Some people say it’s all about the money. And for me, it’s about the money too, along with 98 other things why I love working on ships. So on one starry night, with a cold beer in my left hand and a few more bottles behind me, this idea popped into my head.

I initially thought of writing 20 or 30 of them. But because of the spirits within me and an elusive shooting star zipping through the heavens, I decided to go full ahead and list 99 things that made me love my seafaring job.

Yes, only 99. Can you help me find one more reason to make it into a full hundred?

 

99 Reasons Why I Love Working On Ships

So these are, as I like to call them, my  “99 RWILWoS.” Starting from number ninety-nine and randomized all the way to one, let’s begin.

 

99. Vetting bonus.

Who doesn’t like that? I’m on tanker vessels, and some companies provide vetting bonuses for their crew upon passing the vetting inspection. Times two for zero observations.

 

98. Painting.

I’m not an artist, but one of the most satisfying jobs on deck is painting. It’s enchanting and a quick way to pass the time.

 

97. Free travels worldwide.

They may have been to Georgia and California, and anywhere they could run. But I’ve been to Amsterdam, Riga, London, Lisbon, Sines, Dublin, Indonesia, Sharjah, Istanbul, Novorossiysk, Batumi, Norrkoping, St. Petersburg, Gavle, Aveiro, Las Palmas, Gothenburg, and so many other places.

This is perhaps, one of the most convincing reason why many people want to work on board aside from the money. 

 

96. #WhaleAlert.

I literally saw whales waving at me, and we had to stop our work on deck to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime perk of working on board.

 

95. Blood moon (the bloodiest of them all).

The best way to watch all the colors of the moon is in the middle of the sea, or in Ponta Delgada, where I witness the bloodiest moon last 2018.

Blood moon on the shores of Ponta Delgada, Spain.

 

94. Zero light pollution.

Today, only a few people appreciate the darkest nights with only the stars above. Stars shine the most without the glare of city lights, and there’s no better place on earth to witness them perfectly than in the middle of the ocean.

 

93. Karaoke.

A ship is not complete without karaoke, especially with Filipino crews. So we sang from 6pm to 5am the next day.

 

92. Sleeping beneath the stars.

When the weather is favorable, sleeping outside with the stars above you is an experience most people dream of. And don’t forget the beer.

 

91. Ice castle.

Who would’ve thought that the rough winter seas would build us an ice castle on our forward bow?

 

90. Surprising her with gifts.

Since I’m a thousand miles away, I ask a few people or my sister to send a gift for my girlfriend with my personal message. Works wonders.

 

89. Working with very few people only.

An introvert’s dream. While people went crazy during the covid lockdown, this type of isolation is part of a seafarer’s daily routine.

Yes, we are used to seeing the same 20 faces every day for the next seven to nine or even 13 months.

 

Here’s a video about the 99 reasons why I love working on ships.

 

88. Building capital.

Want some funds to fund your business?

Seafaring is a great way to save money and build capital so your ideas get off the ground.

 

87. Appreciate holidays at home like Christmas, New Year, Birthdays, etc.

Due to being absent most of the time, I always appreciate the time I spend with my family and other important people in my life during holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations.

 

86. Immersing with different cultures.

I find it interesting to know that on some nationalities, even if they bicker, argue, or raise their voices while discussing certain issues, they still treat each other with respect after that incident.

Some people prefer to be called sir on every occasion while others insist on calling them by their first names, especially on shore leaves. A few doesn’t give an F.

 

85. Multi-national Friends.

Having a multi-national crew and international travels are an opportunity to make friends worldwide, especially with social media. I still connect and share memes with some of my crewmates from other countries. Even “businessmen” from different ports drop by to say hi and promote their new items.

 

84. Submarines passing very very close.

My first time seeing a submarine was in Scotland and they were passing very close to us due to the limited navigable space around the channel.

 

83. Very good pay.

Hands down. Seafarers have higher salaries than many land jobs. There are also fewer things to buy on board so we can save a ton and spend them all on the next vacation. Not a financial advice though.

