The Seaman’s Life: A Story of Hardships, Sacrifice, and Hope

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Experiences, Seaman's Life | 0 comments

The seaman’s life is a story of hardships, sacrifice, and hope. It is a story of people who have chosen to follow their dreams, even though it means facing great challenges. It is a story of people who are willing to put their lives on the line to keep their families fed while keeping the world running.

Everybody gets a chance to meet the sea during their lifetime. Yes, everyone has the opportunity to visit the ocean, be it someone who strolls on the beach for a vacation, a passenger on a ship, a traveler, a diver, a fisherman, or a sailor. But the person who truly comprehends the life that the sea bestows is the Mariners.

By chance, choice, or accident

Every seaman who came to work at sea got there either by chance, by choice, or by accident. A young boy sees the opportunity to start a maritime career not because it’s his dream, but because of a scholarship giving him a chance to finish college. Unaware of the realities of maritime life, he seizes this opportunity. This is a matter of chance.

Meanwhile, after graduating from high school, a young man enthusiastically enrolled in a maritime college because this is his true passion! Since childhood, this is what he has wanted to pursue when he grows up. He has done his research and talked to veteran sailors and these my friend, fuelled his enthusiasm. This is by choice.

Look at all the courses you’ve taken but haven’t finished. Why not become a seafarer so you can straighten up and learn how to work!

Ever heard these lines before? There are seafarers who became seafarers because of someone else’s choice. This (un)fortunately is what I call by accident. This may just be the beginning.

Whichever paths we originated from hold lesser significance. What lies ahead encompasses challenges, blessings, and curses. Every seaman traverses the same cycle. There are highs and lows, affluence and scarcity, aspirations and desolation, as well as long-distance love affairs. Only a mariner truly comprehends the fellow mariner.

Seaman’s life at sea

It all starts on his first contract. The moment he steps on board is the time he becomes a seaman. He works for a very long time, sometimes almost a year, because he has plans for the future.

Perhaps, he wants to repay his parent’s sacrifice. He’s planning to take an exam. maybe he’s building a house or buying something. Or probably he wants to get married. The bottom line, he needs money to run his dreams.

A fisherman on a fishing vessel surrounded by sea birds while in the middle of the sea.

What was once a vast expanse of land has now transformed into a confined cube. The hundreds of people he encountered daily dwindled to a mere twenty. And his everyday sights are limited to ships, sky, and sea.

He’s fortunate if his vessel has internet, enabling him to stay updated about happenings in his homeland. He witnesses his friends and family joyfully savoring life. Does he feel envious? Who’s to say? Only a mariner comprehends a fellow mariner.

His nine-month contract has ended. He now has the funds to roll out his dreams. What do seafarers typically do upon disembarking?


His life during vacation

Stress needs to be shed through a vacation. Together with the whole family and his buddies, he heads to the beach or a restaurant to dine. It’s “normal” for us. It’s our way of compensating for the time we’ve lost while working.

However, reality has a way of asserting itself. There are much training to attend, medical exams to pass, and the office calling you back to duty! Mr. Seaman wants to extend his vacation, but his wallet (and his wife) disagrees.

So, with a heavy heart, he wakes up early to avoid witnessing his child’s sad farewell as he departs for Manila. This slice of reality is what tugs at every warrior’s heart, no matter how strong he believes himself to be.

Getting into the loop

Once again, he’s back at sea, aiming to save up and provide for his family’s essentials. He wishes to complete his contract quickly, but he doesn’t realize that he’s already growing older. He watches his children’s growth through social media.

When his firstborn came into the world, he wasn’t there. When his second child say his very first words or made his initial brave steps, he was out dismantling something on board. Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and debuts—most of them occurred while he was onboard.

But what can he do? He can only shed tears and long for them intensely while in the middle of the ocean.

Cellphones placed near the porthole of a cabin to receive mobile data internet connection while onboard.

Seaman’s life is not an easy life

A seaman’s life is not to be jealous of. Big houses, new cars, exclusive vacations, and high-end gadgets are not the measure of success.

Behind these aspects lie the struggles of seafarers. Even when the waves are strong, he continues to work. Even without sleep, he is needed, especially in times of emergencies. And even when he’s ill, he must fulfill his duty as a mariner.

There are no holidays, Saturdays, or Sundays. His presence can be summoned for work at any time

During the toughest times, he can only dream of starting a business so he could stop sailing and live with his family for the rest of his life. A life with his family is what most seamen dreamed of. If only he had a job in the Philippines that provided a decent salary, he wouldn’t need to work abroad.


To the seaman’s wife

To the wives of seafarers, support your seamen and encourage them in pursuing their life goals, especially when they are onboard. Be a responsible custodian of his hard-earned earnings. Save, invest, and initiate a business as early as possible. Don’t let him slip away. Don’t allow him to be distant from you if you know you can live decently and honorably in the Philippines.

A man holding his wife's left hand showing their wedding ring.

To the seaman’s children

To the children of seafarers, express your love for your father. Avoid pressuring him to buy unnecessary things just to impress your friends.

Check up on him and share your school experiences. Study diligently and share your accomplishments. Open up to him about your secrets. He enjoys hearing these things, as they bring him joy. It also brings you closer to him.

Most importantly, never forget to remind him to “Take care” every day. We can’t predict the future, and a simple “Dad, take care at work” will resonate in his heart, urging him to act safely, stay safe, and be safe at all times.

To fellow seaman

And to my fellow seafarers, as long as there are seas, there’ll be ships. But remember, sailing isn’t eternal. Our lives belong to our families back home, no matter how far we roam. Save your earnings and use them wisely.

Do you still recall those times when you couldn’t even afford to buy simple bread for your child because your funds were depleted? Can you still remember when your child told you, “Dad, I’m hungry,” but you couldn’t provide food because you had no money?

However, the gravest situation is the dangers looming over us onboard. We already know that the seaman’s life is uncertain especially when on board. I don’t need to elaborate on that, as we’re all aware of the inherent risks in our profession.

To all the seafarers out there, keep safe my brothers and…

May the winds be in your favor.



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