When you go ashore, you travel from water to dry land. This is always what seafarers do when they are in port as most of their time is spent at sea.
But not all seamen go ashore. Not all seafarers are convinced of the benefits shore leave has on our physiology and psychology.
Due to the nature of our work, seafarers are under constant stress and pressure. Our environment is different and anything could go wrong especially if the voyage is too long, too short, or too risky.
The stress that we experience on board varies on different levels which, if not dealt with, may affect us greatly.
For this reason, I came up with a sound basis and compelling reasons why we need to go ashore. We can have all the fun that we want while not feeling guilty about spending a few dollars for it.
Even if you have ten reasons why you won’t go ashore for a shore leave, these nine that I’m showing you will be enough for the next ports.
Nine Best Reasons for Going Ashore
Unlike any land-based jobs, we can’t just file a leave of absence on the next day if we feel like the stress is too much to handle. There is no place for us on board to go to some quiet place to renew our senses and shake off the stress toxins.
Here are my best reasons and the benefits that I gained when going for a shore leave.
1. Going ashore keeps our minds sharp
You may have been familiar with the saying,
“All work and no play makes Pepe a dull boy.”
This adage, old as it is, holds truth. Going ashore enhances our thinking abilities by having new sets of things to think of. Instead of the routine paperwork and maintenance jobs on board, we explore new adventures that expand our thinking.
Questions like Where is the nearest pub? Which restaurant should I dine in? How can I go to the best shops? Where can I find the beautiful attractions?.. are things worthy of our attention?
We get a chance to talk to the locals learn new things from them and get updated with the latest trending news worldwide. After spending some time outside, you may find yourself in tune again with yourself and your work.
2. Going ashore recharges our inner batteries
Work and recreation must be balanced for us to live a harmonious life.
You may have heard or seen movies where a CEO of a huge company is taking himself a week or month off to some remote island. Total relaxation is what he’s aiming for. It renews his senses and recharges his inner batteries.
This holds true for every individual and you don’t need to be a CEO of some company to do it. You just have to become the CEO of your own life. After all, you may find yourself enthralled walking around a wonderful city and seeing pretty ladies outside.
The irony is that, we often take a peek at them while on board using binoculars when channeling or passing near a beach. Oh, how we love to go ashore on those moments. Why not take our eyes where we can see and chat with them up close?
3. The next ports will become exciting
After your adventure at a particular port, you narrate it to your crew mates with gusto hoping that they too will experience the same hype that you had.
For this reason, you will start to excite yourself by always looking forward to the next port of call and expect to have another fun in there. This is a new way to enjoy sailing while earning.
Don’t worry about expensive shore leaves. I busted many myths regarding expensive shore leave. In fact, you don’t have to spend a huge deal of money in order to enjoy it or be happy.
I also wrote about shore leave saving tips so you can have fun without spending too much. Read on those links and go out there to enjoy these perks!
4. It’s fun and adventurous out there
It can be challenging sometimes when the port you’re in speaks very little English or none at all. I used to get frustrated about it until I decided to enjoy and interact with them using sign language. It can be fun and very confusing too.
There were times when I almost missed the bus after waiting for forty-five minutes because I misunderstood a local’s direction. The taxi fare was almost overpriced too due to miscommunication.
But is it that bad? At first look, it might be. But there are always valuable lessons you can learn from all these that you can use on your next shore leave.
I was also afraid that things might get wrong while outside but I found out that those fears are only in the news magnified in my head.
There was a time when I befriended a local and when he found out that I’m from the Philippines, he immediately exclaimed,
“Your place is dangerous. That is where Abu Sayyaf lives!”
I don’t blame him. He probably watched too much news. Or he could just be kidding.
The more frequently I went ashore and enjoyed the outdoors, the more confidence and experience I acquired. And besides, if you are planning to travel abroad with your family soon, might as well practice dealing with the difficulties now to have a smoother ride later in life.
5. It’s the Law!
With the implementation of the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC Rules), seafarers are entitled to go ashore as part of their rights on board.
According to MLC 2006 Rules, Title 2- Conditions of Employment, Regulation 2.4 Entitlement to Leave,
“Seafarers shall be granted shore leave to benefit their health and well-being and with the operational requirements of their positions.”
6. Free Wi-Fi
Who says there are no such things as free especially when you go ashore?
This is always a part of my To-Do Lists when planning for a shore leave. Today, we can find free Wi-Fi connections almost anywhere in the world.
Every seaman owns a smartphone and the internet has become a necessity for us. For some of us who are not blessed with an internet connection on board, this is perfect!
I find this useful especially when updating my applications (there are tons of them) while drinking inside a cozy bar or watching the magnificent view of the city.
The next thing I know, my downloads are finished! I can also call my family and friends on social media to maximize the use of my time.
But you don’t need to be in a bar and spend a few dollars to hang out in there because even in some parts of a city, you can find a strong hotspot connection on terminals, bus stations, or even a few blocks away from restaurants or any establishments.
7. Take advantage of this blessing!
While some people spend thousands of dollars only to visit a particular destination, we in fact are so blessed to have this kind of job. Every seafarer gets to enjoy traveling the world for free.
There are very few jobs out there that provide this much mobility and the best part is, we are paid every minute of it.
Minutes after I posted my London escapade, one of my friends chatted with me and said,
“You are so blessed. That place you are actually walking into is my dream place. I wanted to go there someday but you beat me to it!”
Lately, I checked how much regular airfare from Manila to London, and boy was I surprised! It costs around a thousand dollars. This doesn’t include the hotels, food, and extra cash for spending and shopping.
8. To go ashore is to exercise
Going ashore can be a good exercise too. Whether you are walking or using a bicycle, don’t forget to bring an extra T-shirt with you.
While enjoying the scenic view of the city, we are also working out a bit on our leg muscles and taking pleasure in the fresh air around us.
Not only on our physical muscles but our mind muscles as well. Who knows. You might suddenly have a brilliant idea about something while doing this.
Forget the tiring-whining thing and just feast your senses on the new environment around you. Grab that moment when you are away from your ship as you may never visit that place again except when you re-live it in your memory.
9. Buy something
This must be the most common reason why seafarers go ashore. We do pack these items when coming on board but sometimes, they are just not enough to last the contract.
It’s hard to live a life on board when we only have 30ml of toothpaste left in our cabin while the last supply of toothbrush that you’re using unfortunately falls inside the toilet bowl and you are five days away from your next port.
We need some supplies like chips, peanuts, souvenirs, t-shirts and others.
Aside from supplies, we also need to buy “pasalubong” for our loved ones. This is a “tradition’ passed down from generation by the previous overseas workers.
Whether chocolates, T-shirts, figurines, or collection items, these pasalubong serve as a remembrance of a particular place that we may never visit again. But do we really always need to buy “Pasalubong” when going home?
For whatever reasons you want to go ashore, the most important thing is to enjoy, have fun, and be safe all the time.
Get your mind off the ship and delve into the culture of the place and people. Take lots of pictures and make friends with the locals. You will be surprised that most of them are friendly and approachable.
May the winds be in your favor and see you in London!