Sailing beyond sixty is a fact many seamen are aware of. We all want to stop sailing at some point in our life. Although we are highly paid, working on board is still really, really hard.
Being far from our family, lover, wife or husband, and kids just to give them the life we always dreamed of is our ultimate sacrifice. Isn’t it ironic how we proudly profess our love to them yet that same love is the greatest reason why we are willing to be separated from them?
We often talk about working in the country where our families are. We mention this during coffee breaks, meal times, Saturday nights, night watches, or anytime when we find an opportunity to share our sentiments with a friend and crewmate.
Sadly, even with the huge salary we have, we still often see seafarers who are growing old on ships and continue sailing beyond sixty years old without any plans on retiring.
If you are driven by career, passion, adventure, and extreme love of work, this topic may not be for you.
Why Some Seafarers Are Sailing Beyond Sixty
There are reasons why some of our “Kabaro” are sailing beyond sixty years old. It could be that they are stuck working on board. It ranges from lifestyle, spending habits, and fear. Sometimes, they are still supporting their extended families back home.
If you have plans on retiring at a specific age, evaluate yourself in relation to the causes below on why seafarers are sailing beyond sixty years old despite their huge income.
1. Lack of Desire
Perhaps, the pain of being away from the family is not strong enough. Perhaps, the beating of those storms is not powerful enough. Or perhaps, the politics on board is not crazy enough to fire up your desires to work on retiring.
Whatever the reason is, if you have no burning design to act on the transition, expect to sail beyond sixty years old and watch your kids grow through social media.
2. Lack of Know-how
“I really want to create a business and investment but I don’t know how or where to start,” says one of my crew mates. But in collective truth, seafarers who desire to get out never do so because of the lack of know-how.
Fear often comes when you don’t know what to do or what you are doing. At the end of the day, their income is often depleted not thru investments but by seemingly small, insignificant expenses that slowly drain their money.
The next thing they know, they are near retirement and may probably be sailing beyond their sixties.
3. Lack of Support from their Families Back Home
“You are as strong as your partner. Behind the success of every man is the unwavering support of his woman.”
This holds true, especially for us seafarers. Yes, we have the financial resources but it won’t reach far without the help and support of our better half. I heard stories and met ex-seafarers who owe their success to their partner.
If kids are actively involved in planning and running the business, the chances of success are exponential. They too can help you avoid the trap of sailing beyond sixty years old.
Earning in Dollars and spending in pesos is magical. But this magic often turns into an illusion when it blinds us to the fact that seafaring is not forever.
When I asked a fellow crewmate why he doesn’t want to engage in a business or investment, his reply is, “Okay na sakin tong trabaho dito, Pre. Kontento na ako sa kinikita ko sa barko. Magpapahinga nalang ako bawat bakasyon ko.”
I thought it would be okay for him to sail beyond sixty years old. But after encountering a Force 12 hurricane, he immediately changed his mind.
5. The Wantrepreneur Mindset
At some point in my life, I planned and planned and thoroughly thought of my plans in becoming an entrepreneur or doing something new parallel to my skills. But years passed by and nothing happened.
My plans remained as is and it never took off the ground. Then I heard about other seafarers who also wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t even start yet! I thought I was the only one with this kind of mindset.
We keep on planning, wanting, visualizing, and talking about our businesses but that’s all there is to it unless we act and realize that sailing beyond sixty years old can be very painful.
6. Unproductive Use of Time
After my watch, I’m always excited to go to the dayroom to watch movies or talk about the myriad topics of men (you-know-what-i-mean-you’re-a-seaman-too). I did this for more than half of my sailing career and discovered I was still far away from my goals.
In fact, I was unconsciously on my way to sailing beyond the sixties. This also happens on my vacation. Then it hit me with a quote, “I must use my time on board that would steer me towards my goal of working at home with my family.”
After that realization, I began to do productive things and that decision is the best decision I have so far! Realize this, if you continue watching movies on your vacant time for the next ten years, will you be closer to your goals?
7. Whining Instead of Pro-Acting
There are three kinds of people in life:
Those who watch things happen.
Those who make things happen.
And those who say, “What happen?”
We all know the politics on board. There are stories created every minute either a good one or bad. And because of boredom, we often buy it and talk about it as long as we want to.
Sometimes, news can be negative and the only thing most of us does is whine. This is not uncommon. During the re-training episodes implemented by MARINA a few years ago, most seafarers complain about it within their few circles.
Yet only a few went in front of the MARINA building to show their disapproval. Notice that man who proactively tackles every problem thrown to him from different sides. Also, notice his accomplishments! Yes, because he is proactive! And he actively does things to avoid sailing beyond sixty years old.
8. Waiting for the Perfect Timing and Opportunity
For others, the timing must be perfect. The conditions must be met. The opportunity must be present in order to start a business. But sad to say, those three never converge in a single moment.
But if it does, you may not be able to see it since they come in disguises and quickly pass by. You may wait and wait for years expecting that it will come while doing your work on board. Soon you will realize that you have wasted your time waiting for nothing and are now sailing beyond sixty years old.
When you apply for a licensure exam in MARINA, are you going to wait for the stars, moon, and planets to align before you answer your exams? No. Because whether you are ready or not, you must answer it. And it’s a race against time.
9. Failure to Save
With all those training, certificates, family expenses, and everyday bills, it seems impossible to save! But we must accept the fact that in order for us to be financially free and prevent sailing beyond sixty, we must learn how to manage our money.
We must control our money and not let money control us. But sadly, most of our budget sank below sea level a few months after vacation.
10. Fear of the Unknown
“But if I retire and run a business, what would I do if I go bankrupt? Where will I get my expenses for our needs? How can I support my family.”
These thoughts often run through our heads when we try to quit sailing and start having a business. Fear paralyzes us. Fear of the unknown breeds doubts in us to the point that we no longer trust our own abilities.
This same fear will be more powerful than trying to avoid sailing beyond sixty if we allow it to. When we quit pursuing our dreams of working in our country with our family, then we are on our way to another decade or more of sailing.
May the winds be in your favor.