of the Day
Clue of the Month
or toward the port, or left side, of a ship as one faces
the left, at sea; Left on deck; Nautical direction; Helm
direction; Command to a helmsman
once a year
the Coast Guard
mariners live on the margins of society, with much of their life
spent beyond the reach of land. They face cramped, stark, noisy,
and sometimes dangerous conditions at sea. Yet men and women
still go to sea. For some, the attraction is a life unencumbered
with the restraints of life ashore. Sea-going adventure and a
chance to see the world also appeal to many seafarers. Whatever
the calling, those who live and work at sea invariably confront
tanker SS Overseas Alice takes seas over the bow during a 1981
run from New Orleans to Panama.
by the Seafarer's International Research Center indicate a
leading cause of mariners leaving the industry is "almost
invariably because they want to be with their families."
U.S. merchant ships typically do not allow family members to
accompany seafarers on voyages. Industry experts increasingly
recognize isolation, stress, and fatigue as occupational hazards.
Advocacy groups such as International Labor Organization, a
United Nations agency, and the Nautical Institute seek improved
international standards for mariners.
service aboard ships typically extends for months at a time,
followed by protracted shore leave. However, some seamen secure
jobs on ships they like and stay aboard for years. In rare cases,
veteran mariners choose never to go ashore when in port.
the quick turnaround of many modern ships, spending only a matter
of hours in port, limits a seafarer's free-time ashore. Moreover,
some seafarers entering U.S. ports from a watch list of 25
countries deemed high-risk face restrictions on shore leave due
to security concerns in a post 9/11 environment. However, shore
leave restrictions while in U.S. ports impact American seamen as
well. For example, the International Organization of Masters,
Mates & Pilots notes a trend of U.S. shipping terminal
operators restricting seamen from traveling from the ship to the
terminal gate. Further, in cases where transit is allowed,
special "security fees" are at times assessed.
restrictions on shore leave coupled with reduced time in port by
many ships translate into longer periods at sea. Mariners report
that extended periods at sea living and working with shipmates
who for the most part are strangers takes getting used to. At the
same time, there is an opportunity to meet people from a wide
range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Recreational
opportunities have improved aboard some U.S. ships, which may
feature gyms and day rooms for watching movies, swapping sea
stories, and other activities. And in some cases, especially
tankers, it is made possible for a mariner to be accompanied by
members of his family. However, a mariner’s off duty time
at sea is largely a solitary affair, pursuing hobbies, reading,
writing letters, and sleeping.
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