 

82. Cross Ocean Voyages.

While some of my colleagues think that long voyages are boring, I find it relaxing and an opportunity to write and recalibrate my thinking.

 

81. Great and free food.

Subjective but if you sail with a pretty good cook, your exercise and diet plans will be in jeopardy. Meanwhile, normal cooks on board help you achieve your weight goal.

Win, win!

 

80. No commute.

I hate traffic going to work, so the 80th reason why I love working on ships is there are literally zero commutes. The work environment is a few steps away and you can wear anything, even nothing underneath your coveralls.

 

79. Reading outside.

My typical day after work is having a book in the open while facing the vast oceans and a bottle of beer beside me.

 

78. Exotic slangs.

I love your Filipino accent. Say that again.

Cheeap come in cheeap lube owwel ready.

 

77. My friend, how much jigy jigy?

Jigy Jigy sailboat

We’re curious how much the boat costs because we probably want to buy one someday.

 

76. Interdimensional rain curtain.

We passed by a wall of heavy rain about 75 to 100 meters thick. The weather literally transformed into sunny, strong rain, and sunny again in just a short amount of time.

 

75. Structured work-vacation schedule.

Seven months on, 3 months off. Eight months on board, two months on vacation. Six months on, six months off.

Whatever floats your boat, you can report anytime or extend your vacation indefinitely.

 

74. Appreciate changes in the hometown.

It always fascinates me that whenever a go home for a short vacation, I see new things built in our places like new businesses, tourist attractions, friendly neighbors, or even a cover on our basketball court.

 

73. Long anchorages.

Fishing, normal working schedule, and internet signal! These are some of the things I look forward to in long anchorages.

 

72. Listening to music while watching out for shooting stars.

Ramp up the volume of your favorite hits and watch the glowing night skies. I assure you it feels good, especially with, ahem clears my throat, another beer in your hand.

 

71. Fishing.

“It’s Saturday. Do you want to work? Or do you want to fish?”

Well for me, that’s not even a question!

 

70. Sitting/ lying down in any position.

Legs against the wall. Making a spready to the gods. On a chair with the manuscript on my chest, with legs spread over the table. There are just so many ways to relax in your cabin.

And this is how my body reacts as a book takes me to places.

 

69. Experience Different Climates.

The first time I experienced snow, I was overjoyed and looked up while opening my mouth just to get a taste of them! You know how exciting that was.

Then I took a photo of myself shirtless outside the bridge during snowfall. But the captain saw me and said that it was a near miss due to the cold. Yikes!

 

68. Cloud formations.

Aside from the types of clouds discussed in your marine meteorology class, clouds forming into horse, dragon, tsunami, fellow human, elephant, etc., are also interesting to watch.

 

67. Counting my savings.

Stressed out? De-motivated? Drained? Bad weather?

Count your savings and future salaries to remind you of your accomplishments and keep your inspirations alive.

 

66. Feeling like MJ during heavy rolling.

Fans of Michael Jackson get this and had probably tried it on board.

 

65. Seven to twelve months without her and then you come home while your wife is waiting.

This feat is a recipe for intense battles. The code words while still at sea are PLDT and PTT.

 

64. Unexpected jet fighters.

Saw supersonic jets fly close to us somewhere in the North Sea. The sonic boom was a surprise, but they were very interesting as seen from the bow. It was also my first time seeing them up close.

 

63. 360-degree fireworks.

It sucks when you’re in port for cargo operation on the 31st of December. But it was also great to see the fireworks all around us as the clock strikes the First of January.

 

62. Haggling prices with merchants/ businessmen.

These businessmen coming on board love to insanely mark up their prices. But convincing them for discounts while offering soap, old safety shoes, or used coveralls may get you huge price mark downs.

 

61. Sign off unannounced home arrival (before The Fall).

Before covid, I sometimes arrive home unannounced. You should try this and see the genuine happiness and surprised looks on your loved one’s faces.

 

60. Flying fish.

Have you watched those relaxing and satisfying videos on Facebook? Watching flying fish race above the waters while flapping their wings is one of those absolute tranquilities you rarely encounter.

 

59. Free and Easy Laundry 24/7.

Who loves to do manual laundry? Nobody! Especially if you’re tired of working, and instead of normal working clothes, you have greasy coveralls.

But on board, we have a functioning washing machine with free water and detergent working at our disposal 24/7.

 

58. Sailors singing/ fighting/ making noise/ news in the VHF.

Guys, how many times do I have to tell you that VHF Channel 16 is a calling channel?

But not when you are somewhere in the Middle East or some parts of the Mediterranean. It’s where I got to know “Ming Ming” and learned about the latest updates in MARINA.

 

57. Long port stays.

Many dreaded long port stays due to the continuous watches. But hey, this is the best time to enjoy the outside world without worrying about early sailing.

 

56. Wine tasting.

It’s an opportunity to taste different wines made in various countries, compare which ones suit your preference, get drunk from them, and forget about it the next day!

 

55. Automatic friendships.

Unknown to many, seafarers are the friendliest people on the planet. We create instant friendships with total strangers, even if it’s our first time seeing them.

My friend, how are you? Please take this ID, my friend. How much Jigy-Jigy (the boat) my friend? No good, my friend it’s very expensive….

 

54. Laughing at my own farts.

There is no better place to do this than in your cabin. It is guaranteed to have no complaints or disruptions. 100% relief on your part, too.

 

53. Green shooting stars.

You may have seen a lot of flashy lights above you, but have you watched green shooting stars? It’s a must-see before you retire from seafaring.

 

52. Rolling lightning.

A lightning strike is frightening yet spectacular. On rare occasions during the night, the clouds are all charged up that when it flashes, it creates a chain reaction that rolls 360 degrees around your horizon.

 

51. Work is a few steps away.

I’ll never get used to traffic. It’s the worst time-waster in the 21st century. But when you’re working on board, you can say goodbye to that since work is just a few steps away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

 

50. Diving birds.

Another scene worth watching are the birds. Not the usual ones, of course. What’s interesting is when they start to fly high and make a huge dive into the sea. It’s more fascinating when a hundred of them do this, like attacking something in the water. The next thing you see is a fish in their beaks.

 

49. These kinds of fruit exist? How do you eat it?

I could be this guy or my European crewmates. But the 10-kilo mangosteen was gone in a blink of an eye after they discovered how to eat this rare fruit.

 

48. Sunrise.

Sunrises are my favorite time of the day. I could go crazy upon seeing a golden heaven, a pinkish horizon, and other paintings in the sky made during the early part of the day.

Beautiful sunrise with shades of red and orange on the horizon as viewed near the ship's lifeboat.

 

47. Sunsets.

Sunsets are pretty amazing too and watching them unfold after a busy day is just priceless. As a seafarer, I had the opportunity to witness them from different parts of the world.

So, how does the sunset in Europe differ in Mexico?

 

46. Sound of the waves hitting the hull.

Nearly forgot that we already passed halfway. Anyhow, like the sound of raindrops hitting your roof, the waves banging on the ship’s hull brings me tranquility.

 

45. Random visitors who can pronounce my name correctly.

I already accepted my destiny that 99% of people will mispronounce my name in whichever world I go to.

But for some unexplained reasons, there are random visitors on board, or strangers that I meet on shore leave who can say my five-letter name correctly!

 

44. Writing in front of the vast ocean.

Many of my crewmates think that I’m having internet outside the accommodation while in the middle of the Atlantic.

But I’m actually writing and filling my list of 100 reasons why I love working on ships.

 

43. Meditating forward.

After reading a crazy book, I decided to apply what I learned. The forward part of the vessel was a perfect spot for meditation, especially during sunsets and reason number 46.

 

42. Fun people (He is signing on. Extend!).

To let your 9-month contract (sometimes 12) pass by smoothly, you need fun crewmates. And when that guy comes, everybody likes to extend up to another 9 months (sometimes 12).

 

41. Beer experts.

When we visited Indonesia, we bartered scraps for San Miguel beer. Many of us Filipinos became experts in explaining its history to our European crewmates, and how this ale differs from other brands.

 

40. Messages in a bottle.

A must-do before retirement. This is probably one of the most memorable and best reason why I love working on board.

Messages in a bottle are letters written from the past without a specific receiver. I sent mine 2 years ago and still waiting for a reply.

 

39. Sea spray.

Can you imagine the force of the waves hitting the bow of a ship and the spray reaching the accommodation block which is 100 meters away? That to me is incredible, and scary at the same time.

 

38. Dolphins.

They’re fun to watch and are every child’s dream. They even look better when racing on the bow. You can wave at them and they too, may flip and wave back.

 

37. What? You’re boiling bananas?

Some of my crewmates only know one way to eat bananas- by peeling its skin and eating it raw. Boy, they were surprised when we started boiling them one day and frying them the next. They were even more bewildered when we grilled them on the days that followed!

 

36. Free Hotels

If you’re that guy who likes to venture into cities, hotel stays are the right choice for you. You might be lucky sometimes when your company sends you to a hotel due to a delay in the ship’s arrival. I like to call this the calm before the storm.

 

35. Working with other nationalities.

Working with different nationalities opens your mind to the diversity of people. You’ll expand your mind and learn their work values and culture.

 

34. Memes.

I always don’t pass this up. There are a hundred memes on board that even the internet has caught on to. Here’s a sample that I made on my recent ship.

Ship meme: OIL TNK FOR STRNG.GR

 

33. Finish contract.

This is the most exciting part of being a seaman. Finishing your contract safely and in one piece is an achievement worthy of celebration both on board and at home.

 

32. Crazy fun people.

I sail with different seafarers, and some of them have the same vibe as me. Crazy people on board who are fun to be with always make my 14th month fly so quickly.

 

31. Working on heights.

While many people are afraid of heights, I tend to enjoy them and the spectacular seascapes they bring.

 

30. Crewmate: Please help me. Huge job!

Me: No probs!

After getting the job done

Crew: Tonight, I will give you two cases of beer!

 

29. Different beauties.

Your seafaring time is not complete without appreciating the different beauties around the world. So what do women from France, Russia, Brazil, *Indonesia, Georgia, Sweden, etc. have in common?

 

28. Sharing knowledge.

I always love imparting knowledge to fellow crewmates who are hungry to learn like the cadets. And I always make it fun.

 

27. Attend live bands.

I jammed with a street band in Lisbon called AltaCena, drank in a bar while musicians played in La Coruna, and strolled in the blood-moon evening with the local bands of Ponta Delgada.

An acoustic band playing on the roof deck of El Corte Ingles mall, La Coruna.

 

26. Bioluminescence.

If you enjoy looking at the stars in the night sky, you should bow down and observe the “stars” in the sea. These luminous planktons are wonders to behold and if you get lucky, your ship could be sailing over magical fairy dust as these creatures flash once they hit your hull.

 

25. 8-second flying fish.

I did tell you about flying fish but have you seen an 8-second, breath-taking, and worth cheering flying fish? At first, there were so many of them racing the calm waters but only one stand out to fly that long without touching the water.

 

24. Moongazing.

Stargazing is great, but moongazing is on another level. It’s spectacular and I promise it won’t turn you into a werewolf.

 

23. Waterspout.

Another nature’s focused tantrums, waterspouts are very interesting especially if you observe them from formation to dissipation.

 

22. Learning from colleagues.

Learning is always abundant on board and I try to absorb as much as I can, especially some “techniques” including the not-so-nice ones. I sometimes find them handy, depending on the situation.

 

21. Free tools and PPE.

Aside from free hotels, travel, food, and laundry, the company also provides free tools and PPE. You only have to work and finish your contract safely. Everything you need is on board.

 

20. Getting really sweaty at work.

I seldom exercise inside the ship’s gym because the physically-demanding job helps pump endorphins into my system. Have you noticed feeling good after a heavy task? Maybe this only applies to me but I’m hitting two birds (exercise and work) with one stone.

 

19. Rough seas.

I love rough seas because they help me refocus on my goal of retiring early in my career at sea. I think many of us talk about business during bad weather and this is a good thing.

