Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stormy Seas

The ship tossed around in the waves is the one my son an many others had to live on for seven weeks at a time without seeing land
This afternoon while sorting through my photos, I came across a photo of the ship my seafaring son worked on for seven weeks at a time for the past five years. Normally when we hear someone is at sea, a picture comes to mind of a large luxury liner with azure blue swimming pools, huge dining rooms and beautiful staterooms. In between neatly- uniformed naval staff move silently between passengers lounging in deck chairs, dispensing exotic looking drinks!

This ship was different. For many years before leaving his job to be at home with his family (you can read about this here), he held down the position of First Officer on board the oceangoing tug pictured above. The tug towed barges and repositioned oil rigs. It took supplies, spares, tools and all the paraphernalia pertaining to underwater drilling operations,out to the rigs.

As can be seen from the photograph, the tug doesn’t look very comfortable but the officers and cadets had to live on this “boat” (as sailors call their craft) for seven weeks at a time without seeing land. The cramped conditions taught the men tolerance towards and forbearance with each other. The fact that it has no ballast (like a normal ship) and was tossed relentlessly on the huge waves, also caused even the most salted sailor to experience regular bouts of sea sickness.

Two years ago a fire broke out in the engine room. The captain had to make the decision to shut down the hatches (which he did) while an engineer was still down there. It was either sacrifice one man or lose the whole tug and all the other men on board. (What a decision to have to make) The fire suppression system was activated and the engine room was pumped full of foam, powder and carbon dioxide. The crew above fell silent thinking of their fellow sailor below facing certain death. Suddenly the engineer appeared, safe and sound, up on the deck. He’d climbed up into the air extractor / ventilator fan which exits onto the deck...

Life is often like this tug. Often we are thrown together in a cramped space with other people. (think supermarket or Post Office queue). This is the time we have to show patience and tolerance when we have to deal with people.

Sometimes life is the tug being dashed up and down on huge waves. It is normal to be worried and troubled. However, you will be safe and won't sink if you keep your eyes focussed on Jesus. Don't look down/around at the waves, you'll only feel seasick and lose your balance. Rather focus on the Lord who is beckoning you to trust Him to guide you over the rough waters to the security and calmness of land.

Remember the shortest, yet the most powerful prayer is: " Lord help!"


  1. What a powerful post, Jo. I can't imagine doing a job like that. I dislike the sea very much & have great admiration for your son for doing something like this - and for such a long time, too. What an incredible story about the fire in the engine room & how the man escaped & survived. Oh my !

  2. Hi Jo, I have come over from Lynda's blog...I have enjoyed reading your posts, I love the photos on the different blogs it gives a real insight into peoples lives in different countries,I have learned so much since I started following blogs! I will visit on a regular basis and best of luck with the blogging.
    Best Wishes

  3. Thanks for your kind words, Lynda. When I saw first received this photo from my d.i.l. in 2005, I almost fainted. I could not believe the dangerous conditions under which my son worked. Yeah, I often wonder what went through the other crew members' minds (not to mention the captain and the "victim" himself) when that officer managed to escape certain death. Of course, I've never asked my son - one cannot ask a man anything like that... Thanks for visiting my blog. Hugs Jo xxx

  4. Hi Peggy I feel as if I know you already from Lynda's blog! Thanks for visiting my blog. Lynda is a dear sweet young friend and I see she has promoted me today. I have visited your blog. I also LOVE the world of blogging! You're right we learn so much from each other and I look forward to "seeing" you regularly. Hugs Jo

  5. Hi Jo! Found your blog through Lynda's. Wow. I can't imagine what it would be like to live under such conditions during so long a time. My grandfather was a sea captain and spend months out in the sea, and when she was young, my mother went with him. I on the other hand grew up in the heart of Sahel, so there's never been that much water... But in a sense, the Eden farmers in Tanout suffered the same isolation - only the kids were growing up in a sea of sand.

    Looking forward to following your blog. Warm greetings from West Africa,


  6. Welcome to my blog, Esther. So you also come from a seafaring background? And oh, WOW!!! Someone from West Africa! Is Tanout the town in which you live? I know the Sahel. In 2000-2001 we lived in a goldmine town called Sadiola on the edge of the Sahel desert. I will soon be doin posts about my life in West Africa. Just waiting for my hubby to sit down and help me sort through the hundreds of photos and caption them. Hugs Jo

  7. ¨Well, I haven't spent that much time on the sea but I can definively tell it's in the veins as I never get sea sick! :-) Tanout is a very small fairly undeveloped town in the midst of nowhere, so for communcation reasons, the office was set up in Zinder, which is 140 km south. That's where I grew up and still live.
    What country houses Sadiola? Looking forward to seeing the pictures!
    Warm greetings, Esther

  8. Hi again Esther, I am also a very good sailor but not keen on doing it too much. Sadiola is in Mali which is 400km south of Timbuctou! I'm working on my blog posts about West Africa. Are you in Mauritania? Hugs Jo

  9. Hi again Esther, I am also a very good sailor but not keen on doing it too much. Sadiola is in Mali which is 400km south of Timbuctou! I'm working on my blog posts about West Africa. Are you in Mauritania? Hugs Jo

  10. I saw this post below your today post and that ship scared me silly. I do not do boats at all and the thought of one minute on this boat makes me shudder in horror. I can't even imagine living on one and also that the man survived. a scary story but a happy ending


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo