Seafarers

Salute the Richards Bay Seafarers Mission

What the NSRI is to the physical safety and rescue of ships, boats and their crews, the Mission to Seafarers offers the spiritual equivalent.
There are more than 100 000 ships plying the earth’s waters, collectively manned by well over 1.5million seafarers (only 2% of them being women).
Some 90% of the world’s trade moves via ships.
And while continued efforts are being made in terms of ship safety and navigational aids, the ocean remains the most inhospitable terrain on the planet, with more than 2 000 seafarers still dying every year from various causes.
But it’s not only the hidden reefs on the ocean beds below the ship that pose the greatest problems to seafarers, nor is it the condition of the vessel itself, nor the pirates who might intercept it.
While shipping is one of the world’s most dangerous occupations, as with most other of life’s challenges, it is the human being that is the most critical – and potentially the weakest – link in the chain.

People at sea are extremely vulnerable, and the top perils of life at sea include:

Loneliness and depression are major factors in a seafarer’s life on board. Homesickness is a chronic condition.
An estimated two-thirds of ship crews have no means of communication while on the open sea, and only one in ten will have freely available internet. There is very little contact with their families – be it a wife, elderly parents or ill family members – and some have yet to meet their newborn children.
The elements. While travelling across vast expanses of ocean to strange shores, they face gales, hurricanes, extreme heat, cold, wind and rain. If the ship should suffer serious mechanical failure at sea, it is at the mercy of the ocean in a fight the sea usually wins. And when it’s not the terror of the storm, it is the long monotony and tedium of the calm ocean, with no land or human habitat in sight.
Mental stress is a serious issue. It is physically, mentally and spiritually demanding to be confined on a vessel for months on end.
Life on board ship has been described ‘a prison…but it’s a prison that pays’. Often, seamen live in cramped accommodation, with poor food and little off-duty time.
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