 

18. Shooting Stars.

Fourteen shooting stars during my midnight watch. So I’m basically more aware of what’s happening above than on the horizon but we’re on the open waters. I’m also mindful of the nonexistent traffic in the middle of the sea.

 

17. Rainbows.

Rainbows are worth watching, and just like sunsets, I go chasing them when they appear, especially if their colors are more detailed.

 

16. The Silent Witness.

Sometimes, I feel insignificant thinking about the immensity of the waters around me and how they play as silent witnesses over thousands of years. I find this so humbling.

 

15. Passing under bridges.

Eight out of ten people inside the ship’s bridge watch what’s under the bridge when passing below them. For some reason, it excites me, and would always wait for that moment, especially during the night.

 

14. Mr. No Pants.

Why? Because it’s warm and comfortable. So intruders, beware!

 

13. Writing under the stars.

I write when I’m beer-induced, and when I’m watching the night sky without any traces of light pollution, I go into a trance. The next morning, I sometimes find the sentences hard to believe.

 

12. Beardy boss.

Not to be bossy around, but I sometimes grow my facial hair, especially if we’re going to specific ports. I discovered that my beard commands respect, especially from some shore personnel who likes to pester or belittle my crew mates.

 

11. Aurora’s (haven’t tried but TYIA).

I haven’t tried this one yet but some of my friends were lucky to watch this breathtaking phenomenon. They did find it difficult to work in freezing weather but this sight cures all of those hardships.

 

10. No utility bills.

We’re getting really close to discovering all of my 99 reasons why I love working on ships. While people worry about monthly utility bills, we don’t have this problem on board.

 

9. Challenging jobs.

On board, I learned to be tough, creative, and resourceful. Some jobs are very challenging and require you to solve them as soon as possible. You have all the time in the world to practice that on ships.

 

8. Bos, pumasok na allotment, and…

(Bosun, the allotment has arrived, and…)

 

7. Meron din tayong bonus sa pushing!

(We also have a bonus for pushing)

Yeah, these two are great motivators.

 

6. Stargazing.

One reason I get excited about being on the midnight watch is to see the stars during our trans-Atlantic voyage. There are no ships around us, and while some see this as boring, I’m well content with the stars and shooting stars that are keeping me busy at night.

 

5. Colorful city lights reflected on the very calm sea.

Many of us are stunned by an image of calm water reflecting the mountains or city lights and skyscrapers. I vividly remember seeing the bridge in St. Nazaire, France, or the Kiel Lighthouse in Germany while a sailboat passes by, reflecting on the glasslike waters during nighttime.

 

The city lights and the lights from the bridge looks astonishing as it is reflected on the calm waters.

Photo: Amanda.

 

4. Learning some foreign words, especially the “good ones”.

We normally enjoy teaching our foreign crewmates the greetings we normally use, like “magandang umaga, magandang tanghali, magandang gabi, and magandang babae.” They, too, love to return the favor!

 

3. Send postcards that never arrived.

I like to go old school when I fancy someone so when I was courting my girlfriend, I would craft letters and write lovely notes on a postcard. I tried sending them through snail mail using the Post Office, but they never arrived. Though a bit frustrating, it was very exciting at that time!

 

2. Realizing the impact of my profession on a global scale.

The thing about our work is, we supply gasoline and diesel to some remote islands in the Atlantic. We move huge amounts of vegetable oils and chemicals to any part of the world. Knowing the contribution we make on a global scale is very humbling.

 

1. Doing all these things while getting paid.

Lastly, and best of all, I am paid to do all these things! The hardships, sightseeing, challenges, trips, writing, beers, stars, sleepless nights, views, tank cleaning, and everything this profession has to offer are well compensated.

 

These are my 99 reasons why I love working on ships. Whenever the stress level on board goes really high, I immediately go into this list to remind me on some of the good things this career provides.

Now, your turn. Have you found one reason to make this list into a full hundred? And what’s your favorite part of the list?

May the winds be in your favor.

 

 

 

 

 

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