two officers from HMS Diamond who attended and the banter during the evening was great! The dedication of the plaque to commemorate Commodore Brian Keith was also special. He was a good friend and loyal supporter of the mission; but on this occasion, gave a very generous donation to the Unit, contributing to their being able to complete a magnificent upgrade of the Main Deck.
As ever, nothing stays static and phase two is just around the corner.
It was an enjoyable evening and the food was excellent – with some of the leftovers ending up on a ship… The Malaviya Seven!
With the announcement of the Aberdeen Seafarers Centre receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, we have had a lot of positive feedback and many good wishes. Moving forward we are looking to invest in the building which we currently lease from Gulfmark UK (big thanks to them!) and will be applying to trust funds to seek some substantial contributions.
We also will be investing in our Volunteers with Fire Marshal training event, a free First Aid course and a celebration event in July to say “Thank you” to all of them.
As I have said, we have a great team of volunteers and Charlie does a great job in exchanging the book libraries that have been placed on over 200 vessels working out of Aberdeen (and many others that never come back – e.g. cargo vessels) with well over 80,000 books exchanged in just three years!
Jorge was another faithful volunteer manning the centre over many years, but we sadly lost his services when he returned home after the downturn and had no work!
Charlie went on holiday to Port Alcudia in Majorca and was stunned when he heard someone shout his name… yes, it was Jorge who now works at the local harbour there! As can be seen in the picture – they both enjoyed the sunshine and were happy to spend some time together!
Anyone wanting to join our team of volunteers would be most welcome – do pop into the Centre (we are open (1300-1500 Monday through Friday or any evening after 1800) for an informal chat or drop me an email and we can sort out a time to meet up to discuss what we can do for you and what you can do for the seafarers!
I had the pleasure of being part of the Christening ceremony of Fugro’s newest vessel, Fugro Venturer.
It was a great occasion and many friendships were renewed and some new ones made! Because of the weather – it was rather windy – we conducted most of the ceremony inside on the bridge!
I had asked for the rain to stop, which it did, but I didn’t ask for the wind to go!
I had been asked by the vessel superintendent to bless the vessel – “It’s good to keep the old traditions alive” he told me. I more than happy to do so and my joke even went down well.
Ship visits continue and I have had some great laughs… sorry, I cannot say too much here to protect the guilty!
I was delighted to present a seafarer on the newly Christened vessel with a Tagalog Bible that he had asked me for… I do not “preach,’ however, we do have good stocks of Christian materials that we freely give out when they are asked for!
Life on the Malaviya continues to be difficult. Issues with her continue which means that her detention continues. We are now over a year since the vessel was first detained and it is 16 months onboard for some of the crew. As I write, I have just had a call asking for help with getting fresh vegetables.
Legally, the next hearing is towards the end of July. It would seem that International Maritime Law is not being applied but then, I am not a lawyer so don’t know all the ramifications.
Away from the port, life at home is just as busy… work continues on Byron’s bedroom, now plastered, I need to find the time to put on the skirting board, trims around the window and loft access then gloss paint the door and surrounds.
Fathers Day is a happy time for me – having 5 great kids who love me and bless me in so many ways is something that I am very grateful for. Your average seafarer however will miss such special days, this is especially true of foreign seafarers like Filipino seafarers who can be away for 9 months at a time. Spare a thought for those who were unable to be at home with their loved ones!
That said, one of the gifts I got was not a “super father” rather the mug pictured which says “SUPER GRANDAD!” Next month I will become a grandad again when Jessie gives birth to a girl, we await the good news!
Byron will be finishing at his school next week, his school is closing and he will be moving to a brand new purpose build school… exciting times ahead. We attended a great farewell party at which Byron met with a special guest – Batman!
He will be off school for just over 7 weeks, that will keep us all very busy as Byron rarely sits still for 5 minutes! August will see an exodus to Manchester when we are part of our eldest sons wedding to Tilly. Later today I will be getting my kilt along with my two other sons. The English will think it is an invasion! Happy times ahead!
So that is all for now…