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.
Due to the nature of our work, seafarers are in a 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 psychologically and physiologically.
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.
For this reason, I came up with sound basis and compelling reasons on why we need to go ashore. We can have all the fun that we want while not feeling guilty on spending a few dollars for it. Even if you have ten reason why you won’t go ashore, these nine that I’m showing you will be enough for the next ports.
Here are the Nine Compelling Reasons:
1. Going ashore keeps our mind 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 paperworks and maintenance jobs on board, we explore new questions like where the nearest pub is, which restaurant should I dine, how can I go to the best shops or where can I find the beautiful attractions. We get a chance to talk to the locals and 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 balance for us to live a harmonious life. You may have heard or seen in 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. It renews his senses and recharge his inner batteries.
This holds true to 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 on 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. But remember, they’re free to see but not to touch (sometimes)!
3. Next ports will become exciting.
After your adventure on 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 on 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 shore leave happiness and your budget. I also wrote about shore leave saving tips so you can have fun hen you go ashore without spending too much. Read on those links.
4. It’s fun and adventure 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 understand them using sign language. It can be fun and very confusing too.
There were times when I almost miss 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.
The more frequent I went ashore and enjoy myself, 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 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 connection almost anywhere on the world. Every seaman owns a smartphone and internet has become a necessity for us. For some of us who are not blessed with internet connection on board, this is perfect.
I find this useful especially when updating my applications (there are tons of them) 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 on 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 travelling the world for free. There are very few jobs out there that provide this much of mobility and the best part is, we are paid every minute of it.
Minutes after I posted my London escapade, one of my friends chat 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 a regular air fare 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. Either 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 on the fresh air around us. Not only on our physical muscle but our mind muscle 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 reasons why seafarers go ashore. 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 to 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 generations by the previous overseas workers. Whether chocolates, T-shirts, figurines or collection items, these pasalubong serve as a remembrance for 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 on your favor and see you in London!
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