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Seafarers: Life at Sea

08 March, 2010

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Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2

And I'm Ruby Jones. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

‘It is three thirty in the morning - I get up. I wash and put on my seaman's clothes. I get a cup of coffee and I take my notebook. Four o'clock - I report for my morning watch. I watch for other boats or objects in the water. I check the ship's position and change its direction when necessary. Eight o'clock: I finish my duty as a watchman. I complete my report and go to the chief officer for the day's orders. He tells me we will arrive at Jebel Ali port at eleven o'clock tonight. I eat my morning meal - cereal, coffee, toasted bread covered with fruit.

Voice 1

This is a typical start to a day for David Corkish. He lives and works on ships that travel around the world. He knows that many people would call him a sailor. But today the ships do not have sails. So sailors like people to call them seafarers. David Corkish spends many months on the large container ships that he works on. These ships transport goods around the world.

Voice 2

Living life at sea raises several issues. Today's Spotlight looks at the lives of people who live and work at sea. It also looks at one organisation that works to support these seafarers.

Voice 1

You are probably listening to this programme on a radio or computer. If you are, then you probably have a seafarer to thank for it. Ships transport about ninety five percent of the goods that are traded in the world. But travelling by sea between Europe, Asia and America takes weeks. It can also be dangerous. Seafarer David Corkish says,

Voice 3

‘Danger comes from several areas. Firstly, the work. The nature of our job is dangerous. We are always watching for each other's safety... Then, the weather. The weather can also change in a very short time. This adds its own problems... We also face danger from pirates - sea robbers. Crews can be held hostage, beaten, robbed and killed. Sometimes pirates leave the crew floating in the ship's emergency lifeboats. Then they steal the ship and its cargo.'

Voice 2

There are good things about living life at sea, however. Seafarers travel the world, visiting new and exciting countries. They also meet many different people. But spending so much time away from home can be difficult. And some ship owners treat their crew very badly.

Voice 1

One organisation that helps with these problems is the Sailors' Society. The Sailors' Society started in Britain but it is now international. In 2008 it celebrated its 190th birthday. The Sailors' Society is a Christian organisation. It has centres in many ports all over the world. The centres have workers called chaplains. The chaplains do what they can to help any seafarer who arrives in the port. David Potterton is from the Sailors' Society. He says their work is important to the seafarers.

Voice 4

‘Seafarers often depend on help. Organisations like ours provide that help. We have a group of international port chaplains. The port chaplains will visit the ship. Every seafarer has individual needs. And usually seafarers want to call or e-mail their homes. So we are happy to take them to one of our Seafarer centres. Or we find a local internet cafe so they can e-mail their families.'

Voice 2

The Sailors' Society is just one of many Christian organisations that works with seafarers. Similar organisations also exist in other countries around the world. Together these organisations have formed one large group.

Voice 1

The group is called the International Christian Maritime Association - or ICMA. The group's aim is to help organisations from different countries to work together better. The ICMA has 27 member organisations. Together they work in 126 countries. The ICMA says that their aim is to encourage people to live peacefully, and to accept each others' differences. Their job is to do this for all seafarers - no matter what nationality, religion, culture, language, sex or race they are.

Voice 2

The organisations' workers may speak different languages And, they may express their faith in slightly different ways. But the ICMA exists to prevent this being a problem. All the organisations are united by one belief. They all believe in the teachings of the Christian Bible. David Potterton from the Sailors Society says this is the reason they do their work.

Voice 4

‘There is a very clear command in the Bible. It tells us to care for foreigners and people whom we do not know. These can be people who arrive in a new place for many kinds of reasons. We want to show the love of Christ to these people.'

Voice 1

But why seafarers? Why do these organisations choose to serve this group of workers? David Potterton says it is because seafarers can be very lonely people.

Voice 4

‘Of course the biggest problem for them is that they are away from their friends and families for many months. But on the ship they can feel alone because of their language. They may be the only seafarer that speaks a particular language. They also may not have anyone else to share their faith with - Christian or Muslim.'

Voice 2

David Corkish agrees that feeling lonely is one of the biggest problems for seafarers. But he says seafarers have to learn to live and work together.

Voice 3

‘When someone goes off to sea it is important to forget about differences. These differences can be with culture, religion or nationality. One thing joins everyone together - they are all in the same boat. So they work together. One sailor suffering causes the whole team to suffer.'

Voice 1

Loneliness can be felt by anyone at any time. You do not have to be away at sea for many months to know this. But for seafarers the problem does seem particularly bad. Organisations like the Sailors Society do what they can to support seafarers.

Voice 2

Sometimes people who are feeling lonely just need someone to talk to. Or they just need a little bit of help. These are things any one of us can do. We just need to stop what we are doing, and make time.

Voice 1

The writer and producer of this programme was Steve Myersco. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotations were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can find our wordlist, read our scripts and hear more Spotlight programmes on our website, at http://www.radio.english.net. This programme is called, "Seafarers: Life at Sea".

Voice 2

If you have a comment or question about Spotlight you can e-mail us. Our e-mail address is radio@english.net . Thank you for listening today. Goodbye.

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